Monday, February 21, 2011

Sunday (2/20/11) Beautiful Downtown Ushuaia

The seas remained rough until about 7pm.  They then started to mellow out a bit (less white caps) and overnight weren’t too bad.  The show last night was the flutist and the opera singer in a double bill.  We skipped it.   We had a nice sunset though.

This morning, we entered the Beagle Channel on our way to Ushuaia.  This is a picture of sunrise on the Beagle Channel.

Tierra del Fuego is a whole bunch of islands in the lower part of South America.  Although as you look at a map, you may think that SA is one big continent, the bottom part (Tierra del Fuego) is really one big huge island (TdF) and then a bunch (and I mean a bunch) of smaller ones.  TdF is divided in half between Chili and Argentina.  Basically the Andes come down and the head eastward on TdF.  So, the border makes a bit of an odd turn in order to evenly split this big island. 
The Beagle Channel is named after the HMS Beagle, the ship that Charles Darwin was on for his second round the world discovery expedition.  It was captained by Captain Robert Fitzroy back in 1832.  It is 150 miles long and connects the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.  Ushuaia is roughly near the middle and was originally a penal colony.  An interesting factoid is that Ushuaia is the only Argentine city on the “West” side of the Andes.  This is a picture of part of Ushuaia.

What sets Ushuaia apart are the amazing mountains. 

Mt. Olivia is foremost in all its craggy glory and is 1400 meters tall.  Most of the mountains have tree lines about 600 meters and glaciers dot many of them. 

In the distance you can see the amazing snow/glacier covered Andes which is part of the Tierra del Fuego National Park.

After docking at about 9:30, we got off the ship and looked for a local tour of the Beagle Channel.  We found one, which was a 2.5 hour tour out to see the lighthouse which was kind of small.

We then visited several bird nesting places including lots of king cormorants.  The first picture is a huge colony of cormorants – notice their nests, which were everywhere.

Lastly, we visited a colony of sea lions.  The male sea lions are HUGE, probably two or more times larger than the females.  The island also stunk big time. 

Near the end, we stopped on Bridges island and we got off and wandered around looking at the amazing vistas.

After the trip was over, we visited beautiful downtown Ushuaia, which although it has a population of 60,000, the town didn’t have a lot to offer.  The main street included a lot of shops and restaurants, although many of them were closed because it is a Sunday.
We then returned to the ship and enjoyed a relaxing afternoon.

After dinner, the cruise line had arranged for a local group to come on board and present a folk and tango show.  It was quite excellent and a very nice enhancement to the trip. 

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