Antarctica Day 1

Ushuaia and Beagle Channel

It all started with an early flight from the Argentinian capital of Buenos Aires to its southern port city of Ushuaia.

The 3.5-hour journey ends with a dramatic Andes mountain fly-by. Pretty impressive from a starboard window seat, as this video shows.

Ushuaia markets itself as the "City at the End of the World" because it's perched near the southern tip of South America - pretty much where the Andes meets the sea.

Although there are settlements further south, Ushuaia uses the technicality of its "city" status.

Nestled beneath some dramatic mountains and glaciers, the port is pleasant enough, and clearly a launch pad to some picturesque parts of Patagonia.

We had time to kill before boarding the ship, so passengers were ferried by coach to a swanky hotel overlooking the city.

Here we were fed and taken on short walks along a surrounding trail, offering more views of the surrounding mountains.

After perhaps too much "leisure time" walking the streets of Ushuaia - which were deserted on a Sunday - we finally boarded the ship (Le Boreal).

Check-in was smooth and fast, followed by a mandatory safety drill, during which we donned life vests and were shown the evacuation procedure.

Then, with surprisingly little fanfare, we eased from the dock and began our adventure.

It all started with a gentle passage along the Beagle Channel.

The channel (named for THAT famous ship), separates Argentina and Chile and we were still in the channel when darkness descended.

The timelapse video embedded below shows our progress along the Beagle Channel from disembarkation to nightfall. 

We didn't hit the dreaded Drake Passage until the late evening - more on that in the next entry.