Argentina: Tierra del Fuego

On 15 December I flew to Ushuaia on the island of Tierra del Fuego. The flight was fun – the plane had to travel up the channel and back in order to descend to land on the runway. I stayed at Galeazzi-Basily Bed and Breakfast, where I had a room in a fantastic little house with very sweet owners. I had planned to camp a few nights in the park, but the weather was extremely cold and I decided to stay in the cozy warm house in town instead.

I went to see the penguin colonies at Estancia Haberton – this requires booking a tour from town and traveling in a tour bus down the coast to Estancia Haberton. We had a tour of the museum, which was fabulous with complete skeletons of many species of whales and dolphins that beach in Tierra del Fuego. The boat ride to the penguin colony was short and I did not throw up (yay!) and the penguin colony was rainy but full of penguins!! I was a little bit sad because there had been a king penguin at the colony on the previous day, and he wasn’t there when I visited. But I got to see Magellanic penguins and gentoo penguins, squee!!!

I also hiked up to the glacier above town, where there are supposed to be a couple of good bird species to see. I ran into the local birding guide with a paying tourist, and subtly inquired whether they had seen anything interesting. They hadn’t seen the bird, and I was glad I hadn’t paid several hundred dollars for the morning tour! I hiked up to the glacier on my own and walked all the way back to town.

On Monday I was supposed to rent a car, but the people of Ushuaia decided to lodge a protest in the middle of town. It started with garbage cans with fire in them, drums, and many work trucks, construction vehicles, and delivery trucks blocking the main street of town. This grew quite extensive by mid-morning, with piles of wooden pallets blocking streets and more of the main streets in town blocked by trucks and other vehicles. Needless to say my rental car was trapped and I could not rent a car that morning. Instead I caught a bus to the national park and went hiking. I hiked the coastal trail and over to the lake and campsite. There weren’t many birds, but it was a nice hike and a pretty day.¬†On Tuesday I returned to the park and hiked the remainder of the trails.

On Wednesday I succeeded in renting a car and drove down to Estancia Haberton, birding along the way. I also drove up past Garibaldi pass and birded this area as well. I didn’t have a very good birding day because it was raining, but the scenery was very nice. I did get to drive myself to the rubbish dump, where I saw a few new species of birds (I know, birders visit weird places).

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