Patagonia one - Tierra del Fuego
where is Tierra del Fuego?
Tierra del Fuego, Land of Fire, is an archipelago shared by Argentina and Chile at the southernmost tip of South America. The name was given by early explorers who saw the fires of the native Yámana people along the shores. We spent our time with Venture Patagonia in and around the city of Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. Ushuaia is home to the primary port for Antarctic Expeditions - unfortunately I was unable to participate in one... this time.
how to get there:
The easiest way to get to Ushuaia is via a direct daily flight from Buenos Aires that takes approximately 3h20. You can also fly into a mainland airport (such as El Calafate, Argentina or Punta Arenas, Chile) and drive down to the island but that would include a minimum of eight-hours in the car, a ferry across the Magellan Straight and an international border crossing or two. There is also an option to take a cruise ship from a variety of ports both within South America and abroad.
The average temperature of Ushuaia is 5°Celsius with an average summer high of 14°Celsius and lows in the winter months just below freezing. As Ushuaia is a port city most activities take place at sea level so there should be very little issue with altitude hiking. The tallest mountain on the island is Mount Darwin (named after Charles Darwin) and has an elevation of 2,438 m (7,999 ft) - fun fact: this is the southern tip of the Andes Mountains. Most hiking takes place below 500ft above sea level (one hike mentioned in the itinerary below does climb to just over 2,700ft). Charles dar
My trip took place in early April, the temperature hovered around that 5°C mark and we had intermittent rain every day.
what to pack:
please note: we participated in no overnight backpacking trips in Ushuaia and my packing list reflects this, if you decide you want to backpack in Ushuaia my full packing list can be found here.
-Daypack hiking bag (I brought my a 24L backpack) with rain cover
-Head lamp for sunrise/sunset hikes
-Lightweight wind jacket
-Down or synthetic jacket
-Wool hiking socks
-Long sleeve thermal shirt
-Refillable water bottle
-Thermos (if you're a coffee drinker like me!)
-Argentinian electrical plug converter - note that Chile and Argentina do not use the came outlet configuration
-Casual walking shoes for the city - your boots will get muddy
nine day hiking itinitray in ushuaia:
day one: Fly into Ushuaia via Buenos Aires - make sure to rent a car!
day two: Boat ride to Isla Gable to see Penguins, visit Estancia Haberton.
day three: Ushuaia - sunrise hike to Laguna Esmeralda - Rated easy this 9.1km roundtrip hike has just over 250feet of elevation gain and takes around 3.5 hours at a moderate pace. Please note that we found this trail very muddy. After your morning hike I recommend driving over to see Girabaldi Pass before returning to the city.
day four: Ushuaia - visit Tierra del Fuego National Park.
day five: Hike to Laguna del Caminante via the Andorra Valley - a difficult hike at 16km roundtrip and 2,700feet of elevation gain this hike can be broken up as an overnight backpacking trip(add one day to your trip).
day six: Ride the El Tren Del Fin Del Mundo - a steam locomotive that is a replica of the train which once shuttled prisoners to the forest to gather wood to heat the penal colony.
day seven: Hike(or take the chairlift to) Glacier Martial - With an easy rating this 7.3km roundtrip has just over 500 feet of gain and should take around 3.5 hours at a moderate pace.
day eight: Enjoy your final day in Ushuaia with a boat tour around the bay to see the Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse in the Beagle Channel which is affectionately called the Lighthouse at the End of the World.
day nine: Fly out of Ushuaia via Buenos Aires
The team at Venture Patagonia can take care of all of your planning and logistics for this trip (and build it around your budget).
what to eat and drink:
El Viejo Marino - this was my favourite restaurant in Ushuaia, it is nothing overly fancy but has amazing seafood (Michael ordered a steak a immediately regretted it) - and you can get a whole king crab fresh from the ocean!
Almacen Ramos Generales - entering into this cafe makes you feel like a local. This gathering place for locals serves fresh bakes treats as well as some of the best coffee from my entire time in South America, beer, wine and a selection of soups and sandwiches. It is a repurposed general store and has a lot of information about the area and it's environmental issues and current concerns.
Küar Resto Bar - possibly the strongest wifi at the end of the world... this restaurant provided good quality classic North American pub food. If you have a sensitive stomach when travelling this place will remind you of home.
Bodegón Fueguino - recommended by locals, unfortunately we did not have time to try Patagonian food on this leg of our trip it comes highly recommended and after doing ym research I am kicking myself. Apparently you are to order the picada(shared appetizer plate) for two which includes eggplant, lamb brochettes, crab and bacon-wrapped plums.
where to stay:
luxury: We stayed at the Arakur Hotel for the duration of our trip. It was pricy but the amenities at Arakur, the divine complimentary breakfast and the views of both the city and the peninsula from the infinity pool are some of the things that justify the price.
standard: Stay at Estancia Haberton. This is this oldest ranch (established 1886) on the Argentinean side of Tierra del Fuegowith over 20,000 hectares of sheep ranching terrain.
standard: El Fueguino Hotel located centrally in Ushuaia is a clean and comfortable option within the city limits.
budget: Camping in Ushuaia leaves a lot to be desired, there are campsites located within Tierra del Fuego National Park (free with park entrance fees) which from my research seem to be your best camping option. Note: they have very limited facilities.
Huge thank you to my friend Michael Matti for helping with some of the images featured in this post.
I spent my three weeks in Patagonia with the amazing team at Venture Patagonia and can not recommend them high enough. Venture Patagonia is a team made up of energetic, passionate and professional individuals with a deep knowledge of the major Patagonian destinations. With their extensive network of friends and local partners, they specialize in connecting people all over Patagonia to give you an authentic taste of local culture. The best part? Venture Patagonia customize each program to match YOUR budget and appetite for adventure. Their aim is to help you live your best adventure! Venture Patagonia is based in the United States, with an office in Puerto Natales, Chile. Their Chilean office is located in Puerto Natales, but operate on both the Chilean and Argentinian sides of Patagonia, allowing guests to experience both Torres del Paine National Park & Los Glaciares National Park.