USHUAIA - TIERRA DEL FUEGO
Come Back ...
This is a mountainous region, scored by deep valleys, blanketed by dense forests, and possessing a very special coastline. There are an infinite number of places worth visiting here, notably the Martial Glacier.
"Estancia Túnel" and Encajonado River
On the shore of the Beagle Channel, 18.5 km east of Ushuaia, we find "Estancia Túnel" and Encajonado River. This spot was first used as a wooden barrel factory and then as a sawmill. Although the buildings and surrounding land appear to be neglected, they are privately owned, and for this reason they are occupied by wardens. To start this foot-trek, one must leave Ushuaia three km to the east, along the low-lying section of National Route Nº3, up to the bridge over the Olivia River.
This lake may be reached by going along National Route Nº 3, beyond Mt Olivia and the "Tierra Mayor" inn, some 40 km from Ushuaia. Taking a right at the crossing with Route "J" or RP 33, some 15 km further on the picturesque lake unfolds to view. This is an ideal camping site for the appreciation of beautiful natural surroundings.
Going on along Route "J" or RP 33, for some 15 km, one will be able to make out Gable and some lesser islands on the Argentine side of the Beagle Channel. From this point a fascinating view unfolds, including the famous jagged peaks of Ambarino Island, in Chilean territory. On a clear day, Puerto Williams, a small and picturesque town on Navarino Island(Chile) is visible. Some distance further along the highway may be seen the famous "lengas banderas" ("flag-trees"), so called because of their leaning, windblown appearance.
Puerto Almanza Penguin Rookery
Puerto Almanza and Martillo Island or Yecapsela are special for the milling colonies of Magellanic Penguins that choose these waters for nesting purposes. Huge sea lions may also be seen at times sunning themselves on the beaches. Although Puerto Almanza may be reached at all times by land or sea, the sea excursion to Martillo Island only takes place in summer.
"Estancia Harberton" and "Akatushún Museum"
This ranch was a gift to Revd. Thomas Bridges, founder of the Anglican Mission in 1869, and one of Ushuaia's first white settlers, by the national government. It is a farm covering 20,000 hectares boasting an ossuary which is virtually a private museum. Among exhibits figure whole skeletons of dolphins, killer whales and the Eubalaena Australis, as well as Bridges' whaleboat.
Tierra del Fuego National Park
This is Argentina's southernmost nature reserve. Its surface area is 63,000 hectares. It may be accessed by National Route Nº 3, 12 km west of Ushuaia. It forms part of the Andean--Patagonian Natural Protected Areas System, bordering on the west with Chile. It is the country's only park with an ocean shoreline, as its southern tip is washed by the waters of the Beagle Channel.
Difficulty level: Low
Length: 3 km round trip.
The track starts on the far side of the Lapataia river bridge, across from the National Coastguard building, and crosses part of the Cormorant Archipelago up to Green Lagoon. It runs along the banks of the Lapataia and Ovando rivers. This walking excursion is the ideal way of enjoying attractive scenery with minimal effort. It is an excellent chance to spot and watch coastal and forest wildfowl.
Black Lagoon Track
Difficulty level: Low
Length: 1 kilometer for the whole circuit.
This is a picturesque round circuit. It starts on the far side of the Ovando River bridge with a right turn. It affords an excellent example of the process by which peat bogs are formed.
Lapataia Vantage Point Walk
Difficulty level: Low
Length: 1 kilometer (one way)
Across the Ovando bridge, on the left, a scenic pathway affords a striking view of Lapataia Bay, and winds down to its shore. From this point, the track links up with the Peat Bog Walkway, and gives one an alternative access option to Lapataia Bay through the lenga forest.
Peat Bog Walkway
Difficulty level: Low
Length: 2 kilometers (one way)
This is the other option after crossing the Ovando River bridge. It is also the alternative (to National Route Nº 3) circuit for accessing Lapataia Bay. Along the way may be seen abandoned beaver dams.
Difficulty level: Low
Length: 800 meters (round trip)
This is a track that branches off before the end of National Route Nº 3 and that, plunging into the forest, skirts active beaver colonies. There are some striking views of the dams built by this (locally) exotic species. This track can link with the Peat Bog Walkway.
Pampa Alta Track
Difficulty level: Medium
Length: a.9 kilometers (dropping to the Del Toro Canyon )
Time: 1 hour up to vantage point.
Access may be made from the Ensenada Bay campsite by upstream navigation along the Arroyo Piloto (long option: 4,9 km) or from National Route Nº 3 (short option: 3,7 km), and descending by the track linking with the road to Pipo River. On either of the paths, the panoramic views of the Beagle Channel and the Pipo River valley are very interesting.
Difficulty level: Medium
Length: 6.5 km (one way)
Time: 3 ½ hours.
This track skirts the seacoast and goes through sour cherry and cinnamon orchards. It may be accessed from Ensenada Bay or from the Lake Roca crossing, on National Route Nº 3. Tourists will be filled with wonder at the splendid sea and forest scenery, an ideal setting to watch marine and coastal wildlife.
XXIV Border Marker Post Track
Difficulty level: Medium
Length: 4.5 kilometers (one way)
Time:3 hours (both ways)
It runs along the north shore of Lake Roca and leads to the XXIV Border Marker Post, marking the Argentine/Chilean border. Spectacular views are afforded of the Pirámide range and Lake Roca.
Guanaco Peak Track
Difficulty level: High
Length: 4.0 kilometers
Time: 4 hours one way to summit.
Access is from the XXIV Border Marker Post track, after the Arroyo Guanaco crossing, following a signal on a right fork. This is a climbing excursion. Steep slopes must be negotiated, especially after crossing the first stream. This peak measures 970 meters height above sea level and enables an unmatched view of the Beagle Channel, Navarino and Hoste islands (both of them Chilean) and the Del Toro Canyon.
End-of-the-World Train Trip
The "End-of-the-World Station", where we may board the Southern Fueguian Railway, is located on the outskirts of Ushuaia, 8 km to the west of the city, in the valley between Monte Susana and the Le Martial mountain chain. This railway is also called the "End-of-the-World Train", and attracts visitors not only with its elegance and period style, but also due to its historic background. Using this means of transport, the inmates of the erstwhile "Ushuaia Prison" were conveyed to their forced labor camps. The narrow-gauge elegantly decorated rolling stock is drawn by steam engines.
"End-of-the-World" Post Office
This is the only one of its kind on a Beagle Channel island, and has the particularity of being the southernmost post office in the country. Postcards and letters stamped with its unique sea lion are real collectors' items. It was inaugurated on December 12, 1997, after a contract was signed between the Argentine Post Office and the Isla Verde S.R.L company.
The tour track starting at the "End-of-the-World" Post Office enables visitors to go through one of the world's forests with the highest concentration of "Knots". Emerging from the forest, one plunges into a natural garden formed by cinnamon trees and "Notros". Some meters ahead, balcony vantage points display the vivid beauty of Ensenada Bay and Lapataia Bay. The track continues among the typical "bandera" trees leaning away from the predominant southwestern winds, affording a majestic view of the Beagle Channel with its Argentine and Chilean shore. Another pathway leads visitors through the woods surrounding Caleta "Vito Dumas" where the sea is crystal clear and deeply hued. Then it moves away from the shore and traverses a plantation of "Notros" that display all their beauty in the month of December.
Perdida Lagoon and Ojo del Albino Glacier
A reasonably easy walk from Tierra Mayor valley will take us to these magnificent sites. The vividly emerald lake is surrounded with breathtaking scenery. We can continue our way up to the 900-meter altitude Ojo del Albino Glacier, a marvelous and challenging experience involving walking over ice and rocks.
Tierra Mayor River Valley
This is a winter sports center located in the mountain chains of Sorondo and Alvear, used as a base for different excursions. West of this valley is the Carbajal Valley, nestling between high mountains and affording a westward view of the Chilean border. To the north is the Bebán Pass, used formerly as an excursion pathway. Near the Tierra Mayor river valley, National Route Nº 3 can take you to a picturesque area crowning the Olivia River.
Following in the footsteps of its explorers, tourists may sail along and enjoy the Beagle Channel with all its coves, islands and rich birdlife. Channel navigation options cover a wide variety of vessels: modern catamarans, comfortable motor vessels or sailing ships equipped with outboard motors, as well as inflatable dinghies and sailboats.
De Los Lobos Island (Sea Lion Island) and De los Pájaros Island (Bird Island)
This excursion lasts from 2 ½ to 3 hours. One route is past Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse, visiting the small De los Lobos Island and De los Pájaros Island with its cormorant colony -near Bridge Islands- before returning to Ushuaia. Another option is to navigate Lapataia Bay westward up to Puerto Arias, and thence visit the aforementioned islands.
Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse
Located in the southern maritime area, it signals the entrance to Ushuaia Bay to seafarers. It is approached in the traditional "De los Lobos and De los Pájaros Islands Tour". Along the way may be seen a great number of bird species as well as single-tone and two-tone sea lions. Near the "Faro Les Eclaireurs" may be seen the wreckage of the "Monte Cervantes", a German ship that sank in 1930.
Puerto Williams - Chile - Ethnic Tourism
Beyond the Les Eclaireurs lighthouse, skirting the coasts of Navarino Island, in Chile, a stop at Puerto Williams allows us to visit the native population of Ukika village to meet the last of the Yámana or Yagan indians. This excursion lasts two days. This port may also be seen at a distance from the excursion ships to the Beagle Channel, De los Lobos Island, De los Pájaros Island, "Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse" and before reaching the penguin rookery on Martillo Island.
Martillo Island or Yecapasela Penguin Rookery
Puerto Almanza, as already mentioned, as well as Martillo Island, are special places, because they shelter a numerous colony of attractive Magellan Penguins that choose these waters for nesting purposes. Although Puerto Almanza may be reached year-round by land or sea, Martillo Island may only be approached by sea in summer.
This excursion starts heading west toward Puerto Arias. Here the tourists arriving from the National Park may embark and admire the bay. An eastward sailing excursion goes by De los Lobos Island and De los Pájaros Island, ending at Les Eclaireurs.
From Ensenada Bay, after going around the Nature Reserve of Redonda Island, it is possible to join the interpreted tour, discovering the natural flora and fauna and enjoying a splendid panoramic view of the Beagle Channel. This is a natural habitat located on the Beagle Channel across from Ensenada Bay in Tierra del Fuego National Park. Its surface area is approximately 10 hectares, and its maximum height above sea level is 105 meters. One might say that from a scientific viewpoint, Redonda Island is a "natural Botanical Garden", displaying a complete variety of Fueguian vegetation.
This bay is on the coastline of the Beagle Channel, across from Redonda Island, and is the ideal spot to enjoy the peace and beauty of the area. Some light meals are served overlooking the crystal-clear southern waters. Although it is possible to get there by taking National Route Nº 3, Ensenada Bay possesses docking facilities for tour ships coming from Ushuaia in the summer, and a small post office which is the southernmost in the country (mentioned above). The track going along Tierra del Fuego National Park coastline starts on its western shore.
Lake Roca is the start of a walking circuit up to the XXIV Border Marker Post in the Chilean border, which actually lies along its surface. This track follows the northeastern coastline of the crystalline lake, and includes stretches of lengas woods, with views of the Pirámide Range and Mt Guanaco peaks. Around it lies a prime campsite area within the National Park.
Cape Horn - Chile
On leaving Ushuaia port, first east and then southward, and passing Lennox Islands and crossing Nassau Bay, one gets to Cape Horn. If weather conditions are good, one can land and explore the area. Until the XXth Century the Cape Horn route was Europe's trade link to Asia. In 1914, when the Panama Canal opened in Central America, fewer ships chose the southerly route.
De los Estados Island and "End-of-the-World Lighthouse"
Called Chuanisin, in the Yámana tongue, De los Estados Island features a uniquely steep topography. It has steep cliffs and deep bays as well as narrow but lovely beaches. It is on the east of Tierra del Fuego province, separated from the mainland by the Strait of Le Maire. This is the place where the "End-of-the-World", built in 1884 by Comodoro Augusto Laserre, is located.