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The End of the World – Ushuaia, Argentina

Updated: Mar 16, 2023

The screeching of steel wagons, as the locomotive moves forward, wakes up the disturbing white landscape that surrounds us. Outside, the snow falls livid and relentless. Suddenly, to one side of the tracks between the trees, someone is staring at the passing of the railroad. He is a wiry middle-aged man, with a desperate look, wearing old prison clothes. Something does not fit, something is not right. To everyone's surprise, the strange character runs towards us, stretching out his arms to grab onto the car, meters away from doing so, he disappears. It vanishes…

The train winds its way out of our stupor while the guide points out - “On your right, the famous Pipo River”.

You see, "Pipo" was one of the many inmates who passed through the famous Prison of the End of the World or Ushuaia Prison. This prison, which functioned between 1904 and 1947, at the time was the most secure prison in Argentina; Tierra del Fuego's inclement weather and geographic isolation made it the most feared destination for any inmate. Those prisoners with good behavior were taken in a small train that was only used by them (currently the End of the World Train), to look for firewood in the forest.

Among them one day was Pipo. Looking to escape, he jumped from the train and ran before the warning beeps of the guards. He ran through the snow looking for his freedom, but only found a frozen river and when he ran unto it, the ice layer gave way and he instantly plunged into the cold waters of the river. His body was never found. Thus ended its existence and gave life to the famous legend of "the ghost of Pipo". Currently, the river is named in his honor: Río Pipo.

Often referred to as the end of the earth, Ushuaia is the southernmost city in the world and the closest population center to the South Pole. It is tucked between the Beagle Channel and the southernmost slopes of the Andes Mountains (see the map-click to enlarge). This is the starting point for

Ushuaia, Argentina from the Beagle Channel, along with the southern-most slopes of the Andes Mountains.

many Antarctic cruises from September to April. Across the channel from Ushuaia is Tierra del Fuego, the “Land of Fire”, named by the Spanish when they saw the constant flames burning by the indigenous people to keep warm.

Tomorrow we will go around Cape Horn and then continue to the Falkland Islands.

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