Earth of the Fire

Tierra del Fuego has got such an awesome ring to it, and Marius just knows how to pronounce it correctly. The focus needs to be on the Fu~ego.

After spending a few days in Punta Arenas and drinking the local beer our plan was to head back to the USA. Seeing that we are so close to the end of the world Marius changed our plans and we were on a bus heading down to Ushuaia located on Tierra del Fuego and also the end of the world.

Ushuaia (/uːˈʃwaɪ.ə/; Spanish pronunciation: [uˈswaʝa]) is the capital of Tierra del Fuego, Antártida e Islas del Atlántico Sur Province, Argentina. It is commonly regarded as the southernmost city in the world (a title long disputed by smaller Puerto Williams). Ushuaia is located in a wide bay on the southern coast of Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego, bounded on the north by the Martial mountain range and on the south by the Beagle Channel.

Like Marius says they are the Southernmost town in the world, but that means that Puerto Toro is not considered a town?

There is a reason why the Island is called Tierra del Fuego, nearly 500 years ago, a group of explorers from the Old World approached the coast of an unknown land for the first time.

Dispersed fires and columns of smoke from the natives seemed to float upon the waters, in the mist of dawn: this mystical setting probably gave the island its name, Land of Fire.

Reluctantly shared by both Argentina and Chile, this ‘land of fire’ really is the end of the world. Its far away location has drawn explorers since the days of Magellan and Darwin, and this tradition continues today.

The environment changes drastically between Puerto Arenas and Tierra del Fuego, the ferry took us across a very choppy sea at Punta Delgada and the across the island, past the Rio Grande over the last bit of the incredible Andes Mountains into Ushuaia.

Our bus arrived in downtown Ushuaia late, the bus station is located on the main promenade and after grabbing our stuff we headed to our Hostel for the night. Damn, I did actually forget my incredible water bottle on the bus, sorry Nicola, well for consolation I had to already patch it up with electrical tape after it fell from the scooter.

To really get the most out of your experience in Ushuaia in the Patagonia region of Argentina, it’s important to have a good home base. Cruz del Sur Independent Hostel does just this, allowing for a comfortable yet fun stay. The accommodation is highly rated on Hostelbookers, and after staying there myself, it’s easy to see why.

When we arrived we were quickly shown around and the Italian owner is a friendly and organized guy. We quickly made friends including Tom, an incredible Irish guy that we got completely wasted with, I know my Mom would not like this. Tom had the great philosophy that as being Irish it was his God-given right to get drunk in any and every Irish pub any place in the world.

It was cold, and snowy on the day we headed up to Glazier Martial. One thousand and fifty meters MSL, Martial Glacier was named in honour of explorer Luis Fernando Martial, leader of the French scientific expedition which arrived in 1883. To reach the glacier, visitors must go up the winding street bearing the same name. It is paved and clearly indicated and is kept free of snow during the winter to ensure road safety.

We were there just at the beginning of winter. The first slope is the steepest, although the ascent is not particularly difficult. Previous experience is recommended and appropriate gear required. Should the ascent take place during spring or autumn, special care must be taken to avoid possible cracks in the ice bridges.

From the highest point, there is a spectacular view of Andorra Valley, Vinciguerra Glacier and Mount as well as postcard pictures of the Beagle Channel, Navarino and Hoste Islands.

When the days are shorter at the End of the World, a ski resort opens at the Martial Glacier. It occupies an area of 56 square kilometres and a chairlift makes access easier. Due to our luck, this was closed.

Going higher and higher. The Ice beneath our Feet

At this point, the possibility to continue walking on the ice opens up. The ascent is not difficult. The greatest slope is at the beginning of the stretch. It is necessary to have the appropriate gear and some kind of experience in these activities. (that means having my earphones plugged in) If the ascent is done in the spring or fall, hikers must be extremely careful with the cracks, as the ice bridges are weak.

As we made our way up we got struck by an ice rain that was not fun at all, Marius suggested we turn back as the ice was becoming super slippery and it was hard to dig in our shoes.

Walking down and through the town of Ushuaia, we are amazed at the beauty of this city. Ushuaia was founded, informally, by British missionaries, following previous British surveys, long before Argentine nationals or government representatives arrived there on a permanent basis. The British ship HMS Beagle, under the command of Captain Robert FitzRoy, first reached the channel on January 29, 1833, during its maiden voyage surveying Tierra del Fuego.

Much of the early history of the city and its hinterland is described in Lucas Bridges’s book Uttermost Part of the Earth (1948). The name Ushuaia first appears in letters and reports of the South American Mission Society in England.

I can only go about and describe Ushuaia as the most amazing city I have visited during my lifetime. being at the end of the world has taught me that it is more beautiful than anyone can ever imagine.

– Lunch (Fire roasted lamb)