We flew from Santiago to Buenos Aires Thursday morning. Trying to get from EZE airport in Buenos Aires to our hostel, Granados Hostel, proved expensive and an effort. That’s the worst part about airports. Transfers. Taxis are expensive but take you door to door. Busses are cheaper but drop you only at certain points. Wifi doesn’t allow you to book Uber’s and when lugging big bags, you don’t really want to walk. So we asked about the bus which went to the other airport in Buenos Aires, yet they charge you the same when getting dropped off at the edge of town, then asked at a taxi rank, tried to find wifi, failed, so ultimately had to book the bus. The ArBus. We got on and were dropped off somewhere on a main road, which enabled us to walk the two miles, lugging our 23kg bags on our bags, to our hostel. Good job the weather was nice and cool. Oh wait. It wasn’t. It was blue sky and warm. Less than ideal.
We finally got to our hostel, dumped our bags and headed out to find food and cash, we decided to eat at the restaurant just downstairs and ordered wine, beer, pizza and a burger which filled us up and we went out to find an ATM. Treating ourselves to some local beverages, we then packed what we needed in our small bags allowing us to leave our big bags in the hostel for when we returned from Ushuaia. Our flight was at 4am Friday so an uber took us to AEP airport for 2am, where we checked in and sat waiting to board. The flight was three and a half hours and we flew over snow capped mountains before landing around 730am.Landing and exiting the airport took no time at all, but the temperature was 0 degrees. It was only a couple of miles to our hostel, La Posta Hostel so we walked along the beautiful waterfront with amazing views of the town and the mountains.Our room wasn’t ready as it was too early, so we indulged in croissants, which were delicious, and some tea and juice, before putting our bags in the luggage room and venturing the two miles into town. The walk was lovely, the air crisp and cold. We just aimlessly wandered round for a few hours taking in the sights around us.
The views were just beautiful. We were officially in the most southern town in the world. Surrounded by mountains. The Main Street, San Martin, housed souvenir shops, tour agencies, restaurants, hostels, rental shops and a supermarket. What we found out was that pretty much every shop closes between 1 and 4pm every day and some don’t open Sundays at all. The sky was beautifully clear and bright blue so we took our hosts advise and booked a Beagle Channel tour for the afternoon. Yate Tango was to be our boat and we boarded at 3pm.
The views behind us looked back on the town and the mountains. It got colder as we ventured further out to sea and we headed for Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse first of all. There were big boats taking dozens of people but I preferred our smaller intimate boat of ten people. We were given tea, coffee, hot chocolate and cake. It was like a mini all inclusive.We passed the lighthouse and headed towards Isla Bridges. On the floor of the boat there was a map determining the depths of the waters around us. The deepest was just under 300m deep off the coast of Chile. As we pulled up to Isla Bridges we disembarked and followed our guide around the stony beach and then up to the top for some magnificent views of the channel and the islands.
The tour in total was four hours long. It was so good. The last stop we had on the tour was to seal island. Basically a rock which had hundreds of birds sitting on it and dozens of seal lions, which smelt less than delightful. I’ve never seen so many birds or sea lions in one place. There were some huge males too.It was a great tour to start off our days down in Ushuaia. As we returned to shore, we were given beer and we had vouchers from booking the tour, so we visited the shops, picked up our free gift, a map, and headed back to our hostel just as the sun set.The town was so quaint and lovely. The walk was wonderful and when Saturday morning came, we enquired how we could get to Martial Glacier. Simple Answer? Take a metered taxi up to the little cabin at the top. We did that, then asked how to reach the Glacier. The language barrier proved troublesome one here and all we got was “left right path.” So, we went out, and began climbing up a relatively steep icy slope. Not snow, ice. We only had our walking boots on and the first people we passed walking down, were sensible and had crampons on. We had to resort to trekking through the tree line getting branches pinging into our faces, and traversing the very narrow slightly snowy path up the edge of the icy slope. Less than ideal. The higher we climbed, the more ferocious the wind got and the colder it became.It even began to snow! It was magical. We passed more people walking down, in sensible attire, and also down the middle of the mountain. We walked over to where they had walked and crossed a bridge finding ourselves underneath the ski lift which was shut. We had found snow instead of ice to walk on. After snapping some photos, we walked down until we reached a tree line which appeared to let us go no further. That meant turning round, walking back up to the bridge and walking back down the way we came. Of course, Nathan had found an easy way to get down. He had found a door on the way up and used that to slide down parts of the mountain. I meanwhile, was on video duty.Whilst tiring it was a fun morning. As we began to descend, we passed the people who managed to walk through the tree line that made us turn back. So, unbeknownst to us, the whole time we were trying to climb the icy slope, there was a whole other path we could have been walking up. And it looked so damn easy!! We were kicking ourselves when we got to the bottom. Thankfully, there was a taxi waiting for us to take us down into town. There, we indulged in a hotdog whilst waiting for the tour agencies to open. Once they were, we enquired about dog sledding for Sunday.
Breakfast was once again delicious and we were picked up just after ten and were dropped off at Llaves de Castro, where we would embark on our dog sled ride. A guy in the cabin ushered us outside to mother guy eating his breakfast who promptly found a sled, told us to sit and we were off, getting whizzed round this park by greysters who have a top speed of 45kph. We only had fifteen minutes but it was still awesome.
Odin was a beautiful husky just sat chilling and there were other fluffy dogs too. At the park, they do snowmobiling, hiking and another array of activities, but we opted to walk along the side of the road for a couple of miles, towards Ushuaia Blanco. The snow was so thick and white and the walk was anything but terrible. Ushuaia Blaco, was similar to Llaves de Castor, except that they had dozens of beautiful huskies. There were also people learning how to cross country ski, a restaurant, gift shop and cafe and a cute little hut where the owners served hot drinks and cake.
The huskies were amazing. There was a whole mix of different dogs and they were swapping them over on the sleds. After we went to get tea and cake we came back outside to the beautiful Baylou whom I fell in love with and wanted to take home. Sadly that can’t happen apparently. So I’m left with this photo.
After we treated ourselves to a ham and cheese toastie we walked back to Llaves making snow angels and throwing snowballs. Childish but fun. Our jeep picked us up around 3 and when we got back to town we enquired on how much it would be to rent ski and snowboard gear for the Monday. The guy in Poppers rental was extremely helpful and we got trousers, skis and boots, snowboard and boots, helmets and poles cheaper than we had anticipated. We also got our ski passes there and arranged our transfer to pick us up at 820am Monday.
We filled our stomachs and bag with croissants and got to the mountain about 920 and watched some extremely fast slalom skiers flying down the mountain until the lifts opened to the public ten minutes later. There were so lifts up from the bottom and we obviously chose the one with the easiest run at the top seeming as it was Nathan’s first time on a snowboard ever, and I had only been skiing once. First success was not falling off the ski lift, that came later. It took us an age to get down the run first time as Nathan ended up winding himself and twisting his knee but once the first time was out the way, he rarely fell.It was so much fun. I was surprised how quickly it came back to me. We went up and down the same run a few times and then proceeded to the magic carpet where we went up and down as Nathan tried to master getting down without landed on his butt. The sun was shining and it even started snowing. It felt so good successfully getting down the mountain, except when I did fall off the ski lift and got my leg trapped underneath it resulting in a nice black bruise and a dead leg.
We got a beer and a glass of wine at the bottom to celebrate no broken bones and our lift to town arrived at 330. There, we had to wait until 5 with all our gear, for the shop to open so we could return it all. Our last day in this beautiful town we spent it sat in the town and visiting the viewpoints. We were going to go to the national park but only one trail was open and we wanted to explore the whole park. A hot chocolate and another toastie was on the cards as we wandered round this beautiful place. The best part? We woke up and it had been snowing all night. The town was covered in a white powdery blanket.It so felt like Christ. It suddenly jumped to being December. Snow, white sky, hot chocolate, all we needed was a Christmas tree!!
We were quite sad to leave this magical place but it was time to return to Buenos Aires. Our flight left at 2 on Wednesday and once we landed, we exited in the usual quick fashion of these overseas airports before the delightful task of the transfer arose.
Until next time…