Aeroclub Ushuaia

I have definitely felt better than when I woke up on Saturday morning but the sun was shining so it was possible that I could take a flight down the Beagle Channel. I called the Aeroclub and they were able to fit me in at 9.15.

I quickly packed, checked out of the hostel and drove to the old airport, where the club is based. I was to fly in a 1974 !! Piper Cherokee with a pilot younger than the plane. Would you believe they can get four into this tin can.


It had also just started to rain with heavy cloud moving in quickly. The pilot, Federico, gave me the headphones to enable us to converse, and went through his pre-take-off checks. I made a mental check myself that my stomach was also OK for take off. Were away.

The rain dampened the experience a little but it was great to get a clearer understanding of the mountains on both the Chilean and Argentine sides of the Beagle Channel. We also passed over Ushuaia city and down the Beagle Channel as far as the famous lighthouse.

See the landing in the rain HERE.

Evening to remember

We have all done it. Want a good restaurant, want to enjoy a local speciality, want a good location and check out the guide book  But in reality many restaurants, especially those open since the late 19 c, are trading on their past glory which is now faded somewhat.

This was my curate’s egg experience at Volver in Ushuaia which specialised in centolla (king crab). Great crab starter, excellent wine, overcooked steak (I didnt have to pay for it) and slow service. I was not the only one suffering there were lots of international murmurings in the restaurant that night. However, it was a wonderful location and a beautiful evening, not recorded on camera as my cell phone battery had become drained. Anyway the romantic in me just enjoyed the moment. I was sitting facing the historic Beagle Channel, named after the survey ship HMS Beagle on which Charles Darwin travelled in 1833, and the sun was shining on the Chilean mountains, 4 miles across the water. The musak was playing ‘Killing me softly’ and the restaurant, which was opened in 1896, had walls covered with old newspapers.

I decline a dessert or coffee and head out into a 10pm sunset.

Time for a nightcap so I head to the Dublin bar for a coffee and a Jamesons. It is rammed but I squeeze onto a stool at the bar. As I add a little water to my Jamesons two guys across the bar shout “No” in unison with their thumbs down and laugh. I move around to join them and explain that if they had my heartburn they would also add warer. Pierre and Vincent were French extreme backpackers (sleeping in a tent and hitchhiking) who were both funny and charming despite the BO. Pierre an ex banker had been on the go 11 months and intended to carry on for another two years or for five if Marine le Pent wins the French presidential election.

A couple a whiskies, some French banter and some fun with the smashed Aerolineas aircrew, celebrating one of their own birthday, made for a great evening.

Crossing the Beagle Channel

When planning my trip I had hoped to cross the Beagle Channel from Ushuaia, Argentina to Puerto Williams, Chile but logistics, politics and economics got in the way.

The logistics: As I am visiting numerous locations I do not have the luxury of time and therefore the risk of not being able to cross the channel on a particular day because of weather or unreliability of transport ruled out this option. puerto-williams-boat-472-310The crossing is by inflatable boat with an outboard motor and the flight out of Puerto Williams would have been by DAP’s Twin Otter plane. otter-472-310It would have been quite an adventure …but a bridge too far for me.

The politics: When Argentina forcefully took over the Falkland Islands in 1982 many may not have known that they had “previous”. Four years earlier, despite an international award to Chile, Argentina laid claim to some islands in the Beagle Channel. This became known as the Beagle Conflict and brought the countries to the brink of war and was instrumental in Chile siding with the UK during the Falklands war. Despite the Treaty of Peace and Friendship signed by Argentina and Chile in 1984 all is not forgotten in this region, making it difficult to make the 4 mile crossing across the Beagle Channel.

The economics: Both Ushuaia and Puerto Williams vie for tourism dollars in Tierra del Fuego and it seems that neither side see any benefit in a regular ferry service across the channel.