Friday, February 16, 2007

Ushuaia - Parque Nacional Tierre del Fuego

Wednesday 14th Feb.

Met up with Kobi in the morning to see about getting into the national park to do some trekking. He brought Andy from NYC with him. We grabbed some supplies at the local supermercado and arranged for a minibus to bring us to the park. A$20 entrance fee for tourists, A$6 if you are Argentine, so they definitely know how to milk the foreigners.

Got a map at the entrance and headed off to trek route 4 to the top of Guanaco peak. Starting at Lake Roco it is a fairly gentle walk to where the path splits and we go uphill through the forest. Suddenly it becomes steep and strenuous for about 2km until we get out of the forest and reach the first viewpoint, sweating and breathless. Time for a break to take in the stunning scenery. It is so spectacular that half an hour passes and we realise we have to head onwards and upwards. Entering the forest again we ascend to emerge in a wet moorland than levels off as we cross it. Fairly abruptly the moor turns to stone and scree and a dusty lunar path leads to the top of the peak. After another hour of very strenuous hiking on the steep and slippery scree we summit Guanaco, 971m above sea level, where we started. The weather had been marvellous all day with bright sunshine and puffy white clouds. We ate at the top and stayed for about 45 minutes taking in the 360 degree scenery. On the left the Atlantic and Argentina, on the right Chile and the Pacific. This must be one of the few places where you can see both oceans from one point. Incredible!! The view of the mountains of Chile was absolutely breathtaking and I have never seen anything so spectacular in all my travels. After chatting to fellow trekkers from Switzerland and Israel, we start to pack up. Stopping to admire the landscape one last time, we spy a huge condor as it swoops past and lands on a distant cliff face. Incredible, it must have had a wingspan of 2m. The perfect way to leave the summit, we walk back down to the lake to catch the bus back into town.

Back in Ushuaia we celebrate the successful day with a few beers and a huge Argentinean steak each. Splendid!