Monday, February 22, 2016

Ushuaia and Beagle Channel

At 55 degrees latitude south, Ushuaia (pronounced Use Why Yuh) is the southernmost city in the world.  It is also the largest city in Tierra del Fuego Argentina.  It is surrounded by the South Atlantic Ocean, the Strait of Magella and the easternmost part of the Pacific Ocean.

Until about 100 years ago, this entire area was inhabited by only the indigenous people, the Yahgan.  Prior to this time, the navigators and explorers really disliked this area because of the violent weather and hazardous seas, which impeded their travel to Asia.

Originally established as a penal colony, which lasted until the mid 20th century, Ushuaia was slow to grow.  Tourism has increased and people are incentivized to settle here by offering a virtually tax free society and high wages for workers.  Ships also stop here on their way to Antarctica.

The area in and around Ushuaia is heavily forested and the national park boasts a beautiful lake view stunning views of the southern Andes.  Temps range from 34 degrees F in winter to about 50 degrees F in the summer.  Not much of a swing.  It gets a lot of rain-like weather- about 146 days a year, but only about 2 feet of rain annually.   It's also cloudy about 2/3 of the year.  Daylight hours range from 17 hours in the summer to 7 hours in the winter.

The Beagle Channel sits partly in Argentina and partly in Chile.  East is Argentina, West is Chile.  It was and still can be used as a shipping channel around South America, but most commercial ships use the Drake Passage in the open ocean.  The channel is about 150 miles long and just a few miles wide.  The channel was named after Charles Darwin's ship the HMS Beagle during its first survey of the coasts in this area.

Having been to Ushuaia once before, and only exploring the city by foot that first time, I opted to take a tour into the Beagle Channel and on to the National Park.  I was craving more landscape of this beautiful area.

The first thing we did on the tour was hop onto a catamaran and sail the Beagle Channel.  We spent about 2 1/2 hours out there.  The weather was gorgeous.  We visited a small island called Cormorant Island - named for the thousands of Cormorants that live there, as you can see below.

After getting off the catamaran, we walked up to our pickup point (the end of the Pan American Highway, by the way) and hopped aboard a bus to trek through the National Park.

 Look!  It's Redd Fox.... oops I mean a Red Fox.

Beach by the post office at the end of the world.

This would be the aforementioned post office.

City area of Ushuaia - the docks

I really liked this sailing ship.  It was open for visitors, but I got back too late to take a peek.

No comments:

Post a Comment