Argentina, Destinations, Travel log

In and around Ushuaia

As we said in our previous article we were planning to stay only 3 days in Ushuaia but extended our stay to a week. If the weather would have been better, we would have stayed even longer as there are many things to do around Ushuaia! Unfortunately, we we could not do as much as we would have liked because of the cold, rainy and even snowy weather we got on some says. However here you have our recommendations of things we did and things we would have loved to do.

In Ushuaia

The city center

Walking in the city center will allow you to enjoy the cafes and restaurants, do some shopping and get some groceries in order to cook and limit your food budget. Also it is a good way to observe the Patagonian architecture if like us you are new to it: a mix of wood and metal houses. We heard a few negative comments about Ushuaia city but personally we were positively surprised by it.

By the harbor a little walk will allow you to observe the Beagle Canal, the Chilean mountains on the other side, many species of seabirds and to dream in front of the ships getting ready to board for Antarctica. Note that the population in the city can increase drastically on the departure days!

Don’t forget to take some pictures with the Ushuaia letters and the different signboards and to get your passport stamped at the Tourist office!

The Museum of the End of the World

In terms of museum the most famous one is located in the former prison: the Museum of the End of the World! We found it quite expensive (600 ARS aka 18USD) for a museum that is nice  but not so complete in terms of the information provided. But we got lucky to be there during the Night of the Museum (yes like in Cordoba!) so we could visit it for free. Only downside: it was really crowded! The museum has different sections: about Ushuaia history, about the prison history (a branch was kept intact), about Antarctica, about sea exploration, etc…

Funny anecdote: we discovered that they were a few famous Romanians in Ushuaia history (such as Karl Popper and Emil Racoviță). While we were reading about it a guy overheard us and asked us if we were Romanians: this is how we met the only Romanian  currently living in Ushuaia!

The National Park Tierra del Fuego

This park is beautiful! Although the entrance fee + the transport makes is not so cheap if you are on a budget it is really worth it. We would recommend you to camp in the Park as there are 3 camping sites and you can camp for free up to 2 nights as part of the entrance ticket (you need to inform the rangers when you enter).

Hitch-hiking within the park may be a good idea too as the main road is not so fun to walk on. We got 2 hitch-hikes in the park: at the back of a Coca-Cola truck (!) and by an adorable couple from Buenos Aires with who we visited a few viewpoints. We also got picked up back to Ushuaia by a local woman who was showing around to a visiting friend.

The coast-side trail is very nice, relatively easy (8km one way, mostly flat) and less crowded than the viewpoints accessible by car. But of course you cannot miss going to end of the Ruta 3 and enjoy the viewpoints there.

The trails going up the mountain were closed when we were there (too snowy).

Have a walk also through the Beaver trail to have a glimpse at the damage caused by those cute but invasive animals. Indeed, the beavers are not endemic to the region, they were brought in the 50’s by a businessman who thought it would be good to develop the fur business in the region. The business failed and the animals were released. Today the control of their population is one of the mission of the rangers as they can be destructive in this environment: the cut trees cannot grow back and the fauna is dying in the area flooded by the beavers’ dams.

Funny anecdote on the beaver topic: one evening I asked a ranger where could I see some beavers (because, well, they are cute). He then showed me a video of a swimming beaver than he made 15 minutes before! Awww so cute… until he told me that he just killed it!! You should have seen my face!

Around Ushuaia: by foot

There are many hikes to do around Ushuaia, even some loops for a few days trek! Here are our recommendations:

Glacier Martial

This is one of the most famous hike as you can start it directly from the city and it offers a beautiful viewpoint over Ushuaia; you can also skip some of it by taking a taxi up. It’s either a half or full day hike, depending where you start (by taxi or foot) and how high you want to go. We didn’t go because we chose the other Glacier instead (see below).

The viewpoints hike

Starting lower than the Glacier Martial, this trail is going West and is relatively flat. It offers a few viewpoints over the city and most of it is in the forest, giving you the opportunity to see the local fauna. Count 2 hours for one way, you can come back by the city in about 1 hour more.

Laguna Esmeralda

The most famous hike because said to be beautiful and easy. You need to take a taxi to get to the departure point.

We didn’t do it because we were told it is very muddy on rainy days (our case), so we transmit the information to you: if it was raining, get prepared for mud (part of the trail is on a swamp area).

The Glacier Vinciguerra

It was recommended to us and we really enjoyed it! Very few people seem to do the hike (we met all in all 10 people, 7 in a guided tour and 3 on their own). The beginning goes through a swampy place that is very beautiful, this kind of “out-of-this-world” place. Then you start climbing through the forest. The last hour was very snowy! We were lucky that the guided tour did it before us so we could follow their steps in the snow! On the top, the Laguna was completely frozen with the blue Glacier in the back. We were alone there and it was truly beautiful (but truly cold too!).

You need to take a taxi to the departure point (Valle de las Andoras) and you should take the taxi number to call him when you are done as there is nothing around! Note: you have network only on the trail about 10 minutes before the end… We got lucky to meet a guy on the trail back that called a taxi for himself and allowed us to share it with him! He was an Argentinian from Buenos Aires working on a cargo ship and enjoying his day off in Ushuaia by going fishing!

Around Ushuaia: by boat

They are many possibilities for boat excursions. Pick up the list from the Tourist Office to have an idea of who does what and from there you can go get information directly to the company. Most of them have a small hut near the Tourist Office.

We chose to go with Patagonia Adventure Explorers for a 3 hours tour that would bring us to see the Cormoran Island, the Sea Lion island, the lighthouse Les Eclaireurs. It also included a hike on the H island in front of Ushuaia with its unique fauna and a beautiful panorama. We enjoyed the tour and thought it was a good duration: you can get tired on the boat and we were a few sleeping on the way back!

Around Ushuaia: by bike

We were recommended to do it but didn’t have the opportunity and we regretted it. Instead of going by bus/ boat with a tour you can go to the Estancia Harberton by bike! This ranch is one of the oldest settlement of Ushuaia. The beginning of the road follows the main road but then you have a path than you can take with the bike, following the sea. We don’t know how easy it is but we would recommend to plan on a full day as the nature around the ranch seems beautiful to explore.

All in all, during our week there, we did 2 hikes, one boat excursion and 3 days in the National Park. We also enjoyed some time resting when the weather outside was really not inviting! With a better weather we would have gone for more hikes. And with more money we would have gone to Antarctica! 🙂

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