After breakfast, Augustine picked us up in an SUV, for activities at the remote Harberton Ranch and 2 islands in the Beagle Channel. We wished Augustine a Happy St. Patrick’s Day, but the holiday is barely recognized down here. Augustine proceeded to pick up Senia, the Russian woman on our tour the previous day, Nora from Italy, a man from Seattle and couple from NC, a German couple, and an Argentine couple. At the Canal garage, we transferred to a more spacious small bus, with the driver and the valiant Valentine already on board. English speakers sat toward the front, with Augustine as our guide. Valentine was the guide for the few Spanish speakers, towards the back of the bus. This morning was cold with showers and a few snow flurries. The 1.5 hour trip to the Harberton Ranch was on paved and gravel roads. The Harberton Ranch, the first ranch in Tierra del Fuego, and 8 islands in the Beagle Channel were given to the English Bridges family by the Argentine government over 100 years ago. The third generation of the Bridges family currently operates the ranch. The morning activity was either paddling on the Beagle Channel or a guided tour of the (unheated) natural history museum on the ranch. Given the poor weather and our 1.5 hour of paddling the day before, Nina and I chose the museum tour, along with Nora. The tour included the foul smelling out-building, where recently obtained animal specimens are cleaned. After the museum tour, we walked to the nearby boat launch, joining the rest of our group, boarding a covered zodiac. The boat sped us to Isla Martillo, a rocky, barren, wind blown, deserted island in the middle of the Beagle Channel. We spent 20 freezing minutes viewing the Magellan and Gentoo penguin colonies. Back on the zodiac, the next stop was the uninhabited but very scenic Gable Island. By this time, the group was very hungry for lunch. The cold appetizers, roast beef sandwiches, wine and homemade brownies really hit the spot. We ate at a large table in an old shack, warmed by a fire blazing from a home made wood burning stove. After lunch, we hiked for about 2 hours, across this lush island, over rolling hills and shore line. The sun was out, the wind had died down and it was very comfortable. Canadian beavers, imported to this area many years ago, have built dams and cut down many trees. The zodiac was waiting for us on the other side of the island, for the trip back to the ranch. After disembarking the zodiac, we walked about 1.5 miles to what was once the ranch's landing field for planes. The bus was parked on the former air field. On the way back to Ushuaia, classic rock music played in the background. Augustine sang all the words to Pink Floyd's - ‘Wish You Were Here’. We later learned Augustine is such a huge fan of the group, he named his dog Floyd. We got back to the Linares around 6 pm for a couple of hours rest. Due to the cold, rainy weather, we headed to the closest restaurant, Azul (on San Martin), for dinner. Azul is very clean, with modern decorations. We highly recommend Azul, based on the large shared salad with a very nicely arranged assortment of fresh vegetables and two outstanding seafood entrees, at extremely reasonable prices.
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