Ushuaia is a town in Argentina. In a prior article, I wrote that Punta Arenas was the southernmost town but I believe this claim has become a rivalry between the two. Play with the zoom on the map below. My vote for the southernmost town in Ushuaia!
WHO, WHAT AND WHERE IS A USHUAIA?
Ushuaia is about 1200 kilometers from Antarctica. It used to be known for its Naval base and prison. The Naval base is smaller than it used to be and now the prison has been converted into a museum.
Adventure Travel has given Ushuaia a huge boost in its economy and it is now often referred to as the Gateway to Antarctic expeditions. The city also serves as a starting point for travelers who wish to hike Tierra del Fuego National Park. If you are a more experienced skier, you can also spend time outside of Ushuaia at one of the many ski resorts. Are you looking for a less adventurous experience? If so, consider the Maritime Museum and Presidio which is located on the eastern end of town next to the naval base.
THE TOWN OF USHUAIA:
Tourism, tourism, tourism…As you walk through the town, you will find shops, one after another, offering all types of adventure tours. You will find a huge variety of stores selling heavy-duty outdoor gear, souvenirs, restaurants, and a few small hotels. If you are a people-watcher, the people you will witness in Ushuaia are constantly busy with the hustle-bustle of getting ready for their adventures. I found it fascinating to watch the beehive of activity!
SHOVE OFF FOR THE ANTARCTIC:
During the southern hemisphere Summer, many ships heading for Antarctica depart from the port located right in the center of town. Stop for a second and think about it; once the ship has departed, there are no sunny island retreats, no place to stop for additional supplies; just the ship, the crew, and the passengers.
Speaking of the ship, these just aren’t the normal cruise ship or cargo ships. They are specially equipped with ice breaker technology. Imagine the massive ice fields these ships must be able to sail through while keeping the ship itself as well as the crew and passengers safe. I have provided a short video to watch which explains how these ships accomplish this amazing feat.
HOW DO YOU ARRIVE IN USHUAIA?
If you aren’t arriving by cruise ship or charter boat, there is an airport nearby. But, what I found interesting is the Pan American Highway which stretches from Alaska to Ushuaia. The road is a network of roads that begins in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, and ends in Ushuaia! All in all, it is about 19,000 miles, the longest road in the world! I’m betting that many of you have been on parts of this road and didn’t realize it.
As you drive this network of roads, there is only one spot that is impassable by car; The Darien Gap, located in Panama. See the map above for the exact location of the Gap. Pretty darn cool!
The Pan-American Highway runs through 14 countries:
- The United States
- El Salvador
- Costa Rica
I am so intrigued by this ride! I remember being in Costa Rica and our guide told us we were on the Pan American Highway and I thought “Wow, I’ve been to the end of that road!” The portion of the road in Costa Rica was a dirt road, with many bunches of potholes, and very bumpy. The guide said we were getting a “Costa Rican Massage!”
MY TIME IN USHUAIA:
I had read that the Andes Mountains end in Ushuaia and that there was an actual end to the road located in Tierra del Fuego National park. My husband and I decided that this would be our adventure expedition for the day!
As we hiked through the park, we stumbled on several Magellan geese and found wetlands galore! But then, the coup de gras; we found the End of the Road! The feeling of standing at that sign, knowing I was as far south in the world **I would get was awesome, humbling, and inspiring! I love to travel so standing at that spot in our magnificent world felt like a real accomplishment and a moment that will remain with me always!
**Notice I said, “I would get”. I explored going on an Antarctic expedition, but, when I read the descriptions of the cold, and the expeditions themselves, I decided that even though I am a person who loves the adventure that was “more adventure” than I was looking for!
The wind had begun to pick up and hiking back to down became a real challenge. Walking into the wind as we were doing seemed impossible, but, we finally made it back to civilization and decided it was coffee time. As we sat drinking the well-deserved coffee, I looked up and saw a ‘Patagonia’ store! What a perfect souvenir, a Patagonia jacket from Patagonia! I didn’t see that coming, but I’ve never been one to pass up an opportunity to shop, even that far south in the world!
Getting back on that ship that day, I was exhausted yet felt exhilarated! The next day would be a sea day and rest could come then. The South American adventure was more than I could have dreamed of! I ate a fabulous dinner and when I hit the bed that night, I felt blessed to be having such a wonderful experience!
Until next time, friends, remember: “To Travel is to Live!”