We tried to make the most of our limited time in Ushuaia. As soon as we arrived we have whisked away for a surprise adventure Franny had planned for us, an afternoon of horseback riding. I was truly delighted that we had the opportunity to ride horses, one of my favorite activities, at the end of the world. When our guide heard we were from Montana he quickly decided we weren’t the typical tourists and let us know we were going somewhere special. He pointed to the top of a lumpy mountain and said, “that’s where we’re going.” I thought that was a joke, although the surrounding peaks made this particular mountain look small it was still really far away. Up we went, on dirt roads, across streams, narrow trails, through the forest and then up some more. We were off our horses scrambling up rocky faces and then back on bushwacking our way through the trees.
Once we got to the edge of the hill, above treeline, and we had a clear view I was completely amazed. I couldn’t stop taking photos with my phone, one-handed while bouncing along the trail of course. We watched the weather move in quickly and got pelted with rain for a bit before the sun came out. The weather reminded me of Montana, "if you don’t like it just wait 5 minutes" oh wait.. I think they say that about everywhere. After a total of about 2.5 hours, we arrived at the top. We had an incredible 360 view. Ushuaia in one direction, the Beagle Channel, and Tierra del Fuego National Park in the other. A rainbow appeared directly over Ushuaia. And it was stunning. Our guide gave us sandwiches and tea and we huddled on the mossy rocks to take a break and stretch our legs. Of course, we also took the opportunity to snuggle with the sweet dog who followed us the whole way. When we asked our guide what his dog’s name was he looked at us with a confused expression and said it wasn’t his.
The rest of our limited free time was spent exploring the town, shopping, and looking for worthy restaurants. My favorite culinary experience was a restaurant Franny had heard of where we got to pick out our very own King crab. We got to take photos with it and giggled to ourselves that it was nearly as big as we were. We opted to share one and also ordered a delicious seafood appetizer. Us landlocked folk have to take advantage of being near the ocean! We left more than happy & stuffed.
We also met up with some of Franny’s travelers who were departing the day before us. It was great to exchange travel stories and share in our excitement for our upcoming voyages. Although we were on different ships, we all were feeling the same anticipation for crossing the Drake Passage in the upcoming days.
With the time before our embarkation, we decided to follow the recommendation of our hotel staff and hike up toward the Martial glacier. There is a ski lift that takes people up part of the way, but it wasn’t working at the time, so we walked a few miles uphill and enjoyed the sunshine and fresh air. We knew we'd be crossing the Drake soon and wanted to stretch our legs as much as possible. Although we didn't make it all the way to the glacier before deciding to turn around, we could see the tiny people dots on the glacier itself.