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. 


 

Ecuador

In the film Butch Cas­sidy and the Sun­dance Kid, Cas­sidy was onto some­thing when he said, “Kid, next time I say, ‘Let’s go some­place like Bolivia,’ let’s GO some­place like Bolivia.” South America’s misty moun­tains, desert dream­scapes, impos­si­bly blue waters, and wild jun­gles still haunt the adven­tur­ous among us, espe­cial­ly since the region is slid­ing into spring right when the north­ern hemisphere’s set­tling into deep freeze. Ready to book a tick­et for way south of the bor­der? Here’s our adven­ture buck­et list.


Ecuador

Moun­tain Bik­ing Ecuador’s the Avenue of Volcanoes
If the thought of freerid­ing vol­canic ash and hard­ened lava down a Volcano’s shoul­der doesn’t get your blood pump­ing, the views of Lake Quilotoa’s crater full of emer­ald water and the hulk­ing chain of vol­ca­noes from Chimb­o­ra­zo to Cotopaxi should do it. Ecuador boasts one of the high­est per­cent­ages of pro­tect­ed lands, one of the world’s high­est active vol­ca­noes, and friend­ly locals, too. If wildlife is your thing, book a flight out to the Gala­pa­gos while you’re there, too, and kayak along­side tor­tois­es and more types of birds than you can imag­ine pos­si­ble in one place.


Patagonia

Trekking Tor­res del Paine Nation­al Park, Chilean Patagonia
To behold in per­son the strik­ing spires of Tor­res del Paine might be enough to moti­vate a five-day trek. But they’re far from the only rea­son to hike in the park. Patagonia’s laud­ed as one of the most untouched, uncon­t­a­m­i­nat­ed places on Earth, and a tour of its glow­ing blue glac­i­ers, cerulean alpine lakes, water­falls, and pris­tine forests doesn’t dis­ap­point. Stay in a hos­pitable Refu­gio if camp­ing isn’t your thing. And if you’re a climber, be sure to vis­it the alpine Mec­ca of El Chalten.


Brazil

Pad­dling Brazil’s Bay of Paraty
The Bay of Paraty’s crys­talline green-blue water feels as good as it looks. Calm, warm cur­rents wel­come begin­ning pad­dlers, and plen­ty of shops rent stand-up pad­dle­boards and sea kayaks. Islands dot the bay, call­ing for explo­ration, and live­ly under­wa­ter ecosys­tems await swim­mers, snorkel­ers, and divers, as well. Plus the town of Paraty’s charm­ing cob­ble­stone streets, his­toric church­es, and roman­tic restau­rants eas­i­ly fill up rest-days when surf­ing or bask­ing on the beach is just too much to handle.


Peru

Trekking to Machu Picchu
Trekking through Peru’s green vel­vet Andes can only be topped by step­ping through the Sun Gate at Machu Pic­chu as the first rays of day­light peek above the misty Peru­vian Andes onto the Incan ruins nes­tled into the moun­tain­top. The pop­u­lar Inca Trail winds up to Machu Pic­chu along the Urubam­ba Riv­er, one of the Amazon’s head­wa­ters, and stops by oth­er ruins along the way. Trekking it requires a per­mit and guide—but a vari­ety of oth­er trails offer less crowd­ed options. And after a few days of moun­tain trekking, the dream­i­ly land­scaped nat­ur­al hot springs at San­ta Tere­sa are paradise.


Chile

Ski­ing Por­tillo, Chile
If you dream of pow­der, even in the heat of sum­mer, you need to get down to Por­tillo. The old­est ski cen­ter in South Amer­i­ca, it’s also one of the purest ski des­ti­na­tions you can vis­it. Just 100 miles from San­ti­a­go, but 9,450 feet above sea lev­el, Por­tillo is pri­vate and pris­tine. No Guc­ci shops. No McDon­ald’s restau­rants. Just 2,500 feet of lift-ser­viced Andean per­fec­tion look­ing down on the gem-like blue-green Lagu­na del Inca. Por­tillo feels remote, but cer­tain­ly not unciv­i­lized. Frothy pis­co sours at the Por­tillo Bar and seduc­tive hot tubs pam­per skiers at day’s end.


Bolivia

Tour the Salar de Uyu­ni, Bolivia.
South­west­ern Bolivia might just trump the rest of the con­ti­nent for Pin­ter­est-wor­thy vaca­tion pho­tos. And pur­su­ing shots of the famous­ly pris­tine salt flats, blue-sky-mir­ror­ing lakes, and rich­ly col­ored Sal­vador Dali Desert is a wor­thy adven­ture all in itself. But if you lean toward masochism, load up a bicy­cle with camp­ing gear and as much water as you can car­ry to brave the lunar land­scape and infa­mous winds on a tour past the vibrant Lagu­na Col­orado and Lagu­na Verde, and through the rich­ly col­ored Sal­vador Dali Desert from Uyu­ni to San Pedro de Ata­ca­ma. Or hire a guide to take you out for a four-day Land Cruis­er tour.