Patagonia Series #2: Ushuaia
Welcome to the end of the World! The most important feature of Ushuaia’, which is one of the most tourist destinations in Argentina, is the most southernmost settlement in the world. If the world had flat like a tray, the whole seas would have been flowing out from the edge of Ushuaia to space. This city, which many people who have dreamed of making a South America tour or a Patagonia tour for many years, has been included in the travel plan, it’s also the departure point for ships to Antarctica.
Although Ushuaia, attracts a lot of attention, actually it’s a very small place. So, what can be done in this small city at the southernmost end of the earth? What are the places to see, and what are the activities to do? How many days should you spend in Ushuaia? What did we do in Ushuaia for 2 days? Are 48 hours enough to tour Ushuaia? I’ll mention all these issues in this article.
Things to do in Ushuaia
1- Boat Tour
Boat tours are the top activities in Ushuaia. There are two different times the boat tours. Short tour and long tour.
The short tour lasts 3 hours. While you sailing by boat in the Beagle canal, you pass nearby small islands. Some of these small islands create the natural habitats of various animals. The boat brings you closer to an island of birds and then to an island full of sea lions. So, you can find a chance to observe the local fauna. Finally, this tour goes to the End of the World Lighthouse and after visiting the lighthouse, it goes back to the harbor.
The long tour lasts 6 hours. Firstly, you pass from the same points with the short tour. The two boats in the first place already go almost side by side. Then, the tour proceeds in the Beagle Canal and brings you to Isla Martillo (Martillo Island) where the penguins are located. Some tours allow you to get off the boat and walk with penguins, but our tour didn’t have such an option. When you buying a tour, you can ask this possibility.
We wanted to see the penguins, so we did a long tour. Normally, while the price per person 2100, we gave 1800 pesos per person with “mom’s bargaining power”. You need to give 20 pesos to the port operator except for the tour price. The boat was quite comfortable. There were a clean toilet and cafeteria inside. Also, there was a photographer taking photos along the way and a guide who is explaining in 3 different languages (Spanish, Portuguese, English). If you want, you can buy the photos end of the travel.
2- Tierra del Fuego National Park & End of the World Train
When mentioned Ushuaia, another activity that immediately comes to mind is to visit the Tierra del Fuego National Park. The national park covers an area of 630 km² and whole parts don’t open to the visitors. Just a specific part can travellable by visitors. There are special car roads for tours and special trekking routes for walkers in this area. For the campers, the park has 3 difficult camping areas.
Transportation to the Park
The park is far 11 km from the city center. So, vehicles are needed for transportation surely. You can reach the park with special tours or by taxi.
End of the World Train
The end of the world train, which is one of the most interesting points of both the park and Ushuaia, departs from a little outside of the national park. Before you get on the train, booklets telling the history of the train are given and there is a Turkish booklet option too. Also, translations are amazingly good.
The end of the world train, a train with a story. Until 1947, there was in Ushuaia the most frightening jail of Argentina. This region that the weather conditions are very difficult here, the most violent criminals were being sent to this region. Transportation of these criminals had been providing by the steam train. Nowadays, neither the jail nor the train is active. The jail was closed, due to bad conditions to be considered the human rights violation. The replica of the train, which became an icon now, has been built and placed entrance of the national park. So, the end of the World train isn’t exact with the same train of criminals.
There are 6 points where the train stop. In these points, the information is given to the passengers about the history of the park and the train. Here there is a small waterfall and a gift shop at the first stop, and here the passengers have 15 minutes to get off the train and walk around. Also, you can take funny photos with park workers and you can buy them. Because all of the park workers dressed as criminals or guardians.
End of the World Post-Office
Another interesting point of the park is the End of the World Post-office. The post-office is inside of the park. You can send postcards for the people you loved or if you want, this old guy can stamp your passport for you. This is the only place you need to pay for the stamp though.
I should mention this, under the time title but I must say here too. If you have no time to Ushuaia, and you are planning to see everything in 48 hours and then go, you have to buy a tour. We went to a tour agent, which called Yehuin Turismo, on the advice of our hotel, and we both bought a boat tour and a park tour. We said our hour of return flight, and they promised about giving a lift us to the airport.
The tour vehicle took us from the hotel at 08.10 a.m. We went to the train station after the whole team comes together. There, people, who want to get on the train, got off from the car. People who didn’t get on the train, continued by car. We met again our tour car, and guide at the endpoint of the train. We went points of view, the End of the World Post-Office with the car. We partly got off from the car and walked for a while. Our guide Adrian was extremely successful, and he gave us a lot of information about fauna and flora.
We paid 1250 pesos per person for the national park with a little bit bargain. The usual price was 1450 pesos. The price includes whole day transportation and guidage. Later, we had to pay both the train ticket and the cost of entry to the park. While the train 1200 pesos per person, the cost of park entrance 490 for tourists, and 160 pesos for people who have Argentine ID. In total, the travel of the Tierra del Fuego National Park cost us 5500 pesos for 2 people. (There is a column at the top of the page at the right side, and if you wandering about whether the prices are in TL or USD you can benefit from the converter. The prices given in this blog belongs to December 2018. The costs can change in Argentina with inflation.)
Ushuaia is one of the closest points of Chile and Argentine. So, while both in the national park and during the boat tour, there is no service for a long time. Also, sometimes the phones can connect to Chile. So, before going on the tour, it is helpful to check the roaming settings.
3- The Passport Stamping
I gave a tip just now, but I’ll tell more detailed now. You can stamp your passport in a few points of Ushuaia with the End of the World Stamp. All points have different stamps. So, you can get a stamp from only one or all of them.
These stamp points are; the tourist info in the city center (free), the post-office (3 dollars), the visitor center in the park (free).
4- End of the World Signboard
The end of the World signboard stands in the seaside, in the middle of whole tour agents. It’s quite easy to find. Also, whether going to Ushuaia, there is no way to go without taking photos!
5- The Museums
Argentina is certainly filled with museums. There are so many museums, in the tiny city of Ushuaia. The most popular are between of these:
- Museo fin Del Mundo
- Museo Marítimo y del Presidio
- Museo Yamana
On the other hand, I can’t comment on how beautiful or informative they are because we couldn’t find a chance to see them.
6- Excursions to Antarctica
If visiting Antarctica is one of your dreams, the excursions to Antarctica depart from Ushuaia harbor. As far as I know, the tickets Antarctica are unbelievably expensive. Exactly, for this reason, we did not go to Antarctica.
We spent 2 days and 1 night in Ushuaia as I mentioned at the beginning of the writing. We had known that Ushuaia is a small place, but we didn’t sure 2 days are enough for everything. There was never an obvious plan in our minds. Our experience was like this:
- We got on the plane from Buenos Aires, on 19 December morning at 07.30 am.
- We arrived in Ushuaia at 10.30 am. As soon as we got off from the plane, we took a taxi, went to the hotel, and settled in a room.
- After leaving our stuff in the room, we asked the reception for suggestions. First, the receptionist informed us about the harbor and the tour hours. Later, he suggested the tour company when he heard we wanted to go to the park.
- We quickly went to the Yehuin tour agency and bought tickets for the boat and the national park.
- We had 1 hour until the boat tour. We went to the harbor by wandering, visited the supermarket, took photos with the End of the World Signboard.
- The tour started at 3.00 pm. We returned to the harbor at 9.00 pm.
- The next morning, the vehicle collected us for the national park tour at 08.10 am. We returned to the hotel at 2.00 pm.
- We finished our Ushuaia travel on December 20, at 4.00 pm.
- We could do everything exactly in 32,5 hours except museums (and of course the Antarctic travel).
There are flights from Buenos Aires, El Calafate, and Puerto Madryn to Ushuaia. There are no shuttles from the airport to the city center. It’s very near though. It takes 40 minutes to the city center by walking. We played safe and took a taxi because El Calafate was very windy and we didn’t want a similar experience again. The taxi cost 270 pesos. (2018)
You can also go to Ushuaia by bus from other Patagonian cities. However, the bus enters to Chilean territories on the way, so you have to have your passport on you. Before you decide on taking the bus, you also need to consider the time.
Argentina is a huge country and flying to Ushuaia from Buenos Aires lasts 3,5 hours. It depends on your departure place, but generally, the bus trips take 24+ hours.
We stayed in Hostel del Bosque. It exceeded our expectations so much that we couldn’t believe. Our expectations were low since it’s a hostel. But our room was so beautiful and comfortable, we loved it!
The breakfast generally isn’t good in Argentine hotels. The breakfast of Hostel del Bosque was not perfect but it was quite ok and we were content with it.
Note: From here, kisses to my mother that coming along with me in this adventure!
Dates of Travel: December 19-20, 2018
Translation date: November 30, 2019
Translated by: Acelya Yildirim
This blog is voluntarily translated by students who are eager to improve their translation skills! If you’d like to share your feedback with these hard-working students, please leave your thoughts in the comments! Also, if you’d like to contact them, please send a message to Ters Mevsim through the Contact Page. Thank you!