If asked as to where in the world one would expect to see such alpine scenery as shown here, no doubt the usual suspects would come to mind: The Alps. The Rockies. Maybe New Zealand. But the answer lies both across and down in a seven letter word for ‘the end of the world’—Ushuaia.
Please note that the end of the world to which I refer here is not the battle of Armageddon but rather the tip—or end—of the South American continent. Calling itself the world’s southernmost city (made possible by ignoring the tiny town of Puerto Williams, Chile just across the channel) Ushuaia is the main tourist base for exploring the Tierra del Fuego area and is a far more pleasant destination than worldwide cataclysm. It’s even prettier than Armageddon too.
Ushuaia is most notably the primary departure port for vessels heading down to the frigid waters of the Antarctic Peninsula. It is here that most of the relatively few visitors to the White Continent get onboard for the often-dicey crossing of the Drake Passage. Flights to Antarctica are technically possible as well, but besides the hefty price tag ($1500 to $2000 roundtrip for a day excursion to a research base), rapidly changing weather conditions and gale force winds often prevent the flights from ever leaving the ground. Fortunately, there’s plenty to see and do nearby—and in temperate conditions as well.
A main attraction is the lovely Tierra del Fuego National Park, located at the end of Route 3, the Argentinean incarnation of the Pan-American Highway which ends somewhere in the neighborhood of Fairbanks, Alaska. The scenery is rather Alaska-esque as well, with snowcapped mountains and clear lakes amidst verdant forest. Bahia Ensenada is reachable via an easy trail and offers great views of the trailing edge of the mighty Andes Range.
Nearby and possible on a day excursion as well is a trip through the Beagle Channel, named after Darwin’s ship. This waterway of forests, mountains and magnificent glaciers would give any of the usual suspects a run for their money in terms of sheer beauty. The undeveloped vistas and remoteness are impressed upon you here, and this is where you realize the term ‘fin del mundo’ is not just a marketing phrase for the tourists.
So if your travels have taken you just about everywhere else, Ushuaia is a worthy destination. I’m certain that both the end of the road and the end of the world will be far more pleasant than you ever imagined.