Sunday, December 20, 2015

#6 - Penguins? Maybe......

The Beagle Channel is a strait in Tierra del Fuego on the extreme southern tip of South America.  It is partly in Argentina and partly in Chile.  The Channel is about 3 miles wide and 150 miles long. It is not the safest route from one ocean to the other.
Map:  "Canalbeagle" by Createaccount - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons -


The Channel was named after the HMS Beagle which carried Charles Darwin on a hydrological survey of the area in 1830.  Actually the captain needed Darwin's money so he took him on.  It was on this voyage where Darwin first saw glaciers, of which he describes their incredible beauty in his writings. 

The largest settlement on the Beagle Channel is Ushuaia.  U-shy-a.   It is considered to be the southernmost city in the world.  Most of the inhabitants living in the city when Darwin happened upon it were from the Ona and Yamana people.  Into the 1900s it was settled by mostly British subjects of some sort since typhus and measles killed all the original Onas and Yamanas.  In 1873 the first Argentine couple arrived, and immediately established a prison for Buenos Aires inmates.  The prison was closed by Juan Peron in 1949.

For the 25,000 residents there are 12 secondary schools, 2 television channels, spotty internet, 7 hockey stadiums and one same sex marriage.  Interesting statistics.


The houses are build with metal frames, fiberglass insulation and tin roofs, and are heated by natural gas that costs residents about $2 per month. The average temperatures in winter is about 32 degrees and in summer no higher than 50.  The sun is often hidden by clouds with only about40 sunny days a year, so the residents all take Vitamin D as mandated by the government.  The land outside the rocky soil of the town is mostly peat bogs.  Because of these peat bogs there are many large cross country skiing competitions during the winter months. 

We boarded a bus that took us to 3 locations in the Fin del Mundo (the End of the World) at Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego (Land of Fire) created in 1960.   In the Sub-Artic forests there are some familiar trees -- Beech, Chinese Lantern and Pines.  And mistletoe.

As luck would have it, there is a post office here.  Such as it is.  But it was more than enough for me to "request"  that Frank go in there, purchase a post card, and send it to me at home.  It arrived on this last Thursday.  I was ecstatic!  Frank was less so.  but he is a good husband and humored me.

Condor Mountain is just across the Beagle Channel and is in Chile.

Here is Frank looking like an explorer in his bush hat, if he could speak Spanish he could be a dashing guide to the  Patagonian Forest!

There were trails to hike, and this was just the first stop on our day!

                                                       Such great beauty.

The second stop was the Lookout at Alakush.  At Alakush there is a small museum and a snack shop.  Building was originally a hotel but in 1984 a fire destroyed everything and only this building was rebuilt.

These beautiful Upland Geese nest in the grassy areas beside the glacial runoff.  Right out in the open!

From there arrived at a port where we boarded a catamaran. This is the closest we would be to Antartica! 

 We were very lucky to be on this beautiful lake on one of the 40 sunny days!  I guess the yellow flowers are sort of mocking the sun.
LaPataya Bay was formed by glacial  movement digging out the rock.  And wait...............are there penguins?

This is the lighthouse at the End  of the World

OMG!  Penguins...........really?

Sea lions, yes, yes, those sure look like penguins.

 Finally, I am seeing penguins!

Oh, but am I?

Look closely.......

Not penguins?

What are they?
 Cormorants.  Awwwww.........not penguins.

They fool a LOT of people.  Frank said he was just going to believe he had seen penguins and deny the cormorants.

We did really see penguins, but just not this day!


  1. They do look like penguins! I thought the beagle channel would have mountain that looked like beagle ears or something but now realize it's cause of the ship. Darn. It sure is beautiful

  2. Another very interesting post! The landscape is amazing!

  3. Our son and DIL have this type of journey on their bucket list . . . clearly I can see why.


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