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Maipú 505, Ushuaia, Land of Fire, Argentina

GPS: -54.807189994511, -68.301913145003

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Ushuaia is an Argentinian city positioned on the banks of the Beagle Channel, gateway to Antarctica, Cape Horn and the South Pole. Mythical place and legendary land, it is known to be one of the most southern localities in the world, at the southern end of Patagonia and the Andes Mountains. Capital of the Land of Fire province (Tierra del Fuego), Ushuaia coincides with the end of the Pan-American Highway in its southern part. This network of land routes connects all the continents of the Americas on a main road of approximately 30,000 km.

Meaning “At the bottom of the bay” in the language of the Yaghan natives people, the first inhabitants of the region, Ushuaia is a unique destination at the end of the world. Due to its location on the Big Island of the Land of Fire, it is separated from the rest of South America by the maritime passage of the Strait of Magellan (the latter marks an important crossing point between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans). Further south, the bay gives way to a vast archipelago made up of a hundred islands shared between Chile and Argentina. They are home to dense wildlife with its colonies of birds, penguins, seals and sea lions. Mountains, forests, plains, beaches, islands, rocky coasts and glaciers extend there as far as the eye can see. Off Ushuaia, the icebreakers and cruise ships coexist in a magnificent natural landscape.

Despite its geographic isolation, this province has been inhabited for over 10,000 years by nomadic Amerindian peoples. The first explorers from Western Europe discovered it in 1520. Among them is the Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan. He calls it “Land of Manure” because of the blaze lit along the coast by the Amerindian people (probably an alert signal to warn the various camps of an imminent threat). This appellation was later changed to Land of Fire (“Tierra de los Fuegos”) by Charles V, Holy Roman Empire and King of Spain. In the 19th century, Ushuaia attracted the first seal skin hunters, whale fishermen and gold diggers. Then, this place becomes a penitentiary centre and a place of military prison in which many political prisoners are detained. It was not until the 1980s that Ushuaia aroused the interest of new adventurers and explorers, seduced by its preserved natural heritage. Like the Falkland Islands, the South Orkney Islands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, the region of Ushuaia is the subject of strong territorial claims. Based on historical elements, Argentina, Chile and the United Kingdom regularly compete for possession.

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  • A mythical place at the last end of the world and a name that calls for travel; the view of the bay and the mountains with snowy peaks; the wooden houses of the city painted in different colours
  • The numerous visit sites of Ushuaia including Museo Marítimo y del Presidio de Ushuaia (old prison transformed into a maritime museum and cultural complex), Paseo de los Artesanos (craft market), Casa Beban (house of a pioneer from the beginning of the 20th century), Historia Fueguina (cultural museum) and the Museo del Fin del Mundo (historical and ethnological collections) ; away from the city, the Estancia Harberton site (small hamlet comprising small museums and the oldest farm in the region built in 1886)
  • The richness of the fauna (large colonies of birds, penguins, cormorants, condors, seals, penguins, sea lions, Magellan penguins, Andes foxes, Chile otters…) and flora (lichens, white beeches, shrub berry plants, ferns, peat bogs, orchids, tree heather…)
  • Walking along Ushuaia Bay and the Beagle Channel (named after HMS Beagle in which Charles Darwin sailed to conduct scientific experiments in Patagonia and Land of Fire); train journeys aboard the Tren del Fin del Mundo; boat trips to Cape Horn, Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse, Strait of Magellan, Drake Passage, Falkland Islands, South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula
  • Fishing, hiking, major hikes, skiing, horse riding, mountain biking, kayaking activities…
  • Panoramic views at the top of the Paseo Centenario trail and at the top of the Martial glacier (mounted in chairlift)
  • The wild nature of the Tierra del Fuego National Park and the natural beauty of Lapataia Bay; the marshes and forests of Cypress de las Guaitecas at the foot of the Cordillera Darwin (Chile)
  • The Esmeralda lagoon; Escondido and Yehuin lakes; the Vinciguerra glacier; the Martillo (or Yecapasela) and Staten (Isla de los Estados) islands off the Land of Fire
  • The Fin del Mundo marathon (in March) and the Marcha Blanca ski event (in August)
  • Before its discovery by Europeans, this distant land was called “Terra incognita”, a name appearing on the first geographic maps.
  • On the arrival of the first settlers, the natives were subjected to ethnic cleansing, persecution, mass extermination and intensive evangelization by Anglican pastors from the middle of the 19th century, in full view of the Argentine government. Many ethnic groups have thus disappeared in just a few years, like the Selk’nam, Kawésqar, Haush and Yaghan tribes. In the 1960s, the last nomadic and Amerindian peoples were concentrated in the Chilean village of Puerto Williams.
  • The city of Ushuaia was founded in 1884 with the aim of building a state prison there in an isolated and hostile environment where it would be impossible to escape. At that time, the city had more convicts than inhabitants.
  • In his novel “The Lighthouse at the End of the World”, published in 1905 as part of the collection of Voyages extraordinaires (“Extraordinary Voyages”), Jules Verne was inspired by a lighthouse present on the island of States (known locally as by Faro de San Juan del Salvamento).
  • Ushuaia is not quite the southernmost city in the world even if we can consider that it has the last port with deep waters and the last major airport before Antarctica. This title goes to the Chilean city and neighbouring Puerto Williams (inhabited by 2,200 souls) with the village of Puerto Toro (small fishing port of 15 inhabitants located on Navarino Island). These two localities are some 4,000 km from the South Pole.
  • At the beginning of the 19th century, the German explorer Alexander von Humboldt created the concept of ecosystem and biotope by observing that the trees grew less and less high as they approached the South Pole.
  • Cape Horn, a meeting place for the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, is the southernmost of the great capes in the world. It is in this extreme region that the highest waves on the planet are found (called Rogue waves, they can reach 30 meters in height). The terrible navigation conditions around Cape Horn are at the origin of thousands of shipwrecks in the history of humanity due to the heavy swells, thick mists, powerful tornadoes and imperceptible icebergs.
  • Hornos Island is permanently inhabited by a soldier and members of his family during a full year during which he is responsible for guiding or organizing the rescue of boats in distress and collecting meteorological data.
  • Difficult to access in winter, Ushuaia offers more favourable conditions for the discovery of its region between October and March.
  • This city exceeding 50,000 inhabitants has an airport connected to Buenos Aires.
  • Beware of weather conditions deemed unpredictable regardless of the season.

Where to eat

  • La Mesita de Almanza
    (family bistro)
  • Restaurant at Tierra de Leyendas
    (the royal crab is excellent)
  • Ovejitas de la Patagonia
    (for chocolate lovers)

Where to go out

  • Tierra del Fuego National Park
    (paths to splendid nature)
  • Cerro Castor
    (competitive ski resort)
  • Pequeña Historia Fueguina
    (museum on local history)

Where to sleep

  • Arakur Ushuaia Resort & Spa
    (modern and comfortable)
  • Hosteria Valle Frio
    (excellent welcome)
  • Los Acebos Ushuaia Hotel
    (nice view of the Beagle Channel)

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