If there is something you definitely must do in Ushuaia is going on a tour through the Beagle Channel.
There are different tours you can book at the Ushuaia Port or from travel agencies: The traditional canal tour, visiting the Penguin Island, taking a walking tour, navigating until the end of the Beagle Channel, etc.
Whatever your choice is, I can guarantee you one thing: You will be dazzled by the landscape.
We went on a tour through almost the entire channel, reaching Isla Martillo – On the map, Islas de Tierra del Fuego – I added a map with our itinerary at the end of this post.
We left the port of Ushuaia on a catamaran around 4 p.m., with the sun shining and again making me forget that thermometers were marking around 5 degrees.
What I found interesting about this tour is that during the entire route, a crew member tells visitors about the local history and share information about the animals and islands we could catch sight on the way.
Interesting fact: The Beagle Channel received its name due to a British ship called HMS Beagle. In one of its journeys, the HMS Beagle had Charles Darwin as one of the members its expedition. Darwin started writing about the Evolution Theory during that journey and later published the famous book “The Origin of Species”. He also published a book named “The Voyage of the Beagle”, in which he tells about his experience on the HMS Beagle.
At the beginning of the tour, the captain asked all passengers to be seated inside the boat, until we left the port and arrived at a more stable part of the ocean. A few minutes later, the doors were opened and the most adventurous folks were able to stay the outside and enjoy the tour by the deck.
As you can imagine, I was one of those people.
It would be an understatement on my part to say that I got a little wet on the outside of the boat – I was soaked!
I was lucky to be dressed in my jacket from The North Face, which I have been lovingly carrying with me for almost ten years, since my exchange program in New Zealand. This piece has saved me so many times, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to say goodbye to it.
Outside the boat was quite unstable and there was no use of life jackets – At least not on my tour. Therefore, children should always be accompanied, and honestly, I don’t think it is recommended for them to stay outside of the cabin for a long time. It is very cold and slippery.
One of the coolest things about the tour is to look back and see the Cordillera getting smaller and smaller as the boat sails towards the end of the Beagle Channel. We passed several islands along the way, where you could see birds, sea lions and other animals from the region.
Our first stop was at the famous Les Eclaireur Lighthouse.
We didn’t get off the boat, but we were parked there for a few minutes. If you have seen any picture of Patagonia, you have certainly seen this lighthouse. It was already a beautiful view, but we also saw sea lions enjoying the afternoon sun on the rocks.
Following the journey, we spent a long period sailing eastwards through the Channel. Throughout the journey, you can see land on both sides of the way, and some very small seaside villages.
It is curious to imagine how these people’s lives are different from mine, being in such a remote place. It certainly has its magic too.
After a long time, the guide informed us that we passed Puerto Williams, a Chilean territory known for being the world’s southernmost city. Many tourists go to Puerto Williams because of that title – In addition, expeditions to Cabo de Hornos and Antarctica also depart from there.
We then arrived to our second stop: Isla Martillo. This place is the famous “Penguins Island“, where many tourists descend to get closer to the animals. It was not the case on our tour, but you could see some people walking around the island with other companies.
Honestly, I’m not a big fan of this type of tourism. I find it extremely invasive for the animals, and it also affects their natural habitat. We were boat’s deck watching the animals, and it was as nice as being next to them – And much less invasive. It is a pity that practices like these are unlikely to disappear from today’s world…
After Isla Martillo, we started our way back to the Ushuaia’s port. The temperature dropped a lot along the walk, so very few people stayed outside during the return.
As we approached the city, the natural lighting became more and more beautiful. It was only then that I realized that almost three hours had passed, and it was 7p.m.! Close to the port, the crew asked me to return inside, after all, everyone should stay in their seats on this part of the trip.
If you plan on getting to know Ushuaia, regardless of the tour you choose, navigating through the Beagle Channel is definitely something to add to your itinerary!
Today, revisiting these photos, I’m sure this is a tour I would do again.
Our Tour Itinerary: