Today was a very early day. We woke up at 5:30 to get a brief breakfast and then leave the ship to go on our excursion. We went on a spacious catamaran to visit a penguin colony on an island further east in the Beagle Channel. It took over an hour to get there but it was worth waking up early to see the penguins swimming in the channel and walking around on the island. The pilot partially beached the catamaran to give us a very close view of the penguins. However we couldn’t get off the boat.
Whereas Volunteer Beach was mostly King and Gentoo penguins with a few Magellanics, this island was the opposite. We were greeted by hundreds of Magellanic penguins on the beach and in the water, with a couple dozen gentoos on the beach. Rachel was the first to see a lone King penguin on the beach; kings are unexepected in this area so it was a nice bonus. We spent a while at the island observing the cute penguins, but all to quickly we had to leave.
It took another hour for us to travel west back towards Ushuaia. About 45 min outside of town we stopped to see the “lighthouse at the end of the world” near the entrance to Ushuaia harbor. This lighthouse should not be confused with the other “lighthouse at the end of the world” on nearby Cabo San Jaun popularized by Jules Verne.
We got to see a sea lion colony a short sail away from the lighthouse. We spent a few minutes here taking pictures and video of the sea lions playing with each other.
We went shopping for knick-knacks after returning to port. We spent about 2 hours walking around town buying things for friends and family. Ushuaia has a small outdoorsey town feel to it. It had all of the obligatory tourist trap stores one would expect in a port town, but it also has big name stores catering to hikers, skiers, and Antarctic adventurers. On every streetcorner are street signs which give the road names, addresses and longitude and latitude. For latitudes has high as Ushuaia, the longitude can very greatly even over a single block!
Ushuaia is often called the “end of the world” becuase it is the city located the farthest south on Earth. Acutally nearby Puerto Williams is farther south than Ushuaia, but much like its view on the Falklands, Argentina won’t let the facts get in the way of a good story.
In the evening we saw the talented pianist David Schofield. We ate at our favorite onboard specialty restaurant for dinner: Qsine.
Tomorrow we round Cape Horn around 7AM and make our first journey south through the Drake Passage. The Captain told us to expect 2-3 meter waves during the crossing.
Today’s weather: Rain in the morning, partly sunny in afternoon, 20 knot winds. High 48F, Low 37F
Sunrise 6:44AM, Sunset 8:49PM
And look out for more ‘caption this picture’ posts. We will compile them all at the end of the trip.