Tierra del Fuego - the "End of the World"
The name "Tierra del Fuego" comes from the Spanish explorer's first impressions of the archipelago, when they saw the flickering fires that the native Selk'nam and Yaghan people used to keep themselves warm. These days the title seems a misnomer among the town's colorful buildings and snow-capped mountains, but perhaps the quaint lifestyle of Ushuaia will light a cozy fire in your heart.
Read on if you want to know what to do in Ushuaia and Tierra del Fuego National Park.
Ushuaia is Argentina's unique southernmost town, also known as "the town at the end of the world." Its Tierra del Fuego National Park and hiking opportunities are not to be missed and it has amazing views of the Beagle Channel (named after the boat Charles Darwin sailed through it in 1832) and the snow-covered Cerro Martial mountain.
The town is characterized by its jumbled buildings and steep streets, and welcomes tourism throughout the year. In June, it becomes an incredible winter wonderland, perfect for skiers, snowmobilers, snowshoers and dog-sledders.
There are daily non-stop flights to Ushuaia from Buenos Aires and El Calafate.
Weather & Climate
The Tierra del Fuego region is cool in the summer and cold in the winter, and it rains much more often here (180 inches annually) than it does 125 miles away in Rio Grande (20 inches annually). In Tierra del Fuego's December-March summer, temperatures range from highs of 68 °F to lows of 45 °F and in the June-October winter, temperatures dip to highs of 42 °F and lows of 32 °F .
Activities and Guided Excursions
Beagle Channel Navigation
This three-hour guided boating excursion allows you to explore the history and wildlife of the Beagle Channel. The Beagle Channel is located south of Ushuaia and Tierra del Fuego, overlooking the islands that extend all the way to Cape Horn. It was first discovered by the Fitz Roy expedition of 1830, and again by Charles Darwin in 1833. The first Anglican settlers arrived in 1860. You'll cruise alongside several islands, including Seals island, where you may spot petrels, cormorants, and sea lions.
Los Cauquenes operates a private navigation on their private boat with dinner included and served onboard.
Exploring the National Park
During August through April, guided hiking excursions through the Tierra del Fuego National Park are available. You can also add a canoeing trip to the end of your hike, if you wish.
Upon arrival in the park, you will start a 3-hour seaside trek to a wonderful scenic point overlooking Lake Roca, Lagunas Verde and Negra, the Ovando and Lapataia Rivers, and Bahia Lapataia. While hiking through this beech forest, keep an eye out for the Magellanic woodpecker (the largest in South America), Austral parakeets, black-chested buzzard eagles, and Andean condors. After reaching a clearing near the water, embark on a 15-passenger zodiac boat and head toward Isla Redonda for lunch. On the way back to Lapataia Bay, watch for cormorants, sea lions, albatross, and petrels.
After lunch, the paddling experience will begin, rowing in duckies along the internal rivers of the park. After rowing in Lake Roca, you will enter a small river which flows to Lapataia Bay. The paddling does not require any previous experience or great effort. It is a different way of experiencing nature, feeling for a moment what native yamanas communities felt traveling along the same waters with their canoes.
Harberton Ranch & Gable Island
This full-day excursion is an amazing way to experience the history and wildlife of the ranch and island. You'll visit the estancia which belonged to the descendants of the first British missionary to reach the area, Reverend Thomas Bridges, and was managed for many years by Ms. Natalie Goodall, a foremost naturalist in the area.
You'll have time to explore the estancia. From the estancia you will paddle in duckies or take a boat navigation to to Martillo Island, a Magellan penguin rookery (they can only be seen from December until around February). The unique location of this island makes it an ideal place for an incredible variety of rich sub aquatic life and therefore, an amazing spot for bird watching (petrels, skuas, cormorants, sea gulls and albatross).
The paddling or navigation continues to Gable Island, the largest in the Beagle Channel, which belongs to the Harberton Ranch. Formerly, this was the place where they took their sheep during the summer. Today, only a large shearing shed is left. After a short walk, you will reach a refugio. The views over the Beagle Channel from here are breathtaking. After lunch, you will enjoy a 2-3 hour hike, which will lead you into a beech forest with white orchids, wild berries, strawberries and ferns. Return to the refugio and navigate back to the estancia. From there you will transfer back to Ushuaia.
End of the World Train
The history of Ushuaia and the Train revolves around the Prison. The engineer Catello Muratgia began definitive construction of an adequate prison in 1902. The prison was built using local materials, and labor was provided by the convicts. For the transport of materials, a train was built which circulates upon wooden rails. At the end of 1909 the first railway movements were recorded. The “Decauville” rails with a 60 centimeter gauge were put into service and the work of the “Prison Train” began. In 1952 the “Prison Train” was decommissioned and with it the rude voices of those inmates faded away. Forty two years after its last service, in 1994, the southernmost train in the world, the “Prison Train”, retakes its historic path.
There are many different hikes available in the Tierra del Fuego area. A summit hike includes reaching the summits of Cerro del Medio and Cerro Roy. You can also trek on Glacier Vinciguerra and explore its caves, cracks, and morays. Also available are mountain hikes to Martial Mount, Medio, and Roy Mountains; a strenuous hike to the Cerro Pelado lookout with beautiful high views; and a Vuelta de Ushuaia hike which highlights the beauty of the "End of the World" lands and the surroundings of Ushuaia. The 860-meter (2821 feet) high Virginia Pass is an excellent way to experience incredible views of the mountains and the ocean of Tierra del Fuego.
Four-wheel-drive land rovers offer a great way to experience views of Lake Escondido and Lake Fagnano. You'll also enjoy a barbecue lunch in the forest.
City Trek and Sightseeing
Combining a visit by car with short hikes, this excursion introduces visitors into the interesting history of the development of Ushuaia, which has characterized the city and its surroundings. This trek explores the El Mirador del Beagle area, then departs towards the forest where you'll witness amazing vistas of the city, including the Presidium, the Naval base, the industrial area, and the recently-built neighborhoods.
Where to Stay
Here are a few hotels we recommend...
The Los Cauquenes Resort and Spa is situated on the beautiful shore of the Beagle Channel, with stunning views of the water the surrounding Andes Mountain Range. Conveniently located about 4 miles away from Ushuaia, this high-end resort offers the tranquility of nature to all its guests. In addition to its comfortable and spacious rooms, Los Cauquenes Resort also provides active and adventure tourism, dining experiences, spa and wellness treatments, and indoor and outdoor pools.
The Tierra de Leyendas is a cozy, welcoming boutique hotel located in Ushuaia's newest neighborhood. This hotel is big on personalized comfort -- the owners, Maia & Sebas, have designed a special space that offers high levels of service in a rustic style lodge decorated with fine local materials. Rooms have large windows, a private bathroom, a TV and DVD player for relaxing during the evening, turndown service, and other amenities. The hotel also has its own restaurant, library, board games, Wi-Fi, laundry, bar, and regional videos for guests to learn more about the area. The Tierra de Leyendas is conveniently located about 3 miles from downtown and about 2 miles from the airport.
Additionally, all rooms have large windows overlooking the Beagle Channel or the Andes Range and city. Each room is named after a particular story or legend, so guests can discover even more about the Tierra del Fuego region.
Located in the center of Ushuaia on San Martin Avenue. This is the main commercial and tourist area, so you'll have no problem reaching your central destinations within Ushuaia. The hotel has its own restaurant, and room amenities include cable TV, a minibar, a hair dryer, a safe, free Wi-Fi, room service, and laundry service. An American breakfast buffet is also included.
Read more about travel to Argentina at our Travel Planning Pages.
And contact one of our travel consultants to help plan your trip to the End of the World.