Patagonia Part I: Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego (Argentina)

I don't know how to start writing about this once-in-a-lifetime trip to Patagonia. I don't know if there are words to describe this enormous space where I learned and felt what true freedom is, who the true me is. I thought I created a pretty beautiful life for myself, but, you know, all these things and all those comforts are just an illusion. And there has always been a dark cloud inside me, a cloud full of failed expectations of where I must be. I had been anchored to this dissatisfied ground for too long when we landed at the end of the world... 




When we landed at the end of the world (literally) or, to be more precise, in the southernmost city in the world, Ushuaia, I immediately felt like my soul was being pulled out of my body. Fresh icy wind filled my veins. I was captivated by the snowy mountains on the close horizon. The freezing wind was testing my strength, but I was standing like a tree, watching the mountains and waves below them. I didn't know what to expect from this trip or why even I was there. The idea to fly to Ushuaia was born spontaneously, I saw it on the map and I felt I must go.   




Where to stay:

Arakur Hotel

24 hours, three planes, changing airports in Buenos Aires where people don't speak English... it felt like a never ending road to nowhere. So we were very pleased to arrive to our hotel, far above the noise and town, slightly out of our budget, but so worth it. The best thing about Arakur hotel is the view. No matter where you are in the hotel (well, unless it's our room, the cheapest room in the hotel), you are treated to this spectacular view of Ushuaia, ocean and snowy mountains.  We didn't spend a lot of time in the hotel or its pools and spas as we were too busy enjoying our hiking in Tierra Del Fuego. However, I must say it was really nice to come back after a long hike to the middle of a stunning wilderness to a place with a relaxing view and delicious wine.




Obviously, three nights, two full days were not enough for this part of the world, but our time was limited. We wanted to see as many different areas of Patagonia as we could in two weeks.  


What to do:

Laguna Esmeralda

While staying in Ushuaia, we visited Laguna Esmeralda. The trail that goes to the lake is gorgeous. It goes through fields, through a beautiful blue river (I've never seen a river so blue before as the whole clear sky dropped into it), everything surrounded with mountains. Not crowded (maybe because it's long, or because it's muddy so you need real hiking boots for this trail). The weather was sunny, a little chilly. By the time we reached the the lake Esmeralda, the sun was so bright, we barely could see the beautiful green color of the lake. So if you can, go as early as possible to see that green color. 




Tierra del Fuego National Park

We also visited Tierra del Fuego National Park. The weather didn't cooperate there but still we drove around and we hiked along the lake. At some point we ended up on the Argentina-Chile border. That was fun as it's not that often you can have your feet in two different countries at once without worrying about immigration control. Cold wind, sometimes rain, then sun again... Honestly, I've never gonna complain about weather in San Francisco. While hiking there I had plenty of time to think... I was thinking how quickly I take for granted the remarkable things that have happened in my life, how I constantly focus on the negative, how easily I allow people to make me feel guilty for nothing, to push on me, to manipulate me. I am amazed at how I spent so much of my priceless time worrying about being wrong or silly. Recently I was also so uninspired. But this is what you get when you are not true to yourself, when you are trying to do what others do. We live in a society when everyone thinks that you need to grow 'up'... Well, maybe for some people it's the truth, but I am sure I am not alone in thinking that growth happens also horizontally, where it's ok to do one thing here, another thing there, to be more open-minded and broad with who you are and where you want to be.  




There in Argentina, at the end of the world, I felt like time was suddenly turning backwards. Time was different as if I saw the world from its flip side, the side I started to fall in love with so deeply. I was awakening.  


Martial Glacier

The hike to Martial Glacier was my favorite hike we did in Ushuaia. We did it at sunrise. The weather was windy, rainy. But rainbows were following us all the way through. No people. It was our first hike in Patagonia. Wind. Silence. Rainbow. It's when I understood, I am not going back to California as my old self. It scared me but I was excited to learn more about me, more about life. 




Ushuaia was nice. It felt so cool to be at the end of the world. Definitely there was much more to see. The town itself is too charming with local shops and restaurants. Overall, our two days in Ushuaia were just a small preview, not even the real deal yet, of what was awaiting for us ahead...

Next... Torres Del Paine, Chile