My first-ever visit to South America!

Our trip was focused on the Lindblad / National Geographic cruise to the Falkland Islands and South Georgia Island, but to get there one must first fly to South America. We and our tripmates first convened in Buenos Aires, Argentina. After a quick tour and an overnight rest in a hotel, we were off again to the airport for a three and half hour flight to Ushuaia, at the southern tip of Argentina in Tierra del Fuego. Here we met up with our cruise ship, the National Geographic Endurance, for the two-week round-trip cruise. Before we take off, let me share a few highlights from Buenos Aires and Ushuaia.

Casa Rosario (“Pink House”) – the president’s office – in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The Lindblad tour staff met us in the Buenos Aires airport after our overnight flight from Miami. They gathered us together with a few dozen other arriving passengers and bussed us to the hotel. After a quick lunch, they took us on a quick tour of some of the highlights of this vibrant city, such as the “Pink House” above, the official seat of the President of Argentina, and La Recoleta Cemetery (the final resting place for many well-known Argentinians, such as Eva Perón, the subject of the film Evita). Perhaps more interesting was a former home, beautifully restored as Museum “El Zanjón de Granados” – complete with subterranean tunnel to direct the flow of a passing stream.

La Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

In Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world, we boarded busses out of town and followed National Route 3 to its bitter end, along a dirt road in a national park – the southernmost point on the Panamerican Highway. There, we boarded a catamaran for a lunchtime cruise along the Beagle Channel – one of the shipping transits through the archipelago of Tierra del Fuego, a safer passage connecting Atlantic to Pacific than rounding the terrific and terrible Cape Horn. This cruise gave us the opportunity to glimpse many of the seabirds that would accompany our journey – shags, petrels, and albatross – as well as a few fur seals. The conditions were windy, but the skies reasonably clear, allowing us to enjoy the surrounding mountains and even snag a glimpse of nearby Chile.

We board a catamaran for a cruise of the Beagle Channel, from the national park to the port where we meet the ship.

We boarded the Endurance in the afternoon, allowing us time to settle before a sunset cruise southeastward out along the Beagle Channel toward the open ocean.

First view of our ship, the “Endurance”.

I’ll write more about the cruise in subsequent posts, but allow me to jump ahead two weeks to the end of the cruise – when we had once again docked in Ushuaia. We awoke early the next morning to a spectacular sunrise glimmering across the calm waters of the Beagle Channel, with the season’s first dusting of snow decorating all the surrounding peaks.

Sunrise over the Beagle Channel leading into Ushuaia – with fresh snow on all the surrounding mountains.

I’ve collected a few photos in this gallery – worth a look! In particular, check out this video panorama of the above sunrise scene.

Author: dfkotz

David Kotz is an outdoor enthusiast, traveller, husband, and father of three. He is also a Professor of Computer Science at Dartmouth College.

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