Thursday, June 4, 2009


Ushuaia is the main city and capital of the Tierra del Fuego Province and it was first established by British missionaries that came to christanize the Yamana indians. Later on the Argentine government established penal colony to colonize the territory and prevent other nations from claiming it. Ushuaia claims to be the southermost city in the world although this is disputed by Chile.

The city has now a population of about 64,000 people and is growing rapidly due to tourism. Most Antartic Cruises depart from this port during the tour season. It was at one time quite industrial with various electronic factories but the locals claims that these disappeared during the presidence of Menen who opened the economy to foreign competition. Shipping is also a new source of revenue and a couple of ports full of containers can be seen. To my surprise, one day, I saw a couple of large factory fishing ships with Argentine flags unloading containers full of processed fish. When I asked about them , I was told that they were owned by a chinese company and that all the fish was being shipped to China.

As I drove into town from the modern airport the night I arrived, the boat below is the first sight I saw and immediately I thought I must photograph it first thing next morning. It is a shipwrecked British tugboat that has been there for more than fifty years.

At one time Ushuaia was an important Argentine Military center but since the war of the Malvinas, the military actives have been reduced. The hangar below played an important role in the war of the Malvinas and planes departed from this base to attack the British naval forces. Now it is used as a museum; at the time I was there the Biennal del Fin del Mundo Art Festival was being held, and most appropriately, it was freezing cold inside.

Since I was there in the winter, there were not many tourists and most of the boat tours in the Beagle Channel were not operating, but there were short trips available so I was able to visit the sea island of the Lobos (sea lions) and Birds islands as you can see below. There is also a Penguin Island but these were gone for the season.

The boat tour went as far as the Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse, better know as the Lighthouse at the End of the World made famous by Jules Verne's novel "20,000 Leagues under the Sea."
But then again, there is another lighthouse offshore in a small island that claims that record too.

But all is not quiet at this time of the year. One afternoon I was walking in the waterfront when I ran into a shaman walking start naked all painted in white and black. According to the locals this was a Selk'man or Ona Indian priest. If he was a real one or an impostor creating publicity for the Art Festival, he only knows. Someone got a better view...


SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

A wonderful post Jose. I love the reflection of that tugboat which you captured. It seems to me that the Chinese are buying up the world's resources as there is nowhere you can go where they are not busy, even here in SA. Now THAT must have been an eye-full :) LOL!!

Thanks for sharing.

Tim Rucci said...

Thanks for the interesting commentary and the background history, Jose. It's so easy to miss what is right in front of us sometimes when we are out photographing wildlife. This sure looks like an interesting place to visit. And the tugboat shot is a killer!

gidje said...

great post. Sounds like a fabulous trip. I enjoyed the commentary. I really like the sea lion and the light house shots. I could see that light house picture on my wall! I also enjoyed the humor of the last shot. Her facial expression tells me she is a bit confused. It made me chuckle!

Jose's World said...

Yes, I found the last image to be a classical.
It speaks for itself. One of my favorites of my lifetime of photography

Anonymous said...

I love peeking in on your blog, Jose!! And, I've sent the LINK to my family and friends so they can oohh and ahhh, too.

I have a soft spot for penguins!! We sat for hours at the Moody Gardens (Galveston, TX) penguin display!! I love your pic!!


Ken Conger Photography said...

Wonderful geography lesson with exceptional photos. Now understand why you came back to Virginia with black and white paint all over your body. Blue Skies.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

LOL!! Thanks for the info Ken. It is nice to know what Jose gets up to on these trips of his. LOL! Here I thought HE was taking photographs meanwhile it is people taking photographs of HIM. It gives a whole new meaning to 'photographic safari'. :)