01/30/2009 52 °F
January 29, 2009, Ushuaia, Argentina. Our ship is too large for the docks, so it had to drop anchor and tender people ashore. Letty and I did different tours here. I went to the mountain and lake region inland from the city. Beautiful country. Our tourguide spoke of the problem with the beavers. In the valleys, the beavers will continually dam the rivers, flooding the area, and having the effect of killing the trees. This must have been going on for eons, as these valleys supply the whole of Patagonia (this region of South America) with their most used fuel supply, peat. My tour was mostly traveling through scenic areas. We had lunch at a restaurant serving local traditional food; it was a lamb BBQ, and was delicious. This restaurant was at a ski resort that also provided dog sledding. The dogs were kenneled in the rear of the place.
Now its Letty's turn. Ushuaia is a very picturesque town that reminds me of some cities in Scandinavia or Bavaria. The taller buildings have gabled roofs and the city has the inlet on one side and the mountains the rest of the way around. I went on a private tour with a group of 17 more people. Unfortunately, the debarkation process from the ship was extremely disorganized and we were able to get on a tender 2 hours later then planned and we were all very frustrated. We got on our small bus and headed out of town on a very windy road for 45 minutes. We passed the same scenery as Len described above, however we took a gravel road for the last 45 minutes. Between the bumps and the curves of the road one of our group lost it on the bus and we had to stop. We passed many large beaver dams along the route and we were told the reason there are so many dead trees is the fact that the climate in the southern part of Argentina is too cold and it takes a very long time for trees to decompose. We arrived at a ranch that owned a private island where approximately 2,000 pair of mated Magdelena penquins return each October to build their nests and lay their eggs. There are also 16 pair of Jontu penquins on the island, these are larger penquins then the Magdelena one with orange beaks and feet. Some of the other differences include the fact that the Jontu are very territorial and they lay their eggs on the rocks, where the Magadelena lay their eggs in underground nests and protect only their own eggs and young. We got on a Zodiac and went out to the island where we were able to walk amongst the penguins for about 1 hour. The chicks were about 50 days old and we followed a path throughout the island. It was an amazing experience - one that I will never forget. The government only allows 20 people at a time on the island, and only 4 to 5 zodiac per day are allowed out there. The ships tour that I cancelled stopped at the island for its passengers to take pictures..I got a chance to wave at some friends and take pictures of them. After we left the island we headed back to the city and were left off in town to do a little sightseeing, some shopping and then back to the ship.