Tierra del Fuego, an archipelago off the southern tip of Argentina and Chile separated from the mainland by the Magellan Straits, is a place of extremes. Where the Pacific meets the Atlantic, where winds blow hither and yon, where weather is unpredictable, where unusual wildlife abounds, where abundant and diverse adventure activities are limitless, it is a must-visit region for those with a true spirit of exploration. At the tip of Argentina, Ushuaia, the world’s southernmost city, is the gateway to the world’s southernmost Tierra del Fuego National Park, situated in the archipelago. Winter or summer, the opportunities for outdoor activity in this national reserve are endless: Hiking, glacier trekking, skiing, tobogganing, mountain biking, horseback riding, fishing, bird watching and much more is at your fingertips in this amazing environment.
Tierra del Fuego is a geographic paradise of forests, lakes, mountains and marine life. It is Argentina’s only coastal park, its 240 square-miles being flanked by the Andes, which run here east to west, and by the Chilean border on its west. To the south, the park opens to the waters of the Beagle Channel. Exploring this region, you are overwhelmed by awe-inspiring views of snow covered mountains, cerulean lakes, ice-blue fjords and rushing rivers. Water is the prime attraction, with a rich and varied array of coastal wildlife, including seals, killer whales, birds and walruses.
The park’s interior features a full range of hiking options – several short trails are long
on fascination with the Sendero Laguna Negro (the Black Lagoon Trail) topping the list, taking you to an amazing lagoon whose dark waters create a mirror-like effect. Bounded by high fjords and glaciers, Fagnano Lake, the sixth largest in the world, is a fisherman’s heaven and excellent for expert kayaking. One of the park’s other outstanding spots is Lapataia Bay at the end of the 3300 km road between Buenos Aires and Ushuaia, where at times you can embark on a Beagle Channel cruise. In addition, this a great district for enjoying the wild outdoors, with camping facilities and tent rental opportunities readily available, and infinite possibilities for adventure tourism.
As Argentina’s southernmost city and the gateway to the park, Ushuaia’ setting is dazzling. Viewing the town from the green waters of the Beagle Channel, you’ll be struck by the rows of brightly colored houses set against the backdrop of the snow-crested Andes Mountains, almost close enough to touch. Magic is everywhere here – the blue of the sky and water nearly blinding in its brightness, the air so fresh and crisp, and the jaw-dropping views surrounding you everywhere.
Ushuaia has its own interesting history and sites: Once the prison home to Argentina’s worst criminals, the town’s bridges, streets and buildings were built by the forced labor of the penal colony to help create what is today a thriving metropolis of nearly 65,000 inhabitants. The Museo Maritimo del Presidio (Maritime Museum) is the actual former prison where visitors can learn about the area’s history as well as access the eerie cell areas of prisoners and imagine life behind its walls in the early 20th century. The museum also displays wax figures of Argentina’s infamous convicts who resided here.