I feel like I shouldn't have a separate link for Argentina but everyone that I talked to has a definition as to whether or not one has visited a country. They are as follows:

  1. You must have your passport stamped by that countries customs agent.
  2. You must be there at least 24 hours.
  3. You must actually leave the airport and do some sight seeing.

On April 6th, 1999 - Wednesday, we docked in Argentina at the remote city of Ushuaia. As we sailed into Ushuaia the view of the mountains was breathtaking!  Clouds were generated from the wind hitting the tops of the mountains and almost looked like volcanoes spewing out smoke! As we left the ship we had to leave our passports on the ship and when we returned and just before departure, the customs agent from Argentina would check our faces against the passport picture to ensure the same people got back on that had gotten off! Ushuaia has a population of about 45,000 people and has had some manufacturing of computer chips move into the area. They are on a building spree and many new houses are being build in the range of $200,000.00! The main shopping area is about four square blocks but the city spreads out over many miles. Chile and Argentina have a quarrel as to which has the farthest south city. Puenta Arenas says it is the farthest south city as it has over 100,000 people, not 45,000! Nationalism runs high here, several years ago Chile and Argentina almost went to war over three islands that are barren lumps of land and are worthless. They had to have the Pope come and decide who's islands they were. The Pope decided they were Chiles so Argentina built a huge cross and placed it on a hill to thank the Pope for giving the islands to Chile, go figure!

We decided to take the tour of the Pargue National Tierra del Fuego of the Argentina Republic and this picture proves I was there! We left by bus for a 30 minute ride to the park and boarded a small gage train which took us up over a mountain and let us view a valley where varying types of huts had been reconstructed that the natives used to use. We then boarded the bus again and began a two hour drive through the beautiful park with many beautiful vistas. They mostly have beech trees and one type keeps it's leaves on the entire winter which was surprising, you would expect the leaves to fall off but they are very hardy! Since it was the beginning of Autumn, the seasons are revered from the Northern regions, The trees were turning a beautiful red color which seems to be the most prominent color there.

The guide pointed out one mountain and said that the top half was Chilean and the bottom half was Argentina! Then she got mad because the sun was shining on the Chilean portion of the mountains and not Argentine's side. We asked her if that wasn't carrying things a little too far but she ignored us.

We also learned that the government thought the introduction of beaver would be a good thing even though the fur trade had dropped. Of course there are no predators so the population exploded and now there are more beavers than people. They are ruining the forest and there are dead trees every where. Then the government decided to import rabbits that bred like wild fire and ate everything in sight. So the government imported the gray fox which doesn't like the same range as the rabbits. So the gray fox is killing off the indigenous smaller red fox. They also introduced some type of disease (anthrax) to kill the rabbits but that caused environmental harm so things are a mess and the rabbits are busy again doing their thing! I asked our guide if the government ever thought any of these things out. She just said that is the way things are done in Argentina.

We then went for an Argentina Barbecue which was held in the most beautiful restaurant like something from Switzerland with a beautiful view of the mountains and alpine flowers outside the windows. We sat by a big fireplace and ate, talked, and enjoyed the view.

Next to the harbor and a catamaran ride through the bay.

We boarded the catamaran and left for a two hour cruise of the bay to see seals, cormorants, and a 'light house'. It was cold and windy and it felt like the San Francisco Bay. This was rather a disappointment as there are more seals in down town San Francisco at Pier 39 than there was on the one rock we visited. The light house was in actuality, about 30 feet high with a little light and an electronic beeper on it so that was really a disappointment. People were snapping pictures like there was no tomorrow which seemed rather strange. I did take one photo up close so the lighthouse looked very tall but that isn't the truth. So after a cold and somewhat disappointing cruise, it was back to the dock.

We took a quick walk around downtown Ushuaia and then back to the boat to have our passport pictures ID by the Argentine official and a very welcomed hot dinner.

New passengers are picked up here for their short two day tour and we were off again for the second part of the Tierra del Fuego cruise, and more glaciers, penguin(s) hopefully, and adventures on the high seas!


Return to the World Travels of Charles Walter Buntjer

  Charles Walter Buntjer

San Francisco California
Created on: 1999.04.05   

Updated on: 2015.03.25