I’ve always been inspired by the far corners of the globe. The places where one continent ends, tumbling into the sea and beckoning further exploration over the horizon.
Standing at the easternmost point of North America, Cape Spear, I looked out over the Atlantic and wondered what Europe would be like. Years later I stood on the westernmost point of Europe, Cabo da Roca, and stared back over the Atlantic, connecting the dots in my mind.
My fascination with the tip of South America, Ushuaia, Fin del Mundo, the end of the world, was no less overwhelming.
The southernmost city in the world Ushuaia has been drawing travellers for decades, who have a desire to reach the end of the road in South America. This year we made our own journey there.
After taking buses all the way from Buenos Aires we finally arrived in Ushuaia just as night was falling. We eagerly grabbed our backpacks, checked in to our guesthouse and hit the streets for some exploration.
We immediately felt a sense of nostalgia – Ushuaia reminded us of some of the beautiful ski resort towns we had visited in Canada. The colourful timber buildings, buzzing atmosphere, abundance of trekking stores and brochures hanging everywhere offering adventure tours boosted our excitement.
Our plan was to spend two nights in Ushuaia before crossing the Drake Passage on our expedition to Antarctica. We had decided not to visit the national park or do any tours this time around, as we were keen to relax before jumping headfirst into the next adventure.
We spent our one free day wandering the streets, soaking up the ambiance and sitting by the seashore.
One of the most popular attractions in Ushuaia is the Maritime and Prison Museum, and having heard it required a few hours to thoroughly visit, we set aside our afternoon for it.
The entrance fee was quite expensive at 350ARS per person (about US$23), but being at the end of the world meant nothing in this town was cheap. Alesha has also always had a curious love of old prisons, so this was something we couldn’t miss. We paid the fee and stepped inside.
The Museum is set inside what used to be the original Ushuaia prison, and is filled with interesting exhibits of what life was like for those sentenced to wait their lives out at the southernmost city in the world.
In addition to the prison exhibitions, an entire level was dedicated to Antarctic exploration. With our own trip coming up so soon, we relished in the old images and displays.
From an anthropological point of view, the history of the indigenous people shown in the maritime section proved to be very rewarding. While it was a fair chunk of money to hand over for a somewhat dated museum, we felt it was worth visiting in Ushuaia.
Afterwards we went to a few of the tour operators in town to enquire about last-minute Antarctica expeditions. Even though we were already booked on one, we were curious whether the stories of getting trips for a few thousands dollars was true.
Turns out the golden era of last-minute bargains is gone. The absolute cheapest tour we could find was US$5000 for a short, no-frills trip, and even that had a waiting list of people wanting to go on it.
We chatted to the lady in the Antarctica office next to the tourism information centre, and she said she hadn’t seen prices for less than that for a few years. On average you could save about US$1500 by showing up in Ushuaia and waiting, but even then there was no guarantee you could get a spot.
That night we checked out the Dublin Irish Pub – an iconic spot in the town and one of the few affordable places to eat dinner.
The place was packed and we struggled to get a seat. When we finally did the delicious beer and large pizzas made the wait a distant memory.
In the morning we checked out of our guesthouse and wandered the streets once more, waiting to board our Antarctica ship. Eventually we jumped on, aimed for the White Continent only 1000km away.
Returning To Ushuaia
After our phenomenal journey down south we returned to Ushuaia, and gave ourselves a few extra days to catch up on work and see some of the surrounding countryside.
We had decided to splurge out after the Antarctic expedition, and we headed to the best hotel in the town, Arakur Resort. Luckily for us the staff gave us our room well before the official check-in time.
The days spent on the ship were exhausting, and we collapsed on the comfortable beds and napped for most of the afternoon.
For dinner we made use of the free shuttles provided by the resort (it is a little out of town) and headed back to the Dublin Pub to meet up with Danielle and John, the awesome couple from Two For The World. It was an early night for us though, and we took the shuttle back to the hotel before 10pm.
The next day we flipped a coin and decided that instead of paying the exorbitant price price of transport and entry for the Tierra del Fuego National Park, we would simply hike around the resort for free.
Arakur Resort has perfect access to a large reserve just behind the property. We met up with a guide in the reception and went for a walk to learn all about the surrounding nature.
Our guide was a young girl from Buenos Aires who was studying tourism at university. She was as passionate about the environment as we were, and we had a great time chatting about the area.
To top it off, the scenery was simply beautiful! The forest was covered in lichen and wildflowers, and the snow-capped peaks rose up above the canopy. Horses roamed freely and we got incredible views of Ushuaia, the Beagle Channel and the nearby mountains.
It was a perfect way to spend the day, and we headed to bed early again.
Our last morning in Ushuaia was unfortunately a rainy one, as is normal for this part of the world. We made the most of the facilities at Arakur and focused on editing our photos from Antarctica and getting up to date with our workload.
In the afternoon the sun broke out and we chilled in the outside hot tub, offering splendid views over Ushuaia. With a beer in hand, it was divine.
With an early morning bus to Punta Arenas the following day, we truly enjoyed our time relaxing in Ushuaia.
The town itself has lot to offer – Penguin tours, boat trips, mountain biking and hiking trails in the Tierra del Fuego National Park. At any other time we would have really made the most of these amazing opportunities. But as we were still on a high from everything we experienced in Antarctica, we went for the low-key approach.
Finally arriving in Ushuaia was just as amazing as we had always hoped. It really is a special place, and well worth visiting.
After all, when studying a map it doesn’t get much more remote and mystical than the end of the world, Fin del Mundo.
Budget Accommodation In Ushuaia – Galeazzi Basily Bed & Breakfast y Cabañas
Our first few nights in Ushuaia were spent at Galeazzi Basily Bed and Breakfast. This beautiful heritage home is up the hill from town on a nice, grassy property, and really is like a home away from home.
The owners Frances and Alejandro were amazing, friendly and helpful. They did everything they could to make us feel like we were part of the family, and even loaned Alesha some ski gloves to take to Antarctica. Did we say they were friendly??
The rooms were small but comfortable, and the shared bathrooms were spotless. They also have some cabanas for families or large groups. Breakfast was simple but delicious.
If you’re looking for a great budget place to stay in Ushuaia, then look no further than here!
Best Hotel In Ushuaia – Arakur Resort
Located on a hill overlooking the town is the best hotel in Ushuaia – the Arakur Resort.
While at first glance it might seem like an oddity in the world of luxury (the concrete and sheetmetal complex seemed like it was the Thunderbirds base still under construction), inside was a whole other world.
The interior was beautifully decorated, with huge windows letting in an abundance of light and giving incredible views over the Beagle Channel.
Our room was simply spectacular (and a little over-the-top in some ways). The (two!) beds were very comfortable, the bathroom was huge and open, and an enormous window and sitting area let natural light and views spill into the room.
What really got us though was how everything was electronic and automatic. From our bed we could push buttons to open and close our curtains and adjust the lights. There was an electronic screen where you could turn on the alarm, and even have the curtains set to open at a particular time. It was quite lavish, and a bit of a novelty for us.
The rest of the facilities is what set aside Arakur as the best hotel in Ushuaia for us. Outdoor jacuzzis, and indoor heated swimming pool that connected to the outside, a fully-stocked gym and games room and spa services made it difficult to ever want to leave the place.
For breakfast there was no shortage of healthy options, which compared to the rest of Argentina was a welcome change. We never tried dinner there though.
Behind the resort is a huge nature reserve, and every day the hotel has guided tours through it, or you can pick up a map and head out yourself. If you want to go into town there’s a free shuttle bus to take you there and back.
At times it did seem like a bit of an abandoned building though. Maybe it was because it was the time of the year we were there, but the place is so big and sprawling that we felt like it was overly decadent. Still, that was about the worst we could fault the place.
Ushuaia in general is an expensive place for accommodation, but for a little bit more than a standard hotel in town you can live in luxury up on the hill. Well worth it, especially after an amazing Antarctica trip!
[box] We were invited as guests of Arakur Resort through our partnership with Destino Argentina. All thoughts, opinions, and beers consumed while chilling in the hot tub are, as always, our own.[/box]