It’s not every day that you can claim to be standing at the End of the Earth (“El Fin del Mundo”) – but I love it so much I’ve now been there four times – each time passing through for a night en-route to my favourite destination – Antarctica! It’s grown hugely since my first visit in 1997, changing from a remote and sleepy small town to a thriving port handling almost all of the Antarctic cruise traffic.
Ushuaia used to be a missionary base, a naval base, and a penal colony – the latter makes a lot of sense when you stand on the port front, as there’s nowhere you can escape to from here! Nowadays it’s a pretty summer town with a real Alpine feel that boasts a great view, a main street (Avenida San Martin) with a lot of tourist-friendly amenities and some interesting museums. I’d recommend visiting the Museo del Fin del Mundo and the Museo Maritimo. Above the town is the Martial Glaciar, to which you can hike in the Summer, and where you can ski in the Winter.
A great half day trip from the town is a 20 minute drive (or 45min narrow gauge train) into the lovely Tierra del Fuego National Park, where there’s a sign marking the end of the Pan-American Highway, all the way from Alaska to where the road literally runs out at the edge of the Earth. As you gaze out across the lakes in the Park out to the Beagle Channel, the next stop is the Ice! The Park features the World’s Southernmost post office and just outside the park is an oddity – the World’s most Southern golf course!
If you have a few days here, I’d recommend hiring a kayak and going for a paddle in the Beagle Channel, where you may see penguins, sea lions and cormorants, or if you’re feeling a little lazier, take a catamaran trip!