Monday 5 Apr
It's the end of the world as we know it ... and I feel cold
Tierra del Fuego National Park was the destination du jour. More hiking was due (yes I know I swore I'd never hike again after the Titicaca debacle but there ya go...)
I hiked both the first (a circular hike up to a lookout point) and second (a hike along the shoreline) routes... there was a third hike I originally wanted to do which takes you all the way up to the border with Chile, but I didn't have time.
Two things... firstly it was a fairly moderate hike.. some uphills, a lot of downhills (which I felt on my knee) but not overly difficult. One thing I would say is: rent a car, or have some sort of transport waiting for you at the other end. By the time I'd finished the second hike, it was around 7pm and I had to walk all the way back to the entrance (about 10km along, thankfully, paved road). I tried hitching lifts, but no-one seemed interested in stopping. I had no water, but thankfully it was cold so I didn't dehydrate. Somehow I FINALLY made it to the entrance after walking what seemed like hours (it was actually.. about 2 hours to go the 10 km)... by the end of the day I'd walked around 27km!! Jesus!
Secondly, about the park itself. If you didn't know that it was "the park at the end of the world" you probably wouldn't bother visiting it. About the only thing that really distinguishes this park from pretty much any other is this moniker. It has some nice bays, alright, plus the mountains that can be seen from Ushaia are here too but, apart from 2 sea lions I saw swimming in the bay, there is no noticable wildlife here. I think I glimpsed one hawk briefly. The trees look like trees from any park in Ireland. Lots of moss. Nothing amazing. A nice walk nonetheless... with plenty of fresh breezes. Would be a good mountain bike ride I reckon (if they allow that).
The most amazing thing about the park is it's familiarity, given it's position on the planet.
Incidentally, the name "Tierra del Fuego" (land of fire) was given by the first European captain to sail these waters when he saw all the fires on the shoreline started by the Indians.
A full-house tonight at the hostel: all 6 beds were occupied. Nice enough guys, and of course hostel dorms are great places to meet people, but when I saw that sweaty sock and soiled underwear flung halfway across the room (not to mention an assortment of other unmentionables) plus the smell of 6 pairs of stinky shoes (my own included), plus when I realised I'd have to pack AT NIGHT instead of waking up early to pack for my flight the next morning (as I normally prefer to do) I decided there and then that this brief stay was going to be my FIRST and LAST dorm experience on this trip. I'd had enough of dorms when I did the 18 month trip in 2004!