Ushuaia – Beagle Channel

Monday 21st December 2015

I was at the pier around 8am and the first picture I took was from “The World”, on the of the cruise ship which had stopped here and that I could easily imagine going to Antarctica.
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Ushuaia seen from the pier walk. Provocative statement: Capital de las Malvinas.
DSCF6217 (Medium).JPGPretty developed Ushuaia.
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Here is what we were about to embark for, cormorans, seals, lighthouse, penguins and the Estancia Harberton.
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First, the passenger control to pay some sea tax.
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Walking to the Francesco boat on which we would spend the morning.
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A reminder from Argentina that the Malvinas are theirs.
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Seeing Ushuaia from the boat.
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Inside the boat, although as usual I spent all my time on the deck outside with hat, gloves, rain jacket with hood and 4 layers on, enjoying the feeling of cruising on the Beagle Channel all day!
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And off we went on the Beagle Channel.
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Bye for the day Ushuaia.
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First, we saw from far an island of cormorans.
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Seen from closer.
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A little video.

Then we continued, leaving them behind us, with Ushuaia and the mountains in the background.
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Further on the Beagle Channel.
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We approached the seals island and the lighthouse.
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Lots of seals. One of them was bringing back a spider crab!

Photo of them and the one with the spider crab.
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They do look different from the sea lions of the Galapagos islands.
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Bye seals.
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Next, we saw the lighthouse called “Les eclaireurs”. It was thought that this was the lighthouse which inspired Jules Vernes when he wrote the book “The Lighthouse at the End of the World” but it is actually a lighthouse much further east on the east coast of the Isla de los Estados that he talked about in his book. Next to it where lots of cormorans.
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It is located 28 meters above sea level and is 10 meters high and 3 meters wide. It is remotely controlled and inhabited and was built in 1920 and sends light every 10 seconds when it is dark. It has solar panels on top.
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Picture time…
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I liked its reflection in the water and how it could turn into a strange bird.
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The reflections kept changing while we moved around it slowly.

We left the seals and the “Les Eclaireurs” lighthouse and continued our tour of the Beagle Channel.
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Soon we saw Puerto Williams. It is now the southern most “settlement” at the end of the end of the World but is not considered as such because it is still smaller than Ushuaia, ahah. I had a thought for Manue and Paul from T’as quoi sous ton poncho? at that moment as once they had arrived there 10 days before from Punta Arenas and had struggled finding a ship to take them to Ushuaia and had had a really cool little adventure that you can read here:
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Puerto Williams is located on Isla Navarino and I’ll repeat one more time my favourite sentence of the trip which is “If I had more time”…So if I had more time, I would have loved to do the 5-day hike located on that island that I had read about in the Lonely Planet of Patagonia about the 32 treks. But this will be for another time. I just admired the landscape of the island while we kept going south.

Soon we arrived at the Penguins island.
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Some people had disembarked from another boat and gone to see from closer some King Penguins which were staying further back. Lucky them!
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Here was the boat they had taken.
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From our boat, we stayed quite long right next to the shore and it was really cool to watch the Magellan penguins go on with their activities, entering the water, rushing like torpedos, getting out of the water, slowly, walking, looking at our bus with some puzzled eyes, putting their belly down on the rocks to lie down and warm up. Penguins are so cool!

When they swim under water, the penguins use their arms like propellors and go at an incredible speed, hundred times faster than when they walk on the rocks.

There was a group of Magellan penguins where two seemed to be kissing and were probably passing some food from one beak to another but it was funny to see this group of penguins hanging out together.

In the distance, we could see some King Penguins which are a bit taller and have some yellowish colour on their neck and head.
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We left the penguins and headed to Estancia Harberton. I was very excited to see this place which is legendary. Once upon a time, one man, Thomas Bridges, born in 1842, was part of the Anglican mission sent to Patagonia. In 1886, he resigned and established this Estancia. He was a great friend of the Yamanas and wrote an amazing dictionary about their language which is a strong insight into their culture. His son, Lucas Bridges, wrote a book called “The Uttermost Part of the Earth” which is the most detailed book one can find about the way Yamanas were living. My mum happened to offer it to me for Christmas, a few days later!!! How amazing was that. 😀
More information about Estancia Harberton on Wikipedia:
or directly on their website
DSCF6453 (Medium).JPGWhen we arrived, Tommy Goodall himself was there, in his blue overall, the great-grandson of Thomas Bridges, waiting to welcome the daily tourists who had come to visit the Estancia Harberton.
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The visit was really interesting. It was a bit hard to imagine the hardship Thomas Bridges and his wife may have gone through at the time as it looked well maintained and as the summer weather that day was so quiet and so beautiful. But I got the sense that when Isabelle Autissier wrote her book “L’amant de Patagonie” or “The Patagonian Lover”, she probably got inspired by this particular estancia and probably spent some time here while writing it. Her book gave another dimension to the visit for me as I could imagine the Yaghans on their canoes and living near the estancias the way she had described them in the book. Here are some photos of this exceptional place where the White Men and the Native Inhabitants were co-existing in harmony with a shared understanding of each other that is sadly really unique.

After the visit we headed to a building located a bit higher up to have some lunch.
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From there, the view of the Estancia and of the channel was really good.
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I shared the table with 2 other women travelling alone, one from New York who only had 2 weeks holiday and one from Mexico who was off only for a month too. It was a nice lunch and we treated ourselves. After cooking most of the time the past 2 months and knowing it was one of my last meals of the trip, I didn’t mind!
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The desert was awesome too.
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After the lunch, we walked to another building, the Acatushun Museum where a passionate woman took us around and explained us about the skeleton of sea animals.

Then we left and had three more stops on the way back by bus, one to see some trees blown by the Patagonian wind, one where we tried to see some beavers but didn’t see any and one at the Lago Escondido I had already seen the day before but which was very beautiful to see again.

We were back in Ushuaia around 6pm. The tour gave us a voucher for a free hot chocolate in one of the shop so we went there with the Mexican woman and chatted a bit.
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After that, I did some more Christmas shopping, went to have dinner at my Ushuaia WiFi headquarter and then went back to the dorms pretty late where I chatted with a few more people in the dorm. Around 10.20pm, there was this incredible sunset going on in the Patagonian sky. At that moment, the big cruise ship sounded the horn three times, announcing its departure for Antarctica. It was really exciting to see it leave and imagine what was awaiting the lucky people who were onboard! One day, maybe!
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The next day, off to explore the Tierra del Fuego National Park for the last day of my trip before to head back!!! What??? Did I say that?? Already???!!!