Not as well known as the national parks further north in Patagonia, Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego is a region of Patagonia that is well worth seeing. Unlike Torres del Paine, Los Glaciares or Bariloche, where there are well trodden paths, activities and itineraries, Tierra del Fuego offers visitors opportunity to enjoy the peaceful and serene Patagonian landscape in a quieter, more relaxed way. We enjoyed our visit in January when the weather was sunny and fine, the air chilly and the cool days were long.
After taking one of the many shuttle buses from Ushuaia we alighted at Zaratiegui Bay and took the aptly named Senda Costera (Coast Trail) along the shoreline. A relatively short hike, the trail provided a surprisingly quiet yet varied and interesting amble through the park.
It began with vista out across the Beagle Channel towards Redonda Island and Chile. Then headed west along the shore. Sometimes we walked on the pebbled beaches and at other times, on a earthy trail. The further we walked, the less people we saw. The trail had a very peaceful and empty feeling as we wound around the coast, never far from water lapping at the shore. Of all the places in Patagonia we have visited, it was there – in Tierra del Fuego – that the remoteness of this vast and empty land was most apparent.
After about 6 kilometers we turned away from the coast and through a beech forest, the trees filled with birds and edible fungi. When we reached the road we rounded the corner in front of Lapataia River before joining the Paseo de la Isla (Island trail).
Despite it’s idillic setting this trail was full of mosquitos and we soon sped through it to rejoin the road and cross to the other side. Here, with less bugs, we were able to appreciate the view of small islands and the river.
Just as we were descending, via the road again, we were lucky enough to see an Andean fox. Smaller, stocker and less skittish than its North American and European cousins, this fox let us admire him as he jogged past us and up the hill.
The final stretch of our day was via the Senda Mirador Lapataia trail towards “the end of the road”. When we reached this famous sign, that indicates the end of Ruta Nacional 3, we waited for our turn to take photos like everyone else. Then we were able to rest and admire Bahia Lapataia before returning to Ushuaia on the shuttle.
After not really knowing what to expect in this park we were happy to find well marked, quiet trails through fine landscape. Certainly, a day in Tierra del Fuego is a recommended trip for anyone who finds themselves “at the end of the world”.