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Tourism in Tierra del Fuego Island, Chile

Yendegaia National Park, South end of Chile.
Yendegaia National Park
Image: Prensa Antartica - Online newspaper 
 
    Tierra del Fuego Island (English: Land of Fire), one of the most remote places in the world at the southernmost tip of South America, shared by Chile and Argentina, bordering to the North with the Strait of Magellan, on the East with the Atlantic Ocean, on the West with the Pacific Ocean and to the South with the Beagle Channel. In addition to the main island, the largest in South America with 48,000 km2, the archipelago is composed of dozens of smaller islands mostly belonging to Chile.
 
The main population centers on the Argentine side are Rio Grande, with 68,000 inhabitants, Ushuaia with a population of 57,000 inhabitants. On the Chilean side is Porvenir, with 7,500 inhabitants and on Navarino Island, belonging to the archipelago is Puerto Williams, a small civilian town and Naval Base of 3,000 inhabitants, currently considered the southernmost city in the world. The main economic activities are cattle raising, hydrocarbon exploitation, fishing and tourism.

Due to its subpolar latitude, during most of the year (March to October) the climate is quite harsh, temperatures in winter rarely exceed 6°C, frosts are very heavy and snow is usually abundant. In Spring/Summer, temperatures are much more pleasant, reaching during the day an average of 10 to 15°C and exceptionally more than 20°C have been recorded. The northern part of the island is without forests, but with large expanses of pasture, dedicated mainly to sheep farming, while in the southern part, with vast forests, the backbone is the Darwin Mountain Range, covered with snow and ice fields most of the year.


 

How to Get There

The most common way to reach the Chilean portion of Tierra del Fuego is by bus or other vehicles which cross the Strait of Magellan via ferry.  
 
There are 2 ferry crossings, one is the Terminal Tres Puentes in Punta Arenas, the place known as Bahia Catalina, this trip takes about 2 hours and arrives directly to the city of Porvenir.
 
The other crossing is located 170 km. north of Punta Arenas in the place known as Punta Delgada or Primera Angostura, this navigation lasts only 15 minutes, then to reach the city of Porvenir the overland trip takes about 2 hours. To see itineraries click HERE.
 
To get to Puerto Williams on Navarino Island, also belonging to the archipelago, there are regular flights from Aerovias Dap HERE, as well as 1 weekly ferry trip.

Google Map

 

Tourist Attractions in Tierra del Fuego, Chile


Alberto De Agostini National Park

Darwin's Route, Tierra del Fuego Archipelago
Darwin's Route - Australis Cruises - Cape Horn & Patagonia
  With an area of more than 14,600 km2 (1,460,000 hectares), the third largest national park in Chile, created in 1965, honors with its name the Italian missionary, geographer, documentarian and explorer Alberto Maria de Agostini (1883-1960). It extends across an insular area comprising three provinces: Magallanes (Punta Arenas commune), Tierra del Fuego (Timaukel commune) and Ant├írtica Chilena (Navarino commune).
 
It has great and little known natural attractions. The 35 km. long Darwin Mountain Range stands out as its backbone; Marinelli Glacier, the most impressive with large ice walls of almost 40 meters high; Mount Darwin, the highest in the park at 2,488 meters above sea level; Mount Sarmiento, with 2404 m.a.s,l., it is  worth mentioning that Jules Verne immortalized it in his work "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas", when crossing Cape Horn, the Nautilus ascends to the surface and sees the imposing Mount Sarmiento in the distance; access to Alberto de Agostini Park is mainly by sea or air from Punta Arenas and then with private companies to the destination area within the reserve. 
 
Special mention should be made of the tourist cruise to enjoy the magnificent Glaciers Avenue, along the Beagle Channel, considered one of the most impressive places in the park because it corresponds to a sequence of glaciers that detach from the Darwin ice field towards the sea. Routes with Australis Cruises HERE.

King Penguin Natural Reserve

King Penguins
Image: Go Patagonia Chile
Programs & Tours, Travel Agency & Rent a Car in Punta Arenas

  Located in Bahia Inutil, 114 km. South of Porvenir,  route Y-85. In 2010 a small group of these beautiful birds settled here for the first time. The presence of the second largest bird in size after the Emperor Penguin caused great admiration among the locals.
 
Then, the colony increased more and more, as there was no regulation, people disturbed the specimens and endangered the colony. This is how the idea of creating the park was born, which today has a first class infrastructure so that tourists can contemplate them without causing any kind of impact. The place has become one of the most attractive places in Tierra del Fuego. Plan your visit and make reservations HERE.
 

Karukinka Natural Park

Private Natural Park run by the international NGO Wildlife Conservation Society which promotes a model for the conservation of biodiversity, open to the public between November and April. It is worth mentioning that the Ona or Selknam natives called their land Karukinka. With an area of almost 300,000 hectares, it is the largest protected area in Tierra del Fuego. Located in the commune of Timaukel, in the southern part of the island, in a pure and wild natural environment, it is home to the largest population of Guanacos, Condors and Fuegian Foxes in Chile.
 
The distance from Punta Arenas is 450 km, and from Porvenir, the nearest town, 250 km. There is no public transportation to access Karukinka Park. To visit the place, it is best to rent a tour in Punta Arenas or Porvenir or rent a vehicle to tour this remote, majestic and wild corner of the planet.  Book your stay HERE.

 
 

Fernando Cordero Rusque Municipal Museum

Address: 71 Jorge Schythe Street. Founded in 1980, there is an interesting sample of Fuegian fauna, a section of Archeology and Anthropology, with the remains of a mummified body of an native of the island. In the history section you can appreciate testimonies of the beginnings of the national Cinematography, whose cradle was this city; the discovery and exploitation of gold from the end of the 19th century, besides an interesting photographic sample of the Onas or Selknam (natives of Tierra del Fuego) and images of the colonization of the island.
 
Open:
Monday to Thursday: 8:00-17:15 hrs. 
Friday: 8:00-16:15 hrs. 
Saturday and Sunday: 10:00-16:00 hrs.
 

Selknam Square

Symbolic plaza located in the heart of Porvenir, which has life-size representations of the ancient inhabitants of this region, belonging to the original Selknam or Ona ethnic group. Located at John Williams and Teniente Merino, it consists of a sculptural ensemble carved in concrete by the local artist Richard Yasic Israel.
 

Stromatolites Park

Stromatolites Park, near Porvenir, Chile.
Image: El Magallanico - Online Newspaper
  Situated in Laguna de los Cisnes, 6 km. from the capital of Tierra del Fuego, Chile. Stromatolites were recently discovered and studied by scientists from different parts of the world, these are mineral structures built by a type of bacteria through millions of years, considered living fossils of huge interest for science and an opportunity for the tourism industry as well. Stromatolites allow for the possibility of investigating ecosystems similar to those that gave rise to life on the planet about 3.5 billion years ago. One of the few places in the world where these geo-biological systems are found is precisely here, in the Parque de Estromatolitos de Porvenir. Read more...
 

Gold Tourist Circuit

One of the unmissable tours is the Gold Circuit, which after visiting the museum's gold room will begin its 115-kilometer journey through the Baquedano Mountain Range, where at a maximum height of 500 meters, you can enjoy a wonderful view of the Strait of Magellan. 
 
Further on, there is an area where the extraction of the precious metal is carried out to this day in a very artisanal way by local low-scale miners, who perform their work in a very similar way to how it was done 100 years ago.  During the tour you can also see the remains of old gold dredges, such as those of Rio del Oro and abandoned machinery, used between 1900 and 1910.
 

Sport Fishing in Tierra del Fuego

Fly fishing in Tierra del Fuego, Chile.
Image: aardvarkmcleod.com
  Fly fishing in Tierra del Fuego is one of the most important tourist activities. The tranquility of the remote landscapes, its pure waters and the average size of the specimens make the island a world-class destination for the recreational activity. 
 
Not for nothing, Tierra del Fuego is considered internationally as one of the great destinations for trout fishing, anglers from all over the world come to its numerous rivers and lakes to practice their favorite pastime and enjoy the magnificent surroundings. The season for this activity begins in October and ends in April of the following year. The main species in the island's fresh waters are Brown Trout, Anadromous Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout, Brook Trout and King Salmon, also known as Chinook.  
 
The best places for sport fishing in Tierra del Fuego are the Rio Grande, considered the world' s best river in its category for Sea Run fishing; the Rio Chico (name in contrast to the Rio Grande), has the particularity of having a large number of specimens, it is perfect for beginners because the pieces are not large but are found in abundance. Lago Blanco, a body of water with abundant presence of Rainbow and Brown Trout; Rio Condor, in the remote commune of Timaukel, quite difficult to access and little visited by fishermen, famous for the quality and abundance of the specimens.
 
Another place characterized by its calm waters and abundant fishing is Lago Deseado, on the shores of the lake of the same name, located in the commune of Timaukel. There is the Deseado Lake Fishing Lodge, which has the ideal infrastructure to enjoy programs ranging from three nights-four days to six nights-seven days. It also has zodiacs, kayaks and vehicles to explore every corner of the area. Another nearby place known by its quiet waters and good fishing is Lago Despreciado. After a long journey through mountain ranges you reach the great Lago Fagnano, shared with Argentina, where most of it is located and the Rio Azopardo, natural discharge of Lake Fagnano into the Strait of Magellan.

Yendegaia National Park 

Yendegaia National Park
Image: El Magallanico                                                                                    
  Nature Sanctuary created in December 2013, at the initiative of American businessman and environmental activist Douglas Tompkins and Kristine Tompkins. The area is 150,612 hectares, of which more than 38,000 were donated by Tompkins and the remaining 111,000 by the State of Chile. Yendegaia means 'Deep Bay' in the language of the now almost extinct Yamana. Access by land, although quite difficult, is through route Y-85 that leads to Lake Fagnano or by sea from the neighboring town of Puerto Williams.
 
Parque Nacional Yendegaia lies along part of the southern tip of the island, bordering the Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego in neighboring Argentina. Yendegaia Bay is located 500 kilometers south of Punta Arenas, you can see the exact location of the National Park HERE.

 
 
 

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