Tag Archives: Patagonia

(Extra)ordinary Winding Roads

I love winding roads.  From the Moki Dugway (see what the heck is a Moki Dugway), to crossing the Andes, descending toward Cerro Castillo and finally ascending to Machu Picchu.  I hope you enjoy the photos as much as I loved riding on the roads.

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No Ordinary Beagle

Nope, we’re not talking about Snoopy or that breed of dog.  We’re not talking about the ship Darwin made famous either.  Well, maybe a little.  The Beagle Channel is actually named after the ship Darwin sailed in.  But it had a history before Darwin’s voyage started in 1831.

The Beagle Channel was named after the HMS Beagle during the ship’s first hydrographic survey of the channel.  During that voyage the ship’s captain committed suicide and Captain Robert FitzRoy took the helm and finished the survey.

The channel itself is a challenge to navigate and the only way a large ship can pass through its waters is with a Chilean captain at the helm.  Even then accidents still happen due to rapidly changing conditions.  There are a couple of sayings in Patagonia which allude to how rapidly the weather can change.  You can experience all four seasons in one day and if you don’t like the weather, just wait 15 minutes.

We ventured out twice on the channel on the same day.  In the morning the wind blew, it rained and heavy swells tossed the ship about.  Anyone who was brave enough to leave the warm cozy confines of the cabin would have surely been soaked from the waves breaking over the bow.  We weren’t completely certain we were going to go on the afternoon cruise.

However we decided to test the 15 minute saying and sure enough, we got the summer season that afternoon.  The Beagle Channel went from waves breaking over the bow of the ship to being as smooth as glass.  It was simply amazing.  As a result of our bravery (foolhardiness?) we were rewarded with two fantastic experiences in one day.

You’ve already enjoyed the penguins photos from an earlier post – now you get to see the Beagle Channel in all its glory.  Majestic snowcapped mountains flank each side of the channel.  On the trip we saw cormorants (a penguin cousin that can still fly) and sea lions.  We also cruised by Puerto Williams, the southernmost town in the world and a rusting wreck of a ship that ran aground.

El Fin del Mundo

Living in Chile this last year has enabled us to check off some of the places we have on our ever expanding bucket list.  For the last two weeks we’ve been traveling around the southern tip of South America and got to experience a few more things on the list.

Visiting Torres del Paine and seeing penguins in their natural habitat were on the list.  Seeing a glacier calve an iceberg is another truly worthy item on the list along with seeing really massive icebergs are a spectacle we wish everyone could experience in their life.

But today is all about the southernmost city in the world.  Ushuaia is affectionately known as the city “el fin del mundo” or “the end of the world”.  Chileans will say Puerto Williams is further south but it is a town built around a naval outpost, not a city.  So until Puerto Williams grows a lot more, Ushuaia has the honors of southernmost city in the world.

At the end of the world - iPhones work here too!
At the end of the world – iPhones work here too!

The setting is magnificent.  Bordered by the Beagle Channel and surrounded by snow capped mountains, Ushuaia is postcard perfect.  If you’re lucky the sun may come out allowing you to fully appreciate the splendor of the place.  We were fortunate to have a rare day coupled with mild breezes and relative warmth.   Well, at least for an afternoon.

For those who can afford the luxury; Ushuaia has a five star hotel.  Nope, we didn’t stay there.  However we did stay at a hotel with some great views of the Beagle Channel and surrounding mountains.

We walk a lot when on vacation and often stumble across things a bit off the beaten path.  Here are a couple of things we saw while walking plus a picture of Raeski all decked out in her finest summer clothes trudging up the wooden walkway to our hotel.