Excerpted from Avid Cruiser’s: Travel writers highlight their favorite South America Shore Excursions
I asked the travel editors and writers for comments about their shore excursions along the way. With few exceptions, all shore excursions on our cruise got two thumbs up. “It was hard to choose a favorite,” says Michelle Dill, an editor at Alaska Airlines Magazine, “because I went on three shore excursions that were among the best I’ve ever done in nearly 15 cruises.”
- Harry Shattuck, (former) travel editor for the Houston Chronicle, and wife Joan: Beagle Channel Navigation and National Park (duration 5.5 hours, cost $120 per person), Ushuaia, Argentina.
“Sea lion observation here was terrific. Same with the Imperial Cormorants. Excellent photo opportunities. The first part takes about 2.5 hours by boat. Upper deck was windy and cold but good for photos. Inside decks had room for just about everyone. The second part (two hours at the national park) was not as good. We made a 45-minute stop at a park service area that had two shops, bar and restaurant. I’d have rather seen more of the flora and fauna. The guide kept pointing to ‘exotic’ (her word) animals like rabbits. A better combo (not offered) would have been the Beagle Channel Navigation and the Train Ride To The End of the World (duration 3.24 hours, cost $115 per person). I’d heard so much about the national park and was disappointed.”
- Ralph Grizzle, traveling with a buddy:: Tierra Mayor Trekking (duration 4 hours, $62 per person) Ushuaia, Argentina
We arrived to good weather, no wind, no rain, except for occasional light sprinkles during the day. Ushuaia was much larger — and touristy — than we had expected. Far from a remote outpost, Ushuaia was bit like Gatlinburg, Tennessee, at the tip of South America.
We transferred by bus — a group of only 14 — over the mountains and into the valley for Tierra Mayor Trekking. Our guide Maria lives in the valley in a small house with no electricity or running water — her family drinks water from the stream. She uses batteries and a converter for lights and has no television, no internet and correspondingly perhaps, no stress.
Night skies here are filled with stars, Maria told us. In winter, full moons illuminate the snow-covered valley. Even in summer, the mountain peaks are snow covered. We listened to her stories of living in this remote region as we followed her through a peat bog where beavers had been busy building dams. It was the natural beauty and simplicity that made this excursion so special. Afterward, we returned to a lodge for MatÃ© (the South American tea-like beverage) and light snacks before heading back to town where we had a few hours to sightsee and shop before setting sail.