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Surrounded by precipitous snow capped mountains jutting 1500 meters out of the Beagle Channel and vast expanses of unexplored nature, it’s hard to imagine a more dramatic setting for the world’s southernmost city.

The beautiful landscapes and plethora of summer and winter outdoor activities have attracted a rapidly increasing stream of international travelers, many of whom use Ushuaia as the launching point for a cruise to Antarctica. Only 1000 km (670 miles) from the white continent, over 90% of the world’s cruises to Antarctica begin in Ushuaia.

The area’s first human inhabitants were the Yamana, also called Yaghan or Fuegians by the English. Ushuaia is named for the word the Yamana used for the area. There is possibly one surviving Yamana female; the last surviving Yamana male died in 1993. "At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace the savage races throughout the world," Charles Darwin said. He entered what is now known as the Beagle Channel in 1832.

First settled by the Argentine government as a penal colony in 1902, the city has experienced an economic and population boom in the last few decades that have converted the city into a melting pot for Argentines and people from neighboring countries who brought their local cultures and traditions with them. Few of the sixty thousand plus locals were actually born in Ushuaia or other parts of Tierra del Fuego and came here attracted by higher wages available than in the rest of the country. Currently, the economy is fueled by government jobs and subsidies, port activities such as trade and fishing, petroleum and, in fourth place, the rapidly growing tourism industry.

Prison labor built a railway providing access that is now serves to convey tourists on the apocalyptically named End of the World Train (Tren del Fin del Mundo), now also a major tourist attraction, which now offers tours of the area, including going through the Tierra del Fuego National Park and ending at a beacon made famous by Jules Verne in his novel, The Lighthouse at the End of the World.

The Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego to the west of the city, Mount Martial and the Andean range to the North and to the East, and the Beagle Channel to the South envelop the city. The ski resort Cerro del Castor provides world class powder and uncrowded slopes that attract families and Europe’s top national ski teams alike. Summer activities include horseback riding, hiking, and mountain climbing inside Tierra del Fuego National Park, itself home to such natural wonders as Lakes Escondido, Fagnano, and the Martial Glacier.

The coastal city itself offers many marvelous views and its own Bahía Encerrada (Closed Bay) surrenders to the cold each year in order to become a natural skating rink. The city itself offers a historical old town area and the Presidio and Maritime Museum, formerly the old jail where Argentina’s most hardened criminals where sent, and who are now represented by wax replicas of themselves. However, as its name indicates, it is also a maritime museum, featuring historic miniatures of Argentine naval vessels. Ushuaia should also appeal to shoppers; its tax-free status makes it a great place to shop, especially for imported goods.

The boom in travel has donned the city with numerous exceptional hotels, hostels, lodges and bed & breakfasts that charge a premium for the privilege of staying at the end of the world. Diversity and quality of restaurants is lagging behind hotel infrastructure.

(Telephone Code: 2901, Altitude: 660 ft., Population: 64,000)


Other places nearby Ushuaia: RĂ­o Grande and Tolhuin.

29 Nov 2010

Things to do in Ushuaia

Ski Resort Cerro Castor

116485Located 26 kilometers from Ushuaia, the ski resort of Cerro Castor offers perhaps the longest and most consistent ski season in South America. The season lasts from the 9th of July until the 16th of ...
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Ushuaia, Argentina

Ushuaia Culture

133756Aside from the museums in the city, Ushuaia has cultural centers where performance and visual arts are showcased. The main tourism office posts the week’s events. Casa de la Cultura. The ...
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Ushuaia, Argentina

Ushuaia Museums

133755For a break from the outdoors, take a stroll through one of Ushuaia’s impressive museums: Museo del Fin del Mundo was built as the private residence of Governor Manual Fernández and later ...
Ushuaia, Argentina

Museo MarĂ­timo y del Presidio

133753For almost a half-century the hallways of this old prison housed Argentina’s criminals and political prisoners. Now the five-spoke penitentiary is not one museum, but six. The Museo Marítimo shows ...
Ushuaia, Argentina

Visiting Antartica

With its massive icebergs, jagged mountain ranges, and vast expanses of empty polar plains, Antarctica presents some of the most awe-inspiring landscapes on the planet. While it is the coldest, ...
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Ushuaia, Argentina

Parque Yatana

Parque Yatana is the last stand of native forest left in Ushuaia. The forest, whose name in Yaghan means “weave,” is a space for the indigenous to practice their crafts, which are shown at the ...
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Ushuaia, Argentina

Winter Sports in Ushuaia

Most tourists come to Ushuaia when the summer days are long, but there's plenty of action for snow bums when the weather turns cold. There are ten winter centers (centros invernales) outside the city ...
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Ushuaia, Argentina

Mountain Biking

Several travel agencies offer day and night tours of Ushuaia on mountain bike, as an alternative to the typical tour. You can also wheel out on your own to the ranches, Tierra del Fuego National Park ...
Ushuaia, Argentina

Hikes around Ushuaia

Aside from the hikes in Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego and to Glaciar Martial, there are several other trails you can explore while in Ushuaia: Old Prisoners’ Trail (Distance: 5.1 km / 3.2 mi, ...
Ushuaia, Argentina

Glaciar Martial

Glaciar Martial is one of the most popular outings in Ushuaia. Located just seven kilometers (4.2 mi) from town, this glacier flows down the side of the mountain of the same name. An aerosilla takes ...
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Ushuaia, Argentina

Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego

The area that is today known as the Tierra del Fuego National Park was home to Yamana tribes some 10,000 years ago, who lived in beach-side huts and built lenga canoes from the nearby forests. ...
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Ushuaia, Argentina
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