What lies at the end of the world haunts man’s imagination, and with good reason. It sounds like it should be a dreadful, forbidding place; yet one is fatefully drawn there. Finding the end of the road is as good a reason as any to travel, and Argentina has just such a place in the town of Ushuaia and Tierra del Fuego National Park.
Unfortunately, in some ways, it is actually a very pleasant place: verdant and bustling with all kinds of wildlife, the landscape could not be more inviting. The same can be said for the town, which itself is full of museums, hotels, restaurants, and places to enjoy the local brew.
Both Ushuaia and Tierra del Fuego National Park derive most of their wealth from the sea. As the Yamana indigenous before them, modern locals are tied to the Beagle Channel—what was before primarily a source of food now serves as a trading route, a fishing port, and the world’s primary launching place for expeditions to Antarctica. It is the sea that makes life possible for the flora and fauna, by moderating the climate of this extremely southern bit of land. The local food chain begins in the sea, though it ends with such spectacular creatures as the albatross, the sea lion, the Magellanic penguin, and even some imported species such as fox, salmon and beaver.
The history of introduced species is itself fascinating, where imported rabbits became such a menace that foxes were introduced. It is the only place in the world where beaver are treated as vermin, and where salmon are carefully limited instead of encouraged. Named after the ship that carried Darwin and what became the evidence for his theory of natural selection, it is perhaps a bit ironic that mankind has had such a steep and abiding influence in the Beagle Channel’s wildlife.
The National Park itself is as much an archaeological reserve as it is a natural reserve. All along the coastal hiking paths are the mounds of ancient Yamana rubbish, where the ever resourceful indigenous would pile their used shells and other unwanted items up as windbreaks for their dwellings. Standing among these grassy C shapes, one can imagine the canoes lined up along the beach, mud huts, smoky fires and basically naked (though sea lion grease took the place of insulating clothing) men, women and children. No wonder this sight was so overwhelming to European travelers.
The National Park is an eerie place, its multitude of greens, browns, and greys combine to create an atmosphere that makes one think of storms. The same can be said of Ushuaia itself, which seems in its own colourful way braced for the next oncoming front. A working town that continues to grow because of tourism and was once a destination for the worst kind of prisoner, Ushuaia manages to be inviting and swashbuckling in a passable and even compelling manner. Few other cities so seamlessly combine in one pub the local fishermen and tanker crews with a crowd of tourists. This attitude is handily summarized in a local map, which has the world south side up and says, ‘Ushuaia: end of the world, or the beginning of everything?’
One heads to Ushuaia and Tierra del Fuego National Park within the vast possible world which is travel and Argentina for the express purpose of attempting some of the many activities on offer. Be it rafting, sailing, fishing, wildlife watching, trekking, off-roading, or, in the winter, skiing, Ushuaia and the Tierra del Fuego National Park will offer it. There are also a series of activities for which Ushuaia can handily add the tag—‘most southerly place in the world to …’ This list includes such activities as disparate as riding on a steam train and playing a round of golf. Location is a matter of pride and importance, a bragging right, and is for many itself a reason to visit. This is demonstrated within the National Park, where the Pan American Highway ends with the iconic sign: ‘aqui finaliza la Ruta Nac. No. 3 (here ends the National Route No. 3) —Buenos Aires, 3,079 km; Alaska 17,848 km.’
Ushuaia and Tierra del Fuego National Park conveniently summarize with their vast repertoire of activities, sights and location the reasons that lead people to want to travel, and Argentina becomes their chosen destination because of this incredible bit of land at the end of the world. Anyone who visits never regrets choosing to put together ‘travel’ and ‘Argentina’.
There are a great variety of tours in Patagonia that visit Argentina´s glaciers, hike Patagonia’s trails and travel to key destinations like Calafate, Chalten, Tierra del Fuego, Torres del Paine and more. For further information about tours in Patagonia, Argentina vacations or tours in Iguazu Falls, contact Argentina travel experts at Say Hueque Argentina Journeys.