After the dramas of finding accommodation in Ushuaia, we were finally free to relax. Its pretty exciting being at the 'end of the world' and it marks a certain achievement or milestone on the journey. However, we weren’t without drama. We’d lost one of our sleeping bags in Venezuela (it fell off the bike when it wasn't put away properly) and until now we had been getting by with just the one sleeping bag because the climate had been warm to hot. Now we were camping at the end of the world amongst snow capped mountains with all three of us huddling under a single sleeping bag.
When we left Australia to embark on this adventure we put a lot of time into researching camping gear, especially our sleeping bags. We decided upon an Australian design by Sea To Summit. The XtII (Xt2) is 95% Goose Down, weighs 1.2 kg and squashes down to a really small size which is perfect for the limited space on a motorbike. The other important factor is that we bought a left and a right bag so they zipped together, if you've ever done this with sleeping bags you know how awesome it is. So, when we lost one it wasn't a simple matter of just going to a camping store to buy any old bag, we wanted another of the same to zip together.
We made several attempts to contact Sea To Summit to seek their assistance and they were helpful but the best they could do was sell us the next model up at recommended retail price plus postage, close to AUS$1200!!! Long story short, Stuarts Mum, Hilary, back in Oz helped us out. We ordered a new sleeping bag online, had it delivered to Hilary's home then she took it to the post office and had it sent to an address in Ushuaia.
When we reached Ushuaia we didn't rush to the post office, expecting the delivery to take longer than expected. On our first trip to the post office we were told that the tracking number didn’t exist in their system which probably meant it hadn’t arrived in Argentina yet. The online tracking through Australia Post had indicated that the parcel had left Australia but from previous experience we didn’t expect the tracking to continue any further in this part of the world. In the end we stayed in Ushuaia for 2 weeks and enjoyed every day. It was a good day when the sleeping bag arrived, the gentleman in the post office had seen us nearly everyday so he was just as excited as us.
Ushuaia is a massive tourist destination. It attracts everyone from cyclists, motorcyclists, hitchhikers to lavish cruise ships that pull in to its port. Its a really pretty town that stretches along the Beagle Channel and nestled below snow capped mountains. There are loads of restaurants, cafes, chocolate shops and trinket shops to visit. Outside of town there are loads of trails to hike for the day or head out for a few nights.
One Sunday the three of us took a ride 80km out of town to an old Station that is open for tourists to visit. It cost 140 pesos per person to enter and included two tours; one of the homestead and one of a bones museum. This particular homestead was the first in Tierre del Fuego and to this day, fourth generation family still live there and manage the station. The bones museum was quite small but the tour in english was very comprehensive explaining the evolution of marine life including various species of whales, dolphins and sealions. We had a wholesome lunch in the restaurant there and didn't get back to our hostel until 7pm. It was a really nice day.
We were camping at Momo's hostel. It is one block from the main street and three blocks from a supermarket. Momo's is famous to cyclist and motorbike travellers who pass on the location by word of mouth. We felt very welcome there and met really friendly travellers from all over the world. All the common rooms were heated so we spent a bit of time inside drinking red wine with our new friends and making the most of the kitchen cooking empanadas, pancakes and burgers.
The two weeks in Ushuaia and talking to other motorcyclists gave us plenty of time and information to figure out our next plans. We had initially thought it might be possible to find a boat to cross the Beagle Channel and go to Puerto Williams, the southern most town in Chile, then work our way north but our motorbikes were too big.
Friends, Michelle and Brian, spoke of a scenic route to Punta Arenas that didn't have us repeating too many kilometres. Our first stop was Rio Grande for one night, then we took the 150km of gravel roads to Porvenir where we spent a night waiting for the next days ferry. Brian and Michelle were already in Punta Arenas so we followed them to their hostel to spend a few nights.