When arriving to Ushuaia we flew over the Rio Gallegos River, up the Beagle Channel along the snow-capped mountains into a small airport. It was a breathtaking view.
After checking in to our Airbnb, we headed down the hill to town to get the lay of the land, visit the information center and do our usual grocery shopping.
We stopped for an early dinner at Ramos Generales, which is located in a old general store. We enjoyed our dinner, shared a delicious piece of chocolate cheesecake for dessert and discussed our plans for the next few days. Check out the signs for the toilettes.
Now that we have arrived at the “end of the world” it is so easy to sleep in since it’s cold out and you have no alarm clock. However, the days are long with the sun setting around 9:00 pm so we still have plenty of time for exploring.
Our first day, we planned to head up to Glaciar Martial, however as we approached the channel it was so calm we decided to take a Beagle Channel cruise to enjoy the perfect weather.
After we reserved our cruise, we headed out to have some lunch. We went to El Vagon that was recommended to us by the boat vendor. The restaurant was busy with locals, so we ordered the “menu del dia” which was carne rolled around jamon, queso y espinaca, served with mashed calabaza. Sounds interesting right? Let’s just say Kimberli was anything but impressed. It reminded her of meatloaf which she hates. Fortunately, it tasted better than it looked but it would be a long time before we ordered the “menu del dia” again.
After lunch, we headed back to the boat for our cruise. We opted for a small boat (11 meters) that took us out to the islands to see some wild life and the lighthouse. The boat had a limit of 10 passengers and we were at capacity. It was an international group with each couple on board from a different country, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium and us. This time most of them did speak English so it was a fun day out. We saw lots of wildlife, hiked along an island, and enjoyed our visit with the other folks for a little over four hours. We even had an unexpected treat of picadas and the local beer after our hike.
Since we chose the channel cruise previously, next up was the hike to Martial Glacier. The original plan was to just go to the base and take pictures. We took our time and hiked along a side trail that was more scenic and less traveled. It was nice and quiet since most people went straight up the hill. When reaching the base, we contemplated whether we should continue to the top. It had been about 45 minutes and it was another 45 minutes straight up to the top. We decided if we were planning to hike the “W” next week we had better get in some practice…so up we went. It was a challenging hike but the view was worth it.
When we reached the bottom, we stopped at La Cabana Casa de Té, a small tea house. We had a pot of hot tea (a special Rooibos blend) and a pastry. It was served in a fun way with all the proper tea making equipment including a timer to steep the tea leaves for just the right amount of time. It was the best tea we ever had. While sitting, and enjoying our warm drink and sweets it started to snow outside. The weather here always seems to surprise us. Just today we had sun, wind, rain and snow.
One of the things Ushuaia is known for is their king crab so we had to try it. We went to lunch at El Viejo Marino that a couple from Spain recommended to us when we were in Puerto Madryn. When you order crab for two they take you to the tank of crabs, you pick your crab and they cook it up for you, now that’s fresh!
After lunch we went to Museo Maritimo de Ushuaia, Cárcel de Ushuaia y Presidio Militar (Maritime Museum, Ushuaia Jail and Military Prison). In January 1896 the first group of convicts arrived on board the naval ship “1˚ de Mayo”. The prison first opened in San Juan de Salvamento on Isla de los Estados and later in Puerto Cook. In December 1902, it was moved to Ushuaia for humanitarian reasons. The prisoners were used to build the trains and railway to bring timber to the city to heat the homes. In 1911, a decree was signed to merge the Military prison and the jail of Ushuaia. The president ordered the closure of the jail in 1947 and the installations were transferred to the Navy and the Naval Base was set up in 1950.
It was declared a National Historic Monument in April 1997. The facility is now used to house several museums. One section was left in its original state and the rest are used to display art, maritime history, and expeditions to the Antarctica. We spent many hours reading and learning about the history of this region.
Time to get ready for our next stop Punta Arenas, Chile. We will remain in the Patagonia region of South America. However, after some time in Chile we will later return to Argentina.