Ushuaia is the capital of the Tierra del Fuego province in Argentina. Actually, it is only the capital of one part of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago which belongs to Argentina, while another part comes under Chile. It gets even more complicated because Ushuaia is also the capital of Antarctica since it is the southernmost city in the world, which means it is the city closest to Antarctica. Ushuaia was essentially nothing but Yamana Indians and a few stray missionaries before it became Fin del Mundo, an infamous penal colony. Where tourism is concerned, the city is now a bustling tax-free shopping paradise, which offers everything from casinos and fine dining restaurants to Antarctic cruises, national parks and ski resorts. If you intend to move around on your own, you will need to get a car for hire in Ushuaia.
The best place to start would be at the tourist information office located at San Martin 674. Assuming you have got a car for rent in Ushuaia and you now have all the requisite tourist brochures and maps, it is time to see the land at world's end. To be specific, you are visiting what was formerly Fin del Mundo (End of the World), a former penal prison colony. So the first point of interest is the Presidio, museum of the military prison. Also visit the historic Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse. You must not miss some tax-free shopping near the waterfront, and order the famous local king crabs when you take a break for lunch.
Unless you are on a cruise boat headed for Antarctica, the outdoor attractions and activities are the fun part of a visit to Ushuaia. You can hit the ski slopes at Glacier El Martial or Cerro Castor, which is again the southernmost most ski resort in the world. You must visit Lapataia Bay and the Tierra del Fuego National Park, and enjoy the narrow gauge "Train at the End of the World" which takes you into the park.
This is the Antarctic version of the wild west, and distances between towns have little meaning. So a "short drive" is a relative term that refers to the nearest towns and settlements. The closest place you can visit is Estancia Harberton, the family home of Thomas and Mary Bridges who founded Tierra del Fuego. Estancia Harberton is located about 40 miles east of the city on the Beagle Channel. Any other towns you plan on visiting will be considerably further away, on the other side of Kami (Fagnano) Lake. You can go past Tolhuin and see Vieja Carmen, and then continue further to Viamonte and then Rio Grande on the Atlantic Coast. Or you can turn the other way at Tolhuin and visit San Pablo. Either way, pencil in at least a 3-4 hour drive to Rio Grande or San Pablo.
All the agencies providing a car rental in Ushuaia are bunched up on streets like Av. Maipú and Av. San Martin, near the port where the cruise ships dock. You can compare all the choices and deals available online, select the one you like best and book your vehicle right now.
21 August 2019
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