Tierra Del Fuego National Park: How to Visit Without a Tour
Argentina's southernmost national park is also one of its most stunning. Tierra del Fuego National Park is vast and wild; a region replete with verdant forests, snow-capped mountains, great lakes and wildlife aplenty, and it is the only national park in Argentina with a marine coast. Since conservation is the main goal of the park, the public can only access a few thousand hectares of the park's southern end, protecting the majority of the reserve's ecosystems.
This stunning park is a must if you're headed to Ushuaia. While you can take a guided tour of Tierra del Fuego National Park, it is also possible to visit the park on your own, a great option if you'd like to explore the park on foot, in your own time.
Tierra del Fuego National Park is vast and majestic / Image Source
HOW TO GET THERE:
Tierra del Fuego National Park is 12km from the city of Ushuaia along National Route 3. To get there, you can hire a car, or take a taxi. There are also shuttles running regularly from Ushuaia, to and from the park. You can book this bus from most hotels and hostels in town. Check the schedule before you leave, as there are different pick-up points in the park at different times.
You can drive into the park itself, where there is plenty of parking. Note that the speed limit is 40km/h, and leaving Route 3 and the few supplementary roads in the park is strictly prohibited.
Alternatively, head to the train station, and take the End of the World Train, which will leave you in the centre of the park. This historical railway was built by the prisoners of Ushuaia when it used to be a penal colony. It follows a beautiful route into the park and includes commentary in various languages, including English. Tickets can be bought at the station.
Please note that the entrance fee to Tierra del Fuego National Park is valid for one day only, and is payable in cash. Entrance is AR$140 for foreigners, with concessions for children and pensioners.
There are many hiking trails in Tierra del Fuego National Park / Photo by Daytours4u
WHAT TO DO:
Inside the park, there is plenty to do, such as hiking, camping, fishing, bird watching and canoeing. To really get a sense of the park, walking along its many trails, totaling around 40km, is the best activity. Some popular trails are:
Pampa Alta Trail: a 5km trail, taking you up a hill from Pampa Alta for great panoramic views.
Pipo River Waterfalls: an easy 300m (one way) walk that goes along the Pipo river to the waterfalls.
Coastal Path: 8km trail bordering the Beagle Channel. Ideal for spotting marine and coastal birds.
Lagoon Negra: a 1km walk to a peat bog, crossing over the Ovando river.
Paseo de la Isla: 1.5km walk crossing the Lapataia River through the Cormoranes archipelago.
The Lengas Circuit: 2km (one way) walk for panoramic views of Lapataia Bay and Paseo del Turbal.
Casoterera: 200m stroll through a forest to see beavers and their work.
Milestone XXIV: an easy 5km to the Hito XXIV - marker of the border between Argentina and Chile.
Guanaca Hill: 8km hike along the route to Milestone 24, but then ascends steeply. Demanding.
Pick up a map of the trails when you enter the park. All routes are well signposted and are easy to do independently without a guide. Should you wish to spend more time exploring a few of the trails, a good option is to camp in the park. Lake Roca has the only paid site, with facilities including showers and a restaurant confitería, La Cabaña del Bosque. There are other camping spots around the park that are free, but without facilities. Campers are asked to be very careful with making fires and to leave the site exactly as they found it.
Tierra del Fuego under the Autumn leaves / Image Source
How you get to Tierra del Fuego National Park is up to you. If you would like a guide with commentary on the history and ecology of the area, then a guided tour is the best. If you wish to take your time, and walk more of the park's trails, then going independently is your best option. Either way, prepare to be awed by the beauty at the End of the World!
For more ideas on what to do in and around Tierra del Fuego, check out our tours and travel activities in Ushuaia.
By: Nicole Eberhard, travel writer and avid explorer, with a Masters in English Literature.