Monday, March 5, 2012
Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. Yes, it still has the title even though technically Puerto Williams (a small settlement in Chile) is further south. It is located in a wide bay on the southernmost coast of the island of Tierra del Fuego. Bordered in the north by the Martial mountain range (an extension of the Andes) and in the south by the Beagle Channel, Ushuaia vibrates with anticipation and exhilaration. The combination of travelers who have journeyed the Pan American Highway and have come through the wilds of Patagonia make for a city where nearly everyone you meet is on an epic, once in a lifetime adventure. But it is not some small outpost with fur trappers and the oil speculators have more modern equipment. Now, the city at the end of the world is linked to Buenos Aires by daily flights and by cruise ships with regular stops in the port. It is a combination of modern tourism with duty-free shopping and superb restaurants, Klondike-style boomtown and the gateway to one of the world’s last great wilderness, Antarctica. Our campground “La Pista del Andino” is nestled in the Andes beneath the Martial Glacier to the west of the city. It was the first ski resort in town as is evident by the now defunct and inoperable chairlift and the grass covered ski slope. Now, it is a beautiful, well maintained campground and meeting place, welcoming adventurers on bicycle, motorcycle, car or motorhome. During the day, it is quiet with most people either out sightseeing in the national park, taking boat trips on the Beagle Channel or hiking the many trails leading into the Andes and to the glacier. In the evening, the communal room, which is cozily heated by a wood burning stove and looks out over the town and the Beagle Channel is filled with the excited chatter of campers from numerous countries including Germany, Austria, Switzerland, England, Australia, Canada, the United States, a couple with their three children from Israel, with everyone relaxed and contented. Like us they have made it. Like us they will stay a while and gather memories of their visit to the southernmost city in the world.