Thursday, March 21, 2024

End of the world in Ushuaia with wondrous birds, parks and more

Cormorants abound off the tip of South America, with a motor boat trip from Ushuaia.
From a distance they resemble penguins, which are found nearby near "the end of the world." 

Bruce Keller and Christene "Cookie" Meyers are delighted
to be on the penguin trail, motoring out of Ushuaia, Argentina.




A giant southern sea lion sits surrounded by his harem and
young pups, while cormorants stand sentinel in the distance.

Fishing and pleasure boats can be found in the
Ushuaia harbor, at the end of the continent

was electric.  We could feel the excitement in our small touring boat, a comfy catamaran which took us from the cruise port terminal in Ushuaia toward Isla de Los Pajaros, or Bird Island. We were looking for penguins and cormorants.
Bruce Keller and Christene
"Cookie" Meyers in Ushuaia
on an outing from Celebrity.

We two sipped tea while others ordered red wine. Together we cruised the Beagle Channel and approached the island, covered with cormorants and seals. The birds fooled us at first, because they resemble penguins from a distance. But as we came closer we could see their  orange feet and large impressive wings.  Definitely not penguins. But beautiful cormorants. Penguins would come a bit later. The cormorants  are noisy, demanding critters -- fun to watch as they spread their wings, dive to feed their young, ever keeping one another in line.
WE KNEW we were in for a treat leaving windy, wild and sometimes wet Ushuaia, located at the tip of Argentina and a busy port city for Antarctica
The charm of Magellenic penguins is obvious from
the first encounter. They are captivatingly cute.

cruises. It holds the title as the southernmost town on the American continent and in the world.
Isla de los Pájaros is a rock sticking out of the Beagle Channel, several miles offshore from Ushuaia. It gets its name because it’s home to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of birds.

El Fin del Mundo -- the end of the world -- beckoned
Cookie and Keller on an adventure to view wildlife.
THE PEOPLE of Ushuaia welcome the sun because they don't always have it in their windswept town, perched on a steep hill and surrounded by the Martial Mountains and the Beagle Channel. It's the gateway to our tour to several islands, including  Isla Yécapasela, known as “Penguin Island” for its penguin colonies of mostly Magellenic penguins and a beautiful park, Tierra del Fuego National Park, where we also stopped.
It is closer to the Antarctic Peninsula than to Argentina’s capital city, Buenos Aires, where our adventure began on a cruise five days earlier.
MANY PEOPLE never consider a trip to this remote part of the world, but we've been many places -- including an earlier trip to this part of the planet -- and we love it.  We prepared for the dips in temperature -- from 90 degrees F in Buenos Aires, to below freezing in the Antarctic.
 I grew up in Montana, and was excited to return to this part of the subantarctic forest, with its tundra, glaciers and gorgeous coastline.
The Magellanic penguin can be recognized by his
beautiful curved markings and pink around his eyes.

Tierra del Fuego also offers jagged peaks, a thick beech forest, and a wild array of animals — including a relative of the camel, the graceful guanaco with its coveted fur.
Whether you're cruising or visiting on your own, Ushuaia is a fascinating place.
Its classic birding spots besides the islands we visited include its famous landfill where the caracara vulture abounds, the ski-lift area at the Martial Glacier, the national park, and Garibaldi Pass to the north of the city.
My birding cousin Betty would have loved our outing.  "The more remote the better," was her motto.  Remote, Ushuaia is.  And wondrous.

An accomplished cast presents a polished production
of  "Tartuffe," Moliere's masterful satire. Director
Richard Baird works magic in this satirical comedy.
                                                          --photo by Aaron Rumley
A first-rate production of "Tartuffe," Moliere's satirical comedy on religious hypocrisy, is selling out in San Diego. The work, at always inventive North Coast Repertory Theatre, features Richard Baird's imaginative direction.  His impeccable actor's timing shines on the other side of the footlights in this timely 17th Century romp. It's brilliantly acted with belly laughs aplenty as the fraud Tartuffe worms his way into a wealthy French home, fooling the lord of the manor and his mother, but not every member of the household. The production is a breakneck ride of wit, wigs and naughty merriment. Poet Richard Wilbur's translation preserves the playwright's delightful rhyming couplets and double entendres. Baird and his virtuoso cast deliver Moliere in all his bawdy brilliance.  Through April 7. 858 481-1055.    
Colonia in Uruguay, is known for its historic quarter
and beautiful Portuguese and Spanish buildings. Many
museums sport gorgeous ceramic tiles, a Colonia specialty

UP NEXT: Colonia in southwestern Uruguay, by the Río de la Plata, faces Buenos Aires, Argentina and is one of the oldest towns in Uruguay. We found it charming and inviting, not as "touristy" as we'd expected. The lovely village is the departmental capital,  Colonia del Sacramento, known for its cobbled historic quarter and colonial Portuguese and Spanish buildings. Many museums are also on view, including the Museo del Azulejo, filled with ceramic tiles. Remember to explore, learn and live and catch us weekly for a fresh spin on travel, nature, performance, family and more:


  1. Ushuaia is on our bucket list. This story inspires is.

  2. San Francisco Nature LoversMarch 22, 2024 at 11:12 AM

    What a fun trip. Appreciate the details of getting there, too.

  3. We were just there, too. Fun to see.

  4. We want to see Ushuaia....looks captivating.

  5. Colonia Uruguay is lovely. There wasn't a town I didn’t enjoy in Uruguay. Piriapolis was my fav