Situated on the Beagle Strait, Ushuaia is the largest city in the Argentinian province “Tierra del Fuego”, and arguably the southernmost city in the world. In the past, the town has been a missionary base, penal colony and naval base. Today Ushuaia is a major tourist town with casinos, hotels and restaurants, and commonly used as a base for hiking, winter sports and cruises to Antarctica.
It was a little shocking when we arrived in Ushuaia, coming from warm and summery Buenos Aires. We were expecting cold weather, but not a vicious snow storm…
Knowing we would have more time in Ushuaia on the way back, we just spent an afternoon in Ushuaia to organize our bus trip to Patagonia and buy some rain pants for our hike in the Torres del Paine National Park.
Luckily the snow melted away almost as fast as it had come and in the afternoon the sky even cleared up a little allowing us to catch a glimpse of the boasting 1500 m Fuegan Andes peaks rising up in the distance behind the city:
After we bought our bus tickets to Puerto Natales and finished our shopping it was time for dinner. We decided to have a Lomo sandwich with fries and a ham/veggie sandwich.
What surprised us, was the size of the toast bread they used. It had no crust and was at least 15 x 15 cm. Later on we discovered that they actually sell different sizes of toast bread in the local supermarket up to sizes of 30 x 30 cm! One can surely make really big sandwiches with those toasts 🙂
On our way home we realized that it was already after 9 pm and still not dark. That reminded us of how far south we were and how far north we had been during our travels in Alaska. There too it had gotten dark very late.
For all who are interested in the history of Ushuaia, here a short summary:
In the late 19th century, the region around Ushuaia was entirely inhabited by Yamana Indians and a handful of missionaries. Today there are almost no Yamana Indians left. Ushuaia suffered several epidemics, including typhus, pertussis and measles, that decimated the native population. But because the Yamana were not included in census data the exact numbers of the Yamana population decay are unknown.
Today the town is growing fast as a result of increased tourism. The government has encouraged this growth by designating Tierra del Fuego a virtually tax-free zone to encourage people to settle here (many of the inhabitants of today’s Ushuaia come from Chaco, in the north of Argentina). The cost of living however, is relatively high as all goods have to be transported long distances.