The Island Of Tierra Del Fuego

Posted On November 30, 2009 

Tierra del Fuego is an archipelago 73,753 square kilometers off the southernmost tip of the South American mainland, across the Strait of Magellan. In Spanish, Tierra del Fuego means the Land of Fire.

Before the Boundary treaty of 1881, Argentina and Chile claimed the entire country. Since 1881, Chile has about 62 per cent of Tierra del Fuego‘s land under its control and the rest belongs to Argentina.

It is surrounded by the Antarctic Ocean.

The story behind its name says that the famous navigator Hernando de Magallanes saw bonfires on this island, which actually were the flames burnt by the Ona and Yaghan tribes, the natives, for their warmth and called the island the land of fire.

Tierra del Fuego Island

When to visit

The overall climate is sub polar oceanic climate were summers are short and cool and the winters are long, wet and moderate.

There is nothing common between the name of the Island of Tierra del Fuego and its climate.

During the summer months, from December to March, temperatures range from 6 degree Celsius to 12 degree Celsius. From September to December and from March to June, it is zero degrees Celsius and in winter months, from June to August, temperature drop down further, even though it has clear days and little wind.

Sunshine during summer lasts for up to 18 hours in a day, even when the temperatures around 3 to 7 degree Celsius on an average throughout the year.

The overall climate is inhospitable sub-polar oceanic climate, though November to February is the high season at the Island of Tierra del Fuego.

How to reach

Accessing the Tierra del Fuego Island is not difficult and there are many ways for the same. There are daily flights to Porvenir, the capital of the province of Tierra del Fuego from Punta Arenas, Patagonia’s main town. The journey takes about 15 minutes.

There are ferries that leave for Punta Arenas from Tres Puenta or Primera Angostura, crossing the Straint of Magellan. There are shuttle services too that take about 3 hours for the entire journey.

The city of Puerto Williams, the southern most city of the world has shuttle services through the Beagle Channel and also an airport for light aircrafts. Cape Horn is just 160 kilometers north of Puerto Williams and can be reached by air or water.

Attractions at Tierra del Fuego

Even though the climate at Tierra del Fuego Island is not very suitable for tourism, there still are few places here that tourists flock to.

The Perito Moreno Glacier, in the UNESCO World Heritage site of Los Glaciares National Park, measures about 30 kilometers in length and is spread over 250 square kilometers. The enormous chunks of ice that break off into the water creating ice bergs and large waves, is a site you can’t stop gaping at. The El Calafate in the Santa Cruz Province of Argentina is the closest town to this glacier.

Los Glaciares National Park

Ushuaia in the south of Tierra del Fuego is the main tourist destination. With Ushuaia as the base, you could go to Canal Beagle, trek in the Parque National Tierra de Fuego and visit the Mountain ranges of the southern Tierra del Fuego that has lakes, beefwoods forests and snow- capped mountains.

Most of the tourist destinations are in the south of the Island, except the world’s best brown trout river, River Rio Grande for fly fishing.

Among the outdoor activities, fishing, sailing, trekking and horse riding are few of the activities that you can enjoy here.

There are a number of lakes in Tierra del Fuego Island that can give you a good catch while fishing. The trout fishing season is from mid October to Mid April, though participants must have an authorized fishing license. The Grande River, Lake Blanco about 210 kilometers south of Porvenir, the Condor River at a distance of about 180 kilometers south of Porvenir, Lake Deseado and Lake Escondido are few of the spots good for fishing.

Tierra del Fuego lake

The island has amazing scope for trekking. The major trekking routes cross the Darwin Mountain Ranges of the Agostini National Park, to the west of Tierra del Fuego with woods, glaciers and small lakes on the way.  December to March is good time for trekking in this Island.

While the routes remain the same for horse riding, the experience is unique and exciting when you are doing so.  The circuits for horse riding can be arranged as per your interest and capabilities. The Darwin Mountain Range is again a good route for horse-riding and so are the banks of the Condor River.
An island has to have cruising arrangements. Cruising from Punta Arenas to Puerto Porvenir or to the Straits of Magellan is an absolute delight, more so if a school of Commerson’s dolphins appear randomly.

The capital of the province of Tierra del Fuego has a couple of attractions as well. There is the Plaza de Armas, dominated by the San Francisco De Sales Church built by the Salesian order in the 19th century.

The Fernando Cordero Rusque Museum with its exhibitions of the island’s fauna as well as the archaeological remains of the early inhabitants deserves a visit.

Fifty kilometers to the east of Porvenir are the Baquedo range and the De Oro Circuit or the Golden Circuit are the two main tours of the Island. The Inuit Bay to the south of Provenir has the Lake Santa Maria, on the way to which is a reserve of aquatic birds such as swans, flamingoes, Chilean coot etc.

Located north of the Tierra del Fuego Island, in the Primavera town is the Mt Sombrero district, an oil camp in the 1950s, built by American architects. In the Outskirts of Hat Hill, the first Oil well was discovered in 1945. Sixty kilometers to the northwest is a beach area, 15 kilometers of which has the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean meeting.  It is a great site for marine fauna and has many oil platforms. Just bordering the Argentina is the Santo Espiritu Cape Lighthouse to guide the sailing ship traffic in these waters. For adventure, you can visit the Beagle Channel Circuit where you can lay hands on sea brass and pejerrey with your bare hands.

At the Lomas Bay in the northern area of the Tierra del Fuego Island, is an observatory where you can spot some exotic migratory birds.

The Island of Tierra del Fuego may not have a climate that’s apt for tourism industry to thrive. Nevertheless, its climate cannot put off the tourists who do not leave their sense of adventure while stepping out of home to get to a new, strange place. And with plenty of tourists like this, Tierra del Fuego Island remains one of the popular yet untamed tourist destinations of the world.

Related Posts

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!

CommentLuv badge