Thursday, November 26, 2009

Tierra del Fuego

All pictures of the day through here. Antarctica pre-departure pics here...

A final full day on dry land ahead of the departure tomorrow afternoon. Well I say departure, but in reality we only board the boat tomorrow at 17h00. It turns out departure is not until the following day. I suspect we are being taught the fundamentals of tallship sailing, no bad thing at all!

But more on the sailing front later! In the meantime, today I went to to the Tierra del Fuego national park. I joined an organised tour to do a trekking and canoe trip round the park. This was well worth it and gave me an excellent impression of the park and a good appreciation of the Beagle Channel as we walked along it.

The views were simply stupendous. This was taken looking out over the channel towards the south and the snow capped mountains. The water was a bright and clear though at times choppy as a brisk breeze funnelled down the channel.

Here you can see me testing out some of my gear for Antarctica. I had the bare minimum of layers on - four - which were more than enough for this day. To this I can add another two so fingers crossed I should be toasty during the trip.

This shot is looking back east along the Channel, in the direction of Ushuaia and the path we will be taking out on Saturday morning. It seemed to be beckoning me every time I looked across in that direction. Our guides gave us a good description of the fauna and flora of the park, and some of the history of the indigenous peoples, the Yamana tribe. They populated this area for over 10,000 years but were wiped out in the space of a few decades following the arrival of the Europeans, their diseases and "clearance" programmes. It was interesting to learn how the first arrivals interacted - in a positive way - with the indigenous populations to learn about berries they could use for medicinal purposes, notably ones providing them with vitamin C after the long trip!
Later on in the afternoon, after a big lunch and several glasses of wine to prepare, we went on a short canoe trip. Not on the channel itself, but on some of the small lakes and rivers flowing into it. Thank god it wasn't the channel is all I can say, it was hard enough paddling against the stiff breeze on the lake! But good fun. This photo was taken at the end of the trip - note how far we have come from BA - over 3000km!

Now my attention is turning to departure. This evening I have been pouring over maps with other travellers in the B&B, one of whom is also going to Antarctica. She however, is going on a modern ship, but is doing mountaneering down there. Pretty good stuff! I also had to buy some last minute materials, with still more to do tomorrow morning!

I'll be getting on the boat at 17h00 tomorrow afternoon but we won't be leaving until Saturday morning. This is likely to be my last post on here until 18 December. However, the blog will still be active as I'll be able to send emails to my friends Kris and Colin who have very kindly agreed to post them here. I'm trusting them to be on their best behaviour and not post too many football related stories or other non-relevant materials! Right guys? Thanks again!

So, wish me a fair wind and forgiving seas! For those I have promised postcards and other things too, I shall be endeavouring to remember them all! Antarctica here I come.

Signing off from Ushuaia - 26 November 2009, 23h30

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