Today’s tour guide, Andres, pointed out that everyone in Ushuaia has many names. They are all Fuegians, Patagonians, and Ushuaians, as well as Argentine. We didn’t begin to see the size of the city until our tour bus picked up passengers from several areas that most visitors don’t see. There are two parallel main streets, but Ushuaia stretches along the Beagle Channel for 5 km, perhaps more, and up into the hills around the bay. Very little of this is visible from the downtown area, and the true size of the city is not easily recognized.
The downtown waterfront features a sunken ship and a pier for cruise and container ships:
Ushuaia faces the Beagle Channel and the mountains on Navarino Island, Chile, as well as those in the Darwin Range to the west of the city and the mountains that encircle the area. These are stark and beautiful, but Ushuaia itself grew up haphazardly, with little thought for a role in tourism. As a result, powerlines and communications towers mar the view from almost every intersection. There are some attractive, small houses and hotels, but also buildings in disrepair on the opposite street corner. I don’t begin to understand the big picture. There are parts of the city that have an interesting, distinctive look, but it’s not much of a tourist destination. There is about a half day of strolling and shopping to be done and then you need to head for the hills, literally, whether to hike or ski. Otherwise, there’s a whole lot of cafe-sitting in your future. Hotel construction will squeeze out most residential housing in the central part of the city in the near future, similar to cities from Santa Fe to San Francisco.