It was tough to pull ourselves away from Ushuaia. Not only did we enjoy some spectacular weather and the great company and hospitality of some new friends, but it also meant beginning the journey back home. Even though we have a few more months ahead of us on the road, it definitely feels different now that every mile we drive is taking us closer to home.
We didn’t linger too much longer on the island of Tierra del Fuego, because as soon as we left Ushuaia, the cold weather rolled in. We manage to stay warm at night if there’s not too much wind, but that wind sure puts a damper on sightseeing. The van also isn’t too equipped for the snow, so we turned around headed out to try and beat the arrival of snow, having been lucky enough to avoid it thus far. As part of our three-checkpoint day to leave the island, we boarded our last ferry for the foreseeable future and returned to mainland Argentina.
It felt far too cold to camp when we reached Río Gallegos, so we found the only pet-friendly hotel in town, Hostal Cabo Virgenes, and enjoyed a night of steam heating. Our path right now is to take Ruta 3 back up to Buenos Aires. It is not the most inspiring road, but since we still have time on our hands, we’ve taken the opportunity to do some off-road exploring.
From Ruta 3, we happened along an afternoon of Fiat racing in the town of Piedra Buena. Juan had the idea to tune into the local radio station so we could even hear the announcers!
We popped by Laguna Azul but it was too cold and windy to stay for very long.
We stayed a couple of nights in the lovely municipal campground in Puerto San Julián, from where we explored the coastal roads to some magnificent beaches.
We’ve lingered through many of the small, isolated towns of Patagonia.
We even took a detour to the Bosque Petrificado. You know you’ve got time on your hands when you’re going out of your way to see fossils of tree stumps. It’s not a huge reserve, but it does have some great views of the interesting geological formations around it. And the park rangers are all really nice.
The highlight, though, of Ruta 3 was finally stumbling into a huge colony of sea lions laying out on the beach–we spied them from the road. We could walk right up to them!
Then, to cap it off, we detoured to the town of Camarones and the Dos Bahias reserve to see penguins. We saw them right off the shore in town and then in the reserve saw their nesting grounds.
I never knew that penguins nested inland, among the llamas and the sheep!
For more offbeat photos of Patagonia, visit limpire.