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HomeAnt­ar­c­ti­ca infor­ma­ti­on → Ushua­ia and the Bea­gle Chan­nel

Ushuaia and the Beagle Channel

Ushuaia and the Beagle Channel: El fin del Mundo


Ushua­ia: end of the world, begin­ning of the jour­ney.

Most trips to Ant­ar­c­ti­ca start and finish in Ushua­ia, Tier­ra del Fue­go, in sou­thern­most Argen­ti­na. This is whe­re Ant­ar­c­tic-bound tra­vel­lers real­ly start their jour­ney, while it is the tur­ning point for most other tou­rists: the end of the world, El fin del Mun­do, as peo­p­le in Ushua­ia call their home town. Alt­hough its posi­ti­on as the world’s sou­thern­most town may be dis­pu­ted: the­re is Puer­to Wil­liams, fur­ther east and on the sou­thern side of the Bea­gle Chan­nel, on the Chi­lean side. Puer­to Wil­liams is much smal­ler than Ushua­ia, but defi­ni­te­ly a litt­le bit fur­ther south. The­re are some more mini-sett­le­ments south of the Bea­gle Chan­nel, but wit­hout any importance for most tou­rists with the excep­ti­on of the occa­sio­nal sai­ling yacht pas­sing by.

Ships in port, Ushuaia

Ant­ar­c­ti­ca-bound ships in the har­bour of Ushua­ia.

Ushua­ia is, howe­ver, obvious­ly a tou­rist place: the main road is framed by num­e­rous sou­ve­nir shops, restau­rant and inter­net places, the num­ber of hotels is impres­si­ve and the once so small town, that was main­ly a pri­son for parts of its histo­ry, is gro­wing and gro­wing hig­her up on the slo­pes into the moun­tain rain­fo­rests of Tier­ra del Fue­go.

Ushuaia with the southernmost Andes

Scenic Ushua­ia with the sou­thern­most Andes.

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

The sur­roun­dings of Ushua­ia are very scenic, and it is a good idea to spend some days, not only to avo­id dif­fi­cul­ties in case of delay­ed flights. The near­by natio­nal park Tier­ra del Fue­go is easi­ly rea­ched with mini­bus­ses, and a num­ber of rou­tes invi­te to spend a day or two bet­ween the fores­ted shores of the Bea­gle Chan­nel and the tre­e­l­ess, rocky heights of the sou­thern­most Andes. The­re are also scenic walks clo­ser to Ushua­ia, but make sure you get your bea­rings right as the rain­fo­rests are very den­se and impos­si­ble to walk through unless you fol­low one of the hiking paths. And it is of cour­se easy to spend a day in Ushua­ia with some sou­ve­nir shop­ping, com­ple­ting your equip­ment and clot­hing (the­re are seve­ral shops with out­door gear), rela­xing in one of many cafés and enjoy­ing the views over the Bea­gle Chan­nel. The­re is also the muse­um, which used to be the pri­son in the old days, when the num­ber of inbound visi­tors signi­fi­cant­ly excee­ded the num­ber of out­bound ones.

Beagle Channel, Ushuaia

View over Ushua­ia to the Bea­gle Chan­nel.

The Bea­gle Chan­nel has got its repu­ta­ti­on for ama­zing sce­n­ery for good reason, but the exci­ting part is west of Ushua­ia. This is no good for ant­ar­c­tic tou­rists who lea­ve to the east with their ships, whe­re moun­ta­ins are repla­ced by hills and wood­lands. Still scenic, but not as exci­ting as the wes­tern part of the Bea­gle. Addi­tio­nal­ly to the scenic aspect, the­re is quite some inte­res­t­ing his­to­ri­cal back­ground, and it is a good idea to have read Charles Darwin’s nar­ra­ti­on of his adven­tures in the area in 1833 and 1834 with the ship to which the chan­nel owes its name.

Nationalpark Tierra del Fuego

Coas­tal land­scape of the Bea­gle Chan­nel in the Natio­nal Park Tier­ra del Fue­go near Ushua­ia.

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

Coas­tal sce­n­ery in the natio­nal park Tier­ra del Fue­go west of Ushua­ia

But any­way, the­re is usual­ly not too much time to enjoy the scenic and his­to­ri­cal inte­rest and the wild­life of the Bea­gle Chan­nel at the begin­ning of a jour­ney to Ant­ar­c­ti­ca: the pro­gram­me is usual­ly packed with a num­ber of events during the first hours, and you will lea­ve South Ame­ri­ca behind during the first night of the trip. It is, by the way, a good idea to fall asleep befo­re mid­night, when the water move­ments of the open oce­an start to make them­sel­ves felt on board.

Beagle Channel

The Bea­gle Chan­nel pho­to­gra­phed to the east while approa­ching Ushua­ia.


last modification: 2021-03-22 · copyright: Rolf Stange