When my plane from El Calafate touched down in Ushuaia I was once again farther south than I’d ever been. Ushuaia, on the shore of the Beagle Channel in Tierra del Fuego, calls itself the southernmost city in the world, easily beating out anyplace in South Africa or New Zealand. It’s the end of the road, the very last stop on the Pan-American highway.
Ushuaia is also the embarkation point for most cruises to Antarctica. The Antarctic Peninsula is only 625 miles away. I’d love to set my feet on Antarctica at some point, but for this trip I just planned to spend a few days in Ushuaia and then head back to the US.
The rain coming down when I arrived turned into snow the next morning. Big fluffy flakes fell heavily as I walked around town.
My main excursion in Ushuaia was a trip to see a penguin colony on Martillo Island. Our group drove east from Ushuaia to Estancia Harberton, where we crowded into a small boat for the short trip to the island.
The penguins – mostly Magellanic penguins but also a small group of gentoo penguins – showed no signs of being bothered by our presence and often waddled right up to us as we walked around their nesting area.
The next day I hiked from Ushuaia up toward a nearby glacier, stopping frequently to look back at the amazing views.
Before I knew it my time in Ushuaia was up. An 11-hour bus ride – including a ferry trip across the Strait of Magellan – took me back to Punta Arenas, Chile, where I caught my return flight to California. I was sad to leave Patagonia but excited to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with Marie and my family.