After long driving days from the Lakes District, we reached Rio Gallegos in the south of Argentina. For the first time since the very north of Chile / Argentina, we needed to cross a border and pass through Chile to get to the southern tip of Argentina. Lazy as we are, we decided to risk it and skip the bureaucratic process of getting dog papers for Leika. We headed to the border south of Rio Gallegos, where we checked out of Argentina and into Chile. All papers in hand, we proceeded to get our car searched and threw away our remaining fruits and vegetables. Of course, we were asked about our dog papers and we presented an expired health certificate we got in northern Chile. Of course, that was absolutely unacceptable. We have all the documentation for Leika, but none of it is valid unless you have some government paper which can then be stamped while wild dogs are crossing the open border at will throughout the day. After 30 minutes of pleading it became clear that nobody was interested in our case, and they made us check back out of Chile, back into Argentina, and drive 70km back to the nearest town. There, we had to visit a vet who wrote a health certificate without even taking as much as a look at Leika, and the next morning we got the necessary dog paper from the government authority. If this is simply a scheme to extract money from dog owners, it makes sense, but it certainly doesn’t prevent the spread of diseases (or whatever else these laws are aiming to achieve).
So we finally reached Chile, a day later than we had hoped, and the first order of business was a visit to the tax free zone in Punta Arenas, as we had heard that’s the place to get bargain prices for anything car-related. We quickly found new tires – our tread had been running low since Peru, so it was time. We bought the tires, but then decided to pick them up a week later and instead drive the old ones to Ushuaia to get our money’s worth!
As luck would have it, Nomadizens happened to be in Punta Arenas at the same time. Its hardly a coincidence any more since we’ve been running into them pretty much everywhere. We spent a mulled-wine-fuelled evening with them, catching up on everything that happened since we last met in Colombia.
In the morning we got on the ferry to Tierra Del Fuego, then drove back into Argentina for our final push south. Despite the rugged images we had of the region, the main roads are actually nicely paved, so it was a quick drive to the southernmost point of our journey.
We finally reached Ushuaia after 11 months on the road.
From other travelers we had heard of a nice camp spot outside the city with fantastic views of the Beagle Channel. What a great site it was. We had a scotch to celebrate reaching the southernmost city of the journey and enjoyed the views of the city at night.
In the morning we got on the bikes and rode along the water for a few miles on a hiking trail. It was really scenic, we passed through forest, got amazing mountain and water views, and passed by an old and isolated estancia. Ushuaia left a really good impression.
Of course, we had to go to the actual end of the road over the next few days – and there were two. First, we went to the end of highway 3, with a nice sign showing the distance to Alaska. Then we drove to the southernmost road in Argentina, following along the beagle channel. When we reached the end, we decided it was time to jump in the water. The water was probably in the mid-40s, but Nikki just ran right in – it took me 2 tries to make it and leika was smart enough to realize it was a bad idea…
Next, we buried a little time capsule in a secret spot. We kept the coordinates, maybe we’ll come back in the future and see if its still out there.
So after 11 months, the direction of travel turned north. We stayed at a campground north of Ushuaia where a lot of overlanders had left wooden signs. After taking a shower, we got to some woodworking and left our mark here as well.
A lot of melancholy in Tierra Del Fuego.