When you visit Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world, located in the south portion of Patagonia in Argentina, one of the highlights is Tierra del Fuego National Park and of course the incredible and unique Train of the End of the World, a historical railway that´s the origin of the city, because it was used for the old prison. But, let me start from the beginning.
TIERRA DEL FUEGO NATIONAL PARK: The excursion
The visit starts from your hotel when the guide stops for you at the lobby in your hotel. It will be around 8:30 in the morning, to start a short ride to the first stop which is the End of the World Station, the first step in our ride today. The station is the starting point for the southern railroad in the world. Yes, the FAF, Ferrocarril Austral Fueguino, or Fueguin Austral Railroad, which´s the best know as the Train of the End of the World starts there. The visit is optional, but a highlight. I suggest going and start this unique ride in the same trails as the prisoners who were looking for wood, to heat the old presidio.
This ride would be in an incredible landscape composed of forest, rivers, peatlands, and the ruins of an Indian settlement. But full of history too. A first stop is on the Macarena´s waterfall before going into the Tierra del Fuego National Park. Yes, the trail crosses the border and continues now into the national park. The last stop is the National Park Station when the train ends. You can take a the return ticket to the End of the World Station, or not. What I suggest is to take only a one-way trip and continue by bus, to see other areas in the park.
Once in the park, and back to your bus, you are going to see different species of vegetation for our pretty characteristic forest, something as bushes, beech trees, ñires, Indio’s beard, and flowers in an extension of 63.000 hectares. During our trip we will make different stops, to enjoy the panoramic views and take pictures.
The National Park was created in 1960, but in 1990 most of it was used as a protected reserve. Of the total of 63,000 hectares that make up the park, only an area of 2,000 is assigned for tourist use, the rest having the category of the strict nature reserve. There are many animals and vegetal species in the park. As in many of these southern Andean forests, lenga and ñire predominate in the place and dye everything green. Of course, if you travel in the autumn months, the landscape will turn reddish, and if it is in winter you will see it covered in snow. Tierra del Fuego is different all year round. Various animals live in the area, such as the fox, the guanaco, the incredible Andean condor, and a great diversity of birds and insects. During the 20th century, specimens of fauna from the northern hemisphere, such as muskrat, rabbit, and American beaver, were introduced to the island and have been acclimatized in an excellent way; the last two species cause serious disturbances in this national park. The Beaver was brought in to develop a strong furrier industry, but some factors did not allow it to be a success. The cold is not as cruel as in the northern hemisphere, with which the Beaver’s coat did not have the necessary quality, so the idea was abandoned sometime later, with the terrible idea of freeing the pairs of beavers, which reproduced quickly, causing a lot of damage to the flora of the park. The introduction of exotic trout was extremely detrimental to native fish as well, which were preyed upon by these species. The lakes and lagoons of the park have a remarkable salmonid population. The most important species is rainbow trout, which is why sport fishing is also an interesting attraction for lovers of this activity, which is strictly regulated within the park.
From there, we are going to go to Verde Lake and then to Lapataia Bay, places where you could see beaver dams and peatlands. Lapataia will be the last point of our visit and one end of the national park. Upon arrival, a sign indicates that it is the last point on National Route Number 3, which begins in Buenos Aires and ends there, after 3079 km of travel. A path allows to cross the area and to have a view of the Beagle Channel and a small port where some boats arrive. Indeed, it is also possible to reach the park by the sea. Etymologically, Lapataia comes from the Yagan language, and means “forest bay” or “wood bay.” Hunters, shellfish gatherers, and gatherers, of the Yámanas or Yagan ethnic groups, occupied its coasts, exploiting its biological resources
On our way back, we will stop on La Roca, to enjoy the wind of Patagonia and see a wonderful landscape. Then, the return to Ushuaia is around 1:30 pm approximately, so you have some free time for lunch and may combine the excursion with a good Beagle Channel Boat Navigation.
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