Ushuaia – The Last Destination Of Argentina Before Antarctic Territory!
Known for its rich ethnic mix of people and for being the second largest country on the South American continent, Argentina is for sure among the world’s fascinating holiday destinations to visit. Some Europeans refer to the Argentine people as “Argies,” a colloquialism given by Falkland Island War vets.
The southern most town in Argentina is Ushuaia, a town named by early British missionaries using the native Yamana name for the area. It is a tiny community sitting on Beagle Sound at the country’s extreme tip and deservedly Ushuaia is known for being at the bottom of the earth. The world’s southern most point, it is the last stop before Antarctica.
The city has a cosmopolitan population, because of the descendents of the immigrants that arrived to Ushuaia searching best opportunities of living and where charmed by the beauty of this unique place.
What Is All The Fuss About Ushuaia?
For most Antarctic travellers Ushuaia is the beginning and end of their southern adventure. 1500 miles south of Buenos Aires, Ushuaia, a town of 50,000, has prospered by being the Argentinean port for many of the Antarctic cruise ships. The town is worth exploring on its own. Walking around Ushauaia will compensate for the sea voyage two days out and two days back from the the Antarctic.
From the cruise ship pier and the coastal street called Maipu, the mountains of Chile can be seen across the Beagle Channel. From the port are the departure of boats to Beagle channel, to discover De los Pájaros Island, De los Lobos Island and Les Eclaireus lighthouse. Other excursions goes farther and gets to Martillo Island, where is a penguin colony.
Above Ushuaia loom the ends of the Tierra del Fuego mountains. Along the shore you can observe many sea birds such as terns and gulls, and giant petrels gliding like miniature albatrosses. Nearby is the Argentinean 1982 Isla Malvinas War Memorial, (the Falkland Islands’ War) in the shape of a steel map. Antarctic souvenirs can be found on the pier, at the nearby artisans’ market, and one block up, along San Martin, Ushuaia’s main street. On San Martin the tourist centre is a good starting point to explore the town.
San Martin has a wide range of restuarants, from those specializing in meat (parrrillas) and king crab, to pizzas, and to local cafes like Bananas. The public post office on San Martin is in a distinctive “Swiss chalet” building, and it always has a crowd around its doors. (The Argentinean private postal system is less accessible). Along San Martin are Internet cafes (locutorios) where, with a long distance number you can phone home direct. ATMs at the banks in the same area can sometimes be tricky; it is best to carry US dollars, and then change them into pesos at a bank.
Some Ushuaia streets perpendicular to the coast can be steep; some are even staircases. On the streets behind San Martin can be found a few examples of the old wooden vertical-boarded Tierra del Fuego houses. At 25 de Mayo half a block up from the pier is Boutique del Libro, with an extensive collection of books on the Antarctic and Patagonia.
At the east end of downtown is the Maritime Museum and Prison displaying wooden model ships, Antarctic exhibits, and a cold and grim prison, fortunately no longer used. The earlier prisoners built many of the building in Ushuaia including the cathedral and the prison.
West of Ushuaia next to the Chilean border is the Tierrra del Fuego National Park. Minibuses from the pier and Maipu travel the twelve kilometres to the park’s entrance. English and Spanish brochures are available for short or long walks amidst beautiful coastal scenery, many birds, and guindo trees (evergreen beeches). Under the trees with the perennial canopy it is dark and often bare of vegetation. The park centre has food, liquor, cakes, a fireplace, souvenirs, and even a TV.
A few hours flight from Buenos Aires, Ushuaia is frequently visited by students and free-spirited travelers hoping to catch space available on a cruise ship taking passengers to Antarctica. When the ship, isn’t sold out, sometimes these itinerant travelers can get passage at a greatly reduced price on the roundtrip fare to Antarctica, while other tourist arrive fully paid and ready to embark on going to Antarctica by ship.
Wildlife attractions include birds, penguins, seals and orcas many of them have habitats on the islands in the Beagle Channel. Ushuaia is surrounded by subpolar forests. The trees in Ushuaia tend to grow in the direction of the wind and are called “flag trees” because of the way they follow the wind direction and directional growth pattern.
As one would expect in such a remote and harsh location on rough seas, the town is sloped upward from the sea and nestled against a steep protective mountain. Life looks hard in Ushuaia, one’s livelihood can’t be easy this close to the South Pole. Some fish for a living, others raise sheep and then there is tourism.
Craggy saw-tooth mountains jut from the sprawling plains. The Pampas, which comes from the Indian word for “level plain,” runs inland from the Atlantic Ocean just south of Buenos Aires to the Andes Mountains. The Pampas are flat, fertile plains that cover 300,000 square miles, an area roughly half the size of Alaska and are considered exceptionally fertile and incredibly vast, but the Pampas doesn’t extend down into Ushuaia.
Other attractive of Ushuaia is the Tren del Fin del Mundo, a train full of history, who was built by the prisoners of the Austral Jail of Argentina with native elements like woods and stone. At the beginning of XX century, they also developed workshops like photography, bakery, shoemaker and a medical service, helping the establishment of the community in these faraway lands.
From Ushuaia, the visitors can also discover the amazing Antarctic Continent and the wonderful South Atlantic Islands like King George and South Shetland Islands. There are navigation through patagonian channels, getting to places like El Calafate, Bariloche and the Chilean Torres del Paine National Park.
In Ushuaia the mountains rise from the flat land on the other side of the channel. The channel coastline is rocky and irregular and probably has not changed much in million years. Ushuaia’s ethnic mix is much like that in the United States. The people, who have come to call this place home, arrived from Germany, Italy, Spain and even Ireland. Some have come to get “lost” and never plan to leave.
Other attraction of Ushuaia is Martial Glacier, part of the Martial Chain of glaciers that can be observed from any point of the city. The visitors can access to it in ski lifts from the closer ski runs, like Francisco Jerman and others.
Cerro Castor, Ushuaia – Ski at the End of the World
The main ski center of the zone is Castor Mountain, with more than 400 hectares for ski and snowboard and 17 ski runs for all levels of skiers, to enjoy the excellent quality of snow in the slopes of this mount.
ocated in a dream place, Cerro Castor Ski Resort is the most exclusive winter center of Argentina, located at the south hill of the mountain, where is protected to the winds and its excellent snow can be compared to the snow in Moscu, Russia.
The ski tracks in Cerro Castor counts with the best preparation for winter, and from the 600 meters above the level of the sea, the ground is planted with grass to retain the snow when the defrost starts. In its 600 hectares, the ski resort has 24 ski runs and a snowpark, with a slope of 800 meters.
In Cerro Castor, everyone can learn the winter sports. It counts with a team of 60 instructors to teach ski and snowboard in individual or collective classes, or also more extreme styles, like ski off piste and mountain guides service, where the students will learn rescue techniques and risk management.
For children, Cerro Castor offers a Ski School until 12 years old. There are also a Snow Kindergarden for kids from 3 to 5 years old and an excellent nursery for babies from 2 months old to two years old, located in front of the ski runs.
Because of its features, Cerro Castor offers one of the longest ski season, going from june to the middle of octuber, with enough snow to practice ski and snowboard, always at -5 degrees to 5 degrees.
Cerro Castor is also the ski resort most visited by international ski teams, who train in its excellent ski tracks, with perfect snow. To guarantee this, the mountain counts with 10 canyons to generate artificial snow from the 480 meters to the base, so the thickness in the soil is always the ideal one.
It has the best ski lifts, with capacity to carry 2700 passengers, and the ski runs together have a length of 24 kilometers.
Cerro Castor also counts with Castor Ski Lodge, a wonderful lodging with 15 cabins, full equipped with services and amenities like bathrooms with hydro massage, living with chimney and satellital television, with different capacities depending on the number of passengers, from two to ten people.
In the mountain you can also enjoy of the exquisite gastronomy of Patagonia, with excellent restaurants such as Morada del Aguila, the place of the after ski, which is located in Villa Castor at the base of the mountain, with the patagonian lamb as its specialty. Snowbar is a coffee shop that is also in the base, with capacity for 80 people. Parador Cota 480 is distinguished by its delicious sweet preparations, buffet service and desserts and also its Sushi Bar. Parador La Barra is highest in the mountain, at 600 meters and exclusive for skiers.
Besides of these excellent services, Cerro Castor is located at just 26 kilometers away from Ushuaia, offering the possibility to visit the city and its lodgings, restaurant, artisan fairs and different activities. Discover Castor Mountain and the heights at the southernmost point of the world.
In conclusion, Ushuaia is certainly found along the road less traveled and depending on your interests; all seasons have something different and pleasant to offer those who visit. The city is the perfect place to be discovered in winter and summer, with outdoor activities for every season. It offers excellent snow for winter sports like ski, dog sleighs and snowboard, mountains for trekking and hiking and many landscapes and paths for horseback riding, mountain bike, photo safaris and 4×4 adventures and channels and lakes for kayak, fishing, among many others. Enjoy your vacation to Ushuaia Argentina this year!
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