Argentina travel blog by Mark Berman -
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The end of the world is closer than you think. Not that this is a bad thing because the world's southernmost city Ushuaia is a beautiful place! With
the Martial snow-capped mountain ranges on one side and the waters of the Beagle Channel on the other, it's not as cold as you would expect. Argentina's
northernmost city La Quiaca on the Bolivian border is a whopping 4987kms away!
Bus from Punta Arenas
My journey through the Tierra del Fuego
from Punta Arenas
by bus to Ushuaia took 11hrs. We crossed the border at San Sebastian
, travelled down through Rio Grande and Tolhuin and arrived in Ushuaia by dusk.
Much of the terrain between the border and Ushuaia is bleak and barren but there is also open farmland and green rolling hills with small communities
and large wooden houses scattered around in parts.
A Stunning Setting
They say Machu Picchu has a stunning setting but I think Ushuaia has one to rival it! Come
down to the water's edge around 6am to see the early morning sun light up the bay with golden light with an amazing glow reflecting from the water
and buildings that spreads out around the bay in a halfmoon. The waterfront offers a very pleasant place to walk and relax. The city and streets
have nice buildings and shops with character, quirky things and street art.
Excursions by Land & Sea
Excursions by sea and land are the big drawcard at the port, which
by the way, is quite spectacular! Actually while I was in town, so were the navy and they opened their huge ships up to the public, quite a sight indeed!
The 3 main excursions by sea and land are firstly to the 'End of the World Lighthouse'. This is the excursion I went on and includes 'Birds Island'
and 'Seals Island'. It is truely a fantastic trip and well-priced at around $80USD (cheap for Ushuaia). There are daily departures at 9:30am and
3:30pm. Please note the lighthouse (Faro Les Eclaireurs) is not the real 'lighthouse at the end of the world', that is hundreds of kilometers further
south! This excursion is entirely by sea. The second excursion is to 'Penguin Island' with daily departures leaving at 3:30pm. This excursion covers
more distance, therefore is longer in duration and has a higher price. The third main excursion is to 'Harberton Ranch' which leaves port at 9am on
Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. There are also daily tours to the Tierra del Fuego National Park, Escondido and Fagnano Lakes, Esmeralda
Lagoon and Turqoise Lagoon. The 'End of the World Train' is another option but isn't cheap at around $100USD for a 4hr trip. You can see that Ushuaia
is not only the end of the world for its location, but also for what it does to your bank account! The Martial Glacier takes a couple of hours to hike
up to or you can take a tour.
Museums in Ushuaia
Museums in Ushuaia include the Maritime Museum, the military prison (Presidio), the Museum of the End of the World and
the Yamana World Museum about the history of the Yamana Indians.
Tierra del Fuego National Park
Tierra del Fuego National
Park is of course another big drawcard in Ushuaia. It's 12kms west of the city and has well-marked trails for hiking to see flora and fauna. Trails
of 4-8kms for moderate to advanced hikers include the Pampa Alta Trail, the Cerro Guanaco Trail, the Hito XXIV Trail and the Costera Trail. Other
easier trails run from 0.5-2kms and include the Paseo de la Isla Trail, the Mirador Lapataia Trail, the Castorera Trail, Pipo River Waterfalls, Laguna
Negra Trail and Del Turbal Trail. Buses and shuttles to the park leave almost every hour and there's an entrance fee once you arrive. A map of the
trails is available to pickup when you enter. Going to the park without a guide is recommended if you like to do things in your own time, however
tours are also available. Camping in the park is also an option! Lake Roca has a paid camping site with facilities and also there are free camping
sites without facilities. For more information about Tierra del Fuego National Park, please visit: WelcomePatagonia
Back to Chile
From Ushuaia it's a 1hr flight north to El Calafate, but I didn't stay long (6hrs). The prices of tours in El Calafate are astronomical.
I took a bus over to Puerto Natales
to see Torres del Paine
in Chile instead (5hrs).