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  • Writer's pictureSharon Michalove

Tierra del Fuego National Forest

Antartica Chapter Four

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Map of South America with arrow indicating Tierra del Fuego

Tierra del Fuego, Land of Fire. The name is a little misleading. Unlike other lands of fire, Iceland or Hawaii, this area was not created volcanically. When the Spanish explorers sailed there, the native bonfires were so noticeable that the Spanish named the maze of waterways and islands after them.

Expedition members walking by one of the lakes in the National Forest. Photo by Sharon Michalove

Divided between Chile and Argentina, at the southern tip of the continent, the area is bounded on the north by the Strait of Magellan with the Beagle Channel (named for the ship Charles Darwin sailed on 1833–34) as the gateway to the Drake Passage leading to western Antarctic waters. I'll leave those descriptions for another post.

HMS Beagle, Wikipedia

Beagle Channel, photo taken by Sharon Michalove

Having spent a day shopping in Ushuaia, we opted for a tour of the Tierra del Fuego National Forest the next morning. Many tourists come to the area, not as a kickoff for frozen adventures, but for the natural beauty and wildlife of the region. Winter sports are popular, particularly skiing and snowshoeinIn the past Tierra del Fuego would have been cut off from most of South America unless traversed by horseback, wagon, on foot, or by water. Even today, there is no bridge crossing the Straits of Magellan to the north, only a ferry to get to the mainland. And a Beagle Channel crossing would be necessary to get from Argentina to Chile. Most people fly to and from Buenos Aires. Taking the ferry can be uncertain, with three-to-four day delays not uncommon, depending on the weather and the state of the water.

About a forty-minute drive from Ushuaia, the Terra del Fuego National Forest is well worth a visit, whether you buzz around on a bus, hike, climb, fish, or camp. It is dotted with lakes. Sometimes you can see penguins. We didn't, but we were soon to be traveling to a land of penguins, so there was no disappointment.

Here are a few snapshots.

Photos taken by Sharon Michalove

Photo from Wikipedia

Next week: All aboard the Seaventure


Available for preorder

Includes my story: Melting the Iceman When Chicago Seabirds star center, Merritt “the Iceman” Alexander, is told his concussion history means he has to retire from hockey, he withdraws from everything, including his fiancée, Heather Cantrell. Five years later, he’s found a new life on the ice as part owner of a company that specializes in Antarctic cruises. Shattered by his disappearance, Hay has thrown all of her energy into taking her photography hobby into the realm of photojournalism. After a year of covering catastrophes all over the world, she is excited by her new assignment. An Antarctic cruise company wants her to document their newest offering to celebrate the discovery of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ship, Endurance. Like two icebergs, the Iceman and the Photog glide toward each other, but will they crash and splinter forever, or will they melt enough to merge for a happy ending?

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