is located at the very end of South America on the island of Tierra del Fuego. It is a kind of outpost for many tourists going to Antarctica. The majority of cruises to the southernmost sixth continent of the planet surrounded with ice starts exactly here. Some expedition cruises also start from New Zealand, but they are more rare cruises to severe East Antarctica, in the Ross Sea, and the classic two-week routes to the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula begin, as a rule, from here, from
Tierra del Fuego is separated from the mainland of South America by the Strait of Magellan, which is named after the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, who was the first European that discovered the archipelago in 1520. He called it Tierra del Fuego because of the numerous fires that he saw on the coast. One of the indigenous tribes warned with these signals the others that something unusual was coming to them. The archipelago consists of the main island and of a group of smaller islands. Currently, the territory of Tierra del Fuego is divided into equal parts - between Argentina and Chile. From Tierra del Fuego to the coast of Antarctica there are about 1000 kilometers across the Drake Passage.
Today Ushuaia is the main tourist center of the region and the main gate for those who go to Antarctica. Every summer, more than 30 thousand of tourists go from here into the silent world of glaciers and icebergs. In the summer (well, that is our winter), the flow of tourists in Ushuaia is unusually large - in the hot, melting from the heat airport of Buenos Aires you can see a large number of suitably-equipped people in the typical trekking shoes, with backpacks and hiking clothes, waiting for the plane to the South.
During the summer season, the number of tourists going to Ushuaia is so big that Aerolineas Argentinas put on flights not only usual medium-range planes but also large wide-body planes, unusual for local three-hour flights. For example, we will fly to Ushuaia on the A-330.
Ushuaia is quite a small city, lying on the shores of the Beagle Channel. Despite the high South American summer, ends of the earth meet us severely - with biting wind and snow. Landscapes are also very severe: the Beagle Channel is surrounded by mountains with snow caps and thick forests growing on its slopes. But on the coast the vegetation is quite sparse. Here is the harbor of Ushuaia on a cloudy day. Low rocky shore, the smell of the sea, the cries of gulls and cormorants, and rare flowers among the rocks.
On the waterfront of Ushuaia, there are several busts of famous people, whose life was connected with these distant places.
A little further, closer to the dock with military vessels, there is a monument to the wreck called "Fournier".
Here is the waterfront of Ushuaia and the Beagle Channel - tomorrow we'll start our way to the ice-covered Antarctica exactly through this strait.
On the slopes of the mountains, high above the city, there is the Martial Glacier, offering stunning views of the city and the Beagle Channel. You get on the mountain on the chairlift, which can be reached by taxi. As soon as I took a seat the snowstorm started. If there are biting wind and snow on Tierra del Fuego in the high summer, the Antarctic should be quite severe. But even this morning we were in suffocating 36 degrees Celsius in Buenos Aires.
Chairlift runs up to 5 pm. However, if you stay too long on the mountain, you can go down on foot along the comfortable path.
As soon as I began to regret that we went there in such a storm, as it suddenly retreated - it began to clear.
Another five minutes - and from a 600-meter height we saw a spectacular panorama of rugged mountains, the cold Beagle Channel, blue surface of the water, and the