In the previous post in this series Buenos Aires I finished still up in the air en route to Ushuaia. The story continues ...
Events of Tuesday, 1st March 2016
On the Charter flight from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia, I was in an aisle seat without a very good view. Nonetheless, the approach to our destination still impressed me. Fairly unusually for this area, bright sun flooded the area, showing off this isolated, fast-growing town which is surrounded by jagged, snow-covered mountain ranges. Government subsidy has helped Ushuaia, which is situated on the southern tip of Argentina in Tierra del Fuego and accessed by sea from the Beagle Channel, become the main access port for tourists taking cruises in the Antarctic region.
Approaching Ushuaia, with snow-covered mountains in the background
As we approached the small, modern airport, I spotted the outlines of the ship I was joining, the ‘Silver Explorer’, moored at the single jetty which thrusts out from the town into Ushuaia Bay. We taxied to the architect-designed wooden terminal building and were soon walking across the apron, in balmy weather, to be re-united with our checked luggage at the single baggage conveyor. On leaving the rather cramped Baggage Hall, Silversea staff relieved us of our large bags and distributed the passengers amongst three modern, bright blue tour buses.
All this logistical work took a few minutes, then we set off, with the Beagle Channel on our left, towards the National Park area. Whilst the road was surfaced in the town itself, it soon became a dusty, fairly rutted surface of stone. A large Scraper machine was driving up and down a section of this road, repeatedly ploughing the loose stone to improve the surface. We passed the ‘Fin Tren del Mundo’ (the Train at the End of the World), the tourist railway where I was made so welcome on my previous trip to Ushuaia (February, 2007, part of my Round The World Trip 4. Ushuaia is described here and details of the complete trip are here) but carried on for lunch at at the Patagonia mia Casa de Te Restaurant, situated a little before the entrance to the National Park.
The Patagonia mia Casa de Te Restaurant
After a convivial meal, the buses finally took us to our ship. On board, our passports were collected, an identity photograph was taken and we were issued with our credit card sized ‘room key’ which would also be used to log us off and on the ship during shore visits.
At 5.30 p.m. there was a mandatory lifeboat drill, starting with a briefing in the Theatre, after which we had to demonstrate that we could correctly don our lifejacket. Thus adorned, we were taken, Indian-style, in groups to assemble on deck 6 near two of the lifeboats. We were then released, to re-assemble at little later in the Theatre for introductions to key personnel from the Hotel Department and to the Expedition Team. Before the Cruise Director had quite finished, the ship slipped away from the quay and we all trooped up to the various outside decks to watch the ship make its way down the Beagle Channel as the sun set astern of us.
View astern as the ship left Ushuaia.
Many of the passengers were keen photographers or ornithologists (or both) and there was an impressive display of camera equipment on display. By 8.0 p.m., we were losing the light so there was a general exodus towards the Restaurant at the stern of the ship for Dinner.
Next South Atlantic post.
All my South Atlantic posts.
You can find all my pictures on the trip in the Collection Cape to Cape (still being added to, at the time of writing).
There are a few pictures of the trip in the album South Atlantic Voyage.
['Cape to Cape' collection added 5-Apr-2016]