Our maps of the world are generally flat and wide, which means that it looks like a major excursion to go from east to west, say from the UK to Australia, but not very far (at least in relative terms) to go from north to south. This is not the case.
In the time it took me to get from London to Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego, I could have easily got to Melbourne, and even started coming back. First there was the two hour flight to Madrid, then a layover, then a twelve hour flight to Buenos Aires, another layover and airport change and finally a five hour flight south to Ushuaia, stopping briefly in Trelew – quite possibly one of the most barren looking places I have ever visited. Part of the west cost of Argentina is pretty much a desert and Trelew is in the middle of it. But lots of people got off – apparently it is a great place for whale watching.
We flew into Ushuaia as the sun was setting and the full moon rising. This is perhaps the most spectacular airport setting in the world. The landing strip sits on a narrow peninsula that juts out into the Beagle Chanel and the town of Ushuaia is completely surrounded by high mountains. The flight ended with a spectacular low level manoeuvre to orient the plane with the runway, having flown in through the mountain passes. We seemed to skim over the choppy waters of the Chanel to accomplish this in the limited space available.
This morning the 2041 team hiked up to a local glacier, which like many in this region has shrunk markedly in the past twenty years.
Tomorrow we get on the ship for Antarctica, so still more south bound travel in store. If you are busily looking on one of those flat wide maps of the world you might also notice that Antarctica isn’t even on it, or if it is then it will just be a white strip at the bottom. Little wonder we don’t know much about this place, given that it isn’t even always on the map.