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. Itâ€™s still possible to see overgrown, grassy mounds of mussel shells near the shoreline, indicating previous Yamana settlement areas.
Created in 1960, this national park is the only one in Argentina with a coastline. It is massive in size at 63,000 hectares, stretching from the west of Ushuaia to the Chilean border, and north to Lago Fagnano. Only a small portion (2,000 hectares) of the park is open to the public where camping, hiking, and fishing are available. The rest of Tierra del Fuego National Park is restricted and preserved for scientific purposes.
This part of Patagonia is made up of a mix of peaks and valleys with rivers, thick forests and glacial lakes thrown into the picturesque landscape. Inside the park is a network of hiking paths that are quite easy to navigate, which lead you to its coastline, and through its dense forests and mountains. Itâ€™s possible to fish for trout inside the park, but a license is required from the park administration office in Ushuaia (Av. San MartĂn 1395, Tel: 2901-421-315, E-mail: email@example.com, Mon-Fri 9am-3pm). They can also provide maps and hiking trails in the park, or you can pick them up at the park entrance.
Other ways to arrive at the Park are: Bus (departing from the parking lot across from the YPF gas station, MaipĂş & Fadul) -- several companies depart hourly in the low season, half-hourly in the high season 9 a.m.-1 p.m., last return 5 p.m., $14.50 round trip. You can also go on tour.You can also ask at your hostel if they have an agent that takes people to the park (from $11.50 round trip)
The wildlife in Tierra del Fuego National Park is varied and easy to spot. There are roughly 90 species of birds found in the park. So even in its best attempts to avoid you, the black-browed albatross, at over two 2 meters, is tough to miss. Other birds include the condor, magellanic oystercatcher, upland goose, orange-billed steamer duck, thorn-tailed rayadito and magellanic woodpecker. There are 20 species of mammals within the park; the most common are the otter, beaver, rabbit, and the red and silver fox. Visit some of the biggest beaver dam systems in the park by walking 400 meters up the Los Castores stream.
Sendera Costera (Coastal Path) is a recommended three to four hour, well-marked walk, from one beautiful Tierra del Fuego bay to another. Starting at BahĂa Ensenada, the path meanders along the rocky shore and beech forests, with great views of the Beagle Channel and nearby islands. The path briefly joins the Ruta Nacional 3 to cross the wide RĂo Lapataia, passes a small campground, and takes you inland to BahĂa Lapataia, with views across the channel to Isla Navarino. From the Lago Roca campground, Senda Hito XXIV is a 4 km roundtrip walk through dense forests and around the tranquil pebble shores of Lake Roca to Hito XXIV (Guidepost 24), the marked border of Argentina and Chile. Walk up to it, take a picture, but donâ€™t cross! Itâ€™s illegalâ€”and regularly patrolled.
Though there are no hotels or lodges within the national park, there are several free, campgrounds that offer potable water, but no services. Camping Ensenada and RĂo Pipo arenâ€™t far from the park entrance, and on the islands in RĂo Lapataia are three campgrounds: Las Bandurrias, Laguna Verde and Los Cauquenes. Camping Lago Roca is the only fee-based campground in the park, 9 km from the entrance, offering hot showers and a small yet pricey grocery store and confiterĂa selling snacks and sweets.
Getting To and Away
Tierra del Fuego National Park is a short trip 12 kilometers west of Ushuaia on Ruta Nacional 3 and can be reached via â€śEl Tren del Fin del Mundo,â€ť or by bus or bike.
Buses and minivans currently drive to and from the National Park leaving from the parking lot across from the YPF gas station, MaipĂş & Fadu. Several companies depart hourly in the low season, half-hourly in the high season 9 a.m.-1 p.m., last return 5 p.m., $14.50 round trip. You can also go on tour. Ask at your hostel if they have an agent that takes people to the park (from $11.50 round trip).
If youâ€™re so inclined, you can reach the National Park by bicycle. The ride usually takes about an hour from Ushuaia. However, the trails inside the park are not bike-accessible, so youâ€™ll have to lock it up and explore by foot once you arrive.