Ushuaia is the southernmost city in the world. It is located in Argentina, at the end of Ruta 3. The actual end of the road, the place with the sign that says Fin del Mundo (End of the World) is in Tierra del Fuego National Park and is about 25 km south of Ushuaia. We drove 14,000 miles to get there but we weren’t allowed into the park. More specifically, Capi was not allowed in and as we three made the journey together, we couldn’t abandon her at the end. So we never made it to the Fin del Mundo sign. We returned to Ushuaia and our comfortable cabana located at the southernmost ski hill in the world, not too far from the southernmost golf club in the world and the southernmost motocross track. We made it as far south as we can all get by road and our picture sums it up: No Ingrese Con Mascote!
After a celebratory oil change for the truck tomorrow, a haircut for Bill and a much needed visit to the lavenderia (the laundry), we will start north on the long road home.
It was a surprisingly long way through Patagonia. We went from the Chilean border to Puerto Natales, a tourist mecca noted for hiking in the Torres de Paine National Park and the Giant Sloth, now extinct.
We camped overnight then traveled on to Punta Arenas, where Nancy constantly muttered “I can’t believe these are the Straits of Magellan and we actually drove here”. Who would have thought that the famed Strait of Magellan is lined with houses, and that parts of Punta Arenas look just like Victoria? Who would have thought that you can take a ferry about the size of a Gulf Island ferry across the Strait of Magellan to Tierra Del Fuego and drive down to the Beagle Channel? This is the land of maritime tragedy and triumph, lonely and dangerous. It seems bizarre to be cruising around in a Toyota Tundra from Campbell River.
A few days ago, in Argentina, we crossed the 50th Parallel South. Campbell River is on the 50th Parallel North. We had been anticipating the moment, so we tried to take a picture but we couldn’t convince Capi to pose.
We found a beautiful spot to stay at the San Juan River south of Punta Arenas. Capi loved swimming in the river, but the bank was covered with pretty red plants armed with nasty burrs. For the second time this trip, we had to remove burrs from Capi that were embedded into her skin. This time she escaped without cuts and sores, but we had to trim some of the fringe on her tail. She has been shedding since Central America and has lost all her furry undercoat.
There is a small King Penguin colony on the way south on Tierra del Fuego. We stopped to check it out and were horrified to see the high tide line on the beach was heavily contaminated with plastic scraps.
We camped at Lago Blanco, a windswept lake on the 54th Parallel. Some areas around it have been logged. Canadian Beavers (the furry ones not the flying ones) have been introduced to Patagonia. Lacking natural enemies, they are creating endless beautifully engineered dams. The local residents are not impressed, but the tourists love them.
To get to Ushuaia, we crossed back into Argentina. The border was the most efficient we have experienced so far. The road was gravel, narrow and lacked signage. To get from Chile to Argentina,we had to ford a river. The dog at the Argentine border chased the truck.
Like Capi, we have pretty much lost our tolerance for cold, and it has sleeted or snowed lightly in Ushuaia several times since we arrived. The wind is icy. We have rediscovered the Toyota seat heaters.
The blue sign says the Malvinas (Falkland Islands) belong to Argentina. The tourist information centre distributes pamphlets explaining why the Islands belong to Argentina. A sign at the Port bans British “pirate” ships. When the Malvinas are restored to Argentina, the islands will become part of Tierra del Fuego and their capital city will be Ushuaia.