If you find yourself in the southernmost city in South America and are looking for an adventure, make sure you’ve packed in your hiking boots. There are some fantastic hiking trails in and around Ushuaia to get your adrenaline pumping and put you right in the heart of Tierra del Fuego’s beautiful landscapes. Read on for our guide to some of the best places to go hiking in Ushuaia.
There are many great hiking trails in and around Ushuaia / Image Source
TIERRA DEL FUEGO NATIONAL PARK
There are a number of walking options in Tierra del Fuego National Park to suit all levels of walkers. On arrival at the park, you’ll be given a map with all the trails clearly marked. All the hiking spots are well maintained and clearly signposted, making them easy to do independently.
Pampa Alta Trail (4.9 km) – easy walk with views of the Beagle Channel
Costera Trail (8 km) – along the shoreline
Hito XXIV (7 km) – to the international border with Chile
Cerro Guanaco Trail (8 km) – the most strenuous trail in the park, up the mountain
There are a number of camping sites in the park, which are great options if you want to do more than one trail. Alternatively, you can take a day trip (or two) to the park and do the hike of your choice.
All hiking trails in Tierra del Fuego are well marked / Image Source
One of the most popular hikes in Ushuaia is to Emerald Lagoon (or Laguna Esmeralda). You can catch a public bus to the start of the trail. The walk is relatively easy, taking you through peat bogs and forests to the Emerald Lagoon, a glacial lake that shimmers a beautiful emerald colour. Note that this trail gets extremely muddy. You can book a guided hiking tour to Emerald Lagoon, where a guide will take you on a less trodden path and will provide rubber boots – a saviour if there has been any recent rain. The hike takes around 4 hours in total.
The hike to Emerald is one of the most spectacular in southern Argentina / Photo by Bresileiros em Ushuaia
LAGUNA DE LOS TEMPANOS
If you’re looking for more of a challenge and have a full day to spare, then definitely go for Laguna de los Tempanos (Icefloe Lake). Take a taxi to the start of the trail, at the edge of the Andorra neighbourhood. The trail goes through the river valley, through the forest, and then up a steep hill. The lake is at the foot of the impressive Vinciguerra Glacier, so the hike up here will be more than worth your while. There is an additional side trail on the way down to Laguna Encanta, which will add about 40 minutes to the journey. The whole trail takes around 7 hours.
This hike leads to the impressive Vinciguerra Glacier / Photo by Bresileiros em Ushuaia
If you’re looking for a hike that is not too strenuous but will give you great views, a bit of snow, and even a glacier, do the walk up to Martial Glacier. Take a taxi or bus to the start of the trail, which is at the base of an old ski resort. The walk up is very straightforward, up the old ski slope. It should take you an hour or so if you’re just going to the base of the glacier. If you’re experienced with snow and ice and have the appropriate equipment, you can carry on to the glacier itself. Just be warned it can be treacherous, particularly when there is a lot of snow fall on the glacier.
The views on the hike up to Martial Glacier are quite spectacular / Photo by Bresileiros em Ushuaia
Dress appropriately. Even in summer, it can get extremely icy and unpredictable around the glaciers and the glacial lakes. Pack snacks and water to keep your energy levels up.
It’s definitely recommended to carry a phone with the numbers of a local taxi company so that you’re not stranded when you finish your hike.
Most of these hikes can be done as a tour with a mountain guide, which is definitely recommended if you’re not an experienced hiker. Ushuaia might not be the trekking capital that El Chaltén is, but there’s still plenty of hiking trails and adventures to be had here for the active traveller. The views of the Beagle Channel and mountains of Tierra del Fuego are every bit worth the effort of a bit of trekking.
By: Nicole Eberhard, travel writer and avid explorer, with a Masters in English Literature.