Ushuaia, with you to the end of the world
There’s no excuse now; you can keep your promise and take your partner to Ushuaia, in Argentina, the southernmost city on the planet.
BBeing considered the ‘end of the world’ is a title that Argentina and Chile have been competing for over the last 100 years. The Chileans argue that Puerto Williams is the human settlement closest to the South Pole. The Argentinians say that this is a military base and not a town, unlike Ushuaia, despite being ten kilometres further away from the southernmost point.
Ushuaia, one of the world’s least polluted cities, is on the shores of the Beagle Channel.
A walkway system takes walkers to Lapataia Bay.
Sailing to the end
A heated catamaran will take you along the Beagle Channel from the port of Ushuaia to the Les Éclaireurs Lighthouse. The trip continues to Seal Island and Bird Island.
It was founded on 12 October 1884 by Argentine sailor Augusto Lasserre when the British granted him the land around the bay. Today, the city, with more than 60,000 inhabitants, has the country’s second busiest port. Surrounded by the Martial Mountains, it is at the southern end of Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego. Ushuaia also became famous for its prison, which was built in the early 20th century and has now been turned into the Maritime and Prison Museum. During your visit to this very special museum you can see the conditions under which the prisoners lived when they were sent, literally, to the end of the world.
Eleven kilometres from the city is Tierra del Fuego National Park, the most southerly example of Patagonic and Altos Andes forest, covering more than 63,000 hectares. The park can be accessed via National Route number 3 and you can stay at a campsite in the Lake Roca area. The park is surrounded by the Andes, Lake Fagnano and the Beagle Channel. Inside the park you can do a number of hiking trails, like the one at Lapataia Bay, leading to the southernmost point on the planet. The bay is an ideal spot for watching aquatic birds like ducks and plovers.
On a boat trip along the Beagle Channel you can often see seals playing.
The Martial glacier is another of Ushuaia’s top attractions. The best panoramic views in the area can be enjoyed from the top of the glacier at 1,050 metres above sea level. You can get up to the first section by chairlift and once there, the more adventurous can continue on foot over the ice. In winter, the glacier has a ski resort with 56 kilometres of pistes, ideal for practising alpine skiing and daring to go off-piste.
Les Éclaireurs is known as the lighthouse at the end of the world as it's the most southerly on the planet.
Outside Ushuaia is Hidden Lake, 60 kilometres to the north, and Fagnano Lake, around 100 kilometres away, both reached by taking National Route number 3. The Garibaldi pass, on the road towards Tolhuin, affords the best panoramic views over Hidden Lake. Fagnano Lake is the biggest on Tierra del Fuego island. Here you can see the Magallanes Fault, the point at which the South American and Scotia plates meet.
The End of the World Train is, as you might expect, in Ushuaia, and makes the same journey as the old Prisoners’ Train. The train runs alongside the river Pipo, recreating the last seven kilometres of the route taken by prisoners from the prison to the woodcutting camps. The Tierra del Fuego National Park landscape is a feature of the entire journey. The train is a far cry from its early days, serving a luxury onboard meal of crab, salmon or lamb marinated in red wine.
Whether you’re keen to see the tourist attractions or not, you have to go to Ushuaia so you can say you’ve been to the end of the world… unless you’re talking to a Chilean of course.