“For many South Africans, Argentina is a strangely familiar place: the most Europeanised part of a continent that pulls in the other direction, toward a uniquely South American identity. Cape Town is often described this way – and with contempt and envy in equal measure. But Patagonia, the icy Southern extremity of Argentina and Chile, is something different again: a snowy province complete with fjords and grizzled Northern European settlers as well as the Tierra del Fuegans who have always lived there.
Exploring this mountainous country very much at the end of the world as a South African exposes you to the constant tug of Cape Town and the end of Africa, just across the pond. Some of this might be ascribed to the uniquely wonderful way we got there: the small, but perfect Silversea – Silver Explorer that plies the Cape Town-Ushuaia route and the lonely but intensely storied islands in between.
The Explorer took us past Tristan da Cunha – famous only for its prodigious isolation – and the Falklands. Cruising away from the fresh calamari and war graves of the Falklands capital, Stanley, towards the country Thatcher vanquished – and all over a few sheep-nibbled islands in the South Atlantic – gives ample opportunity for reflection on the absurdity of borders. The sea itself, of course, helps thinking; by the time we reached Ushuaia, we were better prepared for a real travel, as much in the mind as in the body, than we could ever have been had we stepped off a crowded economy-class flight.”