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Río Grande

Few travelers stop in Río Grande. In summer, bicyclists and motorcyclists break for the night here. In winter, Punta Arenas-Ushuaia buses have a lay-over, and some journeyers decide to rest before heading down the road. Otherwise, not many come - but they are missing out.

The city is set in the Reserva para Aves Playeras Costa Atlántica (Atlantic Coast Shore Bird Reserve) and is visited by migratory birds during the summer. There are several prime birdwatching spots along the seafront: the boat-shaped Observatorio de Aves Playeras (Elcano, between Belgrano and Thorne), the stretch of beach at Beauvoir and Vernet, and Punta Popper, at the mouth of the Río Grande river (3.5 km/2 mi east; remis $6 one way).

In various museums, monuments and historical sites, you can trace the history of Río Grande. For millennia, the Selk’nam (Ona) indigenous people lived here. Casa Cultural del Pueblo Indígena Rafaela Ishton has photos, scale models of dwellings, masks and paintings of this culture, and works to preserve its language and traditions (Monday - Friday 9 a.m. - noon, 2 - 5 p.m. Ameghino and Piedrabuena. Entry: free). In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, massive sheep farms were established in the region. One of the largest meat-processing plants was set up in 1903 by Alejandro Menéndez Behety, to ship frozen mutton to England and other European markets. What remains of the installations are on the south bank of the Río Grande river (follow Pacheco across the river, then Alambrador to Portolán. Entry: free).

Along Santa Fe in the center of the city, Paseo Crucero General Belgrano is a history of the Falklands War walk. It is named for the ship sunk by British forces. The sea end of the walk has monuments to the Argentine armed forces. On the east end of town Centro de Ex Combatientes Malvinas Argentinas has photos and other displays memorializing the Falklands War (Monday - Friday 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. Lasserre 678, Tel: 42-3788. Entry: free). Río Grande’s history comes together at the Museo Municipal Virginia Choquintel. This museum covers human history as well as the region’s flora and fauna, petroleum exploitation and other industries (Monday - Friday 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., Saturday 3 - 7 p.m. Alberdi 555, Tel.: 43-0647. Entry: free).

Day excursions out to former estancias may also be organized. Many are now lodges, with day programs for horseback riding, birdwatching and fishing. The lakes and rivers around Río Grande teem with trout and other species. The fishing season is November - March, with catch-and-release continuing until the end of April. Another outing to make from Río Grande is to Misión Salesiana, which has a historic church and museum.

Most of the festivals celebrated in Río Grande deal with the great outdoors:
2nd week of March: Exposición Rural y Comercial de Tierra del Fuego (state fair).
2nd week of April: La Vuelta Tierra del Fuego – motocross race.
Mid-August: Carrera de la Humanidad. Argentine-Chilean auto race.
1st – 2nd week of November: Ride Internacional de Tierra del Fuego – canoe and kayaking from Argentina to Chile.
1st – 2nd week of December: Fiesta Provincial de la Pesca de Róbalo – the dates of this sea fishing competition depend on the tides; also Rally de los Lagos, a mountain bike competition around the region’s lake.

Río Grande has a good network of services:
Centro Municipal de Información Turística (Monday - Friday 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Rosales 350, Plaza Altamirante Brown, Tel: 43-1324, E-mail:, URL:, Automóvil Club Argentino (A.C.A.) (9 de Julio 655, Tel.: 43-0820, URL:, Immigration (Beauvoir 23, Tel.: 42-1924), Provincial Police (Belgrano750, Tel.: emergency 101), Chilean Consulate (Fagnano 1167, Tel.: 43-0523).

Banks are all located in the 100 and 200 blocks of San Martín and are open Monday - Friday 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. All have ATMs: Banco Francés BBVA (San Martín No. 175), HBSC (No. 194), Patagonia-Sudameris (No. 145), Tierra del Fuego (No. 193). Banco de la Nación Argentina also exchanges U.S. dollars and euros (San Martín 219). Casa de Cambio Thaler exchanges U.S. dollars, euros and other major Western currencies, some South American moneys and yen, as well as American Express travelers checks (Monday - Friday 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. Espora 631, Tel.: 42-1154).

Internet and phone services are common, though Skype is non-existent. Correos Argentinos is the main mail service (Monday - Friday 9 a.m. - 12:30 p.m., 3 - 6 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.). Most pharmacies are near Hospital Regional (Ameghino 755, Tel.: 42-2086, emergency 107) and there are two on San Martín.

Most travel agencies in Río Grande only book tickets. None do tours, though several can make reservations for visits to the surrounding estancias. One is Shlek’nam Viajes (Belgrano 1122, Tel.: 42-6180, E-mail: Ask at the tourism office for local drivers who take tourists out to the sights.

Artesanía and other Shopping
Río Grande artisans work mainly in wood, leather or pottery:

Paseo de los Artesanos (weekends and holidays 2 - 8 p.m. Fagnano and Rosales), Cerámica Krenn (Alberdi 569, Tel.: 42-1122, E-mail:, Nanica (Moyano 439, Tel.: 42-6376).

Fishing licenses are obtained at Asociación Club de Pesca con Mosca (Montilia 140, Tel.: 42-1268). For fishing gear: Angler’s Adventure (Rosales 644), Tolkeyen (Blegrano 511), Fly Shop (Rosales 796). Tents, camp stove gas and other camping supplies are available at: Everest (Estrada 52), (San Martín 170), Scandanavian Vraie General Store (Espora 687).

The Club Náutico has camping November - March (800 m / 0.5 mi south on Ruta 3; $4.30). Hotels are more expensive in Río Grande than in Ushuaia.
Hostel Argentino (San Martín 64, Tel.: 42-0969, E-mail: -- $14.30-17.20 per person.
El Puesto (Juan Bautista Thorne 345, Tel.: 42-0923, E-mail: -- single $28.69, double $40.
Hotel Ibarra (Rosales 357, Tel.: 43-0071, E-mail:, URL: -- single $78, double $94.

Confitería Roca (Espora 643, Tel.: 42-5471).
Nistro Resto-Bar (12 de Octubre 602, Tel: 1561-9023).
Parrilla Los Troncos (Islas Malvinas 998, Tel: 43-3982).

(Altitude: sea level, Population: ­­­55,200, Phone Code: 02964)

By Lorraine Caputo

Upon re-declaring her independence at age 29, Lorraine Caputo packed her trusty Rocinante (so her knapsack's called) and began...

12 Nov 2010

Things to do in Río Grande

Misión Salesiana

133873When the estancioneros arrived to establish their great sheep ranches, the 4,000 or so local Selk’nam (Ona) people soon began dying off from diseases. The Salesian religious order established a ...
Historical Building
Río Grande, Argentina


Many families in Argentina’s Tierra del Fuego have turned their sheep farming estancias into B&B lodges, offering tourist activities such as fishing, horseback riding, birdwatching, and ...
Other Activity
Río Grande, Argentina


Along Tierra del Fuego\'s Atlantic coast, the low tide retreats very far, leaving behind deep tidal flats. Here is the 28,600-hectare(70,672-ac) Ramsar site Reserva para Aves Playeras Costa ...
Other Activity
Río Grande, Argentina
View Río Grande Map

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