Rural, natural and cultural tourism in Tierra del Fuego
At the southernmost tip of America and separated from the continent by the mythical Strait of Magellan, is the Province of Tierra del Fuego. Its capital, Ushuaia, the main center of tourist services, has a great natural and cultural heritage. Rio Grande to the north and the commune of Tolhuin complete this land of dreams and magic.
The itinerary proposed here has the city of Ushuaia as its gateway, where flights arrive from various parts of the country. There are various accommodation options, from simple lodgings, to luxurious hotels with a singular location in panoramic places of unlimited beauty.
But the circuit – for which we estimate a total of four days – begins in a small fishing village about 75 kms from the city. Puerto Almanza is a town on a large bay on the shores of the Beagle Channel, it is the ideal place for those who seek to get away from crowds and want to enjoy nature and tranquility. It has an anchorage that serves as a refuge for fishing and tourism ships. A large part of the population is dedicated to extracting spider crabs, spider crabs, mussels, cholgas and other mollusks from the cold waters of the Beagle. Along with trout and salmon they are prepared in exquisite dishes and offered in family homes or in small restaurants. “La Sirena y el Capitán”, “La Oveja Verde” and “La Mesita de Almanza” are some of the restaurants run by their own owners, each with exclusive specialties and combinations of local delicacies. Puerto Almanza is close to the Harberton cattle ranch, the first on the island, and a historical site of great biological and cultural value. Nowadays, Harberton has a museum and the possibility of carrying out activities such as walks and navigation, among others.
We will have to do about 100 kms to reach the central area of the Big Island where Tolhuin is located, which in the Selknam language means “heart”, for what is called “the heart of the island”. Nearby natural attractions, such as the “Corazón de la Isla”, “Laguna Negra” and “Río Valdez” Provincial Reserves, offer the visitor a unique postcard accessing lagoons, forests, cliffs, streams and peat bogs, through activities such as horseback riding, hiking and fishing. The capricious topography has generated an extremely picturesque city that combines colors and slopes, accompanied by a growing population. Another way to get to know the area is to sign up for a horseback ride. The experienced guides of the area accompany the adventurers with their trained horses and enrich the experience with their stories. In the area there is a variety of accommodation and gastronomy services, including the traditional Camping Hain, with all the services available for a comfortable stay.
On the way to the north of the Island, we suggest visiting the Cattle Ranch “Las Hijas”, 45 km from Tolhuin. Visiting this site means going back to a peculiar past, the testimony of which is visible in its compound, in the imposing shearing shed and in its legendary trees. Here it is possible to know a typical house used by the Shelk´nam, original inhabitants of the area. Various guided activities are proposed to learn what life is like in the countryside.
Shortly after, you arrive at the city of Río Grande, world renowned for its fishing sites where the big star is trout. The northern zone shows a landscape of undulating plains that give rise to rivers, lakes and lagoons. This landscape is combined with historical, cultural and cattle ranch circuits that allow you to know the history of the first European settlers who arrived to these lands. Rural tourism is a tempting option that allows you to enjoy various activities such as walks, observation of field tasks, gastronomic services, fishing guides and guided tours of the establishments. Other attractions that cannot be missed are the Atlantic Coast Provincial Reserve that is located in front of the City; the Salesian Mission about 12 km North of Río Grande, Cabo Domingo and the monument in commemoration of those who died in Malvinas.
The “Misión Salesiana” historical complex, founded in 1893, includes a visit to the “Monseñor Fagnano” Museum that offers a taxidermy collection of numerous birds, mammals and rodents. During the visit, you can also see the chapel and historic houses, the nursery, dairy farms and artisan sheep cheese dairies.
The Atlantic Coast Reserve, with activity for observing migratory and resident birds, and the Urban Reserves “Punta Popper” and “Laguna de los Patos”, are other must-sees in the area.
To learn about the history of the region and the indigenous culture found by colonizers, we suggest visiting the Virginia Choquintel Museum and the Fuegian Museum of Art.
The diverse local gastronomy also stands out, with artisanal production sites for chocolates, sweets and beers, among other Fuegian delicacies.