Crossing the Magellan Strait

Crossing the Magellan Strait

Puerto Natales to Ushuaia, 7am bus, 13h ride to Philippe’s dream town, 760km

As a little boy I used to watch a show on French TV where the main acts were sailors, adventurors, boat racers, well, Robinson Crusoe type of people telling their adventure stories. The show was presented by Nicolas Hulot and called “Ushaia”. At that time, I didn’t know Ushaia was a place, but the show sure made me dreaming.

As a slightly bigger boy, I filled those gaps. Started sailing and had other places sticking in my mind; Magellan Strait, Cape Horn, Beagle Channel…

And finally we are in Ushaia. The self-proclaimed southernmost town in the world (not true, its Port Williams a few miles away). At first it looks like any other touristy port town – it’s almost a bit disappointing.

To get here, we took the 7am bus from Puerto Natales. After a 2.5h ride, we were dropped with some other travellers in the middle of nowhere being asked to wait for the connection to arrive. Hop off. The waiting time was shortend by a sheep who came to see if there was something to eat in those big backpacks. 15 minutes later the connection to Ushaia arrived from the other side of the “Ruta del fin del Mundo”. Hop on.

The ride continued for hours through vast “nothingness”, occasional estancias (large-scale ranches) and thousands of sheep where your next neighbor may well be hundreds of “gravel roads” kilometers away.

A little later (i.e. some hundreds km away), we crossed the Magellan Strait, the waterway cutting off the southern tip of South-America, connecting the Atlantic with the Pacific ocean. Again, it was nothing but a 20 minute ferry ride from one side to the other. And the other side is called “Tierra del Fuego” (Land of Fire).

Around 3 pm we crossed the border from Chile to Argentine. There we had the living proof that multi-tasking is possible in laid-back Patagonia. The border control guy was discussing loudly and at length his personal house purchasing project on the phone while occasionally pushing that big fat “Exit Chile” stamp on our passports. Patience is helpful.

Close to Ushuaia the landscape changed drastically from the very flat, dry brownish land with occasional grasses to green forest with a snow-scattered high mountain range backdrop.

Now we’re off for a Beagle Channel boat trip. Hasta pronto.

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