5 reasons to explore Tierra del Fuego


  1. Follow in the footsteps of intrepid explorers: Darwin and Magellan, discovering the final place on earth, outside Antarctica, to be inhabited by humans.
  2. Spot soaring condors and eagles, nesting penguins, lounging seal lions and endearing beavers: Tierra del Fuego is a naturalist’s dream.
  3. Fantastic local food and a great variety of hotels make adding-on 2 or 3 days in Ushuaia the perfect appetizer to your main course in Antarctica.
  4. Witness, discover, interact and have fun with the locals at The End of the World as you learn about their authentic way of life. 
  5. Catch king-crab, hike forest trails, explore by 4x4, wild-camp, canoe in rivers and lakes, or simply relax and enjoy the magnificent scenery

Why visit Ushuaia?

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Swoop says

Building in extra time in Ushuaia as provision for the frequent flight delays in the region is the perfect excuse to spend time exploring Tierra del Fuego. Some Antarctic operators will provide pre-cruise accommodation in Ushuaia, which we can easily extend for you if desired.

What can I experience near Ushuaia?

Illustrated Guide

Our favourite 2-day experiences in Tierra del Fuego

Discover Tierra del Fuego

Land of Fire

South America’s largest island, this vast archipelago was originally named ‘Tierra de Humos’ or Land of Smoke by Ferdinand Magellan in 1520 upon sighting the smoulder from the indigenous people’s fires, dotted along its shores. The expedition had stumbled across the southernmost land mass on the planet outside of Antarctica, with an area larger than Denmark, before setting sail across the newly baptised Pacific Ocean and circumnavigating the globe. As the saying goes: 'where there’s smoke, there’s fire’, so the name Tierra del Fuego or Land of Fire was forever scribed in history.

This mystical region nowadays hosts towns with and all the necessary services for travellers willing to spend a few days discovering its hidden treasures.   

Ushuaia

Unpronounceable to most, the world’s southernmost city, likely derives from the native Yamana expressions Ushu and Waia meaning ‘bay facing the sunset’. Established on the shore of the Beagle Channel, the settlement grew as a notorious penal colony, you could say the Alcatraz of Argentina, to become Tierra del Fuego’s capital. 

Nowadays, the jail is a museum and the city’s population is about 80,000. Ushuaia’s wild frontier feel remains, yet it provides everything a traveller requires: the perfect place to base oneself for discovering both the stunning national park and beyond.

Wildlife

Given the island’s diverse ecosystems and unspoilt natural beauty, Tierra del Fuego offers wonderful opportunities for spotting various wildlife, especially birds. One can sometimes see both coastal and mountainous species, such as the emblematic Andean condor. Other wonderful species to sight are the characteristic Magellanic woodpecker (with its bright red-plumed head), and the ever-so cute Magellanic penguin - not seen in Antarctica. 

Guanacos, a relative of the llama, roam free in the northern part of the island, where no natural predator exists. Foxes are widespread, as are North-American beavers; a species introduced last century and now number in their hundreds of thousands across the archipelago. 

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David says

The first time I went to Ushuaia I was planning on spending 2 or 3 days there. Two and a half weeks later I was still discovering things to do and places to visit. You may wish you'd done the same!

David Hilton Patagonia Product & Partnership Manager

Plan your stay

Weather

Patagonia is famed as one of the most unpredictable and windiest, places on earth in terms of weather. Located nearer to Antarctica (600 miles away) than Buenos Aires (approximately 2000 miles away) and surrounded by ocean, you can understand why Tierra del Fuego experiences ‘four seasons in one day’, so be prepared. 

Having said that, winters are not as wicked as you’d expect, with very little wind, and summer days only occasionally exceed 70F or 20C, as the oceans moderate the climate considerably. 

We recommend dressing like an onion (lots of layers!), every day, so you’re ready for whatever the weather may throw at you.  

Fuegian Food

Tierra del Fuego excels in its local and authentic culinary offering: The queen of dishes is the centolla or king crab - the local speciality. Other fresh sea-food options are squid, sea bass, salmon and trout, which will only leave you wanting more. From the earth, one has to try the famous Argentine steak grills and especially the local king of dishes, the sumptuous lamb bbq: asado de cordero. Cooked slowly over hot embers, with a specially-made brine tossed on as it roasts, this dish is a must-try for any foodie visiting Tierra del Fuego. 

Fueguinos, as the locals are called, are proud of their regional dishes, and our featured 2-day experiences all contain great lunch options, meaning foodies will delight in their stay at the End of the World.

How long to stay?

Dotted with protected areas, wild open spaces, a complex array of fjords, rivers, forests with mountains and glaciers abound, Tierra del Fuego merits time and dedication. The good news is that our itineraries are flexible; easily combined and tailored to your needs should you only have limited time to spend in Ushuaia en-route to Antarctica. Ushuaia offers a wide array of hotels, for all types of traveller, some truly superb dining options, and great local guides itching to show you their land and tell you about their history. We recommend at least 2 full-days in Ushuaia to really get a feel for the place, get over that long-haul jet lag and soak up the beauty of the region, before your trip of a lifetime.  

Our Experiences

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What our customers think

From the very beginning, Swoop was with us. They educated us about the perfect trip, the perfect boat, what to sign up for, the clothing to bring, hotels to stay at, restaurants to go to in Ushuaia. When our ship had an issue and there was a one day delay, Swoop literally "swooped in" and had their expert on Ushuaia contact us and give us recommendations. They became like "family"...we adore Ange and Alex and the entire team!!! Read the full review

Marina Angleton United States Of America January 2020

We did a number of tours in Ushuaia and found the scenery and hikes to be great. Very happy we spent this additional time in the area. Read the full review

Steve Hatten United States Of America December 2019

Many thanks for making my unforgettable experience in Tierra del Fuego possible. The land is one of a kind; the only regret I have that I was not able to go for more days!

Christian United States of America April 2018

Places to stay

Your Antarctic adventure may have some accommodation included, nonetheless Ushuaia has a superb variety of hotels for you to choose from. Catering to different budgets and requirements, there are luxury options for those looking for something special; great value options if you want to be in the city centre and want comfortable lodging; and budget options for travellers who look for functionality and location as paramount.

Ushuaia & Tierra del Fuego

How To Book - Ushuaia

  1. Once booked on your Antarctic voyage, our dedicated Polar bookings team will be happy to talk about our add-on experiences, answer any questions you might have, and send you detailed information about the different options that best suit your desires.

  2. Take a look at our inspirational video and example itineraries and decide what experiences you would lilke to know more about.

  3. Once agreed, we book your perfect stay in Ushuaia, requiring a 25% deposit; the balance is added to your final statement. 

  4. Call Swoop Antarctica’s reservations team on +44 117 369 0696 (international) or 1-855-369-8288 (US/Canada toll-free) to start planning your pre-Antarctic Tierra del Fuego adventure.

  5. You can access your itinerary any time you wish from your Swoop Adventure Planner, and we will let you know what to expect from start to finish of your trip of a lifetime.

Ushuaia: Frequently Asked Questions

  • How much time do I need in Ushuaia?

    You will need to allow at least 1 night prior to sailing, in Ushuaia, as a buffer for flight delays as your ship will sail without you if you arrive late. Some ship operators will include 1 or 2 nights in a hotel in Ushuaia before embarkation as standard. Why not take advantage of this time to experience what Ushuaia has to offer? 

  • Can Swoop tailor my accommodation needs?

    Yes, we will liaise with the ship operator and hotel in order to arrange any extra nights accommodation you feel necessary, so you don't have to worry about a thing. Each Antarctic itinerary is different, so we will help you organise this. 

  • Is Ushuaia a safe city to stay in?

    Most travellers to Ushuaia have no issues with security. Many people in the city work in tourism which means travellers are made to feel very welcome and safe. Of course, you should always take the usual precautions such as keeping your valuables in the hotel safe, just in case.

  • How can I get to Ushuaia?

    Ushuaia can be reached by road or by air.

    By road, Punta Arenas is a 10-12hr bus ride, depending on how long it takes to cross the international border and the strait of Magellan.

    To access Ushuaia from mainland Argentina, the nearest city is Rio Gallegos, also about 10hrs away and involving 2 international border crossings. 

    By air, most planes arrive directly from Buenos Aires (4hrs) and some links also exist to and from El Calafate (1hr).

    There are no direct flights to Punta Arenas, Chile; in order to fly to Chile, you must connect via Buenos Aires, and enter the country via Santiago de Chile. 


  • Can Swoop help book flights?

    We are Patagonia travel specialists and would love to help you organise every aspect of your travel, for your peace of mind. We can provide advice on getting you to and from your destination, as well as travel within the region. 

Ready to plan your Antarctic adventure?

1
Listen

Listen

We'll spend some time listening to your aspirations, then discuss the kind of experience that might suit you.

2
Match

Match

Next we'll discuss the options, shortlist the best trips for you and present you our impartial recommendations.

3
Reserve

Reserve

We'll place a 24 hour hold on your preferred option - without obligation - whilst we talk through the details.

With over 50 years of Antarctic experience between us, we can help guide you to exactly the right trip for you.

1-855-369-8288