While you may travel to Ushuaia to see such famous attractions as the Beagle Channel and Tierra del Fuego National Park, don’t overlook the southernmost city’s hidden jewels. One of those sparkling, hidden places of interest is Emerald Lagoon, or Laguna Esmeralda, tucked in a valley off the iconic Route 3, part of the Pan-American highway.
A great alternative to the traditional Beagle Channel sailing cruises and excursions to the National Park is a hike to Emerald Lagoon. It’s the perfect chance to immerse yourself in Ushuaia’s wild nature while a guide reveals more about your surroundings.
Emerald Lagoon, one of Ushuaia’s hidden gems, can only be reached by hiking / Image Source
HIKING TOUR TO EMERALD LAGOON
After getting picked up at our hotel in the morning, we were transported about 20 minutes outside the city of Ushuaia to a log cabin just off Route 3. Here we sorted out our day packs, received our lunches, snacks and water bottles (all included). The footwear depends on the season – since we were walking just after some late spring snowfall, the boots would prove to be a very necessary addition.
Our small group of three then set off across the valley floor. The start of the walk is through peat bogs, which are great fun to walk through, but also very muddy! The hiking trail then winds through a forest and up a hill, past a river with many beaver dams. As we walked, our excellent guide, Daniel, talked to us about the landscapes we were walking through as well as the wider environment of Tierra del Fuego.
Setting off on our hike, equipped with wellington boots / Photo by Daytours4u
After 2 hours of easy – and muddy – walking, we came to the end of the valley, where snowy mountains formed an amphitheatre around the sight that was to come. After a short uphill stroll, we came upon the glistening lake.
Emerald Lagoon truly earns its name as it sparkles emerald green in the sunlight. With the wind howling all of a sudden (a regular occurrence in southern Patagonia), we took shelter in a grove of trees to eat our lunch and admire the view of the lake.
The walk back is along a different trail. This is the common path and has a lot more foot traffic. It winds through a pretty forest, also home to the ever-present beavers. We broke away from the commercial track and headed back to the wood cabin where a warm fire had been lit and we had a chance to enjoy a cup of coffee in the cosy cabin to round off a great morning of hiking.
Taking shelter from the wind in a grove of trees overlooking the lagoon / Photo by Daytours4u
The hike takes 4-5 hours in total, depending on your pace and number of stops. Daniel was very accommodating to our pace, and always happy to stop for pictures. Lunch and water are included. The lunch is substantial, including two sandwiches, an apple, a snack bar and an alfajor.
You should also be sure to bring appropriate clothes and footwear for the hike – it is normally muddy and wet, and it can get very cold and windy by the lagoon, even in summer.
The tour includes a transfer from hotels and back.
Daniel guided us through landscapes of intoxicating beauty / Photo by Daytours4u
As independent and experienced hikers, we weren’t sure whether taking a guided tour was going to be worth it, but we definitely got our money’s worth. Not only was having a private guide who could answer all of our questions and point out aspects of the flora and fauna we wouldn’t have seen invaluable, he also guided us along a different route to other tours and the public hiking trail. This meant we were on our own in the wilderness for most of the route, making it a more magical experience.
This tour is definitely a must for anyone looking to enjoy some of Tierra del Fuego’s less explored landscapes. The easy walk makes it welcoming for everyone, even if you aren’t a big hiker.
Visit Argentina4u.com to book this wonderful Hike to Emerald Lagoon.
By: Nicole Eberhard, travel writer and avid explorer, with a Masters in English Literature.