USHUAIA - TIERRA DEL FUEGO
TIERRA DEL FUEGO NATIONAL PARK
Created by the Argentine government in the year 1960 to protect the southernmost sub-Antarctic forests, Tierra del Fuego National Park is the country's only park with an ocean shoreline. If offers historical and wild attractions, and borders with Chile to the West and the Beagle Channel to the South.
With an area of 63,000 hectares, this National Park is situated in the southwestern area of Tierra del Fuego, along the international border with Chile. It boasts a typical glacial landscape, with a mountainous area and deep valleys washed by rivers and lakes, and mountains ranging from the North West to the South East.
On the coastal area, Lapataia and Ensenada bays intercalate cliffs and small beaches which offer the ideal environment for the coastal bird fauna. Lenga and coihue forests cover the most humid regions and the coast of the Beagle Channel.
In spring, one may find the Magellan orchid, the michay opening its yellow flowers, and the "hongos en polvera" (a variety of fungi).
There are two types of forests in this area: the lenga and coihue forests which grow in the most humid regions and mainly on the coast of the Beagle Channel. The thick forest is open, with an abundance of mosses and ferns.
Among the forests, there are large peat mosses, flooded areas where Sphagnum genus moss grow almost exclusively. On the peat moss borders you can find rushes, a small insectivorous plant, and small thick forests with ñire, canelo, leñador and notro trees.
In spring one may also find in the Park Magellan orchid, michay opening its yellow flowers, and the "hongos en polvera" (a variety of fungi). There are also yellow violets; white, green and yellow orchids, everlasting flowers, white and yellow daisies and many others.
The bird fauna is varied and easy to watch. The Magellanic Oystercatcher, the Upland Goose, the Black-browed Albatross - over 2 mt high, the Steamer Duck, the Magellanic Woodpecker and the Thorn-tailed Rayadito are some of the species which belong to this area.
Among the mammals, the guanaco and the silver fox are peculiar to this area. There are also species introduced by man such as the rabbit, the muskrat and the Canadian beaver whose permanent wood cutting activity in order to build dams, causes floods in the forest thus killing many trees.
As to the sweet water fish fauna, we find the puyén and the peladilla. There are also exotic salmons such as the rainbow trout and the brown trout ideal for sport-fishing. At sea we find the sea bass, the codfish, tail hake and sardines.
Among the sea rocks, there is an abundance of mussels, cholgas (small mussels) and snails.
From the harbor, taking Maipú Ave to the southwest, and then National Route Nº 3, you leave the city until arriving at the skirts of Mt Susana, where convicts from the old prison used to work. Also, you will find the "Fueguian South Railway Station". From there, you can start an optional tour.
You may continue along the Pipo River valley up to the detour to enter Ensenada Bay, from where you can see Redonda Island and Estorbo Island and on the other coast of the Beagle Channel, Mt Nevados in the Sampaio range, Chile.
On returning to Route Nº 3, along a narrow road with different Fueguian flora species by its side, you will arrive at Roca Lake. There you will start a walk bordering that lake and the Lapataia River from where the landscape observed is dominated by the impressive Mt Cóndor whose peak is beyond the boundary with Chile.
Towards the other end of the park, where Route Nº 3 finishes, in Lapataia Bay are the Green Lagoon and the Black Lagoon, a breathtaking peat moss under formation.
Finally, you will walk along the beaver dam, which will take you back to Lapataia Bay.
Furthermore, there are numerous pedestrian crosswalks in this National Park, starting at different points along Route Nº 3 and reaching wonderful places:
The 800 m track crosses part of the Cormorant Archipelago up to Green Lagoon. It runs along the banks of the Lapataia and Ovando rivers.
Negra Lagoon Track
400 meters away from the Park, its dark colored waters are due to the presence of big peat mosses.
Lapataia Vantage Point Walk
An alternative access option to Lapataia Bay, after a 500-meter walk, through the lenga forest, a scenic pathway affords a striking view of the bay, and winds down to its shore.
Peat Bog Walkway
400 meters away from Lapataia Bay, along the way through lenga forests may be seen abandoned beaver dams.
There are also several alternatives for longer trips:
Pampa Alta Track
Connecting Ensenada and Rio Pipo camping grounds, this 8 km long track, takes you through lenga and coihue forests. The panoramic view of the Beagle Channel is very interesting.
XXIV Border Marker Post Track
A 10 km track, it runs along the Northern coast of Lake Roca, of glacial origin.
Mt Guanaco Track
An 8 km walk up a steep slope. The mountain is 970 m high.
Within the National Park, there is a developed camping area in Lake Roca and several other free camping areas in Lapataia Bay, Ensenada Bay, Pipo River, etc.
Some "concheros" (circles showing accumulation of mollusks), in Lapataia Bay, show the location of old huts (IV century) which belonged to seafood canoeist groups, historically known as "Yámanas". Research carried out on Salmón Island determined that one of these huts was 1700 years old.
(Intendencia del Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego - Calle San Martín 1395, Ushuaia)
- Driving any type of vehicle away from National Route Nº 3 and clearly sign-posted secondary roads is strictly forbidden.
- Maximum speed within the Park is of 40 km/h.
- If you wish to fish, you must bear in mind the opening and closing dates for the fishing season, and that a license is requested to carry out this activity. Legislation differs from the rest of the province, considering this is a National Park.
- Removal of seafood and other sea species is forbidden due to red tide. It is also forbidden to remove any elements from the ecosystem.
- Do not write on rocks or trees. Take care of the ecosystem at all times. Hunting or carrying weapons will be severely punished.
- Do not litter. Place your rubbish in a bag and take it with you to the city where you will be able to dispose of it in the corresponding garbage containers.
- In the area of Lake Roca it is advisable to boil water for 5 minutes before drinking it.