Here are some facts about Ushuaia to get this post started!
- Ushuaia used to be a prison town.
- Everything is expensive because the town is very remote, because …
- It is the SOUTHERNMOST city in the ENTIRE WORLD.
- The government introduced beavers into the area to try and create a fur/pelt industry, but it didn’t work, plus the beavers had no predators, so now they’re just pests. And they keep building dams even though the dams have nothing to protect them from.
Ushuaia is a beautiful place! Mountains + water = beauty.
We got onto a giant green tour bus to begin our second penguin adventure! We drove on a very long and bumpy road to Harberton Ranch, and from there, it was a ten minute boat ride to Martillo Island. The island is covered in penguins! The people that own Harberton Ranch didn’t even realize that this island (which they own) had penguins, so this tour is relatively new. To keep the place from becoming too touristy and to make sure that the penguins aren’t too bothered, only a certain number of people are allowed on the island each day. There were also strict rules when looking at the penguins; we weren’t allowed to stand too close to them!
I’ll stop talking now. Here are some pictures! The penguins were so CUTE and LAZY!
The penguins in the pictures above are Magellanic penguins. They’re just black and white. That big penguin with the orange-ish neck is a king penguin! Penguins are a lot furrier than I expected.
We also saw some Gentoo penguins, which have orange feet and orange beaks!
We were all so excited to see the penguins lying around on the beach, but then our tour guide informed us that it was the perfect time of year to see penguin BABIES. We carefully walked up a hill to look at penguin nests. We had to watch where we stepped, because penguins burrow holes into the ground, and if we had stepped on the ground on top of a nest, we could have killed the little chick inside! So we were all very careful.
Skuas (the birds in the photo above) feed on baby penguins. Not cool. Dangerous Dan says it’s part of nature, but it still made me very sad. The penguin chicks were very cute and very FLUFFY!
After hanging out with the penguins for about an hour and a half, we went back to Harberton Ranch and explored the museum there, which had a very large collection of sea bird and mammal bones, because a lady from the Harberton family (originally English immigrants to Argentina in the 1800s) liked to collect the bones and study them. Our tour guide told us that nearby was a bay with low tide, and many whales and dolphins would enter it thinking it was a passageway, but then the tide would go in and they would get stuck and so they would wash up ashore! (SO SAD. I am clearly not cut out for the terrible realities of nature.) We also went into the back of the museum to the lab, where scientists study the bones! I also got to touch real penguin skin (although it wasn’t attached to a live penguin … more sadness! To clarify, it wasn’t a dead penguin either, it was just a skin.)
After the tour, we walked around in Ushuaia. It reminded me of a ski resort town, which makes a lot of sense because snowboarding is very popular in Ushuaia. We had just arrived during their summer, but I think our tour guide said he spends 4 months of the year just snowboarding.
It is so cool that I went to a place that prides itself on being “the end of the world!” It’s like back in the day when explorers would explore and were scared of falling off the edge of maps.