Around Ushuaia

Whatever you do, unless it's absolutely pouring with rain, take the chairlift up to
Cerro Martial
, 7 km from town, for exhilarating views along the Beagle Channel and to Isla Navarino opposite. To reach the chairlift, follow Magallanes out of town, allow 1½ hours. Several companies run minibus services from the corner of Maipú and Fadul, and there are frequent departures in summer. There are several marked trails, a leaflet is given out at the lower platform, including to a viewpoint and to Glaciar Martial itself, from 600 m to 1 km. There is a splendid tea shop at the Cumbres de Martial
cabañas
at the base, and a basic
refugio
with no electricity up at the Cerro. Also by the lower platform is the
Canopy
, www.canopyushuaia.com.ar, for a shorter run
, a series of zip lines and bridges in the trees, eight stretches of about 500 m in
total (to be extended).
All visitors are accompanied by staff, it's safe and good fun. The café at the entrance, Refugio de Montaña, serves hot chocolate, coffee, cakes, pizzas and has a warm stove.

Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego , just outside Ushuaia, is easily accessible by bus and offers superb walks for all levels of fitness. The
Tren del Fin del Mundo
, www.trendelfindelmundo.com.ar, is the world's southernmost steam train, running new locomotives and carriages on track first laid by prisoners to carry wood to Ushuaia. It's a totally touristy experience with relentless commentary in English and Spanish, but it might be fun for children, and is one way of getting into the national park to start a walk. There are three daily departures in summer and one in winter. Tickets can be bought at the station from
Tranex Turismo
, or from travel agencies in town. Sit on the left side on the outbound journey to get the views. Buses to the train station with
Kaupen
and
Pasarela
leave from the corner of Maipú and Roca at unreliable times; it's better to take a taxi.

The
Estancia Harberton
, 85 km from Ushuaia, is the oldest
estancia
on the island, and is still run by descendants of the British missionary Thomas Bridges, whose family protected the indigenous peoples here. It's a beautiful place, with the attractive wood-framed house that Thomas built sitting in quiet contemplation on a tranquil bay. You'll get an excellent guided walk (bilingual guides) around the
estancia
,
through protected forest, and delicious teas or lunches are served in the Manacatush tearoom overlooking the water. Highly recommended. The impressive
Museo Akatushún
, www.acatushun.org, daily 15 Oct-15 Apr, except Christmas, 1 Jan and Easter, tour of the
estancia, has skeletons of South American sea mammals, the result of 25 years' scientific investigation in Tierra del Fuego, with excellent tours in English. You can camp for free with permission from the owners, or stay in cottages . Access is from a good unpaved road (Route 33, ex 'J') which branches off Route 3, 40 km east of Ushuaia and runs 25 km through forest before the open country around Harberton; marvellous views, about two hours (no petrol outside of Ushuaia and Tolhuin).
Boat trips
to Harberton run twice weekly in summer, and allow one to two hours on the
estancia
. Regular daily minibus service, with Ebenezer from Avenida Maipú and 25 de Mayo, US$30 return. Agency tours by land cost US$45 plus entrance. Excursions can be made to Lagos Fagnano and Escondido: agencies run
seven-hour tours; or check the list of cheaper but rather unreliable minibuses that go there, which is available at the tourist office.
Tour agencies offer many good packages, which include trekking, canoeing, birdwatching and horse riding in landscape accessible only by 4WDs. See boat trips and cruises, page , and
the tourist office's list of excursions, indicating which companies go where.

Boat trips

All these trips are highly recommended, but note that the Beagle Channel can be very rough. Food and drink on all boats is pricey. Excursions can be booked through most agencies, or at the Muelle Turístico where boat companies have their ticket offices; boats leave from the Muelle Turístico, with a few excursions leaving from Muelle AFASYN (next to the old airport). If going to Harberton, check that your tour actually visits the
estancia
and not just the bay, as some do.

Most popular excursions visit the small islands southeast of Ushuaia in 2½ to three hours, all year round, passing next to the sea lion colony at Isla de los Lobos, Isla de los Pájaros and Les Eclaireurs lighthouse. Alternatively, they add an hour or so for a landing
on Bridges Island. Prices vary if trips are made on big catamarans, on more exclusive sailing boats, or on the charming old boat
Barracuda
, with excellent
commentary. A few pricier services include lunch onboard; otherwise a light snack or a coffee is served. Summer options add more services to the usual, with some that go further east past the Isla de los Lobos, Isla de los Pájaros, Les Eclaireurs lighthouse, Isla Martillo penguin colony, and then visits Estancia Harberton (note that this stop is not included in all trips), six to nine hours round trip on catamaran, includes packed lunch and entrance; with a few excursions going west to the National Park in about 5½ hours. You can also set off from Ushuaia for expeditions to Antarctica, highly recommended .

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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