Ushuaia – The Battle for The End of the World

Heather Markel, Writer, Speaker, Photographer, Traveler, Business Strategist

I can now say I’ve witnessed the end of the world 😉

The city of Ushuaia is the farthest South I’ve ever been in my life. I’m a mere 1,000 kilometers from Antarctica. If I hadn’t felt sick on the yacht ride across the Beagle Channel I would have inquired about going. From what I understand, advanced booked trips to Antarctica range from $8,000 – $15,000 or more. If you book last minute you might find a place for around $4,000. Speaking of the Beagle Channel, it’s the place where the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans meet – a fascinating place to be considering I’ve spent most of my life on a continent that separates them by thousands of miles.

Carlos de Lorenzo stamping passports at the post office at the end of the world

Photograph by Heather Markel, copyright 2019

A man named Carlos de Lorenzo is responsible for Ushuaia’s “end of the world” slogan. He came here from Buenos Aires more than 30 years ago at a time when tourism wasn’t well developed. He did a lot of marketing for Ushuaia in the name of tourism – developing the end of the world idea and marketing it in many places – so the government gave him a concession of an island. That island is the Isla Redondo. In a brilliant move of entrepreneurialism Carlos decided that his island is its own country and placed a post office there. (It was later moved to its present location but you can pay him and he will row you out to the island!) He then decided he’s the prime minister of his country. If you go to his post office he will stamp your passport for 100 pesos. Forgot your passport? You can buy one for 400 pesos (roughly $10.) Think that’s crazy? Wait! Carlos makes enough money to live on for the year with only 2 – 3 months work stamping passports! 

“Stunning scenery, cold weather, an exciting convergence of geography and geology.”

The end of the world claim brings out an ongoing competition with Chile. Ushuaia is the farthest South city you can visit but Chile has a town, with roughly 5,000 inhabitants, Fort Williams, which is further south. To add to the competitive environment, Chile is just passing a law to allow towns with 5,000 inhabitants to be called cities. We will see what this does to t-shirts soon!

The lighthouse at the end of the world.

Photograph by Heather Markel, Copyright 2019

It rains or snows here 300 days of the year. I was blessed with a day where half of it was devoid of any clouds. It’s cold even in summer. The temperature is the same year round so you can understand how glaciers are able to stay standing. I still can’t believe I’m so close to Antarctica.

The center of Ushuaia is a bit run down and touristy. It reminds me a tiny bit of some Nordic countries I’ve been to though much less expensive! Seafood is abundant and delicious. I especially enjoy the black hake and seafood stew. Yum. My hotel room has a lovely view and a steep walk uphill. Though very affordable it’s located right near a fabulous restaurant, Kaupe. More pricey but one of the best meals I’ve enjoyed in a while. You cannot miss eating at El Viejo Marino. Known for it’s huge crabs, they also have fabulous black hake, and seafood stew. Everything there tastes delicious and the staff is lovely. Arrive early because you’ll be waiting on line for a table. I’ve extended my stay here to enjoy more.

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