A Travellerspoint blog

Our journey ends at the end of the world!

Trekking through Torres del Paine and Penguins in Ushuaia...next stop: HOME!

storm 23 °F

¡Hola!

It is hard for us to believe, but this is to be our last post from the southern hemisphere. We end our journey in Ushuaia, Argentina - claim to fame being that it is 'the southernmost city in the world'. Truth be told, that little title does quite a bit to lure folks like us down so that we can perform the obligatory "check" off our list of spots we've hit in South America. However, besides the title, Ushuaia is not a trip highlight (except, of course, for the penguins (see below)). Still, we are finding the fierce winds and rain, sleet, and snow to be excellent motivators to stay inside our cozy hostel and organize photos, update the blog, and search craigslist and westside rentals for a place to live when we get home!

When we parted ways with my parents and brother 10 days ago we headed to Puerto Natales to catch our next bus to Torres del Paine National Park in Chile. We did the W trek of Torres del Paine from Monday to Thursday. Monday we trekked up to the Torres (the Towers) which are the main draw of the park and we almost didn't make it! We had been hiking for about 2 hours uphill when we hit the "pasa de vientos" (windy pass) and let's just say that a more appropriate name would be "pasa de LOCO F#$&!%@ VIENTO" (I'll let you translate). Seriously, the winds were so strong that our legs were being knocked from under us...frightening given that we were hiking alongside the edge of a cliff. A group of three reached the pass just ahead of us and the girl began hyperventilating and they had to turn back. We spent 20 minutes psyching ourselves up for it and once we reached the other side the winds only were fierce for about another minute and then relatively calm again. We are so glad God gave us the courage to keep going because we were extremely fortunate to arrive at the Torres (another 2.5 hours later) and see them on a clear blue sky afternoon (a rarity in the unpredictable austral climate).
Our triumphant arrival at the Torres

Our triumphant arrival at the Torres

This picture fails to convey the full force of these winds, but they were ridiculous

This picture fails to convey the full force of these winds, but they were ridiculous

One more of the magnificent Torres del Paine

One more of the magnificent Torres del Paine


Arriving back at base camp at night on Day 1

Arriving back at base camp at night on Day 1

We camped that night back at the base camp and again, we were very lucky, that the night winds were much calmer and we were not stuck in rain or snow. We spent the next 2.5 days hiking the national park huffing and puffing and braving the winds, but being in constant awe of the gorgeous surroundings.
Tim and Glacier in the background

Tim and Glacier in the background

Kate staying dry on the hike

Kate staying dry on the hike

View of Los Cuernos ("The Horns"<img class='img' src='http://www.travellerspoint.com/Emoticons/icon_wink.gif' width='15' height='15' alt=';)' title='' /> on Day 2

View of Los Cuernos ("The Horns";) on Day 2

Tang break!  Kate hadn't truly been exposed to the wonders of Tang prior to this trek...the stuff is money!

Tang break! Kate hadn't truly been exposed to the wonders of Tang prior to this trek...the stuff is money!

Lunch view....cheese and salami sandwiches taste better outdoors

Lunch view....cheese and salami sandwiches taste better outdoors

There was always an surreal green lake over every ridge...Kate was really hoping to see a Loch Ness-type monster swimming around

There was always an surreal green lake over every ridge...Kate was really hoping to see a Loch Ness-type monster swimming around

A Fox!

A Fox!

Happy Bridge Crossing

Happy Bridge Crossing

Drinking glacial water

Drinking glacial water

Crossing glacial water

Crossing glacial water

At the Cuernos Refugio where we again bumped into our friend, Katie, who we met a month earlier on our Mendoza wine tour...very small world!

At the Cuernos Refugio where we again bumped into our friend, Katie, who we met a month earlier on our Mendoza wine tour...very small world!

View from the Mountain Lodge Refugio

View from the Mountain Lodge Refugio

View of the Torres and the Cuernos!!!

View of the Torres and the Cuernos!!!

The gorgeous lakes

The gorgeous lakes

Backpack pyramid...the boat ride from Torres across lake stunk just a tad of backpacker BO

Backpack pyramid...the boat ride from Torres across lake stunk just a tad of backpacker BO

We finished the W pleased with our efforts, but sadly I took a bit of a cold-cough-sore throat with me as a souvenir (which I have since generously passed along to Tim). We spent one more night in Puerto Natales before catching our early morning bus ride to Ushuaia (where we are now). A 13 hour bus ride passed surprisingly well, we played our "Spot the Guanaco" game (a cousin of the llama). Tim won (129 to 97).
Ferry crossing the Straits of Magellan

Ferry crossing the Straits of Magellan

Goofing off at the Strait of Magellan

Goofing off at the Strait of Magellan

Stormy seas

Stormy seas

Driving into Ushuaia

Driving into Ushuaia

Ushuaia is definitely a tourist town with, we're sure, a very pretty national park nearby and plenty of outdoor activities....but, we're tired, cold, and ready to just chill out. We did make it to see the Penguins yesterday and they were awesome. Cute little guys who were not the least bit perturbed by our presence on their island. Thousands of Magellanic Penguins live on this island about 6 months a year, the rest of the year (i.e., winter) they spend swimming around the arctic...crazy little dudes. Gentoo Penguins also live on the island (the one with the orange beak pictured below with Tim), but there are only 30 pairs of them on the island.
Arriving on Penguin Island greeted by lots of Magellanic Penguins

Arriving on Penguin Island greeted by lots of Magellanic Penguins

Hey, whatcha doin?

Hey, whatcha doin?

What are you looking at?

What are you looking at?

Buddies

Buddies

Tim making eye contact with a Gentoo Penguin

Tim making eye contact with a Gentoo Penguin

Turns out penguins are not only on Penguin Island

Turns out penguins are not only on Penguin Island

Kate making friends...

Kate making friends...

The 'General Store' - yummy coffee and tea and pastries

The 'General Store' - yummy coffee and tea and pastries

More penguins...the town is a little obsessed

More penguins...the town is a little obsessed

How do Argentinians find this to be a helpful street sign?

How do Argentinians find this to be a helpful street sign?

We're inside today drinking Hot Toddies and mentally preparing for our reverse culture shock (haha, not really, we have managed to see college football, watch E! television (Kate, not Tim), and see "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" more times than we would like to admit). We have even met more people from LA than we might otherwise have done in our day to day lives in Santa Monica. That being said, we are very ready and very excited to be home! We cannot wait to see our family and friends in Newport (16th - 20th, 29th - 15th), Ohio (21st - 29th), and LA (15th...) in the next couple weeks!!!!
Our adorable hostel sign blowing in the wind (and a view of the reason we are indoors)

Our adorable hostel sign blowing in the wind (and a view of the reason we are indoors)

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to All!!!!!

Todo nuestro amor,
Tim & Kate

Posted by PetCon 13:26 Archived in Argentina

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents

Comments

Congratulations! You and Magellan have something in common. If you had been there a little sooner those would be Conardian penguins. love you and see you soon!

by johncpetry

Even with the snow and terrible conditions, I wish I were there with you! What an incredible hike and experience. Excited you guys are coming home and can't wait to hear even more about the whole trip. Pet - see if you can sneak one of those cute little penguins in your bag! Safe travels!!

by cmccarthy2

This blog requires you to be a logged in member of Travellerspoint to place comments.

Enter your Travellerspoint login details below

( What's this? )

If you aren't a member of Travellerspoint yet, you can join for free.

Join Travellerspoint