Patagonia: Land of Fire and Ice at the End of the World
July 8, 2011 Leave a comment
By: Verónica Sevilla L., Commercial Director.
Patagonia is that piece of the Earth, that area at the very end and tip of South America. It is the land where the indomitable nature of its majestic territory meets and gives way to huge oceans just before these reach the fiery ices of Antarctica. It is a place which calls to the souls of travelers, lovers of adventure and nature, who will experience moments like no other, and who will be captivated by stories of great human conquests and new territories.
I begin my trip flying from Quito to Buenos Aires with the help of Metropolitan Touring, arriving at the city of Ushuaia after a long but nevertheless direct flight. The landing itself at Ushuaia was a unique experience, as I was amazed by the sight of the great mountains belonging to the Andes range, the Fagnano Lake which rests in the middle of these giants, and the town itself, which appeared to be nailed to the ground between the mountains and the Beagle Channel. It was evident that this signaled the start of a unique adventure.
This city, filled with incredible story and founded as the main city meant to populate these strange lands (at the beginning of the 20th Century), surprises you from the beginning with its cosmopolitan atmosphere, created by travelers arriving from all over the world.
Packed with top- of- the- notch chocolate stores and gourmet restaurants (which seduce you with the specialties of the area such as Patagonian goat and “centolla”), travelers experience delights which are worthy of even the world´s most respected culinary centers. The San Martin Street, which features adventure and clothing stores of the highest quality, as well as unique bookstores, is the precise location to do some shopping in preparation for your adventure ahead.
Taking a tour of the city in an English Roadster bus from the year 1948, allows us to submerge into the city´s history of indigenous inhabitants and pioneers. Visiting the National Park “Tierra del Fuego,” and enjoying a ride on the “El Fin del Mundo” Train (which travels for 8 km through tracks originally used by the city´s first settlers) while having a look at rivers and valleys of awe- inspiring beauty, are only the appetizer to our next experience: an Expedition Cruise along Patagonia´s Channels up until the “Cabo de Hornos,” where South America ends and both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans combine. All of this done in order to later on adventure ourselves across the “Avenida de los Glaciares” (Glacier Avenue), a hidden treasure for those lucky enough to enjoy this experience, and one which ends at the town of Punta Arenas in Chile.
Along this Cruise we arrive at multiple, unique locations barely touched by Man, where the privilege of solitude in the face of huge glaciers allows us to feel the strength of the water and the exuberance of the ice. Our departure from Ushuaia, and our trip up until “Cabo de Hornos,” where the morning sun was merely a preface of what would be a visit to this amazing place. Previously navigated by buccaneers, brave sailors, and both strong men and women, the trip was over so quickly that it made us think of the many months that it took for them to cross the Channels in centuries past. This place, marked by signs of huge determination and effort, is the goal of every traveler in search of mythical lands.
We spent the next three days sailing along the Strait of Magellan, where we admired every glacier along the way: the Fiordo, the Romanche, the Garibaldi, the Italia, and many others. To know that the Patagonia is one of the few places where glaciers are still formed and move along the mountains and rivers, and to look at and hear the roar of a breaking piece of ice as it falls to the ocean is just an indescribable feeling.
Marvelous walks with the sights of this world of water, earth, and ice evoke within you unique and beautiful feelings fueled by natural energy, which end with a delicious hot chocolate or a whisky prepared with the millennia- old ice from one of the glaciers. The subarctic forest, the Magellanic penguins, the dirt stuck to your shoes as you walk, the sailing through the glaciers with the use of a zodiac, and the wind which overpowers you, are a few of the grandeurs which make up the greatness of the land.
Key ingredients for making this trip such a marvelous experience are the lighthouses locate along the whole of the Strait, which help us in our navigation just as much as they helped sailors 150 years before us. The cruise, its first- class service, gourmet food, and a team prepared and ready for everything, make you feel at home in the icy territories of the Patagonia.
After this one- of- a- kind adventure filled with history, local culture, nature, and enveloped in an atmosphere of warmth, we arrive at Punta Arenas, the southernmost Chilean city at the banks of the Strait of Magellan. A city of history as well, with an interesting French architecture and a constant howl of Patagonian wind, pure only in that majestic land, is where our trip ends.
We make our way back to Santiago, carrying with us our luggage full of new and unique experiences which can only be lived there, at the “End of the World.”
If you would like to know more about Metropolitan Touring´s tours in the Argentinean Patagonia and Ushuaia, just follow the link: http://www.metropolitan-touring.com/content.asp?id_page=1292