Ushuaia—meaning “westward-looking bay”—lies between Sierra Venciguerra range and the very chilly deep blue waters of the Beagle Channel. The idea of driving to this remote town, across Chile and Argentina, came about spontaneously. The southernmost city in the world is where all roads end. It’s name—Fin del Mundo—literally means “the end of the world.” This city was something I wanted to see and explore.
I had visualized a land with wild animals and nature, old-fashioned houses, and delicious seafood. However, all that I had imagined, was wiped away by the number of tourists who filled the town’s streets. Instead of small family-owned restaurants and little shops (hidden gems, as I call them), the town’s main street is dotted with numerous faceless souvenir stores, clothing boutiques, and a Hard Rock Café. Not to mention that everything was overpriced. I wish this town wasn’t such a big tourist trap.
To get out of town, to find what I was looking for: nature and animals that inhabit this part of the world, I booked the Beagle Channel tour. However, I’m not a big tour fan. There is just nothing appealing about spending six hours on a boat with about thirty other people yet, I had to escape the busy town and see what was beyond the city limits. By the pier, small tour company kiosks are conveniently located for tourist to book tours to the Beagle Channel and other attractions (you can also instantly compare prices on the spot).
Beagle Channel Tour:
The tour includes three stops, roughly six hours and a whole lot of pictures. The main purpose of the tour is to view the marine wildlife such as sea lions, penguins, albatrosses, giant petrels and if luck is on your side minke and killer whales will pop out of the water once in a while. It’s also a great way to enjoy a view of the town from a distance.
First, stop on the tour is the Les Eclaireus Lighthouse thought to be the lighthouse at the end of the world from Jules Verne’s novel. A beautiful red and white lighthouse stand’s tall and mighty on a rocky island in the middle of the aqua blue water. Looking past, the beacon nothing seems to be visible, except endless beryl waters. Peace and tranquility fill you up.
Next, the boat speeds up to an island full of lounging sea lions. They lay motionless on a rock, almost blending in and becoming a part of it. One could have assumed they had gone into hibernation if it wasn’t for the sudden movements they make once in a while.
Last stop of the tour is Isla Martillo. An island where a penguin colony has made a permanent home for decades to come. Penguins jump out of the water to catch a quick breath and then they dive back down to hunt fish. Looking at these large seabirds going about their business, jumping in and out of the water, fighting with one another, is fascinating and amusing. Access to the island is only permitted to one tour company, and about six people at a time can go on. I wasn’t part of that tour, but I enjoyed watching the action from the boat just as much if not more.