Ushuaia

Overview

Introduction

Most consider Ushuaia to be the southernmost city in the world, but technically, the honor goes to the town of Puerto Williams, across the channel in Chile. All around the city, travelers will find the saying, "Fin del Mundo," which translates to "End of the World." Ushuaia's port is one of the main stopovers for visitors to and from Antarctica. The port itself at Avenida Maipu 510 is wholly given over to commercial shipping. Passengers disembarking there generally head straight for the city proper. There are several excursion vendor kiosks exiting the port, and the visitor information building (where travelers can get passport stamps) is across the street. This is also where visitors can catch the Argentinean version of a hop-on-hop-off bus.


Ushuaia is located on a prominent natural harbor on the Beagle Channel, which is named after the famous ship Charles Darwin used for his nature discoveries that would eventually form his basis for On the Origin of Species. It is easy to see how the biodiversity in this rich area had such a profound impact on Darwin. The city was formally founded in 1884, but in 1896, it was built with a penal colony, which was used to establish a permanent territorial presence after a treaty with Chile. The prisoners helped to build the town and the foundation for the Tren del Fin del Mundo (End of the World Train), the southernmost railway in the world. The railway is an alternative way for visitors to become acquainted with Tierra del Fuego National Park, although it is a short ride that could easily be hiked by most people in good shape.


The town's original prison has been repurposed into a well-curated museum, with wings dedicated to the hardships of the prisoners, early Antarctic exploration, early native history and contemporary Argentinian artists. There's also a small museum dedicated to the Yamana people that touches on the region's anthropological history and strong connection with Charles Darwin.


The city has two full-service luxury hotel spas, and there are many guide services for outdoor activities, such as hiking and kayaking. There are also many restaurants that serve up local delicacies, such as centolla (king crab) and merluza negra (toothfish). Other attractions include wildlife (penguins, birds and whales) and nearby ski areas, such as Cerro Castor resort. The ski areas often keep the lifts running in summer to transport hikers to a nearby glacier.


The city experiences misty and foggy conditions for much of the year, so rain protection is a necessity for visitors. The city also experiences strong winds. Warm clothing is necessary even in summer months, when average high temperatures don't rise much above 47 F/14 C.

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