I’m still flying high from my trip to Argentina at the end of December, and finally had the time to bring a pen to paper to detail it all for you.
The first stop on my trip to Argentina was Ushuaia, affectionately called “the end of the world”. Many of you have probably already heard of Ushuaia. It’s considered to be the southern most city in the world, because of the definition of a “city”. You may be wondering, what about Antarctica? Well, although it’s the southern most continent in the world, it does not actually have any cities on it!
Ushuaia is actually the starting point for most on their journey to Antarctica. It’s where all of the cruise ships depart on their way through the Drake Passage and onwards to that icy continent. I didn’t have the time on this trip to partake in that journey (and will need to get over my fear of sea sickness before that!) but it’s absolutely on my bucket list! I did get to cross something else off of my bucket list though while in Argentina!
Martillo Island & Penguins
Martillo Island, Argentina, is one of the few places in South America home to penguins. The island is a home and breeding ground to mostly Magellanic penguins and some Gentoo penguins, and occasionally receives visits from King penguins as well! The penguins visit the island from approximately October to April, during which time they mate and breed, before heading north and into the water for the other half of the year.
Visiting the penguins in their natural habitat is an unreal experience. They are such peaceful, adorable and brave animals. You can’t help but smile when you see a penguin waddle by in your path or let out a mating call to another penguin. Seeing a mother penguin protectively watch over her pale brown and furry baby penguins is captivating. I could have spent all day on Martillo Island, but unfortunately the visit to the island only lasts about an hour (and it flies by).
Because the island and the penguins are in their completely natural environment, the number of tourists that are allowed to visit the island and walk among the penguins on any given day are extremely limited. There are only two tours to the island in a day and each tour is split up into two smaller groups so that the penguins aren’t overwhelmed and remain protected. Visitors must stay within designated walkways in order to protect the environment and the penguins. There is only one tour operator currently allowed to provide these tours, Piratour. I highly recommend booking the tour in advance, as I saw a number of people try to walk up and book trips on the spot and get turned away.
In addition to visiting the island, the tour with Piratour also provides a visit to the Acatushun museum, a museum devoted to all sea life specific to the region, and some free time to roam the nearby Harberton Farm and certain historic buildings.
Other Ushuaia Sights
Apart from seeing the penguins, there are a number of other tours that are offered on a daily basis in Ushuaia. You can book these other tours in advance as well, or you can head over to the waterfront kiosks on Av. Prefectura Naval and book one on the spot. Options include visiting Tierra del Fuego National Park, dog sledding and sailing the Beagle Channel.
The downtown area of town (mainly on Av. San Martin) is also a great place to spend a few hours, walking and visiting the touristy shops. The rugged architecture and overall leisurely feel of the city (even the cars drive slow on Av. San Martin) is a refreshing change of pace from the hustle and bustle of big cities, and I could easily see in my short time there why so many people have come to Ushuaia just for a visit and ended up staying for years and calling it home.
Must eats in Ushuaia are lamb and king crab, specialties in this city. Av. San Martin has an assortment of restaurants to take your pick from, but keep in mind that siestas are observed whole-heartedly in Argentina, and many restaurants are often closed between 3pm and dinnertime!
Stay tuned for more on my fantastic trip to Argentina! XOXO