Head down to the southern extremes of Argentina and you’ll arrive in Tierra del Fuego, a spectacular province of forests and mountains, glaciers and waterfalls, tumbling rivers and frigid seas. Nestled within this rugged region with its mild tundra climate is Ushuaia, regarded as the southernmost city in the world.
Ushuaia, with a population of about 57,000, is the capital of Tierra de Fuego. As well as being an industrial hub for fishing and the extraction of natural gas and oil, it’s also an important center for ecotourism.
Just seven miles from the city lies Tierra del Fuego National Park, a 240-square-mile park whose dramatic scenery and varied wildlife attracts hikers and wildlife spotters from across the globe. Geographical features include the Beagle Channel, beautiful bays such as Ensanada and Lapataia, and lakes like Lago Fagnano and Lago Roca. Hiking trails run throughout the park, and trailheads are easy to reach by road and rail. The apocalyptic-sounding End of the World Train — the southernmost functioning railway in the world — runs from Ushuaia to the park entrance.
Once inside the national park, be on the lookout for various birds and mammals. Guanacos, Andean foxes, beavers, muskrats and more call these forests and mountains home, while about 90 species of birds, including geese, ducks, parakeets and condors, have been spotted in the area.
If trekking isn’t your thing, then maybe you’d prefer to ski. Most people don’t think of skiing when they consider South America, but the slopes of Cerro Castor — the most southerly ski resort in the world — are open from June to October. Other local attractions include Les Eclaireurs lighthouse, the Maritime Museum, and the old prison (Ushuaia functioned as a penal colony before it became one of Argentina’s main ecotourism hubs).
For even more far-flung adventure, you can hop on a cruise ship from the dock in Ushuaia and head to Antarctica. Cruise durations start at about eight to 10 days, but can be significantly longer.
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