Fin del mundo

on

Good sleep, but early rise. I am doing something new today, I’m traveling in group. Last night I got to know a group of Italians from Alessandria in Piemonte, who are just about to finish their titanic endeavour from Puerto Montt in Chile in just a month. Renato, Matteo, Carmelo e Franco saranno i miei compagni di viaggio per i prossimi giorni e io avró il privilegio di tagliare il traguardo di Ushuaia con loro.

Cycling in company proves immediately to be a completely different experience. You can chat and pull each other when you’re down. Of course it also includes all the work necessary in any partnership, but, judged only with an eye to the peddling part, it’s really good.

20160127_082700
I cannot believe I’m saying this, but, finally some mountains.
20160127_090325
Scenery is a lot ore interesting today that it has been for some time.
20160127_090346
And there is snow on the horizon.
20160127_091107
Quiet roads allow for a little photographing
20160127_092150
Both ways

The conversation is as good as some of the scenery that we pass. The increased amount of trees is punctuated by areas where the combination of wind a and limited soil on the bedrock causes the trees to die leaving skeletons in place of the trees that once were.  This wood, which would only bee good for burning is, in the main, left to slowly and naturally decay as this fossil fuel rich region has a very log gas price.

20160127_094048
Patagonia has it’s own death valey.
20160127_095755
and one good view after another.

The route today is taking us along Lago Fagnano, apparently named so by an Italian, and then, cutting at Lago Escondido up the Paso Garibaldi and then down on the other side to Ushuaia.

Route 3,388,694 – powered by www.bikemap.net

 

The cycling is good and we also manage to fit in a pause for a coffee that apparently had been forthcoming from their first day of cycling. Perhaps I’m buena suerte for them.

20160127_110035
Hard not to skip the cake and coffee and move directly to this.
20160127_111355
But we manage to stick to the coffee

After the coffee break the real work starts, we get close to Lago Escondido and the consequent climb to Paso Garibaldi. I breake from the group too early and Carmelo stays with me while we put some distance on the peleton. Unfortunately we get to a spot where it is impossible not to stop for photographs and we do bringing upon ourselves the recovery of the group.

After, the others having played defence, and having too much in their legs for me to fight, made it so I indulged in a final pause and took a picture of the pass sign.

20160127_122940
The unique bulb profile shared with Mr Invincible of the Invincibles.

inv

20160127_123716
The true heroes of the day. From left: Carmelo, Matteo, Renato e Franco
20160127_122859
The background merits a star feature too.
20160127_125122
By now they are over the hill, so I pause again.

Despite the effort we are only just more than half way to Ushuaia. The other side of the pass is an exhilarating descent of a few miles and when we get to the bottom we celebrated with a stop in a bar that had just the best sign ever.

After that it is a simple flattish ride all the way to Ushuaia.

20160127_132828
Bring back humanity, but can we also check FB?
20160127_150003
Some serious scenery and by the way, do we think that mountain is an alien spaceship landing ramp?

In Ushuaia we are met by Carmelo’s dad and mum and we park ourselves for the night. The guys are not fully satisfied with the accommodation so we will move to a different hostal tomorrow. For my part I’m just going along with the flow, they are really good fun and it makes a change to be with someone that understands what this thing I do is all about.

We go for a stroll through town and get something to eat before turning in and sleeping rather soundly.

20160127_222312
Ushuaia by night
20160127_222341
And another

Day two (Thursday) is all about getting organised. We organise the penguin expedition to be done on day three, I spend half the day searching first for a cheap ride to Antartica (a friend told me you can get last minute rides for up to 75% discount), then any boat ride to Punta Arenas, as I would rather see the fiords from the sea than the inside of a bus. In the end I fail on both fronts.

The cruise to Antartica, 11 days with three actual days on the continent, can be had for roughly 50% discount, but it’s still $5,600, and, quite frankly, I can think of many other places where that money might be better spent.

The ride to Punta Arena is even less of a goer, the boat across the Beagle Channel to Puerto Williams, where the boat to Punta Arenas leaves from, is not running till Tuesday coming, but that in a way matters little as the boat from Puerto Williams is fully booked till the 6th of March. Not totally discouraged I walk down to the marina and start chatting to all the yachts owners. Aside from the interesting chatter i get very little. It appears that we are very early in the season for boats to go north, now, they are still coming down and going forward south towards the pole.

I guess it’s going to be bus.

20160128_133236
Possibly the high watermark on the FB like for the trip.

The others were more successful and booked a trip to the Penguin Island for the following day. It turned out to be great.

20160129_111615
Is this Scotland or what?
20160129_111646
Trees that know where the wind is blowing from.

We do not leave to early in the morning and this gives me some time to start the organisation of the passage to Punta Arenas. I do not want to cycle back the route I already cycled and, with the sea not being an option, the bus is now the only choice.

We get collected by a mini bus and an hour and a bit later, filled of a large quantity of interesting fact about Tierra del Fuego, we get to the Estancia Harberton which is the jumping site fro the penguin sanctuary.

We take the quick boat ride and then we are on the island for nearly an hour in which we get very close to an awful lot of penguins.

20160129_120616
upon landing we could not believe how many there were.
20160129_120648
Just standing or sitting there catching the Austral summer sun.
20160129_120733
Among the nearly 20,000 Magellan we spotted 4 Rey
20160129_120850
They are just like Emperors only a little smaler
20160129_121022
Apparently there are only six on the island and we were lucky to be met by them in formation.
20160129_121045
Two even stood to be photographed
20160129_121615
But then decided down was better.
20160129_121744
For queen and country here is the selfinguin.
20160129_122517
Take it with a pinch of salt but they told me this is an albatros.
20160129_122545
Home sweet home.
20160129_122654
The Antarctic penguin colony
20160129_123252
Happy family
20160129_123526
Should we swim?
20160129_124235
Oiled, shinny and ready to go.
20160129_124704
Magellan’s main square.
20160129_124939
Just one more ping-pic
20160129_124959
Not talking to you!
20160129_130517
Not sure but there might be something wrong with the gravitational field down here, I appear to be leaning.
20160129_130703
Don’t I just know you’re all looking at me?
20160129_130841
starboard side of the boat.
20160129_130940
Port side with farewell

As it was time to leave it almost feels like one of the Rey was showing us out. I decide to brave the elements and sit at the front in the unsheltered part of the boat, it’s not really that bad and the view is much better than through the plastic canopy.

As we get into the bay all is blissfully quiet and we promptly land and get directed to the restaurant where the guys and I sample one helping or three of the local brew. One last stop remains before the bus journey back, the marine biology museum.

20160129_131401
Looking back from the sea, bye bye penguin island, I’ll be back with my own boat.
20160129_132814
Lupins paradise

We only spend half an hour here and indeed the whole museum is no more than one big room, we get however a guided tour and the stuff is quite interesting. What was most interesting for me was that the tour before ours was for a group of Brazilians and I sneaked in for a while trying to understand what the guide was saying. Amazingly I could make sense of most of what she said and this gives me great hope for my future exploration of that part of the world. In further conversation with others though my enthusiasm was somewhat reduced when they told me that the distance between Brazilian and Portuguese is way bigger than between Espanol y Castillano.

20160129_153311
Whale bones

20160129_153335

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Andrew Clowes says:

    Pungwins 🙂

  2. Shirley Harrison says:

    Full-on penguin situation!

    1. Alex says:

      Sorry for not being in touch, Internet is a bit miss and miss down here. If there was a meat-ernet it would work great.

  3. Jimmy. says:

    I can’t understand the fascination with penguins, crows are much more interesting.

Leave a Reply to Shirley Harrison Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *