While in Buenos Aires we got an email from our very good friend Emily, who should be in Iran as I type this, on her around-the-world tour. She let us know that a friend of hers would be in Ushuaia at the same time as we’d be there.
So, we hooked up with Angela, a lovely and very inspiring lady, and had a very good evening chatting about cycle touring and hiking. Here’s Angela’s blog: http://angelainpatagonia.blogspot.com/
We checked out of our B&B, La Posada del Fin del Mundo, and headed to the tourist office to check where we could camp. There are a few campsites near Ushuaia, some are free wild camps in the National Park (though the entrance fee is $85ARG) along with a few paying ones. I had found one that people said was near/in town but their web site was dead when I was researching. At the tourist office I got the feeling that they were more interested in ticking the box which asked where you were from, rather than actually helping you. I did get some information and our passport stamped with a end of the world stamp. Apart from photos and memories, this is pretty much the only souvenir we have room to carry.
We had toyed with the idea of going on a guided boat trip on the Beagle Channel, and while I was asking around for a secure place to park our bikes I spotted some cycle tourers.
I learned where the local campsite was and some up to date route information. So the tourist office isn’t as good as the Rough Guide to Argentina made it out to be. As always, it’s best to ask around on the ground.
We settled up at the campsite, Camping El Andino at the bottom of the ski lift, and headed out to the end of the road, Routa Nacional 3, which is as far south as you can drive in Argentina.
This was our first test on the the gravel surface, el ripio, and of the dust and wind that seem to go with it. It was a stunning ride out but very dusty indeed every time a car or a bus came past. We pulled our buff headscarves up over our noses and mouths, and looked like bandits each time a vehicle passed. Some were courteous and slowed down a bit when they saw us; some didn’t.
We even managed to spot our new friend Angela who had borrowed a bike from her hostel and was on the return leg.
But wasn’t this supposed to be the world cake pootle, I hear you ask? Fear not. We had our first cake of the tour around three miles from the end of the world (as we know it). We were lucky to hit the cafe at the end of the day, as they were trying to get rid of their cakes. Always up for a cake challenge, Peli had a massive slice of berry cheesecake and I had a chocolate cake with a layer of Dulce de Leche (they do love that stuff down here). Both were very yummy indeed, and washed down with our eighteenth cup of tea of the tour.
As we arrived at the end of the Ruta Nacional 3, we spotted the Spanish couple, Ana and Jaime, whom we’d met at the Posada B&B the day before. Ushuaia is that sort of place – you just keep bumping into people!
If only I had thought of this before, but I forgot my speedos and towel, so it was only a toe dip rather than a full dip in the sea. The water was lovely – very clear and not too cold.
The light here is astounding. Since we are so far down and it’s summer here it was still very bright at 7:30pm when we headed back to Ushuaia. Since most other tourists had left the National Park by then we had the road to ourselves, which meant less dust. As the sun started to dip the wind picked up its kick and we got blow up a hill in a dust cloud which spat us out at the foot of the hill to our campsite.
We arrived back at 9pm and cooked up our dinner, which was needed as even only riding 45-50km without all our panniers we were tired. By 11pm it was still light but we crawled into our tent and soon fell asleep.
We had planned early start to take a boat tour but we awoke to heavy rain, so we laid in for a while and aimed for the afternoon one. Sadly, that one was cancelled due to strong winds, so we ended up having a relaxing day in Ushuaia, looking for maps, eating churros (again with dulce de leche) con chocolate before meeting Angela for dinner.
Tomorrow, we depart for New York :)