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Which South America ports to do on own?


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Have done this route twice.

In Montevideo we booked a private city tour with a back yard asada in a private home, really nice. I can't find the web site, but if you look around sure you will locate this tour. Another time we just walked straight up the main street to the local park where vendors are set up. Careful in this area. Lots of grab a dash crime especially for cameras and other items hanging around your neck.

In Punta Arenas one time we took a ship's tour to see penguins. The other time we just walked around and stopped at the chocolate shop for hot chocolate.

In Ushuaia we signed on to a roll call tour which did some easy hiking at a few different locations and stopped at the End of the World.

IN Buenos Aires, you didn't mention, we took two half day private walking tours with buenostours.com. Very nice. Our ship was there for 3 days. Just the two of us and the guide.

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Montevideo is a good DIY spot.  You can grab a walking map as you are walking out of the port but you can also take the free van to the leather factory and walk back too.

 

You can wander around Ushuaia and Punta Arenas as well, but it's good to see the national park in Ushuaia and penguins in Punta Arenas which require tours.

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Agree Montevideo DIY -- just walk if you are able. Choice of the walking map or go online for suggestions ahead of time. We walked pretty far away from the port, came down on the "other side" a locals waterfront park, cut back toward the ship's port and had limoncello in a square watching street musicians (and dancers).

 

Ushuaia, we signed up for the train trip but it didn't reach the minimum number of passengers so we ended up on a bus to the "end of the world". 

 

Punta Arenas we took ships tour to the penguin reserve followed by barbeque at a sheep ranch. Where it was nice and sunny. Got back to the ferry which was backed way up due to high winds they had experienced! Got to the port where we had a choppy tender ride to the ship! We caught the last tender and we were very glad that of all our excursions, that one was a ship's tour! 

 

It's not like we ALWAYS take ship SXs, but if you're going to do one that takes you far away, it can be a good idea.

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In Montevideo, we did a walking tour (included a couple of bus rides) with a local guide, Gabriel, we booked via Tours By Locals.  He was terrific.  We were a small group of 8.  

 

In Punta Arenas, we had a back-up plan to see penguins in case we missed out on Falkland Islands stop (we made it in and out of there just fine).  We had no other plans and I don't think we did much at all.

 

In Ushuaia, we did a Beagle Channel cruise and it was the same price (same company) with Princess or on our own, so we booked Princess.  I had a mild interest in seeing "the end of the world".  Maybe next time.

 

We also used Princess in Falkland Islands because the outfit we wanted to book was completely taken up by Princess. 

 

Otherwise, we did the entire 60-night South America trip shore excursions on our own with private tours in small groups comprised of friends and fellow cruisers (aka new-found friends!).

 

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I forgot to say that in Montevideo there are a few wine cellars where you can have wine tastings without going to the vineyards -- Google is your friend.

 

We wound up not doing this, but in searching out one tasting room we did find a cooperative-type artisan shop where my mom got the most adorable Mate Gourd and Bombilla that has a central location in her living room display. 

 

You can of course tour right to the wineries with the ship's excursion, probably with lunch at all that.

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1 hour ago, skynight said:

In the Falklands you can sign up with Patrick if space is available to go to volunteer point to see the big penguins. You can also take the local taxis right at the dock that go to Gypsy Cove to see the small penguins.

I do agree that Patrick is a popular and good option - and he is not occupied by Princess.  We elected to not take his trip because it is a lot farther from the port.  We went to Bluff Cove (not sure if that what you meant or if there is another one).

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When we were in Punta Arenas, we got off the ship fairly early and took a taxi out to Seno Otway to see the the penguins.  The taxi was $80 return, and takes about 1 hour each way.  It was great, because we got out to the penguins before the buses arrived, so we had the place almost to ourselves for the first 30-40 minutes - a totally different experience.

 

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20 minutes ago, westcoaster said:

When we were in Punta Arenas, we got off the ship fairly early and took a taxi out to Seno Otway to see the the penguins.  The taxi was $80 return, and takes about 1 hour each way.  It was great, because we got out to the penguins before the buses arrived, so we had the place almost to ourselves for the first 30-40 minutes - a totally different experience.

 

I've read that Seno Otway has unfortunately been closed for several years since the penguins have not been coming back.  I would have loved to go there instead of Isla Magdalena but it's not an option.

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20 hours ago, skynight said:

Have done this route twice.

In Montevideo we booked a private city tour with a back yard asada in a private home, really nice. I can't find the web site, but if you look around sure you will locate this tour. 

I think this is it:  https://www.tourguideushuaia.net/montevideo-tour-guide/

 

We've booked this tour for our stop in Montevideo next month so I'm glad to hear that you liked it.

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58 minutes ago, pompeii said:

I've read that Seno Otway has unfortunately been closed for several years since the penguins have not been coming back.  I would have loved to go there instead of Isla Magdalena but it's not an option.

Sorry, I didn't realize that.  It's too bad - we went there twice and really enjoyed it - made for an easy excursion to do on your own.

Edited by westcoaster
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We rented a car in Ushuaia and drove to Tierra del Fuego.  It's less than 15 minutes from town.  You can park and walk the trails and visit that silly end-of-the-world post office (seemed like just a tourist trap to me, but everyone goes there).  You absolutely do not need to pay for a tour to visit the park, and it would likely just be a waste of money since they'll drop you off at the trail heads and pick you up afterwards.  You'll get a map of the park as you drive in, and it's very easy to navigate.

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Thank you all for great suggestions!  I think we will do Montevideo DIY...happy to know there are also tasting rooms without making the trek to the wineries.  We do have Patrick Watts  tour booked for the Falkland Islands.  So, while we have booked the Princess tour to Magdelena to see penguins in Punta Arenas, if we are able to make it to the Falkands, I am leaning towards canceling especially because of the rough seas and sea sickness warnings, but will hold on to it for now as a back up.  In Ushuaia, am still debating between the Beagle Channel cruise and seeing "the end of the world".

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49 minutes ago, smrtwoman said:

Thank you all for great suggestions!  I think we will do Montevideo DIY...happy to know there are also tasting rooms without making the trek to the wineries.  We do have Patrick Watts  tour booked for the Falkland Islands.  So, while we have booked the Princess tour to Magdelena to see penguins in Punta Arenas, if we are able to make it to the Falkands, I am leaning towards canceling especially because of the rough seas and sea sickness warnings, but will hold on to it for now as a back up.  In Ushuaia, am still debating between the Beagle Channel cruise and seeing "the end of the world".

I'd go with Beagle Channel.  You can see the Post Office and EOTW pictures in the 11th Season of the Amazing Race.  Not much too it (other than to say you have been there). 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OeV-0II5sew

 

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5 hours ago, smrtwoman said:

Thank you all for great suggestions!  I think we will do Montevideo DIY...happy to know there are also tasting rooms without making the trek to the wineries.  We do have Patrick Watts  tour booked for the Falkland Islands.  So, while we have booked the Princess tour to Magdelena to see penguins in Punta Arenas, if we are able to make it to the Falkands, I am leaning towards canceling especially because of the rough seas and sea sickness warnings, but will hold on to it for now as a back up.  In Ushuaia, am still debating between the Beagle Channel cruise and seeing "the end of the world".

We have booked for both tours, there is a decent gap inbetween to either walk around the town or go back to ship for lunch.

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