Tierra del Fuego

Estancias and camelids

A 550km sprint across Tierra del Fuego to finish up with. There’s only really one route – since once you get to this point, you’re not going to be taking any detours. In any case, there’s not much to see until you are 100km from Ushuaia. The north of the island is flat plains of dry grass populated by sheep and dotted with the estancias of their owners. These vast ranches appear almost as towns in themselves and are clearly pretty wealthy.

There are absolutely no other settlements to speak of and so I decided to ride across relatively quickly; there wasn’t much else to do. I didn’t experience the absurdly strong winds that are common here and can make it impossible even to walk with the bike. Nevertheless, even a calm day on Tierra del Fuego demands some respect as the conditions can change rapidly. By this point, everyone you pass knows you’re nearly at the end and I got many more hoots and cheers than normal. They don’t know where you started, but it is a fair bet that your destination is Ushuaia – there is nowhere else to go.

The last day took me back into the mountains one last time. A final pass and then I came around a corner; the sign welcoming me Ushuaia took me by surprise. The end of my journey!

The scenery was not the most interesting, however I had some really memorable moments that kept me smiling. On day one, I completed the quadrillogy of South American quadropeds: llamas, alpacas, vicuñas and now, a guanaco. Then there was the final border crossing back into Argentina which involved riding past land mines (they really don’t like each other much down here) and passing a number of ‘Islas Malvinas Argentinas’ signs (Argentine Falklands – they don’t like us much either!)

The final pass

The last day took me back into the mountains one last time. A final pass and then I came around a corner; the sign welcoming me Ushuaia took me by surprise. The end of my journey!

It all happened so fast that I didn’t have the time to go through the emotions I was expecting though I suppose that in some ways a journey like this is always going to end in an anticlimax. I’m sitting at the computer in the rain in London writing this and it all seems a bit of a dream. I had an amazing experience, I pushed my physical and emotional boundaries and, most importantly have a very personal perspective on this remarkable continent.

What stands out? The landscapes without a doubt – the scale is bigger than I could possibly have imagined; the weather – I had just one week of rain in five months and still have the silly tan lines; the routine of riding, eating, sleeping, blogging and route-planning – better than any therapy. I could go on and on but my advice would remain the same: it’d be best for you just to go and experience it for yourself.

South America

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