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Boating on the Beagle Channel - Boating Ushuaia - Argentina

Way down at the bottom of the South American continent, the Beagle Channel is a treacherous strait that flows for roughly 150 miles (240 km) out into the Antarctic Ocean between Chile and Argentina. The channel is named after Darwin's ship, the HMS Beagle, whichnavigated the icy waters of the Tierra del Fuego region between 1826 and 1830. A trip on the Beagle Channel to visit nearby islands, or across it to the southernmost habitation in Chile’s Puerto Williams, is an unforgettable journey.


Ushuaia’s yacht harbor, the biggest port on the channel, is an exciting place to visit as the boats are moored inside and the sailors around them are certain to have some stories to tell, many having made the ambitious journey across the Atlantic and a good number either planning to go to Antarctica or buzzing from their recent visit to the icy continent at the bottom of the world. If you are lucky, you can catch a lift of a lifetime with them over the choppy waters between the mountainous and glacier-fed deepsouth.


The departure into the Channel offers beautiful views of Ushuaia and the surrounding snow-capped mountains, and a chance to experience the tranquility of the wild surroundings. Tough weather conditions are sometimes not worth risking but even on the calmest of days this area is windy. The waves rise up to four feet even when it is “flat” but they are still not a patch on the conditions found at the infamous Cape Horn just a few kilometers south of the passage.


Many companies offer boat tours of the Channel, visiting a sea-lion colony at Los Lobos, sea birds (mostly cormorant colonies) at Isla de Pájaros, Isla Martillo penguin colony, Estancia Harberton, Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego, Bridges island, and the Les Eclaireus lighthouse.


Current low season prices are $135-150 AR ($39-43 US); during the high season, prices are slightly higher and longer trips are offered. In addition, a tasa de embarque of $1.75 (6 pesos) is charged per person. All tour operators have offices at the Muelle Turístico on the wharf (on Maipú between Lasserre and Roca). Among these operators are:


Montave Barracuda, Tel: 437-066, offers a 3 hour trip for up to 70 people to see the sea lion and cormorant colonies, and the lighthouse.


Tres Marías Excursiones, Tel: 421-897, has an 8-person boat leaving twice daily to see the same sights, and due to its small size, gets closer to the islands, and stops to see a rock-cormorant colony on the Isla “H” in the Islas Bridges natural reserve.


Patagonia Adventure Explorer, Tel: 02901-15-465-842, has 18-person boats leaving at 9: 30 a.m. and 3 p.m. to see Los Lobos and Isla Bridges.


All Patagonia Viajes y Turismo, Juana Fadul 48, Tel: 2901-433-622 works with visitors to create unique itineraries to various locations in the Channel.


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