Travel

Dispatches from Antarctica: Ushuaia, Argentina

  • Feb 05, 2014
  • 434 words
  • 2 minutes
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This February, photographer Rob Stimpson will be travelling with One Ocean Expeditions on two trips to Antarctica. This is the first in a series of blogs on his travels through the southern part of the world en route to Antarctica.

I arrived in Ushuaia, Argentina just after lunch yesterday. Three jets, a couple of taxis and 11,500 kilometres later, I am on the edge of the Beagle Channel, the same channel Charles Darwin sailed up in 1833 as a young naturalist.

When I left Buenos Aires, it was a comfortable 28 C, quite the change from the -20 C at home. It’s a little different in Ushuaia though, with rain, a dusting of snow in the mountains and 30 knot winds greeting me at the planet’s most southern city.

It is mid summer in the Southern Hemisphere, similar to what it’s like in Canada in early August. Lupines are in full bloom. The days are quite long due to the 54 degrees southern latitude, similar to Edmonton. It was well past 10:30 p.m. when dusk settled in.

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Lupines in Ushuaia, Argentina. (Photo: Rob Stimpson)

The city is the jumping off place for Antarctic ship travel. A short trip across the Drake Passage gets us to the windiest, coldest, driest and highest continent on the planet. Most of the expedition ships that travel the southern polar waters can be seen at the pier at some point. The National Geographic’s ship is in port as I write.

The city is surrounded by mountains on all sides. Patagonia, with its snowcapped peaks, is a postcard view in itself. The place where most of the tourists hang out is along the main street called St. Martin. Internet cafes, restaurants and shops abound. If you are a seafood aficionado, then Kaupe is the place to go — it’s reportedly one of the best in the Southern Hemisphere.

As with most Latin American cities, some of the stores are closed for a couple of hours in mid afternoon and reopen around 4 p.m. The city comes alive in the early evening and stays up well into the night. The restaurants on the main drag are filled with locals and tourists, of which there are many, looking for last minute travel deals. If you have no schedule, walk along St. Martin Street and you will find a few bargains to Patagonia, Antarctic and other places.

Today, I sail for the Falkland Islands — a full day at sea before landing at West Point.
A black browed Albatross colony and a rock hopper penguin rookery await!

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