Arriving in Tierra del Fuego was super exciting, the scenery dramatically changed from that of Buenos Aires, as did the temperature! Stepping out of the airport to a view of snow capped peaks knowing we would be amongst them in the coming days was a great feeling. But First we needed the bikes! Thankfully they made it intact, the time and effort taken to pack them obviously paid off. We unpacked everything and built and loaded the bikes then finally we were putting foot to pedal for the first time.
Having just got used to Buenos Aires riding into Ushuaia brought back the familiar feeling of being fairly overwhelmed. It’s a totally different place, an industrial-feeling port city with a heavy side of tourism. We rode across town to get our bearings but it being lunch time and having been up since 3am we got in the first place we found to fill ourselves with food. After a bit more of a wander through town we headed to our WarmShowers host’s place just out of town, where we would be staying for a few days. As luck would have it Christian arrived back home just as we got there. He’s a super friendly guy actually from Ushuaia, who spent 11 years traveling from Ushuaia to Alaska and back again. His knowledge of the Americas is hugely impressive. Just the kind of guy a couple of newbies like us need to be staying with.
After a healthy dose of local knowledge from Christian we decided our first ride would be to the national park of Tierra del Fuego, an easy 20km away. The park is beautiful, and because September is definitely before the real tourist season starts it was quiet too (the park is also free to enter until October 1st). We were the only ones pitching up on the free camp site that night, not overly surprising as it did drop to a few degrees below freezing. Our good quality Mountain Equipment sleeping bags that we splashed out on really are awesome! It was great to be sleeping under canvas again and with these views, it was a fun first two days of riding.
The park is fairly small and exploring it by bike doesn’t take overly long, so the next morning to make the most of it and see as much as possible we did one of the hiking trails. Following the shores of Lago Roca it takes you to the Argentine-Chilean border in the middle of the forest. Walking through ancient forest, blue skies over head, with the only audible sound being the lake lapping at the shore made for a lovely few hours. The ride back to town gave us time to make a bit of a plan for the coming days.
Another great evening of socialising with (and learning) from Christian, and a solid nights sleep and we were up reasonably early to begin our last day in Ushuaia. Surprisingly it didn’t involve bikes, we figured there would be enough of that in the days to come!
Under a cloudy sky we hiked from town up towards the Martial glacier. The trail was ace, following a river through the forest, and for the first couple of miles a local dog followed us from town (dogs just run free around here). Disappointingly the chairlift to the very top was closed, and due to the less than ideal weather conditions we didn’t feel like the extra 2 hour hike to the top was really worth it. The views from the base of the chairlift were reasonable anyway, and the walk itself was great so we headed back towards town on a slightly different trail which was also brilliant. It also seems like there is a bit of an MTB scene here too, as the trail up had some sweet turns and jumps built in it, made me (Ben) crave a proper bike for sure!
It feels like we have been hitting all the tourist things over the last week so we are both really excited to be starting our ride for real tomorrow. Saying bye to Ushuaia and heading north towards the mainland is the first step. We’re expecting mountains and headwinds and all kinds of fun. We’ll let you know how we get on!
Chau for now!
Ben and Steph