If you’re venturing as far south as Ushuaia, it’s worth planning a couple of days to explore nearby Tierra del Fuego National Park. The superb hikes and activities available in this protected area are reason alone to visit this unique park at the End of the World.
But it is the combination of the fascinating history of Tierra del Fuego’s native inhabitants and the sublime views of the legendary Beagle Channel that make this national park one of the most impressive in Argentina.
Where is Tierra del Fuego National Park?
Encompassing an area of 63,000 hectares, Tierra del Fuego National Park stretches from the Beagle Channel to the edges of Lago Kami at the southernmost point of Argentine Patagonia.
Unfortunately, only a small section of Tierra del Fuego is open to the public; the vast majority of its jagged peaks, glacial valleys and dense Patagonian forest of lenga beech and coihue are inaccessible. However, the parts that can be explored are impressive and merit at least a day’s exploration.
How to arrive
Buses from Ushuaia to the entrance of the national park – about 11-miles (18km) from the city – leave roughly every hour, although it is recommended to depart early in the morning if you are planning on hiking in the park.
Visitors must pay an entrance fee of $14 USD. There is also the Centro de Visitantes Alakush (Visitors Center) which has exhibits about the natural and human history of the park.
Activities in Tierra del Fuego National Park
Hito XXIV trail: A 6-mile (10km) trek, it follows the north-eastern shore of Lago Roca to the border with Chile where the small obelisk, “Milestone 24”, marks the edges of the two countries.
De la Isla trail: A very short hike, this takes you around the Cormoranes archipelago and along the shores of Lapataia Bay, a small fjord off the edge of the Beagle Channel. In this wildfowl haven, expect to encounter steamer ducks, geese, diving petrel and black-browed albatrosses.
Cerro Guanaco trail: The longest trail in the park, the Cerro Guanaco trail is tough but ultimately rewarding. Passing stretches of bog and requiring hikers to scale a steep incline of loose rock, the path finally reaches the summit of the mountain where exceptional panoramic views of the Beagle Channel and the Darwin Mountains await.
The End of the World Train
The Southern Fuegian Railway, or the End of the World Train, is a popular day-trip from Ushuaia. Take a replica of the prison train that once transported convicts between Ushuaia Prison and the forest of what now is Tierra del Fuego National Park.
This train shuttles through the Pico Valley and provides a relaxing means of exploring the park at a leisurely pace. The initial stop is at the Cascada de la Macarena station to learn about the native Yámana people who once populated the region, from where the train continues through spectacular scenery of subpolar forest, lagoons and mountains before turning around at Parque station to begin the return journey.