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The Lighthouse at the End of the World...

sunny 20 °C

As the Andean mountains sink slowly into the Southern Ocean at the toe of Argentina our trip to the end of the world has come to an end. For the next 5 weeks our journey will be all uphill as we wend our way home through Argentina, Uraguay, Brazil and Cuba. But we didn't come all this way just to get our photo taken in the most southerly city in the world...
We came to see the penguins of Antarctica...
This gentu penguin was looking a little lost and perplexed when we spotted him on an island beach in the Beagle Channel which separates Chile and Argentina. But more of the penguins later. First a quick look at the city of Ushuaia – a city that today is booming beause of the number of ships ferrying passengers across the 1,000 kilometres stretch of ocean to the nearest point of Antarctica. We chose not to take a cruise but found ourselves surrounded by coach loads of cruise passengers at every turn when we visited the Tierra del Fuego National park.
Fortunately we managed to get some quiet time and some great views of the lakes and snow covered peaks...
Our next stop took us by small boat to visit the sea-lions and the cormorant colonies on various islands...
You might be forgiven for thinking these cormorants are penguins – but this lot can fly - as can the numerous seabirds that we saw on our trip including thousands of gulls, geese and ibis...
And then we came to the lighthouse at the end of the world...
But back to our lone penguin. Maybe he was perplexed by the sun and the 20 degree weather because, like us, he was expecting it to be chilly and rainy. The Patagonian archipelago of Tierra del Fuego is the closest land to Antarctica and it has a reputation for some of the foulest weather in the world. The sea temperature never rises above 8 degrees and the westerly winds of the Southern Ocean circumnavigate the globe uninterrupted for 12,000 miles. The constant wind whips up waves more than 120 feet high and rounding Cape Horn is one of the most dangerous undertakings for ships of any size. Thousands of vessels have foundered off the coast here over the centuries. But not today. With a warm breeze and blue skies we got to enjoy the sight of thousands of penguins at close quarters. These are Magellanic penguins...
Some were incredibly curious and totally unafraid...
However, this handsome big guy was the star of the show and he knew it...
This king penguin had strayed from his colony on South Georgia Island and was taking a breather along with his smaller cousins on Martillo Island...

So, that was our day with the penguins. We have now flown north to El Calafate. No penguins here just lots of ice.

Posted by Hawkson 12:14 Archived in Argentina

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Loved the one of you, close up with the penguins Sheila!
Off you go north for further adventures!

by Joyce

Loved the penguins and Sheila and the penguins. Great fun. Thanks

by Sue Fitzwilson

Having read Patrick O'Brian's description of Aubrey rounding the Horn, I certainly didn't expect to see such calm in your photos...and that weather! More of the Bliss luck for sure. May it continue.

by R and B

Mr King Penguin would feel at home here. Arctic winds, temperatures and snow for the next few days.
Bad decision to stay put this winter !
Hasta la vista
Christine x

by Christine Lloyd

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