Activities from Punta Arenas, Patagonia

Punta Arenas (meaning Sandy Point) is the southernmost city on Chile's continental territory. Sat beside the historic Straits of Magellan, a sea channel connecting the Atlantic Ocean with the Pacific Ocean. Consequently, there are a number of activities to participate in if you are staying here.

Note: Experience Chile can include any of the activity options above in your itinerary, as long as we are handling the rest of your itinerary. However, we do not offer any of these options as standalone reservations.

Punta Arenas Places of Interest

The area around the main plaza has some historic, architectural interest as some of the buildings have a similar look and style found in some eastern European countries.

The city tour will usually include a visit to the Bulnes Fort because it is the “birth place” of Punta Arenas, although it is a quite a basic to look at. It is the location of the first settlement until the population moved to where the city is now.

Places of Interest, Ushuaia, Patagonia

Places of Interest, Ushuaia, Patagonia

Considering that Ushuaia is on the island of Tierra del Fuego in Patagonia and beside the Beagle Channel there are some interesting places of interest and activities to partake in when you are there.

The Beagle Channel

This is, perhaps one of the historically most famous stretches of water in the World. Made famous by Charles Darwin when he circumnavigated the World in search of new eco systems and plant life, his ship was called HMS Beagle and this stretch of water was named after his ship.

It is a relatively narrow channel of water that passes from the Southern Atlantic Ocean on the east and into the Pacific Ocean on the west. Ushuaia, in Argentina, sits on the northern shore of the channel and the small village of Puerto Williams, in Chile, sits on the other side, on the southern shore.

It is possible to cross the Beagle Channel in a rib-zodiac dinghy to get over to Puerto Williams in Chile (by previous arrangement and subject to local weather conditions). All cross border regulations apply.

Catamaran Beagle Channel

There are regular, daily, catamaran trips that depart from an area close to the port in central Ushuaia that offer a navigational trip into the Beagle Channel taking in colonies of sea lions, penguins and bird life as well as a few historically iconic structures such as the light house and an estancia viewed from the sea.

Ushuaia Port

The Ushuaia port is the place where ships come and go for navigations to Antarctica as well as ships that navigate to Punta Arenas, in Chile (Patagonia Cruises).

The Tierra del Fuego National Park

Tierra del Fuego National Park, located about 12km from the Ushuaia city centre. Options in the park include trekking, kayaking and a ride aboard the “End of the World” train. If you have some time on your hands then a visit here is one option to see nature at the end of the Southern continent.

Tierra del Fuego National Park Ushuaia

Tierra del Fuego National Park Ushuaia


Ushuaia offers visitors a chance to enter the Tierra del Fuego National Park. Options in the park include trekking, canoeing and a ride aboard the “End of the World” train. Information about these activities is further below.

If you have some time on your hands then a visit here is one option to see nature at the end of the Southern continent.

This National Park is located about 12km west from Ushuaia city centre at the end of the ruta 3 and the southernmost park in all of Argentina. Created in 1960, it is the only National Park in Argentina that contains within its boundaries a marine element, with views of the Beagle Channel; coastal forests (of Antarctic Beech, Lenga Beech and Coihue) lakes, lagoons, peat bogs and mountainous landscape. It covers just short of 70,000 hectares, within which there are numerous types of flora and fauna. It is encircled to the west by the Andes and Chilean border, to the north by Lake Fagnano, to the south by the Beagle Channel – and to the east is the city of Ushuaia.

Among the fauna are guanacos, foxes, beavers (which are not native to the area and were introduced), rabbits, and muskrat. There is also a variety of bird life including kelp goose, torrent duck, black-browned albatrosses, the steamer duck, oystercatchers and seagulls at the coastal area and in the forest, there are austral parakeets, woodpeckers and the austral thrush. High above there is often the Andean condor.

Visitor Centre

At the visitor centre there is a good view of the lake Acigami as well as the source of the river Lapataia, Salmon Island and the “Cerro” Condor (Condor Summit), which is the point that divides Chile and Argentina in this area. There is also a café, snack bar and WC’s as well as a souvenir store and cultural exhibitions.


The Tierra del Fuego National Park comprises some wonderful, natural scenery including waterfalls, mountains, glaciers, and woodland.

Getting to the Park

Ideally you will book a tour to the park with us, however, if not you can board a minibus at the junction of Maipu Avenue and Juana Fadul street, take a taxi or go in your own rent a car. Do NOT cycle because you are not permitted to ride bikes in the park.

Cost of Entry

Between 01 May to 30 September each year entry is free of charge. From 01 October to the end of February there is a cost, always in Argentine pesos (which changes frequently) and this can be paid in cash, or a well-known debit or credit card.

Where to stay

Most visitors to Tierra del Fuego National Park only spend a day or less.

However, there are four designated camping areas within the park at Río Pipo, Ensenada and Laguna Verde, Cauquenes and Laguna del Caminante on the Andorra-Oveja trek.

The first three have chemical toilets, available from November to April.

Best of all, the camp sites are completely free. If you don’t have a camper van, you can rent camping essentials in Ushuaia for a budget-friendly trip.

End of the World Train

There is a steam train ride that is aptly named “the end of the world train” that offers visitors an opportunity to be transported through scenic sectors of the park without having to move. The train was at one time used to transport prisoners in Ushuaia. However, in 1994 it was refurbished and established as a heritage project. A new steam engine was imported from England in 1995, and another two diesel engines were brought in from somewhere else in Argentina to provide three engines to drive the train around the park. The train station is located 8km west of Ushuaia, which is 3km before the official park entry point, and operates over a distance of 5km, which it covers in about 50 minutes, one way.

Canoeing / Kayaking

This is an alternative way to navigate rivers, lakes and lagoons; even to defy the strength of the Beagle Channel. It also possible to combine off road tours, trekking, bird sighting.

Hiking (Trekking) from Ushuaia, Patagonia

The park offers hikers a number of well-marked trails to explore ranging from easy to moderate, to more difficult.

The more popular treks are around Zaratiegui Bay, Acigami Lake, which is where the visitors centre is located, and Lapatia Bay.  The coastal path connects Enseñada Bay with Lapataia Bay on Lake Roca.

Below is brief information on the more popular treks.

Other Treks

Trek Pampa Alta trail

  • Operational: October – April
  • Difficulty: Medium.
  • Distance: 10km return.
  • Time: 3 hrs return.
Brief Description

The initial part of this trail follows the shore of the Beagle Channel. In total, the distance is about 10 km and takes about 3 hrs there and back, passing through Nothofagus forest, between Rio Pipo’s valley to the Enseñada inlet Aratiegui.

From Aratiegui you have a panoramic view over the Beagle Channel and its surroundings.

Trek Paseo de la Isla

  • Operational: October – April
  • Difficulty: Low.
  • Time: Approximately 20 minutes.
Brief Description

This trail crosses the Cormoranes Archipelago along the banks of the Lapataia and Ovando Rivers. Good opportunity for watching aquatic birds.

Trek Laguna Negra

  • Operational: All Year.
  • Difficulty: Low.
  • Duration: Approximately 20 minutes.
Brief Description

This is a walk through the forest to reach a peat bog. Good place to explain the peat bogs, peat bogs’ origin and species that live there.

Del Turba

  • Operational: All Year.
  • Difficulty: Low.
  • Distance: 2km.
Brief Description

This is an alternative trail to reach Lapataia Bay. You can see an uninhabited beaver dam, walk besides a peat bog and, at the end, walk through the forest. There is an important panoramic viewpoint from where you can appreciate Lapataia Bay. The path finishes at the Lapataia, panoramic viewpoint: however, if you like, you can continue combining on the the Senda de la Baliza trail (see below).

Trekking in Tierra del Fuego National Park, Ushuaia, Patagonia

Trekking in Tierra del Fuego National Park


As with most of the National Parks in Chile and Argentina it is possible to explore the natural beauty and great scenery just by walking. The Tierra del Fuego National Park, just the west of Ushuaia is no exception. Here, below we briefly describe some of the trails that you can hike within this National Park.


Inside the park there are different camping areas where you can spend the night without leaving the park, they are areas with basic services with toilets and drinking water.

The use of trekking poles is recommended, especially on tours such as Cerro Guanaco.

There are many areas of the trails that are muddy and others that are flooded with water such as peatlands, so it is important to bring waterproof shoes and spare socks to keep your feet dry.

If you do not go in your own vehicle, find out about the return times of the buses, have a taxi number on hand or go mentally to hitchhike, which is also an option.

In the summer in Ushuaia the days are very long, being clear almost until midnight. On the other hand, in winter it gets dark around 4 in the afternoon.

In Tierra del Fuego the weather conditions can change suddenly. Be prepared for cold, rain or snow even in summer. If you see that the weather it’s getting worse, start your return as quickly as possible.

Paying the entrance of the park you have the possibility of spending 48 hours inside it as long as you spend the night in it, or if you leave the park, the rangers will seal the entrance ticket and you will be able to return the next day without paying again.

If you go in your own vehicle you will not have any problem to visit Tierra de Fuego National Park. But if you arrived by public transport or hitchhiking, you will need to organize your itinerary well to get the most out of it.

Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Patagonia, Argentina

Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Patagonia, Argentina


The city is often regarded to be the southern-most city in the World (population approx. 65,000 in 2000), however, Puerto Williams, diagonally opposite, and in Chilean territory, is further south, but is a village and therefore not a “city”.

Ushuaia is situated beside the famous Beagle channel, named after the ship Charles Darwin sailed on when he arrived to the area: HMS Beagle (HMS means His or Her Majesty’s Ship). Ushuaia is located on the southern coast of the island “Tierra del Fuego” (land of Fire), called so after the first maritime explorers to the area noticed numerous fires on the land that were ignited by the indigenous people who inhabited the island. The Tierra del Fuego is a large island, south of continental South America.


In 1833, when Charles Darwin came exploring the area on board HMS Beagle he encountered a tribe of people known as the “Yamana”. These Indians were known for their strikingly, paint-covered bodies.

The first time the name Ushuaia appeared in writing was when, in 1869, the English missionary Waite Hockin Stirling documented his experiences of living with the “Yamana” people. More British missionaries arrived in 1870 and established a small settlement, erecting European-style houses which were pre-built in the Falkland Islands and shipped over. One such house was for the Reverend Thomas Bridges. His house comprised of two bedrooms and a third room. The bedrooms were allocated one for the Bridges family and the other for a married “Yamana” couple, and the third room was used as the chapel. In 1871 the first official marriage was recorded and in 1872 Thomas Despard Bridges was registered as the first birth in Ushuaia to a European.

It was not until 1873 when Argentine citizens arrived to teach at the newly-constructed school and the Argentine President, Julio Argentino Roca, decided to make Ushuaia a penal colony for serious criminals. This was likely based upon the British model of using Tasmania and Australia for the same purpose of sending criminals to a point as far away as possible from the main population of the country.

However, behind this plan was also a ploy to establish an Argentine colony for Argentina to lay claim to Tierra del Fuego, which eventually became formalized in 1881 after a boundary agreement between Chile and Argentina. The plan to build the new prison also required the construction of more houses for staff and logistical support personnel. Nevertheless, it was not until 1896 when the prison was officially recognized with an Executive Order issued from President Roca whereupon it could receive its first inmates.

On the 12th of October 1884, as part of the South Atlantic Expedition, Argentine Commodore Augusto Lasserre established Ushuaia as an Argentine sub-division, with the missionaries and naval officers signing an “Act of Ceremony”. Don Felix Paz was appointed as the Governor of Tierra del Fuego, and in 1885 then he decided that Ushuaia would be the Island’s capital. However,  it was not until 1904 when the Federal Government of Argentina followed through and recognized Ushuaia as the capital of Tierra del Fuego.

Ushuaia suffered several health epidemics, which were brought in by settling Europeans including typhus, whooping cough and measles. These illnesses decimated much of the native population, but because the indigenous “Yamana” people were not included in the census data the exact numbers of “Yamana” who died is not known. The first census was carried out in 1893 and recorded 113 men and 36 women living in Ushuaia (but not considering any “Yamana”).  By 1911 practically all the “Yamana” people had died and the original mission was closed. However, in the 1914 census (only 21 years later) the population had grown to 1,558 inhabitants.

In 1903 a military prison opened at the nearby Puerto Golondrina, which later merged with the original public prison in 1910, and continued to operate through to 1947, when President Juan Peron closed the facility by executive order due to reports of prisoner abuse. The building continued as a storage and office facility for the Argentine Navy until the early 1990’s. Today it is the Ushuaia Maritime Museum.

Ushuaia as since attracted farming pioneers, people who settled here and built estancias from where they farmed (and still do) mainly sheep, but also cattle. More recently the city has attracted people who want to work in the tourist industry.


Ushuaia is now a flourishing southern, Patagonian city. Due to its sheltered, maritime location combined with its logistical “closeness” to Antarctica its port facilities offer the ideal departure point for the numerous ships that navigate from here to the Antarctic peninsula. Also, there are Patagonia cruises between Ushuaia, via the numerous channels and fiords, to Punta Arenas in Chile (farther north) and such a trip offers the idea add-on before or after visiting Torres del Paine and / or El Calafate and El Chalten.

The city is dominated on its northern side by the tail end of the Andes mountains and on its southern shore is the Beagle Channel connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The other side of the Beagle Channel, and in clear eyesight is Chile, or the Chilean island of Navarino to be more precise, which is home to Puerto Williams.

Ushuaia is an ideal resting place prior to embarking on an Antarctic expedition, or upon returning from such a trip. There is the National Park to visit, boat trips into the Beagle Channel to see penguins, sea lions and other marine life, as well as kayaking and an off-road adventure into the back country to further experience the natural world.

Hotel accommodation varies from budget, through to moderate and up to the high end. If you have the funds, the high end offers top-level comfort and great views over the city or across the Beagle Channel whereupon the early morning sun rise is a wonderful spectacle to enjoy.

Activities from Ushuaia, Patagonia

Activities from Ushuaia, Patagonia

Ushuaia is situated on the southern tip of Tierra del Fuego Island in Patagonia with the Andes at its back and the Beagle sea channel at its front. Consequently, there are a number of activities to participate in if you are staying here.

Here we give a brief summary on some of the options.

Mountain Bike Circuits

Riding through different circuits, in the city or in the countryside, alone or with guides, is a way of enjoying natural landscapes in a chilled, healthy way.

Most characteristic circuits go across panoramic and historic points of the city, the roads of Tierra del Fuego National Park, the coastal trail of Playa Larga and Túnel Ranch or a combined excursion to the base of Martial Glacier.

Ushuaia Hotels and
Accommodation Options


There are varying accommodation options in Ushuaia ranging from the hostel level right up to the top-end, luxury level.

What we will show you are hotels that have firstly been visited by us in order to verify what they are really like and secondly we have selected those that range from the mid-level up to the top-end level.

It goes to say that the top-end options offer much nicer, more comfortable bedrooms and better, overall services. If you are joining an Antarctica expedition trip or a Patagonia Cruise, then a stay at one of the top-end hotels pre and / or post the navigational part will give you further enjoyment from your Patagonia trip.

In order to distinguish the better hotels in Ushuaia we have categorised them into these groups:

Premium Hotels

These are hotels that merit the distinguished classification of being above those that are not in the premium category. These hotels offer better, overall services, well furnished and decorated rooms, courteous staff – all the ingredients that combine to form the “better than the rest” position.

All Ushuaia Premium Hotels
Ushuaia Hotel Caquenes Featured Image
Hotel Cauquenes, Ushuaia
Ushuaia Hotel Arkur Featured Image
Hotel Arakur, Ushuaia

Top Level Hotels

The hotels that are the best at the destination in terms of comfort, decoration, service and the overall package we have put into the "top level" category. This does not mean that a hotel in this category is at the same level as another hotel in another destination in our "top level" category. It just means that these hotels are the "better hotels" at this destination out of all options.

All Ushuaia Top Level Hotels
Ushuaia Hotel Caquenes Featured Image
Hotel Cauquenes, Ushuaia
Ushuaia Hotel Arkur Featured Image
Hotel Arakur, Ushuaia

Mid Level Hotels

The hotels we have put into the "mid level" category are those hotels that do not merit being in the "top level", but are not at the lowest level either, hence "mid level". Usually, these hotels are perfectly good for a couple of nights and offer "practical" accommodation and facilities. If you are looking for only a "place to stay" and nothing more then a mid-level hotel will suffice.

Approved Hotels

During our inspections we ask the hotel owners if we can stay overnight at the hotel. We ask this because staying overnight is vastly different to just popping in with a quick visit. We like to know what the noise pollution is, what the breakfasts are like, how comfy the beds are, what the staff are like.

Therefore, if you see “inspected & approved” we are saying that we feel the hotel is perfectly good. If it does not have “approved” it means we have not stayed overnight or we feel it is not up to the level that our clients will require.

Approved By Experience Chile

Inspected Hotels

The reason we have a selected number of hotels that we choose to work with is because we regularly visit the hotels in Puerto Natales in order to know what they are really like. We cannot rely on the hundreds of often “suspect” reviews published in the internet. Therefore, we try to promote the better hotels that we know will make your trip more enjoyable. However, if you see that we have “inspected” a particular hotel, this does NOT mean that we recommend it necessarily. The ones we recommend are “approved”.

Inspected By Experience Chile

Other Hotels

We also include in the accommodation section information on hotels that are not, perhaps, that great, and in some cases maybe they are a little “tired”, but clients will often ask for such hotels because the cost is lower or because they are under the mistaken belief that they are better than they are. We have not said derogatory things about these hotels, but if you see a lack of enthusiasm in the description you can derive that that particular hotel is “average”.