Antarctica: A long way down

Adventure Travel, Antarctica, Argentina, Fitness & Workouts, Packing & Wardrobe, Planning — By on April 20, 2008 at 2:38 pm

Ushuaia is known as both del fin del mundo (translation: the end of the world) and the beginning of the journey to Antarctica from South America. Convicts helped construct its streets, bridges, and buildings after the Argentinean government built a jail here in the early 1900s. Officials figured wannabe-escape artists wouldn’t have a chance to make a getaway, thanks to the city’s location on the island of Tierra del Fuego and its border on the Beagle Channel.

Today, the population is ballooning to almost 65,000 residents during the tourist’s high season from November through March. Here’s a guide on what to do and see in the City at the End of the World:

Stock Up on Gear:
Vraie; 595 San Martin; TEL + 54-2901-422351
This is where I went to buy everything from ski pants to wind-proof hats to wool socks. Disclaimer: It ain’t cheap, so aim to get your gear in advance-unless lost luggage leaves you empty-handed.

Get a Chocolate Fix:
Chocolates Ushuaia: 783 San Martin
Whether you’re a dark-, white-, or milk-chocolate lover, simply setting foot in this cozy, wood-paneled shop will have you on a sugar high. You can’t go wrong with dulce de leche, a soft milk-caramel confection that’s more addicting than the Nutella I used to spread on croissants during my post-college, backpacking days through Europe.

Brush Up on History:
Museo Maritimo; 9419 Ushuaia
If you only go to one museum, this is it. It’s chock-full of info on everything from Shackleton’s first expeditions to the South Pole to photographs of prisoners forced to build the town to colorful oil-painting displays by national artists.

Gustino; 505 Av Maipu
Ushuaia is known for its fresh crab, tender Patagonian lamb and full-bodied red wine called Malbec. Sample all three at this trendy restaurant and wine bar-or warm up with mate in the sophisticated tea lounge.

Take a Hike:
Tierra del Fuego National Park; 1395, San Martín
Located just 12 kilometers from Ushuaia, the name translates to “Land of Fire” and the wilderness stretches for 60 kilometers from the Beagle Channel to the Chilean border. Adorned with waterfalls, forests, mountains and glaciers, there’s plenty of breathtaking treks to get your adrenaline pumping.

Score Classy Souvenirs:
Quelhue; 771 San Martin
Your co-worker really doesn’t need that penguin magnet, so bypass the hokey tourist stores and check out this wine & deli shop decorated with corks and stones that sells everything from hand-made soaps to fresh goat cheese to mate tea.

Find a Last-Minute Trip to The Ice:
Ushuaia Tourist Board; 674 San Martin
If you’re in Ushuaia and aren’t on a tight schedule, you could score a discounted, last-minute trip to Antarctica: You may have to wait a few days, but sometimes cruises have cancellations or don’t fill up. Ushuaia’s Tourist Information Board can give you a list of local tour operators who’ll have the inside scoop.

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  • Gary A says:

    I’m curious to here how this went. I’m thinking of going to Antarctica next year.


  • hitz travel says:

    nice place and Picture.


  • nancy says:

    I can’t wait to get to Ushuaia!! Granted – it’ll take us a while, since we’ll be arriving there on bikes.

    But the best part of getting there will be fact that my sons will then be the new world record holders for being the youngest people to cycle the Pan-American Highway! I can’t wait – we’ll start in Alaska in only five weeks.

    You can read about our journey at