Tierra del Fuego: Adventure in Ushuaia

After walking the busy streets of Buenos Aires and hanging out on Uruguay’s coast, we welcomed the cool, fresh air and tranquility of Tierra del Fuego. Tierra del Fuego, or land of fire, sits on the southernmost tip of Argentina and contains stunning coastline, rugged peaks, mystical forests, and a wide array of wildlife. The national park is fairly easily accessible from Ushuaia and makes for a great day trip from the city.

Walking the coastline in Tierra del Fuego
Walking the coastline in Tierra del Fuego

When to Visit Tierra del Fuego

Your experience in Tierra del Fuego National Park will vary depending on the time of year you visit, but we really don’t think there’s a bad time to explore the park. During the summer months between December and March, the temperatures are warmer, the days longer, and the skies sunnier. While Ushuaia isn’t quite as popular as some of Argentina’s other renowned destinations, it does get busy in the summers.

The weather in the winter isn’t as sunny and warm, but the park is much quieter. Some of the trails, apart from those around Lapataia Bay, close in the winter, but entrance is free and you can still see some incredibly stunning parts of the park.

We really enjoyed being there in the late fall. Though some of the trails were closed, the colors were absolutely stunning and we hardly saw anybody while hiking.

Beautiful fall colors in the park
Beautiful fall colors in the park

Getting to and from Tierra del Fuego National Park

Tierra del Fuego is only about a 20 minute drive from Ushuaia. The easiest way to get there is by renting a car, hiring a tour, or taking a taxi or the shuttle from town. Car rentals are a great option if you plan to do quite a bit of exploring around Ushuaia. It offers a little more flexibility on timing your visit. If you hire a taxi, be sure to organize your return trip with the driver beforehand. Our opinion is that a tour is not necessary as this activity is cheaper and easily doable on your own.

We opted for the shuttle, which was very convenient and cheaper than renting a car. We booked our tickets the day before in town, but many hotels allow you to book at the accommodation. The first shuttle left at 9 a.m. and it dropped us off in the park where we spent the day hiking before catching it back to town. There are multiple shuttle stops in the park, so clarify when and where to hop on at the end of the day.

A view over Lapataia Bay
A view over Lapataia Bay

Entrance Fees

There is an entrance station on Route 3 into the park where you’ll pay the entrance fee. Cash and card are accepted. Entrance is several USD per person, but is free in winter months from May through September. The price has fluctuated pretty drastically in recent years due to the change in value of the Argentine peso. There are discounts for residents, children, and students. The pass is only valid for one day, but subsequent visits are discounted as well.

Hiking in Tierra del Fuego

There are several trails in Tierra del Fuego National park of varying levels. We took the day to combine a few of them to hit some beautiful spots in the park. Most of the park is very well marked, making it easy to find your way around. This informational packet contains a map.

A pretty walk through the woods
A pretty walk through the woods

It was fall when we visited Ushuaia, so the daylight hours were more limited. But visiting during this time of year also meant stunning fall colors covering the park. The shuttle dropped us off on the coast at Ensenada near dawn and we began hiking through the woods. It was chilly, but the sun began to defrost the landscape as it climbed over the horizon. We were in awe by the old trees and stunning mountains across the water.

The trail began to stray away from Lapataia Bay towards the visitor’s center. The area near the visitor’s center offers beautiful views of the Lapataia River and Acigami Lake, a gift shop, public restrooms, and dining. From there, we headed across the Lapataia River. Fall colors, snowcapped peaks, and calm waters that reflected the scenery surrounded us.

Alakush Visitor's Center
Alakush Visitor’s Center in Tierra del Fuego National Park

We headed towards Laguna Verde, then Laguna Negra, walking through an old bog. Both of these pretty lakes are only a short ways from the main trail, making for a quick and easy detour. The trail then brought us back to the coast of Lapataia Bay where the shuttle stop was. We had some extra time before the shuttle arrived, so we walked the boarded paths near Arias Port.

Adventure Overview

While there are a few trails combinations and shuttle pick-up spots, here are the details of the hike we did starting at Ensenada Bay and ending at Arias Port.

Hike Distance: 8-9 kilometers (5-6 miles)

Hike Duration: 3-4 hours. We recommend taking at least a few hours to see the park whether you are driving or hiking.

Type: Easy one-way trail

Restrictions: Pets are not permitted in the park; the park is open from 8:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m., but always check the hours for seasonal changes, differing hours due to the pandemic, and holiday hours.

Beautiful mountains, waterways, and foliage everywhere you look
Beautiful mountains, waterways, and foliage everywhere you look

Preparing for a Hike in Tierra del Fuego

Before beginning your hike, it’s a good idea to have a map to know where you are heading and where you can catch the shuttle. The trails are pretty well-marked and you can get information from the visitor’s center or in Ushuaia before you head to the park.

Being on the coast, it can get breezy, so bring some layers! When we were there around winter, we were lucky to have some sun, but the ground was pretty muddy in spots. Sturdy shoes are a good idea for hiking in muddy and rocky conditions.

Looking across the border into Chile
Looking across the border into Chile

Food is available at the visitor’s center during peak times of the year, but bringing your own lunch is also a great option. There are plenty of beautiful spots to stop and eat on the trail while taking in the views.

Camping in Tierra del Fuego

Tierra del Fuego is a beautiful place to camp, and pitching a tent is a great way to spend some extra time in the park. Camping is allowed in designated spots only. There are three camp areas that have restrooms available October through May. There is also a more primitive camp area at Laguna del Caminante on the Andorra-Orveja trail. You need to obtain permission to camp in the park.

Would you take a trip to the end of the world to visit Tierra del Fuego?

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