Paul Schwanitz von Keitz
In the 2nd week of November 2013 I had 7 days to check out Ushuaia and the surrounding country. I brought my full hiking/trekking equipment and stayed at the Los Lupinos Hostel most of the time. The hostel is great and the staff awesome, I can recommend it for a stay.
Before getting to Ushuaia I swore to myself that I would do as less commercially available tours as possible and be self-guided, as always. After check in I quickly discovered two other guys from Munich, Germany at my room and we hung out together for a few days.
After a quick tour of downtown Ushuaia, with its many souvenir stores and outdoor equiment retailers, we went together on the short half-a-day hike up Glacier Martial. A GPS track will be available for download shortly. It's a very good start to get a feeling for the area, the weather, snow conditions and the city-size. I recommend going to the starting point by cab, the road up there is really not that beautiful to walk it for 2 hours.
Penguin Island. It is only commercially available because it is a natural reserve and has very limited access for the public. Only PiraTours offers the visit. The pictures will tell the story. It is amazing, do it! Forget about even trying to predict the weather, it'll change every 15 minutes and you just need good luck, no matter what the weather report predicts. You'll be able to go as close as 3m to the penguins! For your convenience and out of pure technical play around you'll find a Garmin Adventure here (click). Down below you'll also find the GPS track for direct download.
Out in the national park with my friends, who where stopping by for 3 days. We took a 5h walk from "Ensenada" down by the shore along the coast towards Lago Roca. Very beautiful walk, scenic views every few meters, it's hard not to take photographs of every step along the way. Highly recommendable, easy walk even without hiking boots. Make sure to pre-arrange a pick up by cab from Lago Roca or any other location at a certain time (like sunset), there is no cellphone coverage anywhere. The pictures should tell the rest of the story. A GPS track is available down below. A Garmin GPS adventure (Ushuaia national park, Tierra del Fuego, Patagonia) via Basecamp is available here
Laguna Esmeralda. To get there take a cab from the tourist information, tell them where you want to go - some cab drivers know the starting point, make sure your driver discusses it with his colleagues before driving off. The right starting point is crucial to actually find the way. If you get to the Laguna, enjoy the view and then walk past it, for the real show - huge beaver dams and cobalt blue waters behind the dams in the far back of the valley. A GPS track is available for download below and a Garmin GPS adventure right here, you'll need in especially for the first few hundred meters, then the trail is marked with blue and yellow ribbons.
Wednesday - Friday.
A taste of Tierra del Fuego. After a lot of preparation, online research, literature research and talking to locals at the hostel and tourist information I unhappily abandonded my original plans of hiking through the national park into Chile and to the foot of Monte Darwin. Crossing the borders without permit/ passport check was supposed to be quiet risky in getting locked up. So I found another hike through no-mans-land, most of the time without any sign of humanity. The GPS track is available down below.
Via Garmin Basecamp you can download the Patagonia 4-day hike Adventure of Tierra del Fuego with Lago Fagnano as turning point (click here).
H-Island. I was wasted. My feet hurt like hell, I didn't want to walk any more than necessary. But I did not want to waste the day. In the morning I went to the harbour, asking for any free boat-tours, knowing that they are usually booked out in advance. I was lucky and I got a place on "Tres Marias" for the H-Island tour, also a natural reserve with restricted access and the chance to see cormorans breeding, close up. Perfect day, no matter the drizzle, high recommendation. Bring very warm clothes, everything you have! It really only makes sense if you hang out at the deck and there it is really cold.