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Sea Lions and Cormorants: Beagle Channel boat trip
Elusive Patagonia

Day 11: A sea lion among a colony of Imperial cormorants Day 11: A sea lion among a colony of Imperial cormorants (George Sloan)
For our last day in Ushuaia and the final scheduled activity of our trip, we took a half-day boat ride on the Beagle Channel. Having read Darwin's ''The Voyage of the Beagle'' in preparation for our time in Patagonia we just had to travel the same waterway that he did, and try to see the landscape as he saw it for the first time. Darwin described the Beagle Channel as ''about one hundred and twenty miles long, with an average breadth, not subject to any very great variation, of about two miles; and is throughout the greater part so perfectly straight, that the view, bounded on each side by a line of mountains, gradually becomes indistinct in the long distance.'' Our tour took us to island colonies of cormorants and sea lions, and around Faro les Eclaireurs, a lighthouse in the middle of the channel. It was a real treat to be so close to the sea lions. We could have stayed there all day watching them. Argentina maintains its sovereign rights to the Isles Malvinas, or Falkland Islands. This sentiment is particularly strong in Ushuaia, because of its proximity to the islands. While we were there the city was preparing to commemorate the 1982 Falkland War with Great Britain in which 750 Argentines lost their lives. Politics aside, the Malvinas memorial, with its vacant silhouette of the islands facing out to sea, is an incredibly sobering and artistic monument to loss -- of the war dead and of the islands themselves. Patagonia wished us a fond farewell with a full rainbow as we departed Ushuaia to start our journey back home. The perfect ending to a fabulous adventure. (see Day 12 photos)

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