The landscape changes fast from plain steppe to rolling hills to remote small forests, passing a couple of beaver ponds and estancias where time seems to stand still. The road starts climbing and we cross a small mountain range to get to two lakes – seemingly paradoxical – Lago Despreciado and Lago Deseado. At the latter we stop and, not expecting to find much human presence here, are struck flabbergasted to not only find three humans, but one to be a Dutch guy and his Argentinian wife we know from Ushuaia. What are the odds! We talk for a little while; I feel like escaping. The other guy is a German with a well furnished truck – I’m slightly jealous here – coming here to enjoy the tranquility and wild beauty. We talk about the annoyance of wifi and phones everywhere. And agree that luckily here in Tierra del Fuego there’s still unspoiled natural beauty left to explore. It’s time to go and leave him happily alone.
Although I’d rather looked for a camping spot further away – away from everyone – we decide to set up the tent on a beautiful spot at the lake, a bit hidden from the others. Clearly I didn’t come here to share this remote place with anyone else than my love. It works out fine, thinking what you don’t see is not present either. Having been ripped from our small stock of delicious hams, cheeses and meat we conform to our fate and eat what’s left of a pumpkin and blue cheese pie. It’s a beautiful evening, the lake is smooth and sitting on a trunk drinking a hot coffee I contemplate the scenery. I could not have felt more at ease, more present than this.
The next day lacks the colors of the day before. The sky is grey, and as there is hardly any wind, the sky may remain grey. After breakfast we leave, pass a lodge for fishermen and start climbing over the mountains that separate Lago Deseado from Lago Fagnano. The road zigzags up and down over volcanic stone. However, it is in a far better state than many simple gravel roads on the Argentine site. We go up to the clouds, just above the treeline. The mountains here are not that high, probably around 800 meters. It’s just that the clouds are hanging real low. Our view of the valley below, crowded by beaver ponds, is impressive anyway. As is the western end of Lago Fagnano way below. We come down on its northern side until we reach Rio Azopardo. Near here a lever blocks our road, and although the gravel road still continues beyond, I wonder if this is where our road ends?
We park and walk to the buildings along the road, greeted by a friendly dog. The ‘ejercicio militar’, the military forces working on the road here, is not much alarmed by the barking dog, but as we keep walking between the building a young military comes out. We ask him about the road to Bahia Yendegaia which is being constructed here. We knew the road is under construction; it seems it takes another 40 kilometer and about 4 years (estimated) to finish the road. However, he levers the lever and allows us to drive the gravel road to Caleta Maria, an inlet at Seno del Almirantazgo. I am a bit disappointed as on my roadmap a track is drawn connecting this point where we are with Yendegaia. There is no point in arguing, and I am really happy that we got this far already but I sense this feeling of unfulfilled desire somewhere deep in me. Again, looking at the map, I daydream about hiking to Yendegaia, roundtrip from Ushuaia, about 30 kilometers straight away….
For now I’m satisfied with the opportunity to visit Caleta Maria. We stay close to the river as it finds its way through the valley. It’s amazingly beautiful here, not easy to describe (as usual). Though still pretty foggy, the view of dark volcanic rock and the bright green of the trees makes me wonder what it would look like on a sunny day. Than suddenly we get to a point high on the road where we get our first glimpse of Almirantazgo. It’s breathtaking. We take in the view for a while, before we drive down to get to the tiny hamlet of Caleta Maria. Except for a poor moulting king penguin at what seems an old dock, there’s no living soul to be seen. I’m sure not many travellers make it this far. This is where the road ends.