On Saturday morning we got up early to head off on “El Tren del Fin del Mundo” (the train of the end of the world!), the southernmost train on Earth!
The whole experience was a fine line between hokey and funny! The train itself reminded me of something that might be in a zoo, or a place like Epcot where it would be fun for kids and adults alike.
The carriages were very narrow and the configuration was two upholstered seats facing each other with a little wooden table between them, then a tiny aisle, then the same format on the other side of the train. This pattern was duplicated back-to-back such that there were probably 18-20 people per carriage.
Not only were the carriages very narrow, but the whole train was scaled down such that I could barely stand upright inside; my head literally touched the ceiling!
It was a steam engine and puffed away as we rode along and tooted its little whistle!
The area we rode through was quite pretty and led to the edge of the Tierra del Fuego National Park. At one time, the prisoners of Argentina were sent down to Ushuaia and they cleared this land and used the timber to build the prison in town. There are old, dried out tree trunks scattered everywhere.
When we arrived at the National Park, about 50 minutes later, we connected with our guide and spent about 2 hours driving and walking around through the park. We came across several types of birds, a rabbit, and we heard about the beavers that were introduced to the area (for fur) and now number about 120,000 and have become a real nuisance and are disrupting the eco-system!
We were given the opportunity to taste “Indian Bread” (Cyttaria darwinii) which is actually a strange orange colored fungus that grows on the Nothofagus trees found here. It tasted a bit like mushroom to me, hard to describe but not that strong a taste at all.
We walked to the final point of Route 3, which is the Pan-American road that runs from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska to Ushuaia, the total length is 17, 484 kilometres.
Best of all though, was that we saw two foxes! The first one came quite close to us and paid us no mind at all! He was stalking some birds.
So far the weather has been much nicer than I expected. Today was about 52ºF, mostly sunny, and no wind (except at the train station). I wore a double-layer of micro weight Smartwool® long-sleeved Ts, a wooly scarf, and one of those down jackets that can crush down and be stuffed into its own pocket. I had a hat and gloves with me but only wore the gloves briefly at the train station.