Friday, February 8, 2013

Day 13: Ushuaia

Mijail started his day by having his breakfast in bed. He was delighted to do so! He deserved it! Meanwhile Hadrien and Isabel were getting ready for the two excursions of the day. Planned were first a boat excursion to see the sea lions and cormorants, and later an excursion to walk with the penguins close to Estancia Harberton.

We started with a tour on the Beagle Channel. It's a strait in the archipelago island chain, separating the island Navarino (Chile) from the Argentinian side of Tierra del Fuego.

First stop: el Faro del fin del mundo, guess what the colors of the faro mean...

Then we went around another island to see cormorants and lobos marinos (south American sea lions). Isabel discovered that cormorants were making the same sound as Mijail when he is hungry.

Here, an albatross.


Sea lions

 More sea lions...

To finalize this first tour, we got out of the boat for a walk on the Bridges island and the guide provided an explanation on the flora of Tierra del Fuego. The view on the Atlantic Islands was splendid and the motorcyclists’ legs & booties where glad to feel "other", "normal", movements.

Once finished, we came back to the port for a quick lunch. Isabel was desperately trying to find books about the history of the region. She walked up and down the blocks indicated by several local people. When she finally found the bookstore, she also found a locked door. Half a tank of fuel was spent later trying to find another, open, bookstore…

Then, for the second excursion of the day, the one that would allow to finally see the penguins (what seemed to be the main reason of this adventure for some that we will not name here); we boarded a huge off-road 4x4 truck.

The truck took us to Estancia Harberton. We then boarded a small speed boat to reach the Martillo island where the penguins have been living for about 60-70 years now. The Estancia Harberton is owned by the Bridges family. Thomas Bridges founded this Estancia - the first one in Tierra del Fuego- in 1886, just a few years after the foundation of the town Ushuaia. He was the first one to develop a touristic use of the site more than a colonial use. Now, the fourth generation of the Bridges family is owning and taking care of this Estancia, including the Martillo island.

Arriving at the Martillo island, we got slowly off the boat. Slowly, because the penguins were all over the beach and we didn't want to scare them off. It was amazing! We could walk among them and watch their doings. There were 2 sorts of penguins: magellanic and gentoo with the orange feet and beak. The younger ones were still changing fur and couldn't swim as long as they had their first fur. They didn't seem to be disturbed by our presence. When they wanted to cross our ways to go for a swim, they did so. It was up to us to take a step backwards.


Their housing consisted in caves the male penguin had dug. The female chooses her partner depending on the house. If she likes it, she would also take the male. If the male wouldn't be at home when she would come back from an excursion or if he couldn't fertilize her eggs, she will choose another male from the neighbourhood. The female likes to keep her habits, so she doesn't change them once chosen the neighbourhood. Kind of like desperate housewives!

The penguins live 6 months on mainland and 6 months in water and they will always return to the same island.

After this impressive walk amongst nature co-inhabitants we headed back into town where we had dinner in the restaurant nominated the best one in Argentina some years ago. We spoiled ourselves and enjoyed very much the exclusive delicacies of the region like the centolla (king crab) and the merluza negra (black hake). The boys then wanted to hurry home to hug their warm beds, while the co-pilot was trying to motivate them to plan a trip to Antarctica... no chance so far... Let's see what the idea will become after a good night sleep.


  1. Que buenas fotos! yo quiero un pinguino de mascota!!!

  2. yo tambien! por eso tengo una mascota muy parecido... jajajaja!!!

  3. Great stories... I and a friend are planning our journey now. We have reserved BMW 1200GS with a company out of Punta Arenas. We have followed their directions for wiring money as a down payment to their bank to reserve the bikes for the 2 weeks in February, 2014. We wired the money on December 23 and it is now January 1 and we have been emailing Horacia (the owner/manager) at "" with no response or confirmation email that they received our funds.

    Does anyone out there know of this company or have any advice for us? I have emailed them several times with no response since we have emailed the funds. WTF?