One of the must-do activities in Ushuaia is a 4×4 off-road expedition. It’s the best way to see the many tranquil lakes and forests that lie behind the mountains that cradle the city of Ushuaia, tucked away from the wild, untamed Beagle Channel. A 4×4 excursion gives you a chance to go where cars and buses don’t, putting you right in the middle of some of Tierra del Fuego’s most captivating landscapes.
Take a 4×4 Off-Road Expedition in Ushuaia to see some amazing scenery / Photo by Daytours4u
I was lucky enough to do a 4×4 Nocturnal Excursion in Ushuaia to search for beavers. These little furry creatures were introduced to Tierra del Fuego in 1946, for the purpose of starting commercial fur trading. Things didn’t go quite to plan, as the trade never took off and the beavers had no natural predators in this alien habitat, meaning their population multiplied enormously. There are now estimated to be more than one-hundred-thousand beavers on the island and they have caused significant damage to the environment. This tour was a great way to see first-hand the impact they’ve had and to learn about the effort to conserve these unique ecosystems.
We were picked up at 5pm by our driver in a wonderfully comfortable and modern 4×4, specially adapted to be ultra comfortable even when the road got rough. We were joined by one other couple, which meant it was quite a personal tour with plenty of opportunities to ask the guide questions, and to stop and take pictures at our leisure. The excellent tour guide clearly had an intimate knowledge of how to handle both the all-terrain vehicle and the roads, giving us some thrills while at the same time making sure we were always safe.
Some late spring snow made the scenery that much more spectacular / Photo by Daytours4u
THE TOUR ITINERARY
The tour started with the vehicle heading out of Ushuaia on Route 3. After making a stop at a lookout point over Carbajal Valley to get a feel for the geography and flora of Tierra del Fuego, it was time to head off-road. Snaking around the mountain, Lake Escondido came into sight. The glorious view was made even better by the fact that there was still some late-spring snow on the ground – perfect for a snow fight.
Then the adventure really started, with the 4×4 trail heading down towards the lake. The road had all the bumps, declines and thrills you want in a 4×4 tour. Reaching the bottom of the mountain, we stopped alongside Lake Escondido to enjoy a stroll and take in the peaceful scenery.
Then it was onwards to Lake Fagnano. This enormous lake stretches from east to west for 98 km; so enormous that a small part of it belongs to Chile. We drove along its southern edge, at times driving right into the lake, before heading into the forest.
Looking down on Lake Escondido before the real off-road trails begin / Photo by Daytours4u
As dusk fell, it was time to find some beavers. We parked near one of the beaver dams in the forest, making our way stealthily from the car through the forest. Beavers are notoriously hard to spot – even though the damage they wreak is impossible to miss. We weren’t disappointed. Our guide’s hawk eyes spotted one swimming out of its nest.
We then moved on to a second spot where a number of beaver dams had been built into the river. With no beavers to be seen, this time, our guide told us more about the habits of the beavers, showing us some of their handiwork in sawing down trees with their teeth, and pointing out the various ways they damage this habitat.
After getting our beaver fix, and enjoying the quiet evening walk through the forest, we headed back to Lake Fagnano. In a cosy lakeside cabin, the guide lit a very welcome fire as the sun set, and we warmed up inside where we enjoyed a glass of wine and a picada (cheese and meat platter). This was a superb way to end the tour before being driven back to our hotel in Ushuaia.
Lake Fagnano in the fading evening light / Photo by Daytours4u
This Nocturnal 4×4 Off-Road Expedition in Ushuaia was the perfect way to explore the lakes of Tierra del Fuego. The added thrill of the 4×4 and learning about the environment and conservation in this southern region of Patagonia made it that extra bit special.
Visit Argentina4u to book a 4×4 Off-Road Expedition and other tours in Ushuaia.
** Note: The tour offered on our site is a daytime tour and is very similar to the above-described tour. This nocturnal tour was taken with Brasileiros em Ushuaia and is only available in Portuguese. To book this specific tour, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By: Nicole Eberhard, travel writer and avid explorer, with a Masters in English Literature.