Along the way we had some great stops: we drove to Balneario el Condor, where we wild camped on the cliff tops, which houses the biggest parrot colony in the world. It has over 35,000 nests in its cliff faces and we watched in awe as thousands of parrots flew around and burrowed into their nests in the cliff face. It was incredibly busy when we got there as it is peak holiday season in Argentina, however we had the place to ourselves after sunset and had great views over the Atlantic coast and of the parrots from our roof tent. In the middle of the night the wind really picked up and we were both awoken as it whipped around the roof tent. We decided to move at around 3am, running around outside in the wind in our PJs, winding the tent down and laughing manically (well Jen was!) We drove a few hundred metres down the road to a more sheltered spot and managed to grab a few hours more sleep, waking up to a calm morning!
We also briefly stopped in Puerto Madryn to get a belt tensioner and serpentine belt for Ruby from a wonderful landy mechanic called Jorge. He was a lovely man and we gave him some landy gifts that we had received from other people along the way. We had to go to the ATM to get some money out to pay him, and when we returned-he rushed around his garage pulling out loads of gifts for us from stickers, to a large chopping board which he had made with "Landrover Patagonia" etched on it!
We visited Reserva Punta Loma, home to sea lion colony and cormorant rookery and watched the sea lions on the beach. We also visited a small town called Gaiman, which has a strong Welsh heritage from the 1800s. We treated ourselves to tea and scones in a traditional Welsh teashop.6 cups of tea and half a dozen scones later-we rolled ourselves out!
We drove a great gravel road to Cabo Rasa where we camped for the night. The following day we were driving and spotting wildlife along the way and we stopped for Gav to take some photos. Unfortunately, he misjudged the drop out of the landy to the floor and ended up badly twisting his ankle, which swelled up like balloon! I took over all of the driving and helped him to get to the loos etc at the campsite for the next couple of days! That afternoon we went to Cabo Dos Bahias, which had a large colony of magellanic penguins which we walked (Gav hobbled) through on a raised walkway.
We also camped at a few petrol stations along the way. In one we camped by the air machine, expecting that no one would want to fill their tyres with air during the night! Wrong! There was a steady succession of night time visitors to the air machine, resulting in an interrupted night`s sleep! The following morning we showered in the garage, as a lot of them have proper showers. Now maybe it was because I was tired from the night before or maybe it was just me, I managed to leave the knickers I had taken off in the leg of my trousers , whilst wearing clean ones after my shower. As I went into the busy garage to return the shower key, my pants fell out of the bottom of my trouser leg!! With skill akin to that of David Beckham, I kicked them into the air, caught them and swiftly shoved them in my wash bag!
On the way to Ushuaia, we had to cross the border into Chile and back into Argentina again, with all the border processes that involves. We got stamped out of Argentina, gave in our temporary import permit for Ruby, got stamped into Chile and received a temporary import permit for Ruby for Chile.. We had to repeat it all in reverse some hundred or so miles later when we went back into Argentina.
At last we arrived in Ushuaia, the end of the world! It is flanked on one side by the Andes and the Southern ocean on the other. Here we met a fantastic British (and Yorkshire) couple, Amy and Guy, in their landy, Hugo! They have been travelling South from Alaska over the last 18 months so are in the final few months of their trip. We all wild camped in the car park overlooking the Beagle channel and then spent the next couple of nights camping in the Tierra Del Fuego National Park, where we did some small hikes (Gav rested his ankle) and a couple of great BBQs!
We sadly said goodbye to them as they needed to head North and Gav ad I wild camped for a couple of days on Estancia Harberton, about 50 miles South East of Ushuaia, taking in the scenery. Here we were accused of stealing a motor biker's stash of firewood, when all poor Gav had done was gather firewood he spotted lying around for our fire! It turned out that the biker had gathered it and left it in sort of a pile, although it was nowhere near his tent. We could not stop laughing after he purposely strode over to us saying "have you taken my firewood?" before marching off and collecting more!
We returned to Ushuaia for a couple of days, as we were awaiting the return of MV Fram ,our wonderful Antarctica ship. We wanted to introduce her to Ruby so she knows where we spent Christmas and New Year without her! The first night we spent back in the car park overlooking the Beagle channel, however it was so noisy that we decide to find another spot for night 2. We found a great spot about 5km out of town on some cliffs overlooking Ushuaia and the Beagle channel. We knew the Fram was due in early morning so we expected to see it in port. It was a much quieter spot until about 5.30am when I heard a loud thump. I had no idea what it was however about 10 minutes later, a woman knocked on our roof tent and shouted. I opened the flap and she told us someone had had an accident. When we got out and went to look-a man had driven his van over the side of the cliff , although thank goodness it had not gone all the way down. The police and ambulance were on their way and a few people were helping so there was nothing we could do. He was stretchered into the ambulance and off he went to hospital. And then, under the morning sunshine, the Fram appeared around the corner, sailing towards us down the Beagle channel! We got some pictures of Ruby and Fram and then drove back into Ushuaia , following the Fram down the channel!
What a morning! Now we will start to head North towards the beautiful national park of Torres del Paine.