After the channel tour yesterday, we decided to get on a National Park tour for the next day. Right when you get off the ship, they had a “Captain Morgan’s Travel” and there was a guy there that was selling tours. We had talked with him the previous day and he has a van that holds 15 people (the cost is $60 per person and includes the $16 per person park entrance fee). The guide’s name was Edgar. Although the tour was supposed to start at 9am, they told us to get there early because once it was full, it was full. (There are also other private tours available once you get out on the street, but these people ran the channel tour the day before and we had good luck, so decided to stick with them.) We showed up at 8:15 and were numbers 7 and 8 for the tour. We then hung out while he tried to fill the rest of the van. Ultimately we had a dozen people and left right at 9.
While we were waiting, we checked out the super private yacht, the Octopus that is owned by Paul Allen. It is 450 feet long and in pristine condition. It is one of two that he owns. It was built in 2003 and at that time was the largest private yacht in the world. The Octopus has two helicopters and two submarines, one of which can be operated via remote control. It is an amazing, amazing ship. It was parked right next to a Silver Seas Expedition ship (the Prince Albert II) and was larger than that commercial ship. Unfortunately after we returned from our morning trip, it was gone. Julie was upset (she definitely had some ship envy) – she was hoping to finish up the trip to Buenos Aires on the Octopus. This picture shows how large the yacht is compared to the Infinity (about 2000 passengers) and the Prince Albert II.
Tierra del Fuego National Park (TdFNP) is located about 12 km west of the city. Interestingly, about 6km out, the road turns into a dirt road. This road is Argentine Route 3, which is Pan American highway which starts in Alaska and ends here. More on that later. BTW – before entering the park, we drove by the southern-most golf course in the world. A little 9 hole course that looked inviting.
Edgar was an excellent guide. He spoke wonderful English and pretty much talked the entire time showing us the various sites, talking about the flora, and other aspects of the park. We made several stops. The first was at a point looking out at the Beagle Channel. On the pier was the southern most post office in the world. It was a tiny building where you could buy stamps, have your passport stamped, etc. The views were quite nice.
On the wildlife front, there are hardly any mammals. This has caused some problems as both beaver and rabbits were introduced and there are no predators to keep them in check. The second stop was at lake Logo where the driver let us out and we walked around a corner of the take and then down a river to a coffee shop. We had some fine local hot chocolate at the shop.
At our next stop, we went out over an overlook of another lake. An interesting sight was a nest in the middle of the lake. Unfortunately we don’t remember the type of bird, but basically they build their nests in the middle of lakes.
Our final stop was at the end of the road (the PanAmerican highway). Edgar let us out about a 25 minute walk from the end that allowed us to wander through the trees and see some more great vistas. The first is an overlook observing the Beagle Channel. At this particular location, we are only about a mile from Chile.
We continued down to the end of the road. From there you can see the snow capped Andes that we saw back on the ship. These are 2400 meters high (7600 ft) and are part of Chile. They are extremely striking.
Finally, we took our picture at the sign showing the end of the highway. From there it is 17,848 km or 10,709 miles to Alaska.
Finally, we wandered around Ushuaia. One interesting place was the Irish Pub.
We then returned to the ship.
The ship left port at about 6:30pm. We stopped in Port Williams, Chile to pick up a pilot for our journey to Cape Horn. The entertainment was a singer named Claude Eric Brunelle who sang in kind of a rat pack style. He was excellent.