Friday, February 16, 2007

Ushuaia - el fin del mundo

"El fin del mundo - the end of the world" is probably part of Ushuaia's marketing plan to attract more tourists. However, after looking around the town it certainly feels like it. I head down to the harbour and book a tour to visit a penguin colony on a nearby island. Only 15 people can set foot on the island at any one time and no more than 45 per day in total. I feel lucky to get a space considering the number of foreign tourists in the town. In the last 10 years Ushuaia has apparently increased in population from 10000 to 60000, supported by the boom in tourism.

Back to the penguin tour. A minibus takes us the 85km to Haberton ranch where we catch a Zodiac to take us over to the island in about 20 minutes. The tour group is made up of mainly Argentinians and Americans and sitting next to me Kobi, a young Israeli traveller.

When we reach land there are about 10000 penguins just waddling around. They don´t even flinch when we walk to within one metre of them. Obviously we were moving slowly and not talking, but I was expecting a different reaction. We walked around the Island and the guide, Victoria, explained pretty much everything you need to know about penguins.Very interesting. The place is covered in penguin poo and I kneeled in some when trying to take a photo :( Felt a bit unfortunate and stupid until I realised everyone had poo on them somewhere...

After making a few stops at various points of interest on the wind swept landscape, we headed back to Ushuaia and the hostel.