Our morning began after a quick breakfast when Augustus, our guide fetched us from the guest house and we were soon driving through the landscape of Ushuaia. Our journey involved navigating several winding, unfinished roads and husky breeding farms. We were excited to hear how these plains were used for the huskies cross-country racing during the months of winter. Even though we would have loved to experience this, Summer in Ushuaia was more than we could handle.
Our van stopped at the Bay, where those of us who wished to canoe were given gum boots and waterproof pants. Nanita and I were excited about our first canoeing experience ever and happily joined the two other Spaniards for the adventure. The excitement soon turned into quite a struggle to get forward and keep up the rowing movement. Our arms felt sore while our backs hurt with our diagonal seating positioning. I must admit I did cheat a bit with my superficial rowing action while others struggled to move the canoe forward. Canoeing through the ocean waters wasn’t quite as easy as I had imagined but the whole way through we had a very entertaining time, halting briefly for some photographs.
Hiking with Mother Nature
Our 3 hour hike involved passing through the private lands of Gable Island. The trail involved passing through very picturesque landscapes - from the violet hues of the Lupin flower to the icy mint green lakes…From the Lenga trees, to the lush shrubbery.. From the ‘canary’ shores of the lake to lonely lagoons… This trail got even more fascinating when we passed the abandoned Beaver colony. The Government had introduced to the region a host of beavers but not their predators which led to the multiplication of beavers in the area from 25 couples to 40,000 beavers today. The massive ecological damage caused by the beavers really seemed to have infuriated the people of Ushuaia. I was particularly intrigued by ‘Lechin’ what the locals called ‘Old Mans Beard.’ It survived in the region as proof of the purity of the air. The vegetation was abound with trees with superficial roots, a lot of which had fallen due to the tempestuous winds and their inability to withstand them. These were left to decompose naturally so that the place remained lush.
Patagonia’s Playful Penguins
After an appetizing packed lunch of sandwiches and of course some vino, we boarded a speed boat to the penguin colony. The Halberton Farm had some unexpected visitors who made it their home - the Penguins. Most were Magellan penguins, typically the black and white kind; apart from a couple of Gentoos we saw who came all the way from the Antarctic. Their fur like collar and bright orange beaks made them stand out like some exotic breed. I must admit I was a bit disappointed as there weren’t quite as many penguins as I had expected, but none the less walking amidst them was extremely thrilling.
The penguins playfully waddled around in and out of the icy blue waters feeling completely unthreatened by our proximity to them. They were quite occupied waterproofing their bodies with the oil from their tail. Wouldn’t it be great if we all had some similar way to keep ourselves warm! The icy winds made us feel like our fingers would fall off, even for those brief few seconds when we took off our gloves to capture some photographs. We saw a few baby penguins ashore that weren’t yet water-proofed to take a plunge into the ocean.
We concluded our day watching the sky set ablaze and breaking into iridescent colors as the firework celebration took place at the port of Ushuaia. Ships from several South American countries were docked at the Austral Harbor for the celebration of 200 years of independence. All I could see were heads pouring in, to be a part of this excitement. Drum beats in the back drop, this was just sheer luck and we ended the day on a fabulous note.