At the bottom of the world lies a beautiful National Park. Fringed by the Beagle Sound, Tierra Del Fuego is an archipelago on Argentina’s south most tip and is home to dramatic snowy peaks, glaciers, tundra and craggy windswept forests. Ushuaia is a beautiful resort town and the gateway to explore this amazing area of outstanding natural beauty.
We woke to a cool crisp clear day and snow had fallen on the peaks overnight. Today we were planning to hike the popular 8-kilometre (5 Mile) Costera Trail (coastal route) in Tierra Del Fuego National Park.
First, we stopped at the empanada shop to pick up a picnic lunch and then visited the supermarket to buy snacks and drinks. The only place you can buy food in the park is at the Alakush Vistor Centre at the end of the walk so packing a picnic lunch is recommended.
Getting to the park was easy as mini buses leave from the parking lot down at the waterfront on the hour every hour. Ticket touts are waiting to sell you tickets, the cost of a round trip was 400 pesos plus 110-peso entrance fee. The mini buses make two stops before dropping you at the start of the trail-head. The first stop is “End of The World Train” the second stop is the National Park entrance where you get off to pay your fee. The coast path is a popular walk so all mini buses will drop you off at the trail-head which is also the jetty where boat cruises leave from.
The track is undulating and follows the coastline and is a mixture of open grassland, stony coves and beach forest with amazing views across the Beagle Channel to snow-capped jagged mountain ranges.
The track is not difficult with only a few steep sections to get up and over headlands, but in places sets of wooden steps will aid your climb. You do need to watch your footing on expose tree roots. The landscape reminded me of New Zealand’s South Island. We were rewarded not only with stunning landscape, crystal clear water, but also numerous bird life of varying species.
We stopped at one of the coves for lunch enjoying the serenity and magnificent views across the Beagle Channel to beautiful jagged snowy mountain peaks. There didn’t seem to be many people on the track, so it felt like you had it to yourself.
We were lucky with the weather, it was mostly fine with just a few spits of rain and a temperature of 6C, so yes it was chilly, so you need to pack warm for a trip to Tierra Del Fuego, even in February which is summer!
The last 2 kilometres of the hike was inland through thick beach forest until you meet with the road. We walked along the side of the road for a short distance until we came to a junction where we followed the last 500 meters of more bituman to the visitors centre.
We could have jumped on the 2pm shuttle back to town but given we still had more of the afternoon to savour we sat and enjoyed a hot drink and empanada at the visitor centre cafe. We explored the excellent museum which had displays on the geography of Tierre Del Fuego and descriptions of the fauna and flora you can find in the park, it’s well worth a visit. There was also a shop selling overpriced souvenirs. Outside on the deck we had feathered visitors, some sort of hawk which no doubt is attracted by food. The visitor centre is well worth some time so its good to spend the whole day in the park.
We still had an hour before the next shuttle so decided to walk to the viewpoint which is only a few hundred meters from the visitors centre and is very pretty. The viewpoint is a stony beach with views across Negro Lake towards the mountains.
Taking the 3pm shuttle back we asked the bus driver to drop us at the Falklands Memorial just on the edge of town. This is well worth a visit especially for anyone who remembered the Falklands War. The Memorial was very well done and honoured losses from both the Argentinian and British side.
We had one last stop before venturing back to our abode and that was the “Worlds End” sign, it’s a very popular tourist attraction so getting it to yourself can be a challenge, we were lucky, there wasn’t another tourist in sight accept the person who took the photo!
- The entrance to Tierra Del Fuego NP lies 18 kilometers (11 Miles) west of Ushuaia
- The most popular trail is the Costera Trail (coast trail) which is 8 kilometres (5 miles) one way and takes around 3 hours
- The Trail is classed as Moderate, its undulating as it follows the water line but there are some steeper sections as you climb up over headlands, but you are aided by ladders.
- Mini buses run to/from the park every hour. You can pickup the minibus from the main parking lot down by the waterfront in Ushuaia. The return bus is from the Alakush Visitor Centre.
- Cost of getting to the park is 400 pesos round trip (prices may have changed since Feb 2017)
- Park entrance fee is 110 pesos in 2017
- Pack a picnic lunch, snacks and water as the only place you can get food is the Alakush Visitor Centre which is at the end of your hike.
- Pack for all weathers as Tierra Del Fuego can be 4 seasons in a day and even in summer it can be very cold with snow.
- Wear proper hiking boots as the track has rocky sections and exposed tree routes.
- Leave some time to extend your hike to the viewpoint and to look around the visitor centre.
If you have enjoyed the photos then you can see the complete gallery here..