Tierra del Fuego is a place I've always wanted to go, and so watching the ship's GPS display show us getting closer and closer to the bottom of South America was really exciting. Early in the morning we navigated through the Beagle Channel (named after the famous exploring ship on which Charles Darwin sailed through these waters) towards the town of Ushuaia.
The colorful houses and shops of Ushuaia sit along the shore of the Beagle Channel, surrounded by stunning snow-capped mountains. Gorgeous.
This shows where Ushuaia is located, if (like me) you hadn't heard of it before now.
This was our first port on the cruise, after three days of sailing down the coast of Argentina, so we were happy to have a chance to get off the ship. We took a tour to Tierra del Fuego National Park, which is incredibly beautiful: full of lakes and rivers, and stunning snow-capped mountain views.
As usual, Carter was far more impressed by the rocks and sticks on the ground than the stunning scenery.
Just getting him to stand still long enough for this picture was a serious struggle. He was very excited to have a chance to dig in some rocks.
We caught a glimpse of a fox, one of the only land predators in the area. According to our tour guide, there aren't even ants here. That's hard to imagine!
As part of the tour, we rode on a catamaran through the Beagle Channel. The wildlife was definitely a highlight. There are many rocky islands in the channel on which cormorants (sea birds that look like penguins, though they can fly) and sea lions rested. I think I took a hundred pictures of them, but I will only subject you to a few. ;-)
This lighthouse marks the entry into the more dangerous part of the Beagle Channel, where many ships apparently sank in the 19th century. It's not the (apparently well-known) "Lighthouse at the End of the World". That one is located somewhere else.
The next morning we woke up at dawn to watch as the ship passed Cape Horn, the southernmost point of South America.
There is something so amazing about being in places you've read about in school, you know? I remember reading about the Spanish explorers who sailed around South America, looking for that infamous route to India and the spice trade. I remember reading about the treacherous waters that the ships faced, the horrific weather, and so on. And interestingly enough, the water was completely calm. The fog lifted once the sun came up, and we sat on our balcony and stared at the very tip of South America for a good half hour.
On the near side of this photo is the Atlantic Ocean. On the other side of the land, you see the Pacific Ocean. Cool, huh?
And then we sailed south. It was pretty exciting to look back and see South America disappear behind us!
We kept expecting the water to get rough, but the Drake Passage was as smooth as glass. It was like sailing on a lake, and even the crew expressed surprise. We sailed for all of the next day, and watched the peninsula of Antarctica grow closer and closer.
The next post will be all about Antarctica and the amazing experience that it was. I'll finish this post with some pictures of Carter. We've taken advantage of the ship's "Fun Factory" to allow us to go out to dinner at night, and Carter has really enjoyed it. When we pick him up, he often has his face painted or a fun craft in hand. He's said repeatedly that the Fun Factory was his favorite part of the cruise.
Here he is dressed as an alien and holding a spaceship he made.
And here he is as a tiger. I love it!
Sorry the posts have been few and far between! The ship's internet is very slow and also expensive (you pay by the minute), so I've been trying to find a good time to get on and upload pictures when I wouldn't lose the signal or end up paying a ridiculous amount of money. I hope to make another post soon. :-)