Ushuaia, December 29, 2002

A pale sun greets us when we wake up on the first morning of our stay in Ushuaia. It's still early in the morning and sofar Snow capped mountains behind Ushuaia we experience no signs of a jetlag although we only arrived in Argentina yesterday. With some time left before breakfast we decide to take a stroll alongside the harbor to enjoy the early morning silence and the mirroring waters of Bahia Ushuaia. What a difference with the drizzly Ushuaia we visited two years ago.

After breakfast buses are ready to take us to Tierra del Fuego NP. A short ride over the last stretch of Panamericana brings us into the park were Cauquéns and Ruddy A pair of Cauquéns, or upland geese Headed geese stroll along the road. We leave the bus and walk uphill to a hilltop overlooking Bahía Lapataia and then continue towards the point were the Panamericana really ends. Funny that this is the same road we traveled on in Ecuador and Costa Rica originating as far north as Prudhoe Bay in Alaska. A fox at Bahía Ensenada in Tierra del Fuego NP

The scenery is beautiful. The mountains of the Darwin range show their snowcapped tops and Condor Mountain, marking the border with Chile is clearly visible. Near Bahía Ensenada we spot a curious fox. Although it doesn't run away, it keeps a safe distant when we try to follow it.

Much too soon it is lunchtime. While waiting for the last people to get in the bus, we suddenly notice a pair of Andean condors high in the sky. With a wingspan of about three meters it's the largest flying bird in the Andes Mountains. Graciously Folkloristic show they glide in the direction of the Beagle Channel and slowly dissapear out of sight. A little bit later then originally planned the time has come to leave the park.

We stop at a kind of hacienda were lunch is served. Although the meat (sheep) is a bit fat it tastes well. During lunch we're presented a folkloristic show. Elegant dancing of women is accompanied by Gauchos rhythmically clapping their hands and stamping their boots. Quite nice to see (and hear!). After lunch we spend about two hours in Ushuaia before it is finally time to board our ship, The Polar Star. The Polar Star moored in the harbor of Ushuaia

The first impression is good. The Polar Star looks well maintained, we have a spacious cabin and the ship is large enough to have places of your own. Before we leave we get a short safety instruction followed by a (mandatory) lifeboat drill. Then, when the last three passengers have arrived as well, it's time to go. The mooring cables are pulled aboard and soon Ushuaia slowly disappears in the distance. Leaving Ushuaia

After an hour or two we pass the final point of our boat trip on the Beagle channel two years ago. But this time we don't turn around. Instead we continue into the Beagle Channel in the direction of Puerto Williams. Its lights glow in the last light of the day. While the evening becomes darker and darker, it is time to find our way to our cabin and prepare for our first night onboard.