To the End of the World: Exploring Tierra del Fuego

All pho­tos pro­vid­ed by Frits Meyst.

The Clymb Adven­tures’ very own Mike Cooke trav­eled south to Tier­ra del Fuego to explore the bur­geon­ing adven­ture trav­el des­ti­na­tion at the very south­ern tip of the South Amer­i­can con­ti­nent. This windswept arch­i­pel­ago sits at the bot­tom of the mod­ern world, invit­ing adven­tur­ers to come and explore its incred­i­ble land­scape and cul­ture.

Despite being such a remote loca­tion, Tier­ra del Fuego is still very acces­si­ble for trav­el­ers from all over, espe­cial­ly if you’re com­ing from the Argen­tinean side, which is far more devel­oped. Along their trip, Mike trav­eled with fel­low adven­ture trav­el indus­try pro­fes­sion­als on a guid­ed expe­di­tion through this remote des­ti­na­tion. To offer some insight into this new fron­tier for adven­ture trav­el, we’ve shared an excerpt from an arti­cle writ­ten by adven­ture and trav­el pho­tog­ra­ph­er Frits Meyst, who was a part of the jour­ney.



Frits Meyst
Frits is a Dutch adven­ture and trav­el pho­tog­ra­ph­er who earned his spurs in black & white doc­u­men­tary pho­to­jour­nal­ism in Mid­dle East con­flicts. In 2004, he made a total tran­si­tion to trav­el and adven­ture pho­tog­ra­phy. Frits wants to inspire peo­ple to trav­el and expe­ri­ence oth­er cul­tures. That is why he found­ed 4ever.travel, a mixed media plat­form for adven­tur­ous peo­ple who love trav­el and ‘the great out­doors’.

 

 

Beyond the end of the world
“The man in the pilot seat looks over his shoul­der and says to us, “Wel­come onboard of DAP air­lines to Ushua­ia. Today will be a bumpy ride and you will hear all sorts of alarms go off. Do not be alarmed, it warns us of ter­rain, ice in the engine, and stalling.” With this encour­ag­ing mes­sage, I check the emer­gency exit, notic­ing the knob looked more like VW van door­knob than the lever to an exit door. Out­side the win­dow, a mod­er­ate storm rages just below. The twin pro­pellers roar and the Twin Otter moves into the wind, get­ting lift­ed up by an invis­i­ble hand. Every once in a while the bot­tom falls out from under­neath us. After one hour we drop out of the clouds and I watch ner­vous­ly as the pilot maneu­vers our plane toward its land­ing.  “Wel­come to Ushua­ia!” he exclaims, “This flight ter­mi­nates here and so does the Amer­i­can con­ti­nent.”

“Many explor­ers with a lust for adven­ture came before us. Mag­el­lan, Dar­win, Shack­le­ton were all search­ing for Ter­ra Incog­ni­ta, the unknown lands. Instead they found Tier­ra del Fuego, the land of fire, the south­ern­most part of Argenti­na.” — Frits Meyst

“Orig­i­nal­ly named by ear­ly British mis­sion­ar­ies using the native Yamana name for the area, Ushua­ia is the cap­i­tal of the Argen­tine Province of Tier­ra del Fuego and com­mon­ly coined as the south­ern­most city on Earth. With a rapid­ly grow­ing pop­u­la­tion of about 64,000 peo­ple, Ushua­ia is a flour­ish­ing duty-free port with a fish­ing indus­try par­tic­u­lar­ly famous for its king crab. Nowa­days, Ushua­ia is the jump-off point for Antarc­tic expe­di­tions and also a major stop for cruise ships.”

“The Bea­gle Chan­nel is a strait in the Tier­ra del Fuego arch­i­pel­ago. It was named after Robert Fitzroy’s ship, whose sec­ond voy­age here brought along one soli­tary pay­ing pas­sen­ger, a young man who would rev­o­lu­tion­ize the way we view the world — Charles Dar­win. The Chan­nel was also defined as the south­ern bor­der between Chile and Argenti­na dur­ing the 1881 bound­ary treaty. How­ev­er, the treaty did not solve the prob­lem of three unin­hab­it­ed islands (Pic­ton, Lenox, and Nue­va) at the east­ern mouth of the chan­nel, and for many years the trio was claimed by both coun­tries.”

“It was the Yamana fires that gave a name to Tier­ra del Fuego. The Yamana peo­ple were high­ly mobile and in their bark canoes, they trav­eled the chan­nels and water­ways, hunt­ing with har­poons for Marine mam­mals as well as fish. Despite the extreme weath­er they went through life most­ly naked, so it was vital that wher­ev­er they went, a fire trav­eled with them, hence the name ‘Land of Fire’. When encoun­ter­ing the Yamana, Charles Dar­win wrote in his diary: “these peo­ple going about naked and bare­foot on the snow.”

“All over Tier­ra del Fuego one can find traces of set­tle­ments and it is no dif­fer­ent here. Once upon a time, the refuge belonged to a thriv­ing estancia, sheep farm, but now the farm is noth­ing more than a derelict and over­grown mem­o­ry of the past. A faint hik­ing trail runs through the high yel­low grass past gnarly trees that have grown side­ways in the dom­i­nant wind direc­tion. The for­est thick­ens into a mix of dense bush that would be impen­e­tra­ble if it wasn’t for the old trail. A con­dor soars over­head look­ing for a cadav­er as we hike through the bush that abrupt­ly ends on the edge of a cliff with splen­did views over the Bea­gle Chan­nel. I can see why Dar­win was thrilled by the wild­ness of this strange land.”

To read the full sto­ry by Frits, check out his site here. 

To take a trip to Tier­ra del Fuego, check out the Clymb Adven­tures.