Day 15 – Ushuaia, Argentina

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Today we visited Ushuaia, Argentina, a new country, the third of the cruise. I had arranged a local tour guide to show us around and through a company called Tours by Locals, but after trying to contact the guide and getting no response from them I was getting a bit worried that something was wrong, unfortunately I was right. Our guide had gotten the time we were docking wrong, he thought 6am, I had informed him 12pm, so he had booked another tour and was no longer available.

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The big problem was that I had arranged this not just for me but my friends as well and this port was one of the highlighted ports of the cruise as there are so many things to do and see. Which is why I did a lot of research on the tours provided by Regent and found, incorrectly, that what was on offer was not that great, so booked a local tour guide. Thankfully, my research was wrong, and what had been reported by a number of people was so far off the mark that the tour we were luckily able to get booked on was one of the best tours I have done. I recommend that the End of the World Train, Tierr del Fuego National Park and the Beagle Channel Tour, it is worth the money!

Just want to say that the customer service provided by Tours by Locals was excellent, they responded to my email about the double booking of our guide within a few hours and arranged a full refund. I intend to use their services the next time I am looking for a local guide. I especially want to mention Jessica Pilon, she is the Customer Support Manager and made sure that everything was sorted with minimal fuss! If you are looking for a local guide, I suggest you check out Tours by Locals, my experience is the exception, not the norm.

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This morning I was lucky enough to catch the Pilot coming on board, it was not rough so, not a difficult transfer

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Ushuaia is claimed by the locals to be the southern most city in the world (Puerto Willimas in Chile thing that they are the southern most city, but they have a population of less than 3,000, so I don’t believe that they are large enough to be considered a city).

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This is the last port a large number vessels who travel to Antarctica and for the yachts who are intending to sail around the “Horn” so it is a busy port. There were 4 cruise ships in port including us, two of which were smaller than us and equipped to visit Antarctica, they have zodiacs to transfer people ashore, another trip to add to the bucket list.

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After docking, a little late, we boarded our coach and headed from the port to the  Tierr del Fuego National Park via the End of the World Train, driving through the outskirts of Ushuaia.

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This another attractive part of the world, and deserves more than a single day to visit and explore, hopefully I will get the opportunity to return as a part of when I drive Pan American Highway as the start / end of it is in the Tierr del Fuego National Park.

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After a pleasant drive through the country side a past a couple of golf courses, we arrived that the End of the World Train Station.

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This train line was built by the prisoners who were imprisoned by Argentina from 1884 until 1947. The train line was used to transport the prisoners to obtain the raw materials, mainly wood, required to support the Penal Colony. The train line was shutdown in 1952 and then restored / rebuilt in 1994 as a tourist attraction.

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After a few minutes to stretch our legs and checkout the custom-built locomotives, we board out train, unfortunately we had to survive in business class, we did not rate first class.

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Contrary to some of the reviews I found online, the train is comfortable and nice way to view the countryside. As we traveled up the hill a taped commentary is played providing you with a history of the area and the train.

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The “Business Class” train

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The end of the line.

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From here we drove another 30 mins or so to the start / end of the Pan American Highway. From here it is about 48,000 Kms to the other end at Prudhoe Bay, Alaska

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After a short walk we board our catamaran for the journey back to Ushuaia via the Beagle Channel and the Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse

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The views are spectacular. Patagonia is a place that everyone should visit at least once in their lives.

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As we cruised down the channel we passed the Malvinas Argentinas International Airport.

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Within the Beagle Channel there are large number of islands that are covered in wildlife, sea birds (we did not see a single penguin) and seals are everywhere

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The furthest point of our Beagle Channel Tour was the Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse. Unfortunately this is not the End of the World Lighthouse, which is the San Juan de Salvamento Lighthouse, but is still worth the visit.

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Once we cruised around the Lighthouse we headed back to the wharf to our home afloat the Mariner.

Today’s tour is one of the highlights of the cruise and even though I was very disappointed that we did not get to go on our private tour, I think that what we did end up doing was better and we were lucky that there was a screw up!!

Next stop is the Falkland Islands, British Overseas Territory, but first another day at sea

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