At latitude 54°48′ S, Ushuaia is the earth’s southernmost city and bills itself as the “end of the world”. (Port Williams in Chile is actually further south, but has a much smaller population and is classified as a town.) Ushuaia’s population initially was not Argentinian, but British. The city was founded in the 1800s by British Missionaries following the British Survey work in the early 1800s.
By the turn of the 20th century, Argentina decided to build a penal colony at the island city for serious and repeat offenders, modeled after those of the British in Tasmania and the French at Devil’s Island. Part of the goal was to establish a larger Argentinian population in Ushuaia to bolster Argentina’s claim to all of Tierra del Fuego. The prisoners were put to work constructing many of the buildings in the area, and also a freight railway into the forest to transport timber. The prison eventually closed in 1947, following many reports of abuse and unsafe practices.
Today Ushuaia is the embarkation point for the majority of cruises to Antarctica and the gateway to Tierra del Fuego National Park. The old prison freight railway reopened in 1994 as “The Train of the End of the World” to carry tourists to Tierra del Fuego National Park. It is the southernmost functioning railway in the world.
After returning north from Antarctica through the Drake Passage, we spent a final night on board the Endurance docked at Ushuaia and walked through town a bit after dinner on board. The following day, we visited the old prison, now a museum, before flying back to Buenos Aires for the night.
Below are highlights from December 28th and 29th, 2022. Click any image for a larger view.
Meat cooking on the grill at Casimiro Bigua in the Argentinian tradition, left, and looking down Pres. Julio Argentino Roca to the Endurance docked at Ushuaia.
Left: The French XTG Family are touring the world in a renovated military truck, and recently arrived in Ushuaia. Right: we’ve never actually seen a Geely dealership before. The Chinese company is the 7th largest vehile producer in the world, building vehicles under its own brand and also under brands such as Volvo, Lotus and Polestar.
Left: We were surprised to see a Hard Rock Cafe all the way down here in Ushaia. Right: The Irish bar Dublin looked appealing, so we stopped in for a pint.
The Endurance lit up at night, left, and the evening view to Ushaia from the ship.
Left: A last view to Ushaia before we depart the ship. Right: Buses ready for the passengers disembarking from the Endurance, while the Hebredian Sky, opposite, takes on fuel.
Touring the Ushuaia Jail and Military Prison, now a museum. Living conditions there looked pretty grim.
Left: The Argentinian Navy base at Ushuaia. Right: A memorial to the crew of the Argentinian-built minesweeper Fournier, that sank in 1949 with the loss of all 77 on board after hitting a rock in the Magellan Straits. Beyond are Argentinian Navy ships.
Left: Memorial to local singer/songwriter Angelito “Titi” Rodriguez. Right: At Ushaia’s much-photographed “End of the World” sign.
Monument to Ushuaia’s first settlers, left, and at the airy Ushuaia airport for our flight back to Buenos Aires.
Left: Back at the Alvear Icon hotel in Buenos Aires, we had enjoyed a sunset dinner with a great view to the city from in their 32nd floor bar. Right: The view east over the Laguna de los Coipos and the Atlantic Ocean beyond.
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