Having encountered our first, rather small penguin colony, we had one more frontier crossing for the last push to Ushuaia and a date with the Polar Pioneer to Antarctica.
It was a bumpy ride to the Chile border post, where it took some time to find any officials - well it is a little remote. We then happened upon the Argentinian equivalent - three small houses, an office and a small barrier. One guy shouted and a person appeared from each house - customs, police and a guy to raise the barrier.
Driving east to Rio Grande, we found Okan, Donna & Indigo, who had limped into the town a little ahead of us and were having a repair done. In the beach area there is a large Las Malvinas (Falklandsl) Memorial. There are memorials to this Conflict all over Argentina, together with many roadside signs 'Las Malvinas son and seran Argentinos' usually with a distance to Las Malvinas indicating how close they are to Argentina. We have been to many places in Argentina and nobody has pressed us on the matter of the Conflict. The only time it has come up was at a church, when a guide, knowing we were English, said 'don't mention the war'. A little random, as we hadn't - but he may have been showing off his Fawlty Towers quotes...
The journey continued on to Lago Fagnano. The camp-site was literally built with odds 'n ends & bits 'n bobs. There was even a large adventure playground made from wooden pallets - splinter central. We were hoping to fish but the wind was blowing hard, making it impossible.
The following day we set off for Ushuaia and on the final bit of the drive, we had great views down to the city and across the Beagle Channel. Ushuaia is an end point (target) for most overland travellers, so there were quite a few camper-vans in and around the city. which is surrounded by mountains and faces Chile across the channel. There are a lot of tourists with it being a hub for cruise ship visits and a staging point for Antarctic cruises.
We first headed into the Parque Nacional Tierra Del Fuego. a beautiful park at the end of Ruta 3, also known as the end of the world, but that is very 'ish.., there are many 'Ends' to the world!
In the park, we met up with Jeremy & Becky, a London couple, we'd bumped into previously. Okan, Donna & Indigo arrived and so it was time for a dinner party - all crammed into one van. Thanks Jeremy & Becky for the delicious Green Thai Curry and the wonderfully funny stories. Jeremy & Becky's time travelling had been a series of adventures, some would call mishaps - from having everything stolen to the 'we ended up in the middle of a gun fight in Medellín'. All stories related dead pan as if it was an everyday thing.
After our obligatory End of the Road (Ruta 3) photo and a few walks in the park, we all decided to do the other End of the Road shot on Ruta Provincial 33 at Estancia Harberton. Estancia Harberton is a huge old sheep ranch running east along the coast overlooking the Beagle Channel. A long bumpy ride but worth it for the views. We stopped at a remote wild camp on the way and celebrated Okan's 50 Birthday. A large campfire and, not having an oven, Rachel improvised and made a trifle.
In the morning we reached the end of the 33. Some photos on the roof, an End of the World game of tag with Indigo followed by final goodbyes to Okan, Donna and Indigo - they were heading north to Uruguay and home.
Back towards Ushuaia and a final evening hanging out with Jeremy & Becky, before they headed north and we started packing, Looking south towards that southern ice brick and waiting for our ship to come in.
One more thing - we have totally loved Argentina and Chile - the people, the countries, the life, fun.