Ushuaia, Argentina ~ Tierra del Fuego

December 26th

Ushuaia, Argentina

Ushuaia, Argentina is a relatively small city, located about as far south as one can go without swimming or living on Antartica. This is the southernmost city in the world and the capital of Tierra del Fuego. Known as “The End of the World”, it sits on a U-shaped harbor in the Beagle Channel, where many an arctic explorer has departed from. Originally populated as a penal colony, today the town is home to over 70,000 full-time residents. 

I’m including a few maps to try to orient you to where we are. Tierra del Fuego is in black on the second map, all the way to the south of Argentina.

Not docking today until noon, we were instructed to wait for our scheduled tour in the Princess Theater. Not quite as efficient as normal, it took us an hour before we managed to get off the ship and into our waiting bus for our half-day excursion entitled “Maritime Museum and Mountain Drive”. I was mainly interested in seeing more of the scenery, especially the gorgeous mountains, and this tour included the Tierra Mayor Valley, and views of Lago Escondido/Lago Fagnano.

I have found the excursions on this cruise to be especially expensive – even more than normal. But they do have us rather at their mercy, as having traveled this far, we do not want to miss seeing some of the wonderful sights we have traveled so far to witness. This five-hour tour was $205.95 per person. Gulp!!!

Driving through town, I got a kick from how they managed to embrace their penal colony origins with fanciful characters hanging from the windows as if escaping from custody.


Emerald Princess in the harbor

Another stop at a roadside cafe, where we spotted dozens of dogs, each chained to his/her own dog house. They were enthusiastically waiting their turn to be harnessed to pull an all terrain vehicle during the summer, or a sled during the winter.

Dogs used for sledding and pulling ATV’s

One of our first vista photo stops was at Valle Carbajal with the snow-capped mountain peaks in the background.

Tim and Joanne at Valle Carbajal

Panorama in the mountains

On to Lake Escondido, also called “Hidden Lake”, for both close up and hillside views.

Lago Escondido

View point for Lago Escondido

While at the overlook, one of the guides spotted two enormous condors soaring high overhead. These amazing birds have an impressive TEN FOOT wingspan. They appear so tiny in my picture, but I was still thrilled at having seen them in the wild.

Those black dots are the condors (use your imagination)

Moving on down the road, our guide spotted a local mushroom growing as a parasite and stopped to pick up three so that we could examine them. They are edible, but supposedly have no flavor.

Wild Mushroom

The red looking ground is a peat bog. They do not use the peat for burning or heat here as we witnessed in Ireland. Instead it is used to fertilize their gardens. Heat is provided by very inexpensive natural gas.

Red ground is a peat bog

Stopping once again at the same roadside cafe, Las Cotorras refuge (a winter sports area), where we had earlier seen the dogs, we were treated to a small feast of local beef empanadas, a mixture of sandwiches were offered, as well as a variety of sweet pastries. Wine, coffee (served from a 50-year old jug), juice or a mug of the BEST hot chocolate were also included.

Coffee pot used daily for 50 years!

The final stop on our tour was for a 45-minute wander through the museum. Four sections were available for us to explore. The first section told about the penal colony and how the prisoners were housed/fed/treated (or mistreated).

Inside each cell detailed what life was like for the prisoners

Section two was an art exhibition.

Art gallery section

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Section three was the empty jail section which honestly gave me the creeps. The energy in there was oppressive, as if the ghosts of former prisoners still lingered, trapped in their agony. I could not get out of there fast enough.

Too many ghosts in here

Could not wait to get out of this section

Section four, included a gift shop, painted penguin statues plus an adorable five-minute looped video on penguins which certainly helped lighten the mood.

These guys were cute

Back on board, we enjoyed viewing the beauty of the harbor town from our balcony, relaxed a while in our cabin and ate a late dinner in the Horizon Court Buffet.

Another view of the harbor

View from our balcony

Panorama from the pool deck

Tomorrow will be a day at sea, with us passing by Cape Horn in the morning.

FUN FACT: Charles Darwin spent five years exploring the tip of South America in his ship, “HMS Beagle” and the Beagle Channel was named as a tribute to his vessel.

GRATITUDE MOMENT: Today I am grateful that we got to get outside of the city and see more of the stunning countryside, lakes and snow-capped Andes mountains.

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About Tim and Joanne Joseph

Hi and welcome! We are Tim and Joanne Joseph and we have just embarked on our latest adventure. We hope you will join us!
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40 Responses to Ushuaia, Argentina ~ Tierra del Fuego

  1. bknbowswbellnet says:

    Nice post. Beautiful pictures. It was great to see a part of the world I will probably never get a chance to see. Thank you for sharing. Best wishes for your further adventures.


  2. sheilsm says:

    Happy New Year! Thank you for sharing this wonderful trip with us!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. leahlarkin says:

    Thanks. Brings back memories of a visit several years ago.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Trish Hatcher says:

    As always, loving your photos and commentary! I do want to see a photo of you wearing that gorgeous necklace Tim bought you in Morocco! Happy New Year!!


  5. Claire says:

    Have been following your blog for several months now and it’s one of the only ones I always open and read! We love to travel and have spent the last three summers on cruises in Northern Europe, the Med and the British Isles, respectively so your posts are always like being on the adventure with you guys!
    Now… I must know. What of the elusive mystery dinner companions?? 🙂
    Happy new year!!


  6. joylennick says:

    You and Tim might have to take up busking before you’re through travelling. Any good with a banjo? Or The Time Step? Yet more dramatic photos to add to your collection. Can imagine the prison was creepy…(like the Coliseum in Rome – couldn’t wait to leave that…) Wishing you both the healthiest and happiest New Year.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Widdershins says:

    Hopefully ‘the Horn’ let you pass without too much trouble. 😀


  8. Jill says:

    We booked for the same tour but only paid $A129.95 per person. I can’t understand why you had to pay so much more. We booked our excursions about 3 months ahead. I don’t know if that makes a difference. Anyway, it all sounds good and we are looking forward to following in your footsteps!


    • Jill, I wonder if the tours were perhaps more expensive due to it being the holidays???


      • Jill says:

        Well, that’s a thought I guess, although I was speaking to Princess yesterday and the lady said she didn’t know why there was such a price difference. She could only comment on what we paid. It doesn’t leave you much choice unfortunately. Anyway, it seems a lovely trip so I hope you enjoy it, and I’m very excited to get on board.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. joliesattic says:

    Beautiful scenery. I’d love to climb those mountains. I understand how you felt about the prisons, I felt the same way about those on Alcatraz. There’s something oppressive there and in the back of your mind, you know that what lingers, you don’t want to really know about. I understand why some prisoners would want to end their lives.
    Glad you’re having a great trip. As you can tell by previous comments, we all live vicariously through you. I can hardly wait for my husbands retirement!


  10. tippysmom2 says:

    Beautiful scenery! I do think that is a little over the top expensive for a 5 hour tour. Geeze! Not sure I would want to drink that coffee, unless I could make sure the inside looked a whole lot better than the outside did. LOL I would have been tempted to taste test that beautiful mushroom. The penguin statues are very cute. The empty cell area did look very creepy. Thanks for sharing your journey with us.


  11. Shelley says:

    We visited Antarctica in 2011 with National Geographic, boarding and disembarking in Ushuaia. It was fun seeing that lovely little city again.
    Hope you have a smooth passage through “The Drake”.


  12. A Little Claireification says:

    I don’t think my earlier comment came through… but not sure so trying again just in case as it made me login since I don’t comment much.

    I’ve been following your blog for a few months and it’s one of the only emails I always open and read. We love to travel and you guys inspire me! We spent our last three summers with our boys enjoying cruises in Northern Europe, the Med and the British Isles, respectively. I love reading your posts because I feel like I am on the journey with you both and it gives us a lot of insight for future trips!

    Now, we must know. What became of the elusive dinner companions?? The suspense looms large… 🙂

    Happy New Year to you both!!


    • I did get your first message, and just had a chance to respond due to poor internet service while on the cruise -BUT, I enjoyed your message so much, that I was delighted to get it twice. It sounds like you too have had some wonderful trips. How fortunate for your boys that they are being introduced to traveling and getting to see the world. Experiencing other cultures, is such a fabulous learning experience. Thank you for being a part of our journey.


  13. Tim Harlow says:

    Oh my gosh, what a beautiful place! Your photos are amazing. That is one place on my “bucket list”. Now I really must go. Thanks for the wonderful post. Happy travels.


  14. LTodd says:

    Penguins in a prison, what a contrast. Wonderful photos!


  15. Terry says:

    So what’s next, Antarctica? Have fun


  16. Arati says:

    Breathtaking scenery. And to see two condors, WOW!
    The tour does sound pricey and yet I can only imagine how amazing it would be to spend a few hours in such a beautiful place and the memories one is left with.
    Thank you for chronicling your journey in such detail. I so enjoy seeing your photographs and reading your descriptions.
    Wishing you a wonderful year of more adventures.


  17. curvyroads says:

    Your photos of the scenery are fabulous, as always! The art in the prison gallery was positively haunting, so I can understand your feelings in the prison portion. I now know four people who have been to Ushuaia…

    A fun story from our RV trip last spring: We were in Santa Fe and had ridden our motorcycles from our RV campground into downtown for dinner. We parked on the main square and dined on a terrace. During dinner, we saw a couple on the same exact motorcycle I own pull into the square, park by our bikes, and walk off. After dinner, we lingered around the bikes, hoping to meet the couple. A few minutes later, they came back, and we enjoyed getting to know Claudio and Cris, a young couple from Brazil who were both on a years’ sabbatical from their jobs. Despite Claudio only speaking Portuguese, Cris made up for it by translating using perfect English! They were riding two-up on a motorcycle from their home in Brazil, had already been south to Ushuaia, and were on their way to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, and then back home again via the East Coast. We were in AWE! We kept up with their journey via Facebook and Instagram, and they are now home safely, with a lifetime of memories to cherish. 🙂


    • Wow! What an amazing trip that must have been from tip to tip. And how nice that you got to meet them and visit and then continue to follow them. We have met so many wonderful people through our travels and also through this blog – just like you! Thank you for always faithfully following along and offering your kind comments and sharing bits and pieces from your own life as well.

      Liked by 1 person

      • curvyroads says:

        Thank you for so thoroughly and consistently reporting your amazing travels! I know how tough it is to make the time to blog in a timely manner, and must admit to not being able to do it. But you are right, we too have met so many wonderful people through the virtual world, and it makes the travel experiences we have even richer. And we get to see even more fabulous places! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

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