“There’s no Antarctic ocean on the maps. The cold waves that beat against the Antarctic continent are from the southern portions of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans, and in their flow around the ice-rimmed land they mingle to form one vast gale-swept wilderness of water.” Russell Owen observed as he nailed the essence of where we were headed.
Back in Buenos Aires (BA) post a zippy 18 hour bus ride, it felt like we’d been dealt a second chance card. We had cheated ourselves on the previous breathtakingly scanty visit, eager to be at the world’s edge. Due to the onset of snow we hadn’t seen the city’s centrepiece, namely its colonial architectural elegance nor been enveloped by the ginormous jacaranda trees. November is one of the best times of year to be in the capital, not least for the splendour of the jacaranda’s blue trumpet shaped flowers, fluttering down on you like silky rain.
Before peeling ourselves away from the Land of Fire, we set off for a last bite of the Ushuaian cherry, a final sip from the world’s end ‘cup’. We’d been invited to stay at an estancia for the weekend with Juan Pablo and his friends tucked away near the west coast on the border between Argentina and Chile. In departing Ushuaia, we were forced to slide over a slushy road covered in snow – wobbling like jelly for a time – although our bikes made it out of the capital unscathed and upright.
We almost changed our minds about visiting Harberton Estancia, a sheep farm. Glad we went ahead; we came upon the working ranch, which was founded by Thomas Bridges naming it after his wife’s home village, Devon in the southwest of England. Orphaned at thirteen, he was named Thomas Bridges having been found with a ‘T’ embroidered onto his T-shirt in 1856 under a bridge on Keppel Island on the Falklands. By 1871, Thomas was Head of the South American Missionary Society and with his family became the first white settlers to inhabit Ushuaia.
We are still in Ushuaia but will be leaving in a few days to head north as the weather is really starting to turn now, and if we leave it much longer we’ll be marooned on this island until the Spring. No bad thing with the mountains to explore and great skiing in the nearby ski resort. Tierra del Fuego or Land of Fire is such a beautiful place; there is a raw beauty to this land, you really do feel like you are a pioneer at the Fin del Mundo – the End of the World. I have took the liberty of putting another short film together, I hope it will convey the raw, mysterious, wild, beautiful and sometimes hostile land that is Tierra del Fuego. It took me a couple of hours to edit – it’s not a Hollywood blockbuster, but I like it all the same and hope you will too.
I would advise that you click on HD at the bottom right of the movie window, as the quality is not that best due to that amount of compression I had to do to get it on to Vimeo, enjoy.
There’s no sufficient superlative to depict the landscape, peripheral scenery and vistas from the Tierra del Fuego, the Land of Fire. Bounded on the north by the Martial mountain range and the south by the Beagle Channel, Ushuaia is the most southerly tip that can be reached by road. El Fin del Mundo, the End of the World. Home to a bustling port, a labyrinth of steep streets and locals who wouldn’t think twice to voluntarily stop their journey, pull over and offer you a ride home. The archipelago is where the Andes meet the southern ocean and is quite possibly the adventure hub of Argentina, come rain, snow or shine.
Exhausted after a day and night of socialising our socks off in Puerto Madryn and a long ride on top, I got my first taste of South America’s ‘ripio’. This is essentially loose gravel. There can also be sand and dirt present, not always compacted as well as big and small stones scattered all over an off-road track. I could feel red mist descend but what I needed was clarity. I had to stiffen my resolve somehow if I was going to plough through seventeen miles of this stuff.