There is something that you will soon find out, when driving through Tierra del Fuego / Fireland: Cyclers and cardrivers have to fight all the time with the strong, cold winds along the N3, the Panamericana Highway, and sometimes it might happen that the cyclers are using the wrong side of the road, so be carefull ! Obviously these cyclers feel safer themselves, when they would be able to see the other cars oncoming...
Guanakos are a smaller species of lamas and we saw quite a lot of them, while driving around in the area north of Tolhuin. At one side they are quite shy, but they might panic and run into your car, so you better watch out for them , while driving on the N3 and even more so in the side-roads.
On the total we hardly ever were able to drive faster than 60km/h anywhere on the Panamericana Highway, a road with thousands of potholes and a very bad asphalt, that would never deserve the title "highway" in any civilized country of this world.
BUT of course in comparison with most of the other roads in this part of the world its quite good anyway ! ;-)
My husband and I were walking San Martin on January 5, 2010, and came upon a lovely shop Piedras Argentinas which is one of ten stores throughout Argentina. The stone penguins are marvelous, but we worried that we couldn't take one home due to their fragile nature. The penguins have hanging flippers that seemed very vulnerable to damage. We were told repeatedly that they would wrap the penguin well so no damage would take place, so we spent $363 to buy one despite our concerns.
We protected the packaged ten inch stone penguin as well as we could during the trip but arrived home to find that one flipper had broken off. We are devastated by the loss as we hoped to have the penguin as a nice memoir of our wonderful trip to Antarctica. The damage which can't be easily fixed makes our stone statue worthless. After emailing the company several times without a reply, we realize Piedras Argentinas is only interested in getting our tourist dollars but not in maintaining good customer relations. Their staff did a very poor job of protecting our investment, and obviously the management does not want to help rectify the situation.
We encourage other tourists to keep our experience in mind as they shop in Ushuaia. Buyer beware!!
When cruising the Antarctic, choose the right size of your ship ! There is a law that states, that not more than just 100 passengers of any cruiseship are allowed to go ashore at any place at the same time. And therefore it makes sense to sail on a ship with just 100 passengers or even less.
M/S Fram e.g. has a capacity of 350 passengers and the excursions of every day will have to be devided into 4 turns to go ashore. And then it could be that there is good weather for the first turn but storm or fog for the other 3 turns...
On arriving back in Ushuaia on our cruise ship we realised it would be useful to get some cash to spend in the local shops and restaurants (not all of which took credit cards). A walk up and down the main street didn't reveal any banks or ATMs so we asked in the helpful tourist information centre. They directed us to a bank on a parallel street nearer to the sea. The problem was that when we got there we found the bank closed, with no sign that it intended to reopen, at least that day! And yes, it had an external ATM, but for security reasons this was behind a sort of porch protected by a system that asked you to feed in your credit or debit card - and as it didn't recognise ours it wouldn't let us in! Another bank further along the same road proved to have a truly external ATM, but with instructions all in Spanish and a uniquely incomprehensible system.
In the end we had to restrict our purchases to those businesses that did take plastic, and later to withdraw money from the ATM on the cruise ship which charged a hefty premium for the privilege. In researching this tip I found a website (see below) that says: "In Ushuaia banks open from Monday to Friday, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. During weekends the traveler can turn to cash machines/ATMs." So maybe the situation has changed since our visit four years ago - but maybe not. So best be prepared and take some cash if you can!
We phoned ahead to book accommodation at this hostel, they said it was fine but please could we send an email to confirm. We sent an email, all seemed well so off we headed to Ushuaia.
On arrival at the airport (yeah I know, we cheated and flew!) we noticed that the hostel advertised a free taxi transfer. Fantastic we thought, and set off in a cab to the hostel.
To cut a long story short the lady we dealt with at the hostel was very off-hand with us. No she hadn't received a reservation, no she wouldn't check her email. She did have vacancies, but although she would have made about $20 a night from us flatly refused to pay our cab fare, which the hostel claimed to do in it's adverts!
By this point we'd had enough of her rude and surly attitude and our lovely cab driver took us to the guesthouse of a friend of his which was spottlessly clean with a nice friendly owner.
Sometimes the cabbies do know where to find the best accommodation!
Please see hotel review for details.