Excursions, travel in Argentina, Tierra del Fuego, Travel South America

Ushuaia & Tierra del Fuego

Jacqueline Berkery

By | June 18, 2010 | Leave a comment


Ushuaia is the southernmost city in the world, located on the Beagle Channel at the tip of Argentina. This sleepy town is quaint and friendly, maintaining an almost untouched feel to it– though, of course, it sees millions of tourists every year.

There are several activities to keep you occupied in Ushuaia for a few days, whether you want to bum around town or get out into the wilderness.

Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego is a must-see if you visit Ushuaia. Among several ways to access the park is El Tren del Fin del Mundo, which was used way back in the day by Ushuaia prisoners who worked in the forests. The ride on the whole is unexciting but still worth doing, if for no other reason than to say you took the Train to the End of the World. There are also city buses that will take you to the park, or you can hire a taxi to drop you off and pick you up at the end of your excursion.

Planning a trip to the park requires making a few decisions: Do you want to camp? Do you want to hike? Do you prefer to see all that the park has to offer from the comforts of a minivan with a multilingual tour guide? There are several options, so you’ll want to investigate each before heading over there.

We had just come from a strenuous hike in Parque Nacional Torres del Paine, so we opted for the guided van tour. Some may see this as a cop-out, but we actually found it to be the most cost- and time-efficient way to see the entire park. Plus, with a knowledgeable guide, we had the pleasure of learning exactly what we were looking at. The tour ran from nine in the morning until about three in the afternoon, giving us ample time to enjoy the park. Most tour companies will offer a two options: just transfer to and from the park, or transfer plus a fully-guided tour within the park. If you would like to take the Tren del Fin del Mundo, your guide will drop you off at the train and meet you inside the park when you disembark. Within the Tierra del Fuego national park, you’ll learn about all the most important flora and fauna, as well as some interesting tidbits like how the province got its name.

This area is also known for its Magellanic penguin colonies. Though the largest colonies are located a bit north along the Strait of Magellan, there are some in the region that reach the thousands. If you’d like to see these little tuxedo-wearing guys waddle around a bit, you have a few options. Your best bet is to do the “Walk with the Penguins” tour, which is pretty accurate in name– you literally walk, hang, chill, lay down, do whatever with the penguins. If you’re pressed for time and/or cash, you can take a boat tour that gets you close to the shore, but doesn’t allow you to disembark. Definitely not as fun, but still an option.

If you’re not into well-dressed birds, fear not… there’s a tour for you, too. A Beagle Channel boat tour will take you the the Isla de Los Lobos, where hundreds of sea lions lounge lazily for your photo-taking pleasure. On these tours you also can visit the Ushuaia historic lighthouse, as well as the sea birds island.

If you spend some time in Ushuaia, you MUST stay at Freestyle Backpackers’ Hostel. Rasta Max will greet you with a hug and welcome you to the fam, and then leave you to relax in the airy common room. With hotel-like accommodations, you really can’t go wrong here. The people are great, breakfast is hearty, and the place is comfy and clean.

Ushuaia is also a popular departure point for many trips to Antarctica, though it’ll cost you a pretty penny.

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