January 4, 2013 – Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina
Posted on January 6th, 2013
Temperature: 57° F
Wind speed: 10 knots
Cloud cover: 50%
Precipitation: Some rain in the morning, then clear
We landed in the small city of Ushuaia, all of us arriving from distant reaches of the planet for the same reason: to embark on an expedition to experience the wildlife and landscapes of the Falklands, South Georgia and the magnificent continent of Antarctica. As our respective flights approached amid striking views of the southern Andes, the glaciers, lakes and towering peaks had to be seen to be believed, some of which seemed to go on forever.
When we arrived at “El Fin del Mundo” — the southernmost city in the world — we found a growing outpost with plenty of restaurants and shops catering to adventurous travelers. We could hardly imagine a more picturesque setting from which to embark on our journey to the White Continent.
With a warm sun overhead, we arrived at the city pier lined with container ships and a handful of expedition ships. We made our way up the gangway, where we were welcomed by the staff and crew of our ship, ‘Le Boreal.’ After settling into our staterooms and getting familiar with the ship a bit, we headed to La Bouselle restaurant for welcome champagne and snacks. Following a lifeboat drill, we joined our cruise director Jannie Cloete and our expedition leader Larry Hobbs in the Theater for an introduction to the ship and her staff. Each member of the Expedition Staff gave us a welcome and some background on themselves, their passion for the Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctica ringing clear in every word.
Our day drew to a close over dinner and some time on the back deck watching Ushuaia disappear into the distance. Darkness fell over magnificent mountains lining the Beagle Channel on both sides, while small groups of Magellanic penguins and blue-eyed shags fished in the productive waters.
We breathed in our last breath of South America and of the green vegetation covering the mountainsides, all the while contemplating the experiences that lie ahead of us. We drifted off to sleep in our new home away from home, eagerly anticipating awakening to the vast Southern Ocean.
– Rich Pagen, Naturalist