With previous incarnations as a missionary outpost and, subsequently, prison town, Ushuaia is now most well-known as the "Gateway to Antarctica." From its dramatic setting between the Beagle Channel and the rugged glaciated peaks rising from the landscape, opportunities for hiking and exploring abound. The afternoon is free to wander local museums or explore nearby trails.
Our Ushuaia extension begins early in the morning as we cross the green central valley of Tierra del Fuego to reach Harberton Farm, a private ranch built by the first British missionaries to reach the area. After a short visit we'll board a zodiac and wind through the Beagle Channel to Gable Island, part of the Harberton estate. We'll enjoy a picnic lunch in an old, rustic shelter before embarking on a 3 hour hike around the island. Our path leads to many amazing vantage points of the Beagle Channel, and if the weather cooperates we might glimpse the distant town of Puerto Williams across the Chilean border. Returning to the zodiac, we resume our navigation to the penguin rookery on Martillo Island. The location of the island makes it a birdwatcher's paradise; we'll be on the lookout for petrels, skuas, cormorants, seagulls, and albatross. We depart for Harberton and begin the return trip to Ushuaia.
Just north of Ushuaia is the Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego, Argentina's first coastal national park. The trail system of easy and undemanding paths makes this an ideal place to spend a relaxing day exploring Patagonia. We'll wander along the coastal path, undoubtedly the most beautiful in the park. The 3 ½ hour hike takes us through forests of both high and low deciduous beech, evergreen beech, winterbark, firebrush, and more. We finish the walk at Lake Roca in time for lunch. After eating our fill, we climb into inflatable canoes and begin the easy downstream paddle to the Ovando River. The crystal-clear water runs into Laguna Verde, one of the most picturesque, panoramic spots in the park. Our take-out point is Lapataia Bay, where we may see petrels, albatross, steamer ducks, and on occasion, penguins. We'll return to Ushuaia for dinner and a restful sleep.
$250 single supplement
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