Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did.
So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. --- Mark Twain

Monday, February 4, 2013

Tierra del Fuego, Penguino Ray


Day 717.

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Tierra del Fuegio is situated at the southern tip of South America and is divided between two countries - Argentina and Chile.

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Interesting is - that in order to visit the southernmost part of Argentina and the city of Ushuaia one has to drive about 300 kilometres through Chile, and to reach the southernmost part Chile - it is accessible by land only through Argentina. So two border crossings are waiting ahead. There is no problem to leave Argentina, as before, and the border of Chile has no particular surprises either. Except that fresh and raw food should not be taken over the border. But it's not a surprise, of course, it has been known long before. So about 20 meters before the border an additional dining stop is made and the tomatoes are eaten. And only the smell of tomato and a knife and an empty plastic box are left behind. The custom`s officer examines the box and asks about the content. And in sign language I explain to him that I have eaten all the tomatoes and that is enough.

The documentation of the car takes almost no time. All the necessary information is found from our green technical passport and no wonder - the majority of the vehicles going to Tierra del Fuegio pass the border station and probably the technical passports of most of countries of the world have been presented here. In 50 kilometres the road comes to an end and the Strait of Magellan is ahead.

The sun is shining and I think there is no need to mention that it is windy. This is one of those places where you understand that the nature is much more powerful than people. No ferry in sight and neither the time schedule as well. There are separate waiting lines for large trucks and for small cars. I parked at the end of the queue and try to find information about the fares from nearby houses. Most of them are locked.

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I find the port building and by the door there is a sheep in a roped. Inside I learn that the ship will be coming soon and one can pay in Chile or Argentina pesos and also in U.S. dollars.

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Then the embarkation begins.

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The ship begins to move, I watch the undulating sea and wonder if it is really true that I've reached the land of Tierra del Fuegio and just now I am in a ferry getting over the legendary Strait of Magellan.

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The ship has arrived. GPS confirms that the continent has remained behind and Isla Grande Tierra del Fuego, the largest island of Tierra del Fuego,is ahead.

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Having left the boat a remarkable long-long queue of cars catches the eye. The first part of Chile road is decent, but I know that it's deceptive, the gravel road that will begin soon is with many loose stones, and the same all the 150 kilometres up to the border of Argentina.
 
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Only – before Argentina there is another rare and interesting place on the way. Neither Lonely Planet or nearly any other printed guide introduces the spot. Here it was said to be the only colony of King Penguins of South America continent.

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Overnight place in Tierra del Fuegio.

The wind outside was so strong that it was impossible to sleep, the bus was swaying similar to the feeling experienced crossing the Strait of Magellan. And there was no shadowy place to be found within tens of kilometres.

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The hidden place is here, there were no road signs on bigger roads and driving along a sidetrack - only one small arrow labelled "Parque Ping├╝inos Ray".

Soon the employees arrived and one of the first questions was how that place had been found.

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The penguins were in two small groups and it was not allowed to move very close because of the process of egg hatching

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There is another group standing in the strong wind on the beach

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The King Penguins are about 90 cm tall and, weigh about 11-16 kilograms and after Emperor Penguins are the second largest ones.

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Meanwhile some birds move along the beach. And then they are just standing by the water.

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Penguins are allowed to be watched as long as one wishes. Practically there are no visitors. Within an hour another bus of Argentina registration plate arrives.

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While driving back there are some abandoned villages by the road.

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Then a large flock of sheep crosses the road. At first glance the end is not to be seen.

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Finally - the gravel road ends and so do the sheep and a next border crossing is waiting ahead. Nothing special. Another Argentina stamp and 90 days are added into the passport. And nobody wants to have a look inside of the car.

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More 300 kilometres up to Ushuaia, the southernmost city of Argentina

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