We woke up to a warm and sunny New Year’s Day and checked out of La Posta Hostel. We had previously arranged with a couple from Couchsurfing to stay with them but in the end it didn’t work out because they were traveling. They told us about a week before arriving and we frantically started calling all the hostels in Ushuaia to find a room. Everything was booked but then we found Hostel Yakush, in the downtown area, and we booked it for a couple of days.
So we left La Posta and headed to Yakush. It is located right off of Avenida San Martin, the main street in the city. The facility was good and the prices were decent, AR$120 per person per night (a fairly average price in Patagonia). So we dropped off our stuff and decided to head towards Glacier Martial. It is about 7km from the city to get to the entrance of the trail and you can take a taxi or go by car (it’s a fairly long way and the entrance is located on the top of a mountain).
We arrived at the entrance of the trail at 10AM and the park ranger’s office was closed (because it was New Year’s Day) but you could still hike the trail (one of the very few things you could do on the holiday because everything is closed). To get to the very top of the glacier takes about 3 hours but it is pretty steep so we decided to just go to the bottom of it which was an easy 1 hour and some minutes trek. The hike takes you through a very nice glacial forest and past the chairlift (that doesn’t work on holidays). It started to snow as soon as we got to the bottom of the glacier and it was pretty for about 5 minutes, then it started to get very windy and the snow turned into small icy daggers. The glacier itself is very unimpressive (especially after seeing Perito Moreno), it’s very small and has receded a lot. The views of Ushuaia and the Beagle Channel, however, are pretty fantastic. You can see very far into the channel and all the small islands.
The hike down the hill took about 15 or 20 minutes (there is a direct trail that you can take up or down but it’s nicer to walk through the forest trails on the way up). We then went to Puerto Ushuaia to the information center to get more ideas on what to do. One thing I found out was that you can get your passport stamped with an “End of the World” emblem and it’s really cute, so remember to bring yours! Then we learned more about what there was to do in Ushuaia. There really isn’t much you can do that doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg, which was disappointing but we had heard this previously.
However, we discovered boats that take you to some of the small islands in the Beagle Channel and teach you about some history of the city. It is a 4 hour tour and costs AR$400 per person plus a AR$10 port tax per person. We decided to take the tour because we had heard good things about it and it wasn’t so expensive. We made reservation for the 7PM tour at Patagonia Adventure Company, but there are many companies to choose from. At the port you can also find 1 of 3 “End of the World” signs that you can take a picture with.
We left for the boat at 6PM to be at the port by 6:30. We got our port tax and boarded the small yacht. The capacity per tour is 25 people, nice and intimate, but we barely had 20 people on our tour so it was good. The tour is bilingual and Ana, our guide, told us she would point out all of the flora and fauna along the way, and she was very knowledgable. The weather was good for the beginning of the journey and we could go out and on top of the yacht without any problems, but as we continued on, the winds picked up a lot and it became more difficult. We saw many small islands swarming with blue-eyed cormorants (these birds trick you into thinking they are penguins because they have black and white feathers) and a few South American sea lions. Because of the wind and cold, the sea lions were huddled together for warmth and were sleeping. It was truly a treat to see sea lions swimming and sleeping!
The last stop was Bridges Island where we did a small trek and learned about the fauna and Shamana people who used to occupy the small islands and Tierra del Fuego. When we reached the island it started to rain and it was a bit difficult to walk because the light rain was coming at you with the wind and felt like ice. Only a handful of people did the short 15 minute trek but it was definitely worth it to see this small island. The yacht also had a coffee service that was included in the price and good to warm you up after being out in the cold. We arrived back at the port around 10:30PM and went straight to the hostel to shower and sleep. Our plan for the next day was trekking the National Park so we needed to go to bed early and wake up early!
- Woke up @ 8AM to hike Glacier Martial
- AR$820 = Boat ride (AR$410 per person)
- Total = AR$820