Mapping Tierra del Fuego

The city of Ushuaia is a great starting point both for trekking and for road trips. There are unlimited possibilities for short, simple hikes to long and more enduring day hikes to multi-day trekking in Ushuaia’s surroundings. So far I only know a few. Even though we’re on an island, there are some good options for road tripping ‘la Isla grande’ de Tierra del Fuego, either for a day or for many days in a row. The ultimate road trip from Ushuaia would off course be the Pan-American highway all the way up to Alaska, taking many detours off-road for illegitimate reasons… just for exploration. If I find a sponsor, I’ll go 😉

Traffic sign 5.000 kilometers

Almost 5.000 kilometers separate Argentina’s uttermost North and South.

Back to Tierra del Fuego. As the story goes, this region was named Tierra del Fuego by Magellan in 1520 for the fires on the coast line warming the indigenous people who occupied the land. Today the main inhabitant is not human, but the introduced beaver; once a present for Eva Peron, it created its predator-free beaver paradise here, gnawing the fragile forests. Though destructive, the dead tree cemetery makes for a spectacular landscape.

Unknown, untamed and undeveloped, that’s Tierra del Fuego. Yes, there is civilization. But it is limited to three Argentine cities, a dozen small settlements on both Chilean and Argentinian sites of the island and many cattle farms with inevitable fences. Except for the cities and surroundings, the island lacks in tourist infrastructure. Except for highway 3, all rural roads are gravel.

Where the road ends
Where the road ends… at Caleta Maria, Tierra del Fuego, Chile

If you’re up for endless views, wild coasts, barren mountains, loads of fresh air, a shipwreck or two, sublime sunrises and sunsets, windswept mystical forests, a bit of dust and 20 hour summer days, roam remote Tierra del Fuego. You’ll find great hiking in the Tierra del Fuego national park and the valleys surrounding town. Climb up to a glacier or mountain lake, don’t be surprised by summer snow and take a moment, sitting on top of the world, contemplating. When driving, enjoy the beautiful, silent emptiness of this expansive land and the rough coasts, where it’s the elements that rule. When getting to the end of the road, don’t expect a tourist highlight. Here it’s simply the end of the road.

In all cases, remember that the weather can be cruel here. Let’s consider it part of the charm. You will be rewarded with true, natural beauty.

Road map Tierra del Fuego
Road map for the (mostly) Argentinian part of Tierra del Fuego

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