After the continental breakfast, we were picked up at 8:30 am, by a small bus. Valentine was our guide for activities at Tierra Del Fuego National Park, about 30 minutes away. The other members of our group this day were Nicholas from Australia, Senia from Russia, 3 women traveling from Barcelona and a father and daughter from Argentina. We arrived at the very scenic park, on the Beagle Channel, with the snow covered mountains of Chile in the distance. The Yamani (aka Fuegian) indigenous people thrived on this land for 7000 years. The English discovered the Beagle Channel and landed in Ushuaia in 1828, on the first of two Fitzroy voyages. The entire native population of about 3000 disappeared by 1900, victims of the English colonization. We began the 4 mile hike in bright sunshine, no wind and very pleasant 50°F temperature. We hiked along shoreline and hilly forest trails. We saw wild horses. We stopped to take pictures of a falcon, just a few feet away form us, on the rocks by the shoreline. At the first rest stop, Valentine served a nice mid-morning snack of homemade muffins and a hot beverage. I tried the national drink - hot (yerba) matte, an herbal tea. (Valentine carried two thermos' with hot water in his backpack.) Late morning a light rain began falling. On the steep forest trail we encountered lots of mud in the middle of the trail. We hit the low point of our trip when Nina sank knee deep into a mud hole. With one leg stuck in the mud, Nina had to be pulled out. Between the mud and rain, we welcomed the lunch break. A large picnic table in a tent awaited the group. We were served cold appetizers, salad, barbecued chicken, wine and homemade brownies. A German tour group of 10 occupied a 2nd picnic table. After lunch, we were outfitted with waterproof overalls and boots for a 1.5 hour canoe trip through the park, in the rain and wind. These were rather large rubber canoes, holding 6 or 7 adults. I was appointed ‘captain’ of one canoe since I was the only one experienced in steering a canoe. Since the others in our canoe had never paddled before, it was slow going. At one point, the two canoes with the Germans passed us by. They were paddling in perfect unison, singing “We are the Champions’. After the canoe trip we stopped near the park exit to see the landmark 'End of the Pan American Highway' sign. We then proceeded to the nearby path to a scenic waterfall. When we got back to the Linares late that afternoon, a shower and dry clothes never felt better. The Linares sent our muddy pants and socks to a laundry, for just $8. We had dinner at the highly rated and very reasonable Bodegon Fueguino, a few blocks from the Linares, on San Martin. We enjoyed homemade soup and two different and unusual lamb entrees, from an extensive list of lamb entrees.
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