Day 19: Ushuaia – the beagle channel – Puerto Navarino (Argentina, Chile)

Sunday, January 14th, 2018

Day 1 of Ventus Australis – Patagonian Explorer

We get up late. Finally, at least once. We have late breakfast. A nespresso machine in the room is really a luxury. A capsule is 80 ARS, that is #wucher.

We get breakfast. It didnot get better since yesterday. We get a cheesecake for take away for todays hike and pay the bill. 2 coffebreaks with cakes, dinner and our huge usage of nespresso capsules cost us 2.700 ARS (110 EUR, Ushuaia is super pricy). 

We pack our stuff an try to get a taxi, we find a remis (which is a private taxi with fixed rates) for 200 ARS to the Australis check in (we have to be there between 10 am and 5 pm) on Avenida San Martin 409, Ushuaia. 

There we fill out the liability weaver, a chile immigration form and checkin together with a lot of other people. The queue is more than one hour. We leave our luggage there. The checkin process was not what we expected for that price. Anyway, we have to board the ship only at 06:00 pm, so we still got enough time for a hike in Tierra del Fuego NP.

We go to get more cash (with your credit card you get money only at national banks as banca di patagonia and are taxed per transaction with approx. 190 ARS. They offer you 2.000 ARS per cashout, you can override to 3.000 ARS manually, current exchange rate 1 eur = 22.7 ARS) and walk to the tourist information at Puerto Ushuaia.

There a smart guy tell us within 60 seconds. if we want to hike Tierra del Fuego National park, we should get the bus now (it is leaving in 5 min next block) and gives us a map of tierra del fuego and walking recommendation (the coastal trail). 

We catch the bus (2 ways 2 pax 1000 ARS) after some discussions because there are 3 different buses, but they say they’ll take you back anyway, stop at the national park entrance to pay the day ticket (700 ARS for both of us). 

With the bus we drive to Ensenada Zaratiegui (at Correo del fin del Mundo) get off the bus and walk the costera trail to Alakush Visitor center (super beautiful). The path is not to miss, it is just to walk along the coast. At Alakush Visitor center we get a break with coffee and a churaza kish. Then we walk the paseo de la isla, catch a bus there back to Alakush. 

At Alakush we have to wait for ‘our’ bus company (it seems they don’t take you back if you got the ticket from another company) and then go back to ushuaia harbour. We arrive short before 18:00, where we go aboard the Ventus Australis, our home for the next week and get a funky safety briefing. 

We learn that they took off the gym (no treadmill) and spa from the ship (even if it is still offered in the advertisment I got). As I complain the roomboy gets the expedition leader, who immediately tells me that this is not true. As I send him the material (i got fotos with me) and the name and email adress of the person of australis I got it from – radio silent. I never here something about this again.

Anyway, we have dinner. There is no internet or laundry service (as on G Expedition). The ship has 240 beds, there is only 143 pax on board. The vessel is built on maximum revenue. Every place is used for a cabin. On the upperdeck there is a bar and public area, but no toilet. The whole ship has 240 beds and 1 (!) public toilet. I you are on floor one and you drink in the bar – plan carefully your service intervals, you may need to go 4 floors …

Restaurant at the bottom floor – no restroom. Maybe you need to go up 3 floors (no elevator).

A lot of people booked late because an expedition ship was hold back in Antarctica by the weather in the drake passage for 2 days. So they do this trip as a replacement.

Everything on the ship is new as it operates since january 2nd of 2018. So it is the 3rd trip of it.

Coffee is a drama:

Dinner is fine. You will be seated with other guest for dinner. We (40s) got seated with two Australian ladies of 60+. Maybe it would be better to sit people with same age together. The expedition stuff eats in different rooms. So you cannot talk with them, only on the excursions. Dinner is every second day a menu, else a buffet. The food is generally high quality.

In the room there is a schedule for each day in your mother tongue (german):

And off we cruise again …

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