5 ways to explore Tierra del Fuego

  1. Get out and about from Ushuaia hiking, wildlife spotting or on a four-wheeled drive adventure
  2. Challenge yourself on the world's southernmost trek, Dientes de Navarino 
  3. Relax at a secluded lodge on Isla Navarino 
  4. Explore the Magellan Straits and Beagle Channel on an adventure cruise
  5. Stand on the end of the world at Cape Horn 

Discover Tierra del Fuego

Where to visit

Argentinian Tierra del Fuego: Nestled between the mountains and the Beagle Channel lies the southernmost city in the world, Ushuaia. Spend a few days enjoying the scenery, museums and day trips out to see penguins and sea-lions, or base yourself here to explore the huge Tierra del Fuego National Park, where you can explore the wilderness on foot or by taxi.

Chilean Tierra del Fuego: Visit the iconic Cape Horn, or see the most remote glaciers and mountains on a cruise through the Chilean Fjords. If you're looking to get out into unexplored territory, the hiking on Isla Navarino and Chile's national parks is some of the most remote and challenging in the region. Those who dare are rewarded with spectacular views and a solitude not easily found on the tourist trails.

Laguna del Salto Tierra del Fuego trekking

Things to do

Most of Tierra del Fuego is rugged and remote, and best explored either on foot or by boat. There's no better way to feel immersed in the scenery than by forging your own trails on day hikes, or sliding over scree and boulders on a more challenging multi-day trek

If you're looking to return to a comfortable bed each night but be out exploring by day, the adventure cruises that wind through the Chilean Fjords can take you to some of the most spectacular scenery, without scrimping on the quality of food or your night's rest. The emphasis really is on adventure, expect to be off the boat and immersed in the scenery as much as possible.

Chloe cruceros cruise pia glacier chilean fjords

Where to stay

In the hubs of Ushuaia and Punta Arenas you'll find hotels to suit all different types of traveller, from mountainside spas to backpacker hostels. The smaller towns of Porvenir and Puerto Williams are only at the beginnings of their tourism journey, and although you'll be able to find a place to sleep, accommodation is still basic.

To immerse yourself in Fuegian culture, consider a lodge or estancia, often situated next to lakes or on huge ranches, where you'll really feel like you're off-the-beaten-track.

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About Tierra del Fuego

History

Bay view Tierra del Fuego

Humans have been living in Tierra del Fuego for 10,000 years, in indigenous tribes highly skilled at fishing and hunting. The most famous are the Yaghan, who lived along the coast of the Beagle Channel and fished from canoes, carrying small fires with them on the water. 

The name Tierra del Fuego (Land of Fire) was given by famous Portuguese sailor Ferdinand Magellan, who explored the island in 1520 and noticed the small fires all along the shore. For the next 400 years sailors hunted whales and seals here, but it wasn't until 1826 that in-depth documentation of the area began. Then, the Beagle set out on its exploratory expedition carrying a young Charles Darwin, and naval captain and explorer FitzRoy. The ship was the first to sail all the way through the Beagle Channel, giving the stretch of water its name, and Darwin's many observations on geology, flora and fauna would later inform his theories on the origin of species.

Throughout the 1800s, missionaries and settlers colonised the island, with disastrous effects for the indigenous people. Through conflict and disease, numbers decreased significantly, and the Yag'han and Selk'nam peoples all but died out. Later, a short-lived gold rush drew adventurers from all over the world, who congregated in small settlements that would become Ushuaia, Porvenir and Rio Grande.

How to get there

This region is split between Chile and Argentina, and roads between them are few. There are a few airports that serve the region well, but again, flight routes tend not to cross between the countries. The numerous waterways make cruising or sailing one of the best ways to make the most of your travel time down to the end of the world.

Via Australis Cruising by Ice - Cropped - SWX

When to go

Summer is between December and February, and brings warmer temperatures, longer days and slightly better chances of clear skies. Even in the height of summer though, the weather down here is highly unpredictable. Be prepared with raincoats, layers, and to be buffeted by the famous Patagonian wind as it swirls around the island.

As high seasons dies down from March to April, the crowds disperse and you'll have the sights almost to yourself. The autumn colours come out, and the forests are covered in reds, golds and oranges.

In winter, when a thick layer of snow covers the rugged landscape, ski resorts open and winter sports become the main attraction.

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