Reasons to go
- Stand on the southernmost point at Cape Horn and witness the Atlantic meet the Pacific - an awe-inspiring confrontation of the two great seas
- Stock up on the 'world's southernmost' trinkets in Ushuaia
- Hike into some of the most remote terrain in Patagonia
- Pass through glacier alley on an adventure cruise in the Chilean fjords
- Walk amongst curious penguins and barking sea-lions who have made secluded islands their home
Argentinian Tierra del Fuego
The southernmost city in the world sprawls between steep mountains to the north, and the Beagle Channel to the south. There's more than enough fascinating history and scenery to keep you occupied for a day in the city, but it also makes for a good base to explore your surroundings.
Take a boat ride out to Estancia Harberton, hike up into Tierra del Fuego National Park, or visit nearby penguin and sea-lion colonies. The port bustles with cruises up through the fjords, or down to Antarctica.
Tierra del Fuego National Park
Argentina's southernmost national park is located a 20-minute drive from Ushuaia. Here, well-marked trails wind in and around the dense forest, and the views of the Beagle Channel, rivers and bays are spectacular. You can spend a day exploring on your own, take a taxi or the shuttle out from Ushuaia and pick up a map at the entrance, or consider hiring a taxi for a few hours to take you to some of the best-known lookouts. Day tours can take you to some of the more secret gems, more adventurous excursions or on specific wildlife or birding tours.
If you're craving even more a challenge than day hiking, look further afield to some of the multi-day treks available in Chilean Tierra del Fuego. Wander far into the wilderness, experiencing some of the least visited places in Patagonia and going days without seeing another person.
Ways to visit Argentinian Tierra del Fuego
Chilean Tierra del Fuego
Chilean Tierra del Fuego is a far cry from it's Argentinian neighbour. Wild, unexplored, and with limited transport links, it's a place to immerse yourself into Fuegian culture. Some of the remotest, most untamed hiking can be found here, forge your own trails and wild camp under the stars.
For those after a little more luxury, adventure cruises meander down Chile's winding fjords, stopping off at some of the secluded bays and islands. Many visit glacier alley, a breathtaking section of wilderness where glacier after glacier creak and groan into the water.
A boat ride through the Beagle Channel will bring you to one of the most iconic places in Tierra del Fuego, Cape Horn. On this craggy spit of land you can gaze out at the place where the Atlantic and Pacific oceans meet, and take a moment to remember the many sailors who have sailed these famous waters.
Raised walkways allow you to explore; you can walk up to a monument, visit the famous lighthouse, or simply stop and appreciate that ahead of you lies nothing but sea until Antarctica.
There are many hidden treasures here only accessible by boat: glacier alley where you cruise past tumbling glacier after tumbling glacier, secluded islands full of penguins and elephant seals, and thick woods that cover the land right up to the sea. The adventure cruises that run here do place the emphasis on adventure, be prepared for numerous excursions each day to hike, explore and get up close to the wildlife. Cruises run between Ushuaia and Punta Arenas.
National parks and trekking
Cordillera Darwin: West of Ushuaia, braced between the Almirantazgo Fjord and the Beagle Channel, Cordillera Darwin is only accessible by boat. It is wild, rugged, battered by the elements and criss-crossed by Fjords that stream from an impressive 2,000 square kilometre ice cap. The highest mountains in Tierra del Fuego are found here, and the dense forests, creaking glaciers and an extreme climate make it a playground only for experienced trekkers and climbers.
Yendegaia: An important wildlife corridor between the Tierra del Fuego and the Agostini national parks, Yendegaia is a whole new national park only created in 2013. Trails are slowly being created but if you want to explore the mountains, glaciers, forests, peat bogs, lakes and rivers, you should be prepared to be out in the wilderness with few resources, forging your own trails.
Karukinka: Karukinka Natural Park is well managed by the World Conservation Society. There are a number of day hikes up to lookout points and a few more challenging multi-day treks, with some camping areas along the way. The scenery is stunning, with mountains, valleys, glaciers, meadows and peat bogs, though as always in this area the weather conditions are volatile and you should be prepared for driving rain and strong winds. Getting there is still a bit of a challenge, but a new road is under construction that will link up Chilean Tierra del Fuego and significantly boost tourism in the area.
A sleepy, rural town on a sheltered harbour, Porvenir is a place to immerse yourself in true Fuegian culture. After a brief gold rush in the 1880s, the town settled into wool production in the 1920s and working estancias appeared dotted around the landscape. Nowadays, there are a few places to stay and a worthwhile museum on local history and indigenous heritage.
Day trips are possible from Punta Arenas, however the lack of direct buses to the Argentinian mainland means this area has remained largely untouched by tourism. A few hours drive from the town, through largely unexplored wilderness, will bring you to the only colony of King Penguins to be found outside the sub-antarctic islands.
Ways to visit Chilean Tierra del Fuego
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