Jun 10

Lapataia – Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego, Argentina

Celebrating at the end of the road - Bahia Lapataia - Tierra del Fuego, Argentina

April 9th, 2010. We reunited with Carla and Mike in the morning and drove towards Bahia Lapataia in Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego. The parque entrance is only about 5 miles east of Ushuaia. It was another beautiful, sunny, fall day and we stopped frequently – taking pictures of the surrounding mountains with all their color. Inside the Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego were several hiking trails. We opted to follow a trail from the boat ramp at Bahia Ensenada, heading east along Bahia Lapataia. After a few hours, the trail put us back on Ruta Nacional 3 near the Lago Roca campground. This part of Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego is relatively compact, so Ana and I hitch-hiked back a few miles, picked up Mango, and then drove back to Carla and Mike. From there, we all drove the last few miles together to the Lapataia parking lot and “the end of the road”.

The end of the road in Lapataia is literally the end of the Panamerican “Highway.” The Pan-Am Highway, as it’s sometimes called, is a collection of often asphalt but sometimes dirt roads that stretch from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska all the way to Ushuaia. From Ushuaia, the road is a mere 12 miles further southwest, stretching into Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego and culminating here at Lapataia. The southern end is marked by a sign and small parking lot, with a causeway overlooking the Bay of Lapataia. In Argentina, the Panamericana enters the country from Bolivia as Ruta Nacional 3 in the northern town of La Quiaca. We entered La Quiaca on February 18th, 2009. I remember looking at the sign that day which stated “Ushuaia 5121 km” (3200 miles) and thinking it would be a long drive. Little did I know that the drive would actually take another 14 months and 8068 miles! Argentina and Chile are huge, beautiful countries. We took our time, driving leisurely, weaving back and forth across the Andes mountains, working our way south. Due to Ana’s mom’s unforeseen battle with cancer, we stopped our trip for 6 months in order to spend time with her. She is a tough, resilient woman who beat the odds. I guess we did too by returning to finish the trip.

We arrived in Lapataia later than planned, but we still made it nonetheless. It was very satisfying knowing that we’d just pulled off a pretty monstrous road trip! I never would have imagined all the incredible experiences we’d have, and the utmost kindness and generosity we met from countless, everyday people. This trip really reaffirmed my faith in humanity. We experienced just how good and genuine most people are. If we needed help, or just a little nudge in the right direction, the vast majority of people were on our side. We also saw how breathtaking this planet is, and how fun life can be when you open yourself to experiencing it fully.

Mike and Carla also wrote about our Lapataia day together on their terrific travel blog. Check it out here: Mike and Carla’s awesome travel blog

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Author: chad