Ushuaia Stories and Tips

Navigation of the Beagle Channel, Visit to Tierra del Fuego National Park

Travel Photo by IgoUgo member

When you walk along the coastal avenue and turn left towards Bahía Encerrada, you just imagine how beautiful it must be to navigate the channel. The city is beautiful from any angle; it is just below the Andes. As I said in my previous experience, the distance from the downtown to the Martial Glacier is only five to six miles. Everything is so near. You have two options for navigating the channel: one is to Isla de los Pinguinos (Penguin Island; it leaves only in the afternoon) and the other one goes to a lighthouse, to Isla de los Pájaros (Birds Island), to Isla de los Lobos (Seals Island) and to another island where you do two hours trekking and have a panoramic view of the Beagle Channel. This tour costs 110 pesos (37 dollars) and is the option I took. The same tour without the trekking costs 5 dollars less. The tour to Penguin Island is more expensive: 190 pesos, or 63 dollars. Winds are strong in the Beagle Channel, so the tour can be modified, either regarding the order of the tour, or even shortened if winds threaten navigation. In our case they changed the itinerary but we saw everything.

On board we were served a snack (sweet cookies in abundance and soft drinks, coffee and tea). There was no additional cost for the snack. We first visited the Les Eclareirs lighthouse, then we navigated to the Seals Island where we saw a number of seals, but mostly a large variety of birds. Our next stop was the Birds Island, where we saw literally thousands of birds, mostly Royal and Imperial Cormorans. I really enjoyed this beautiful sight. On the way back we did a 2-hour trekking on an island where the Ona Indians used to live, paid attention to the vegetation in the island, but mostly enjoyed the panoramic scenery of the city of Ushuaia (it was near enough to take panoramic photos). You have 3 options for taking this tour: you can go on a sail boat, on a small catamaran, or on a motorboat. I was assigned to this 12-passenger boat, and really enjoyed the trip. We left at 9.30am and arrived back at 1.30pm. As soon as I got back I went to have a cup of coffee at the YPF/Repsol gasoline station that is just in front of the place from where traffic vans leave to the Tierra del Fuego National Park (Lago Roca or Bahía Lapataia). Traffic vans run every hour, the round trip costs 25 pesos (8 dollars) and you can come back on any timetable of the same company.

As the traffic van was going first to Lapataia bay (in any case, I saw it on the way back), and I wanted to go to lake Roca, I got off the traffic van at the crossroads and walked less than a mile along the river and up to the lake. All the scenery is beautiful, but in honor to honesty, I must say that the scenery is more beautiful in the areas surrounding the city of Ushuaia. I walked through a lenga forest, and came to the most beautiful campground I have ever seen: Lago Roca. It is in the forest, your tent is protected from winds by the forest, you are just 500 feet away from the lake, bathrooms are flawless, and they have a very nice cafeteria and convenience store in the campgrounds. If you go camping, I do not have the slightest doubt that this is your very best option in Ushuaia.

The road from Lake Roca to Lapataia bay is also beautiful. I forgot to say that you have to pay a 6 dollar admission fee to the National Park. There is no additional fee for the other tours. At lake Roca you can fish rainbow trout in the lake or in Lapataia river, but being near the city of Ushuaia, trout are relatively small (average 2 to 3 pound) and chances are relative. You will also have an amazing opportunity of filming and taking photos of wild rabbits. They are all over the place, they are even considered to be a plague, but they are protected inside the National Park. There are also different kinds of birds. The same evening I visited the End of the World Museum (Museo del Fin del Mundo), where you see dozens of different types of conserved birds of the area, including condors and cormorans, part of the hull of a shipwreck, a century-old grocery and a century-old bank cashiers office. Although the museum is small, I found it very interesting. As I said in another report, in two days you can see nearly everything in this area. But stay at least 4 days in case it rains some day, and enjoy this fantastic scenery relaxing.

One caution: I took 17 thirty-six photo Kodak films for my whole trip, and used them nearly all in Ushuaia. So take at least twenty photo films with you. In any case, films are cheaper here than at El Calafate, so restock your films here. I bought the 5 film pack (Kodak Pro-Image 100 ASA) for 15 dollars in Ushuaia. I can buy them for a lower price in Córdoba, but they are far more expensive at El Calafate. From Ushuaia you can also take cruises to Punta Arenas (Mare Australis, 5 day navigation) and to the Antarctic. This last tour costs 3000 dollars per person. Enjoy your stay in Ushuaia. I know you will never forget this destination.

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