We gather in Ushuaia, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world. Some of us are united by blood, others by friendship, and others are complete strangers. But we are all united by a common dream—to ride the fabled Patagonia. Four will ride BMWs while the rest of us are on Guanaco 650s (actually Suzuki DR650s, but sometime during the trip we christened them Guanacos, after the wild, long-necked, llama-like creatures that inhabit Patagonia, and the name stuck).
Ushuaia is as dramatic as you’d expect the end of the world to be, with rugged snow-capped mountains on both sides of the Beagle Channel. Charles Darwin sailed through here in 1833 on his way to the Galapagos Islands and the theory of evolution that altered the way we see the world. But Ushuaia didn’t have 55,000 people back then. Today, it’s actually one of the largest cities in the Patagonia region and the launching site for Antarctic expeditions. The weather can change in a blink here, too, which we learned on a boat tour that began beneath blue skies and calm seas and ended with blustery winds and whitecaps roiling a boat whose windshield wipers stopped working.