Day 15 - Glaciers and the EndJanuary 12 in Argentina ⋅ 🌬 6 °C
The daily newsletter told us we'd be passing glaciers as we cruised through the Beagle Channel on our way to Ushuaia. Getting up about 4:00, we saw several glaciers in the gradually brightening morning light. It's summer here and sunrise is about 5:00, sunset about 10:00 PM. At 4:00, it was already light enough to see the mountains plunging into the Channel only a quarter mile or less from the port side (left side).
Our stateroom is on the port side so we could look out the veranda sliding door at the rock and ice gliding by. The clouds hovered only a thousand feet or less but there was enough light to see glaciers against the dark mountains. For an hour or more, we saw half a dozen or so rivers of ice flowing down the mountains. One tall, blue one emptied right into the Channel only 500 feet off the ship. A fantastic sight to wake up to.
A bit later after breakfast we docked in Ushuaia. The city is the furthest south city in the world and our first port in Argentina. There is a Chilean town of about 2,000 a bit further south but Ushuaia is a major metro area of 70,000 plus. The Eclipse actually docked at a pier so we didn't need to tender to shore. Soon after we docked, we left the ship and boarded a large bus for our "Drive to the End of the World" excursion.
Our excursion started off just after 10:00. Our guide, Olna, kept up a running description in excellent English of what we were seeing as we drove out of the city and into Tierra del Fuego Nat'l Park.
The largest industry in Ushuaia is electronics assembly. They assemble components made in China and elsewhere into finished products for domestic consumption. The second largest industry is tourism. The city is only 750 miles from Antartica and tours and resupply mission leave here regularly. The southernmost peaks of the Andes range surround the city on three sides with the Beagle Channel and its Pacific Ocean currents on the fourth side. These peaks exhibit the classic glacial features like cirques below the jagged tops, U-shaped valleys, and hanging waterfalls.
Our tour took us to the Park, about 12 miles west of the city. It was cold (about 40), very windy and sprinkling rain. Everyone was as bundled up as possible. I wore the long underwear I'd brought specifically for this purpose and was toasty.The huge park stretches to the Chilean border further west. There is evidence of human passage here as far back as 10,000 BC and human settlement as long as 6,300 years ago. The indigenous peoples here when the Europeans arrived were wiped out by introduced diseases or hunted to extinction- sounds familiar.
We got out at the ""Post Office at the End of the World" to take pics and walk a trail on the shore. Next the bus took us to Lake Roca where we did more pics and a nature walk with Olna. She explained the trees and animals and we saw a family of kelp geese. Olna kept explaining things and showed pictures of some things for better explanation. We stopped at the interpretive center then continued to the end of the Pan American highway. This road runs from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, to here in Tierra del Feugo. A walk on a wooden boardwalk over the peat bog took us to a viewpoint overlooking the bay and the Beagle Channel. Then it was back into town and the end of our excursion - one well worth taking.
On board, we had lunch and relaxed. We went to an upper deck to watch the ship pull out of port but saw people still coming back. The wind on the pier was so fierce that the port police were escorting some people across the windswept pier to keep them from falling! We attended the show - a Canadian singer who gave a powerful performance. At the end of the show, the cruise director came on stage to announce that the ship hadn't left, yet, because the harbor was closed because of high winds. Later, as we ate with our table mates, the captain announced we were underway and would maintain our previous schedule.
Tomorrow Cape Horn and out to sea.Read more