I received looks of bewilderment when I told people we were flying to Ushuaia. Generally, the verbal response I got was, “where is that?! And why are you going there?” Fair question since I, myself, didn’t know the first thing about the southern-most city in the world before booking an Antarctic cruise requiring me to disembark from there. I can happily report I am glad to have had the opportunity to step foot in the bustling, quaint city!
Getting to Ushuaia was an enormous debacle, however. I spent eleven hours on the phone just to ensure we even had valid tickets. Long story short, Aerolineas Argentina cancelled our original flights from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia. The flights they put us on to compensate only gave us 45 minutes to change airports, which was quite literally impossible. The airports were on opposite sides of the city, and it takes at least an hour to make the trip. Chase Rewards kept trying to cancel our entire in-bound ticket, refusing to leave us on the flights to Ushuaia, which were fully booked. Eventually, I got a helpful agent on the phone that claimed she had fixed the problem – keep us on the Aerolineas flights to Ushuaia, cancel our United portion of the ticket, and book us on new American Airlines flights that would provide enough time to transfer between airports. Alas, her promised manipulation was not, in fact, possible. I received calls from United Airlines invalidating those new tickets. Mother fucker! New plan… change the United flight to a sister airline. Nope, that’s not allowed by Chase. Sweet baby Jesus, I just want to go on our Antarctic cruise! Next plan, which was being executed THE DAY BEFORE we were set to leave, call United myself and coerce them into switching our flight due to the time constraints. Success!!! United was able to switch us to a sister company, Copa Airlines, that left later and waived all fees. Now to get Chase to refund the money we paid out for the American Airlines flights. Sorry kids… long story not short. I’m off my soapbox now, and we did make it to Ushuaia.
Common sense should dictate that other international airports in Buenos Aires would fly to Ushuaia, but common sense has no place here. We had to switch from Ezeiza International Airport to San Fernando International Airport, and research told me that was an easy transition via the Tienda Leon bus. While it was cheap, we almost missed our flight to Ushuaia as the bus maked multiple stops long the way. Lesson learned, and we elected for an Uber on the return trip two weeks later. Fun tid bit: After ordering the Uber, we located the vehicle just behind us. Be mindful, people will attempt to hijack your ride. Two women approached, insisting this was their Uber and tried to climb in the car. They made a scene, photographing the license plates, as we clamored into the backseat. Buenos Aires left me with a sour taste in my mouth.
Finally at the other airport, we attempted to check in to our flight, but the portal would not allow us, informing us that there was a problem with our tickets. With only minutes until boarding was forced to close, we tried to get a gate agent’s attention since the line was an hours long wait. This trip is destined for failure. Thankfully, a stupendously helpful agent cleared it all up and gave us emergency exit seats. Winner winner!!!
More than 24 hours later, we set foot in the southern-most city in the world. My expectations for the city were low – isolated city in the middle of nowhere Argentina. I was pleasantly surprised, however, as la ciudad was clean, more modern than expected, and full of places to walk and explore. The influx of money was obvious as we walked the streets – new sidewalks being constructed, nice cafes and restaurants, modern markets, new apartment buildings… you get the gist. People were friendly and helpful, they even tried to help us practice our Español.
We opted to arrive a few days before the tour commenced, and spent our first couple of nights in an AirBnB close to the hotel we would meet the other travelers at. Our first accommodation was an apartment in a modern building in the northern part of town just below the glacier. The views were astounding. It was just high enough that we got gorgeous sunrises over Ushuaia in the morning, and amazing sunset views over the mountain in the “evening.” Sunrise was just after 05:00 and sunset was just after 21:00. Lots of daylight down there!
Accommodation part dos: Wyndham Garden Ushuaia Hotel del Glaciar. Situated on a dead end road, the hotel had sweeping views of the glacier behind and Ushuaia from the front. Our room was at the back, so we were provided with a mountain view and some VERY hot afternoon sun.
Now, on to Ushuaia activities…
While I’m not going in depth on the two full days of hiking we did in this post, it was one of our favorite things about Ushuaia. The mountains rise up behind Ushuaia and are absolutely stunning. Bonus was that a car was not really necessary (for us, at least… we’ll walk miles to get to a destination). We only got a small snip-it of the hiking available in the area, as well.
The day we boarded the ship, we realized we had several hours prior to the meet time, and elected to walk downtown and do some shop perusing. However, that day was a Sunday, and Ushuaia is largely shuttered on Sundays. This made for many hours of aimless walking, mixed with a tiny bit of shopping. Be prepared for some extremely high prices for clothing and other textiles – I suppose it took a pretty penny to have things shipped to the Fin del Mundo (End of the Earth). Thankfully, we were able to get in our souvenir shopping when we returned after the cruise. If you ever find yourself in Ushuaia, Argentine chocolate and coffee were not too shabby. Most of the shops were conveniently situated along Av. San Martin for those that do not enjoy a lengthy stroll.
Traveling means eating yummy foods one cannot normally acquire at home. While we took full advantage of the kitchen in the AirBnB that we stayed in, the one night we roomed in a hotel, we obviously had to eat out for dinner. Uncle Google research, and purely convenience, lead us to Chez Manu, the restaurant across the street. There were zero negatives things about este restaurante. The Hubs and I both had this delectable scallop dish that made me waddle out of the establishment. The waiter was a delight, and also aided us in practicing our Spanish and he is English phrases. And the views from the huge windows were sensational. A bottle of wine later, we crashed in our room giddy about the cruise mañana.
Coffee shops and people watching our one of my favorite pastimes. Augusto was one of the only ones open that Sunday afternoon, so you take what you can get. It was an unexpected surprise. When my tea came, I was a little perplexed by the container – it resembled a genie lamp. What in tarnation? Oh well, the contents of the lamp were also not what I anticipated. Instead of a tea ball housing the spices, they were just freely floating in the steaming, hot agua. The aroma was wonderfully herbaceous as it assailed my nostrils. However, that did not hold a candle to the empanadas de carne we very smartly decided to order. I was drip drooling like my dog after consuming those things. We dined there twice just for those empanadas.
Intrepid Travel was the tour company we used for the trip. Part of the package was bag storage while we putzed around town. That was all fine and dandy until we had to head to the airport. Being the morons that we are, we opted to walk from downtown to the airport. Not that hard, hell, we can even see the airport! Alas, we started running low on time and began searching for a cab since Uber isn’t a thing in Ushuaia. While we were idly standing at the corner peering up the winding hill that we may, ultimately have to hike up, a gentleman approached us and asked if we were going to the airport. He then offered us a ride! Damn, I like this place even more now. He ferried us up to the airport in a jiffy. Several attempts to give him money for his efforts failed, as he scoffed it off, smiled, and departed with merely a ‘gracias.’ Restoring my faith in humanity one trip at a time!
Ironic that I discovered this sign at the airport minutes later… Oops.
Next up: Tierra del Fuego hiking, but first, I shall leave you with my Ushuaia handstand….
4 thoughts on “A Visit to the Southern-Most City in the World: Ushuaia, Argentina”
I’d have lost the plot before getting there with that customer service on your flights – what a nightmare. It looks worth the trip though as it’s absolutely beautiful, especially that sunset picture out to sea (third one down I think). Lovely!
Thanks! Ugh… It was a nightmare – flights get changed and cancelled so frequently now, it makes flying such a headache. Ushuaia is a beautiful place. I only wish I’d gotten to do more hiking, but alas, this was just our jumping off point for the Antarctic cruise.
It’s not often you get to read about someone’s firsthand experience in Ushuaia. And what a nightmare with getting down there. Yikes! Really interesting read.
Thanks so much! I certainly never thought I’d ever visit Ushuaia, but now I’m glad I did. Highly recommended if you ever find a reason to go.