Starting point for the trip to the Antarctic
A really long journey lays behind us. (Zum deutschen Blog.) First by train to Frankfurt, days before, we were quivering whether the flight took place at all, since Lufthansa’s pilots were on strike. Then the longest flight the LH has to offer. Nonstop in almost 14 hours from Frankfurt to Buenos Aires in Argentina, airport change and another 3.5 hours flight to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world.
We almost missed this flight. Not because the transitional period was too short. No, a young security official probably had a bad day, because he did not want to allow the tripod in our hand luggage. Even the objection of the airline that it would be no problem for them, did not care him. So we had to go completely back to check in 25 minutes before the start of the airplane and check in our hand luggage, of course for an extra charge. Then run back and hope that nothing new comes in his mind to send us back again …
In the evening we reach the Arakur Hotel, it is built high above Ushuaia on a mountain peak. The view would certainly be great, if it would not rain and storm. Here it is summer now, but the weather here can change abruptly at the Beagle Channel, in the southernmost city of the world.
We enjoy the incredible spa area with its infinity pool, it looks like you can swim from here directly into the Beagle Channel. Only that the water here in the pool is really warm, while it is very cold in the sea …
Four hours we are behind the German time, but we feel the lack of sleep. After a quick dinner we disappear into bed.
The Jeep Tour
The morning brings bright sunshine and fresh snow on the peaks of the surrounding mountains, as a quick glance from the window shows. This is great because we booked a jeep tour for today. Off-road to two huge lakes with the option to canoeing on one of the two.
Matias, our guide from Antartur, picks us up on time. With us comes a Spanish couple on their honeymoon. First we drive on route 3 away from the coast. On a huge moorish plain we stop at a sled dog station. It is nicely warm, probably too warm for the sled dogs.
This is also the beginning of a major alpine and Nordic ski center. Only a few kilometers away there is a ski lift to a ski resort, which is used as a training area for many ski teams worldwide. The winters here are not too cold, but it is very snow-sure and the slope is very long.
We stop at the view point over Lake Escondido and then leave the asphalted road.
A steap path leads down. Partly, it is a more or less broad trickle for a brook, perhaps it is meltwater from the mountain peaks. After the rain yesterday everything is soaked, deep furrows are driven in this narrow way. Matias is having a lot of fun to tild the Jeep.
He runs through huge puddles, so that the dirt water splashes a lot. Soon we stop at Lake Escondido, where the canoes are waiting for us. A second jeep has also arrived. Only five people are courageous enough to climb the canoes and paddle out into the ice-cold lake. The wind is quite strong now …
I’ve never sat in a canoe before, but I will not miss it. My husband Dirk gets promoted to be the “Capitano” by Matias , I am a kind of sailor apprentice and sit in the front, with the order to stay on course.
This is really fun, in spite of the wind. My GoPro has got to dive, as I want to know if there are any fishes in here.
Then it goes on, through potholes and over stones. Everywhere we see dead trees. Why is it like that? Matias explains.Years ago, beavers from Canada were brought here because of their fur.
Unfortunately, about 25 of them escaped, and now they are a real plague not only here, but also in Chile. Well over 100,000 live here now.
They have no natural enemies and get by far bigger here than in Canada. They transform the entire landscape and disturb the ecosystem, since it takes many, many years for trees to regrow, because in this harsh climate here the growth is very delayed.
We drive up and down steep and extended forest paths. We drive into a lake and along the shore.
At some point we are back on the main road and just turn off to enjoy our late lunch break at a hut. Now both the guides of the jeeps become chefs and conjure for us a real Argentinean barbecue with a lot of meat from the charcoal grill.
At the rustic wooden table our international team of the two jeeps, composed of Argentineans, Dutch, Spaniards and us, gets together in an interesting conversation with the Argentine red wine. Everyone agrees that is a great trip!
Back in Ushuaia
Since there is bright sunlight until late in the evening so far south, we take the hotel shuttle to Ushuaia after the Jeep tour. The city is not big, about 30,000 inhabitants. Since it is Sunday, most shops are closes, but we are amazed at the really high prices that we see in the store windows.
Then I try again the Infinity Pool. This is a nice end to this day. Tomorrow we will board the Sea Spirit and then we will start our expedition cruise to Antarctica.
Of course there is much more to experience in Ushuaia. Many tourists make an excursion to the national park with a historical train or take a gondola to the nearby glacier. It looks like I have to come back ….