Tierra del Fuego is a fascinating region 1,500 mi/2,400 km south of Buenos Aires, Argentina. It ranges from barren, desolate landscape raked clean by high winds to pine and beech forests, beautiful blue lakes and snowcapped mountain peaks (with good trout fishing). The area, shared by Argentina and Chile, is on an island at the southern tip of South America.
Tierra del Fuego, which translates as "fiery earth," has been inhabited by humans since before 8,000 BC. The Yaghan was one indigenous tribe that braved the fierce subzero temperatures, and it was some of this community that Charles Darwin kidnapped and took back to the U.K. in the 19th century in the name of anthropology. Managed as a territory of Argentina since 1885, it did not gain provincial status until 1990.
Most people use Ushuaia (the world's southernmost city) on the Beagle Channel as a base; it's 6 mi/10 km west of the entrance to Tierra del Fuego National Park. Travelers can choose among ferry rides to Isla de los Lobos (to see sea lions), Isla de Pajaros (Bird Island), Martello Island (for penguins), Bridges Island (for seals and birds) and Martial Glacier (with chairlift for skiers). Ushuaia is also the departure point for cruise ships heading to Antarctica or for shorter three-day excursions that continue up the Beagle Channel to Chile. Mount Castor, near the city, comes to life in winter as one of Argentina's most exclusive ski resorts.
Fall foliage can be seen in the park during summer (December-March). Travelers should take warm clothing any time of year, as the winds blow year-round, and weather can change rapidly.
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