Ushuaia Surrounding Area Sightseeing
There are a number of tourist companies who offer a wide range of sightseeing opportunities as well as private guides for those wishing to explore the outlying area or enjoy sporting activities. You can obtain a list of agents and the services they offer at one of the tourist offices. We have found that most agencies charge the same for similar excursions/arrangements. Depending upon your interest we recommend the following:
Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego
Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego, located some 7.5 miles (12 km) from Ushuaia, covers some 155,000 acres (63,000 hectares) of lakes, mountains, glaciers, waterfalls, rivers and deep valleys. The park offers a wide variety of opportunities for sightseeing and recreation including self-guided walks excellent for bird-watching (over 90 species of birds are found in the park including condors that occasionally seen soaring overhead), botanizing (6 kinds of trees as well as over 500 species of ferns and flowering plants can be seen), as well as hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking for those who wish a more sporting experience. Entrance fee charged. This small but beautiful park is well worth a visit. We suggest you allow at least 4 hours. The park is open Monday through Friday from 9 am to 4 pm. Entrance fee charged. Visit the parks website.
Glacier (Cerro) Martial
Glacier (Cerro) Martial located in the National Park, approx. 4 miles (7 km) behind the downtown area, offers spectacular views of the city, the Beagle Channel and to the north. You can hike if you wish a good leg stretch or take the chairlift (aerosilla) up the mountain. The chairlift operates daily from 9:30 am until 4:45 pm with the last chair returning down the hill at 5:30 pm. There is a wonderful little tea house at the base of the chairlift (Cumbres de Martial cabanás). Allow 1½ - 2 hours. Be sure to bring a warm jacket and dress in layers. If you wish a thrilling experience you can take a series of zip lines and bridges that cover some 1640 feet (500 m) in total, from the lower platform. Visitors, despite previous experience, are accompanied by staff and briefed in advance. Fees apply for both the chairlift and zip line and entry to the park.
Tren del Fin del Mundo
The Tren del Fin del Mundo, located on the outskirts of the National Park, approx. 5 miles (8 km) from the city center, affords an opportunity to travel on the worlds southernmost narrow gauge steam train (called the Ferrocarril Austral Fueguino), traveling on the track said to have been laid by the prisoners to bring lumber from the forests to build and heat the former penal colony (now the Presidio/Museo Maritimo/Museo Penitenciario complex in the city center). Five departures daily; check with the tourist office for details, times and costs. The trip itself is approx. 1 hour 40 minutes roundtrip. (Commentary provided in Spanish and also in English). For those interested in golf, Ushuaias 9-hole course can be accessed from the same entrance as the train station.Visit The End of the World Trains website.
Estancia Harberton affords a visit to a typical Estancia (ranch or working farm), this being the oldest pioneer homestead in the region. The Estancia, one of the southernmost and most isolated farms, was settled in 1886 by the British missionary Thomas Bridges and his family after receiving the land from the Argentine government for his work among the areas indigenous Indian population and also for his assistance in rescuing victims from shipwrecks in the Beagle Channel.
Today the Estancia is still run by descendants of the Bridges family, including National Geographic Society-funded researcher, Natalie Goodall, who is married to Thomas D. Bridges, a great nephew of E. Lucas Bridges, author of the iconic book Uttermost Part of the Earth: Indians of Tierra del Fuego. (This book is a must-read for anyone visiting Tierra del Fuego.) The setting of the Estancia is beautiful as is the trip there and back whether by car or excursion boat. Guided walks are available and there is a small tea house that offers delectable treats. Of particular interest is the small museum that Natalie has created with assistance from co-workers, students and volunteers.
Located 53 miles (85 km) from Ushuaia the Estancia is accessible by a rental car (the roads are paved most of the way), private car and driver or by day boat excursion leaving from the tourist pier (Muelle Turistico) (adjacent to the pier where the Antarctic cruise ships dock). This is a full-day excursion whether driving (approx. 3 hours each way) or by excursion boat (a 7-8 hour trip). You can also overnight in one of the small cottages if arranged in advance. Fees apply; donations are suggested to support the work of the museum and to maintain the collection. Visit Estancias website.
While at Estancia Harberton do not miss the opportunity to visit the impressive Museo Acatushýn. This is Natalies pet project, and features the culmination of her 25-years worth of research and dedicated work at collecting a dazzling representation of skeletons of South American birds and sea mammals, including some skeletons of extremely rare species. Natalie is often in Ushuaia or lecturing on one of the tour ships departing from Ushuaia so she is not always on site however museum staff or graduate students usually are. You can contact Natalie in advance at firstname.lastname@example.org. Should you wish to make a donation to her Foundation (the R. Natalie P. Goodall Foundation RNP) details can be found on her website. Visit the R. Natalie P. Goodall Foundation website.
Day boat excursions departing from the tourist pier (Muelle Turistico) offer 3-4 hour excursions on large catamarans to the outlying islands and other sites of interest. Itineraries, sizes of boats and costs vary so stop by the pier and look at what excursions are on offer by the various companies. Most excursions depart either in the morning or afternoon and include the wildlife islands of Isla de los Lobos, Isla de los Pýrajos (with close viewing of cormorants, sea lions, fur seals and colonies of Magellanic penguins) and Les Eclaireurs lighthouse or to Estancia Harberton, the oldest Estancia on Tierra del Fuego. (Inclement weather may affect sailings.)
Lago Escondido & Lake Yelhuin
Visits to nearby Lago Escondido and Lake Yelhuin afford not only stunning scenery and views but also opportunities for camping, hiking and fishing (license required). Trout season is from November through mid-April. Fees apply depending upon the activity.
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