September 16, 2016
Ushuaia, Argentina is located on Tierra del Fuego island – at the southernmost tip of South America. Sometimes called ‘the end of the world’, it is ideally placed to be the gateway to Antarctica. Many expeditions and polar cruises bound for Antarctica set sail from Ushuaia. Ushuaia is an adventure hub and tourism hotspot for travel to Antarctica. This is where the Andes mountain range meets the Southern Ocean and is spectacularly situated on the beautiful Beagle Channel.
Ushuaia holds the title of the southernmost city in the world. We recommend our guests to get there a night or two before we set sail from Ushuaia to Antarctica – that extra time can be invaluable in the event there are any challenges with your journey out to South America. Added to that, it’s a stunningly beautiful and interesting place to visit at either end of your Antarctic expedition.
Before getting to Antarctica, get a taste for glaciers by taking a trip to Ushuaia’s Martial Glacier – it’s just a few miles from the town. You can walk up the path to the glacier, or get a lift at least part of the way by taking the chair lift connected to the ski centre that’s based there. The Glacier offers fabulous views of the Beagle Channel and its islands. Of course, you’ll be seeing even more impressive glaciers on your journey in Antarctica – but it is a good place to start.
Just 12km out of Ushuaia, the national park boasts a beautiful and varied landscape. From here you can see the end of the Pan-American Highway. You’ll also experience mountains, waterfalls, coastal views, forests and glaciers – this southern most national park has it all. You can even travel to the park on a little local train which will take you along the winding edge of the Pipo River – the same historic route as prisoners used to take.
Ushuaia was once a penal colony. Perhaps that’s not surprising given this southern most city was and still is referred to as the ‘end of the world’. You can take in the Museo Marítimo & Museo del Presidio to find out about the convicts who were transferred here from Staten Island in 1906 to build the prison, which was finished in 1920. It was eventually closed in 1947 but held 800 prisoners at its peak –some of them dangerous, some of them infamous - from Russian anarchists to authors. There is also a maritime museum, an Antarctic museum and a maritime art museum on this site so it is a great visit if you have some time to use up as you await to set sail from Ushuaia to Antarctica.
Find your sea legs on a boat cruise out to the Beagle Channel and see some of the local wildlife – from sea birds and penguins to sea lions and perhaps even orcas. However, you’ll find these in even more impressive numbers on your Polar Cruise, but it’s good practice ahead of your Antarctica cruise from Ushuaia.
Other fantastic travel options not far from Ushuaia include the impressive landscapes and national parks of Argentine and Chilean Patagonia. Amazing destinations such as Torres del Paine National Park in Chile can be reached overland or with a short flight to El Calafate, Argentina you can see the World Heritage Listed Perito Moreno glacier.
Stopping off at Ushuaia is also a great idea as it gives you a chance to catch your breath after all the excitement of your Antarctic expedition before you head back home. A visit to Antarctica is life-changing. It is extraordinarily beautiful. It is also full of activities – so a stop back in Ushuaia for the night, or two, is a great way to relax, and process your experience – perhaps even in the company of your new friends from the ship, before you head for home.
For full details of all Antarctic cruises from Ushuaia, visit expeditionsonline.com for comprehensive information on travel to Antarctica. Expeditions Online is the polar expedition and cruise specialist for small ship cruises and their staff and leaders have visited all of the destinations in Antarctica. Get in touch to see if we can meet your travel needs – our advice is independent and expert.