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Ushuaia is the capital of Tierra del Fuego, Antártida e Islas del Atlántico Sur Province, Argentina. It is commonly regarded as the southernmost city in the world. Ushuaia is located in a wide bay on the southern coast of Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego, bounded on the north by the Martial mountain range, and on the south by the Beagle Channel. It is the only municipality in the Department of Ushuaia, which has an area of 9,390 km2 (3,625 sq mi).
The city of some 56,000 inhabitants has in the last decades transformed from a sleepy village to a lively tourist center, so you will not feel quite like you are at the end of the world. The scenic landscape around the city, with good outdoor sports including one of the southernmost winter sport resorts in the world complete with a view to the sea, make Ushuaia a place worth visiting.
|FOUNDED :||12 October 1884|
|TIME ZONE :||ART (UTC−3)|
|LANGUAGE :||Spanish (official)|
|AREA :||23 km2 (9 sq mi)|
|ELEVATION :||23 m (75 ft)|
|COORDINATES :||54°48′S 68°18′W|
|SEX RATIO :|
|AREA CODE :||2901|
|POSTAL CODE :|
|DIALING CODE :||+54 2901|
Situated on the Beagle Strait,Ushuaia is the largest city in Argentine Tierra del Fuego, and arguably the southernmost city in the world. In the past, the town has been a missionary base, penal colony and naval base for the Argentine navy. Ushuaia is now a major tourist town, complete with casinos and nice restaurants, and commonly used as a base for hiking, winter sports and cruises to Antarctica.
Tourist attractions include the Tierra del Fuego National Park and Lapataia Bay. The park can be reached by highway, or via the End of the World Train (Tren del Fin del Mundo) from Ushuaia. The city has a museum of Yámana, English, and Argentine settlement, including its years as a prison colony. Wildlife attractions include local birds, penguins, seals, and orcas, many of these species colonizing islands in the Beagle Channel. There are daily bus and boat tours to Harberton, the Bridges family compound. Tours also visit the Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse. Les Eclaireurs is sometimes confused with the "Lighthouse at the End of the World" (Faro del fin del mundo) made famous by Jules Verne in the novel of the same name; but the latter lies some 200 mi (320 km) east of Ushuaia on Isla de los Estados (Staten Island).
There are several tourist offices. Aside of the central one on the main street (currently closed, the nearest is in the port next to the 'end of the world' sign) there are smaller ones on the airport and the port.
Prior to the late 19th century, the land that is now called Ushuaia was inhabited entirely by Yámana people and a handful of missionaries. Due to outbreaks of typhus, pertussis and measles, by 1911, the Yámana had effectively disappeared; as of 2007, there was allegedly one pure-blooded native-speaking Yámana left.
In the late 19th century, the Argentine government established a penal colony in Ushuaia intended for repeat offenders, serious criminals and some political prisoners, following similar examples by the French and British. The prison population became forced colonists who spent most of their time chopping down the now-protected lenga trees, which they used to build the town. The prison was shut down in 1947, but it and the railway to the settlement have now become the Museo Maritimo and the Tren del Fin del Mundo respectively.
Today the town is growing fast as a result of increased tourism since the 2002 economic crash. The government has encouraged this growth by designating Tierra del Fuego a virtually tax-free zone to encourage people to settle; many of the inhabitants of today's Ushuaia come from Chaco, in the north of Argentina. The cost of living, however, is relatively high as all goods have to be transported long distances, usually by container ship.
Ushuaia's temperature data technically fit the definition of a tundra climate (Köppen: ET), but this is significantly moderated by its proximity to the ocean. Vegetation around the city thus does not resemble typical tundra but is instead heavily forested. Temperatures at the Ushuaia – Malvinas Argentinas International Airport average 1.3 °C (34.3 °F) in the coolest month (July), and 9.6 °C (49.3 °F) in the warmest month (January). The record low is −21 °C (−6 °F) in July, and the record high is 29.5 °C (85 °F) in January. On average the city experiences 146 days of precipitation a year, with many cloudy and foggy days, averaging 206 cloudy days a year. This results in Ushuaia receiving an average of 3.93 hours of sunshine per day (an annual total of 1,434 hours) or about 30.2% of possible sunshine. Despite receiving only 529.7 millimetres (21 in) average annual precipitation, Ushuaia is very humid with an average humidity of 77%.
Summers tend to be cloudy and windy, with maximum temperatures averaging around 14 °C (57 °F) during the day and about 5 °C (41 °F) at night. Temperatures of 20 °C (68 °F) or more occur only on a handful of days, and night frost is always possible, as well as days below 10.0 °C (50 °F). Temperatures gradually diminish during the autumn, to reach maximum temperatures of about 4.5 °C (40 °F) and minimum temperatures of −1.4 °C (29 °F) in winter, with frequent snow, sleet and rain showers. Some winters may bring extended periods of frost and snow, whereas other winters might just bring snowstorms followed by thaws. Temperatures then very slowly recover during the spring, but snow showers and frost are a common occurrence until the beginning of the summer in December, and they might occur even in midsummer.
The southwestern winds make the outer islands wetter, reaching 1,400 mm (55 in) at Isla de los Estados (Island of the States). Because temperatures are cool throughout the year, there is little evaporation. Snow is common in winter and regularly occurs throughout the year. Ushuaia occasionally experiences snow in summer (from November to March). Due to its high southern latitude, the city's climate is influenced by Antarctica, and the duration of daylight varies significantly, from more than 17 hours in summer to just over 7 hours in winter.
Climate data for Ushuaia Airport
|Record high °C (°F)||29.5|
|Average high °C (°F)||13.9|
|Daily mean °C (°F)||9.6|
|Average low °C (°F)||5.4|
|Record low °C (°F)||−2.0|
|Source #1: NOAA|
Ushuaia has long been described as the southernmost city in the world. While there are settlements farther south, the only one of any notable size is Puerto Williams, a Chilean settlement of some 2,000 residents. As a center of population, commerce, and culture, and as a town of significant size and importance, Ushuaia however clearly qualifies as a city. A 1998 article in the newspaper Clarín reported that the designation "Southernmost city in the world" had been transferred to Puerto Williams by a joint committee from Argentina and Chile, but this was denied by Argentine authorities, and the Secretariat of Tourism of Argentina continues to use the slogan in official documentation and web sites.
The main economic activities are fishing,natural gas and oil extraction ,sheep farming and ecotourism.
- The calling code for Ushuaia is 02901 and the postal code is V9410. Broadband Internet and a cell phone network are available.
- Internet cafés can be found on San Martín. Rates are higher than elsewhere in Argentina, $5/hour.
- Should you want a special "end of the world" stamp on your postcards, head to the small post office in Bahía Ensenada in the national park.
Prices in Ushuaia
MARKET / SUPERMARKET
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||$1.95|
|Bottle of Wine||1 bottle||$3.00|
|Dinner (Low-range)||for 2||$15.00|
|Dinner (Mid-range)||for 2||$25.00|
|Dinner (High-range)||for 2||$|
|Mac Meal or similar||1 meal||$6.20|
|Beer (Imported)||0.33 l||$3.60|
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||$2.95|
|Coctail drink||1 drink||$|
|Men’s Haircut||1 haircut||$|
|Mobile (prepaid)||1 min.||$0.35|
|Pack of Marlboro||1 pack||$1.90|
|Toilet paper||4 rolls||$|
CLOTHES / SHOES
|Jeans (Levis 501 or similar)||1||$|
|Dress summer (Zara, H&M)||1||$|
|Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas)||1||$|
|Local Transport||1 ticket||$|
Transportation - Get In
There is one major airport serving the city:
- Ushuaia – Malvinas Argentinas International Airport (IATA: USH) (4 km/2.5 mi south of the center of Ushuaia). Flying is the most practical way to reach Ushuaia. There are daily flights to Ushuaia on Aerolineas Argentinas and LAN flights from Buenos Aires and from Santiago de Chile, stopping over in Puerto Montt and Punta Arenas. Downtown is a 10 minute taxi ride from the airport, which costs around AR$120.
A number of cruise ships stop at Ushuaia, either as an attraction or as the destination.
- Cruceros Australis, , toll-free: , . (U.S.)4-night cruise from Punta Arenas. Excursions in Ainsworth Bay and Tuckers islets to view sea lions, penguins and other wildlife. Travels through the Beagle and Murray channels, stopping at the Pía Glacier and Wulaia Bay. Also stops at Cape Horn National Park, the last piece of land before Antarctica. 7-night Punta Arenas–Ushuaia–Punta Arenas cruises (including a day tour of Ushuaia) also available. 4-night cruise from US$2,148.
Buses from all destinations except Puerto Natales stop at Rio Gallegos. It can be cheaper to just buy a ticket to Rio Gallegos and purchase an onward ticket from there. The ride from Rio Gallegos costs $425 and involves crossing into Chile and taking a ferry across the Magellan Strait. There are three daily departures and the journey is advertised as taking around 12 hours, but it is often much longer in practice.
Argentine National Route 3 connects Buenos Aires to Ushuaia, ending at the Tierra del Fuego National Park. Tierra del Fuego is an island, and the route requires crossing into Chile and taking a ferry to cross the Magellan Strait. There are two ferries connecting Tierra del Fuego to the South American mainland: a short crossing at Punta Delgada at the northernmost point of the island and a longer crossing from Punta Arenas in Chile to Porvenir on the island's west coast.
Transportation - Get Around
There are city buses within Ushuaia, but they reach few of the tourist attractions. They are good to get to Playa Larga, for example, or from one part of the center to another, along the east/west axis. The bus lines are nowadays labeled with letters, though numbers were previously used and the old numbers may still be visible at some bus stops. The bus fare is $2.20 as of 2010, and tickets are bought from the driver.
Tours/transport to the main tourist attractions can be booked through the Tourist Office (on San Martin) or through many of the hostels. Regular minibuses leave for the National Park, Glaciar Martial, the trailhead of Laguna Esmeralda or other places from a parking lot at the corner of Maipu and Fadul.
Taxis are another option, costing, for example, AR$120 to get from the city centre to the airport and AR$130 to the Glaciar Martial. There are plenty of taxis andremises, the fares being somewhat higher than in Buenos Aires.
There are also several car and bicycle rental companies. Be aware that in Ushuaia, all vehicles on hillside streets automatically have the right-of-way. In most places there are signs, but even if there isn't, this rule still applies. This is intended to prevent accidents due to ice and snow on the steep mountain roads.
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The main shopping district of Ushuaia is near the waterfront, mostly on San Martín. There is a smaller center west of the city, north of the airport, where the locals mainly shop.
Prices in Ushuaia are higher than central Argentina, but there is no sales tax (IVA). Furthermore, due to low tariffs on imports in Tierra del Fuego, imported goods (electronics) are a comparative bargain. There is a duty free store on San Martín that sells perfume, alcohol and cigarettes, but keep an eye on the prices as some items may be cheaper elsewhere.
While Antarctic travelers should arrive with proper gear already in their possession, quality winter gear including boots, coats, and other necessities — as well as souvenirs — can be purchased from a variety of shops.
There are also souvenir shops, such as La abuela Oma, La ultima Vita and Fin del Mundo.
Highlight are lamb, crabs and other seafood dishes. Most Ushuaia restaurants are centrally-located, clustered around San Martín and Maipú. The western part of the city offers affordable rotiserías (pre-made/fast food) with standard Argentine dishes such as pizza and empanadas.
Seafood and meat dishes are very typical, as fruit and vegetables have to be transported from thousands of kilometers away and, as such, are rarely tasty and rather expensive. Be sure to try the centolla (king crab) for price around AR$350.
Regarding restaurants: Las cotorras, Mostacho, Chichilo, Tante Sara, all located in the city center, and many others in the outskirts of the city. As to the chocolate houses: La Laguna Negra and El Turista, where you can enjoy a rich hot chocolate with various cakes of different flavors.
- Barcleit 1912, Juana Fadul 148, . Small restaurant with a variety of local dishes and a few unconventional options. Try the pizza alemana with mustard and sausage.
- Tante Sara, San Martín 701, . A popular two-floor café. Coffee, sandwiches and hot fast food, along with beer, wine and other spirits.
- El Turco, San Martín 1410, . Argentine (not Turkish) cuisine. One of the most affordable restaurants in the city.
- El Bambu, Luis Piedrabuena 276. Vegetarian. Takeout only, but you can also eat-in on a stool, at a stand, with plastic forks. Some dishes are charged by the weight, others by the unit, all of them are deicious, vegetarian and extremely affordable.
- Chez Manu, Luis Fernando Martial 2135, . Local cuisine. Patagonia lamb, seafood and fish. Ask for a seat along the large windows for great views of Ushuaia.
- Chiko, Antartida Argentina 182, . Seafood.
- La Rueda, San Martín 193 (corner of Rivadavia), . Typical Argentine parrilla (barbecue). All-you-can-eat meat with a self-serve veggie and side bar.
- Maria Lola, Deloqui 1048, . Local cuisine, seafood.
- Tante Nina, Godoy 15, . Local cuisine.
- Tía Elvira, Maipú 349, . Local cuisine.
- Volver, Maipú 37, . Known for its king crab.
- Kaupé, Roca 470, , e-mail: [email protected].Expensive compared to other restaurants in Ushuaia, but the view is spectacular and the food is absolutely, positively guaranteed not to disappoint. Also known for its king crab.
- Temaukel, Cno. Glaciar Martial Km. 3.5, .
Sights & Landmarks
There aren't really any architectural sights in Ushuaia. The city is modern, but the architecture is Scandinavian and positively different from other cities in southern Argentina.
- Casa de Gobierno, San Martín. The local government building is a strange mixture of functionalism with Alpine elements and is hard to miss.
- Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse (Lighthouse at the End of the World) (9 km southeast of Ushuaia). Reached by a short boat tour from Ushuaia, it is known locally as the Lighthouse at the End of the World, though the lighthouse made famous by Jules Verne in the novel of the same name is the San Juan de Salvamento lighthouse further east on Isla de los Estados.
- Plaza Malvinas, Maipú (on the seafront). Monument to the Falkland Islands War of 1982. These islands are called the Islas Malvinas in Argentina.
- Mastil de General Belgrano (accessible by boat from Playa Larga). A remote area west of the city of Ushuaia on Isla Redonda, paying tribute to one of the founders of Argentina, and to the navy cruiser named after him which was sunk by the UK in the Falklands War. It was a stop on one of the televised Amazing Racecontests, and features a one-person post office for sending letters from the end of the world. ~$100.
Museums & Galleries
- Museo Marítimo, Yagones and Gobernador Paz. Located in an old prison, this is four museums in one. The maritime museum itself displays a collection of the history of Tierra del Fuego. One wing has been converted to an art gallery named Museo de Arte Marino featuring the work of local artists. There is also an Antarctic museum and a of course museum of the prison itself. adults $120, students $70, family ticket $250.
- Museo del Fin del Mundo, Maipú 173. Highlights include the largest exhibited collection of birds from Tierra del Fuego, the figurehead of the Duchess of Albany (a sunken vessel), and a library dedicated to the history and nature of Tierra del Fuego.Admission $20.
- Museo Mundo Yámana, Rivadavia 56 (near the Museo del Fin del Mundo).Privately-run museum with several dioramas of traditional Yámana life, origins and migrations, as well as displays of the period of early contact with Europeans. $35.
Things to do
It’s a city that has charm in every season, in winter the weather is very cold, but it is the best season to practice skiing and other mountain sports, such as sledging by Siberian dogs and biking snowmobiles. The most important place to practice skiing is “Beaver Hill”, where you can enjoy this sport and also a typical meal or a rich chocolate to soothe the cold. In the city you can visit the museum of the jail where they used to take the most dangerous criminals. You can also see the museum of the “Yamanas Indians”, who were the first inhabitants of the island, along with “Onas Indians”.
In summer the temperature can reach twenty degrees allowing us to enjoy the greenery. In summer you can hike, climb hills and visit the “Esmeralda” lagoon (in winter is difficult to reach because of the snow). Biking is difficult because the streets have many slopes. During the summer you can enjoy the landscape and get to places which are not accessible in winter due to the snow. There are many things to do. A highlight is a train tour called “The train where the world ends”; you can visit the national park “Tierra del Fuego”, where you can see “The Green Lagoon” and the “Black Lagoon”, which owe their color to the local flora. You can have a picnic on “Roca Lake” and watch a lot of rabbits. Another nice activity is to take a boat trip in The Beagle Channel, visiting The Birds Island and the “Lighthouse where the world ends”.
The area around Ushuaia is excellent for hiking and there are several marked paths. The most popular one leads up to the Glaciar Martial, a 1300m high snow covered peak with a small glacier and a spectacular view of the city and the surroundings. If you are going up the mountain you need sturdy and waterproof shoes - the path is steep and often slippery. You can pick up a map in the tourist office which is sufficient for shorter and popular hikes.
For serious hiking you should invest in the "Ushuaia Trekking Map," which can be purchased for around AR$230 at many stores downtown. You can head to the Tierra del Fuego National Park, 12km west of Ushuaia, or hike the valleys around Estancia Haberton (where many paths aren't marked).
- Laguna Esmeralda (about 15km northeast). Before 3pm. It's a short but muddy hike from the highway through peat bogs to get there, but the stunning lake is worth it. The colour of the water changes with the time of day. Try to be there before noon, which is when the majority of tourists start pouring in. Free.
- Hike the Glaciar Martial. Provided that you wear comfortable shoes and have the patience, a hike up the Glaciar Martial will provide a very beautiful view of Ushuaia and the Beagle Channel. There is also a single ski slope open during the winter months, and ski rentals are available from the site.
- Mountain biking. The downhill trails are not to be underestimated: Bring your stamina. Club Andino sells mountain biking guidebooks with rough maps and trail descriptions. Mountain bikes can be rented at the Alamo car rental at Belgrano 96.
- Ushuaia Golf Club. Located west of town just before the entrance to the National Park, this is probably the southernmost golf course in the world.
- Tren del Fin del Mundo (west of town just before the entrance to the National Park). The "train to the end of the world" is a pleasant 45-minute train ride into the park on a narrow gauge railway rebuilt on part of the roadbed of the old logging train. The train line originally operated from 1909 to 1952, transporting timber and other material in the penal colony, and reopened in 1994 as a tourist train. You won't get very good views of the park itself but train enthusiasts in particular will enjoy the ride. Starting from $175.
- Parque del Tierra del Fuego. Just go to the "bus station" (next to the Tourist Information office) and ask for a ticket. For AR$300 per person they will get you to the Park (departures start at 8am) and pick you up at 3, 5 or 7pm. There is a park entrance fee of AR$170 per person which is valid for 1 day only. Advice: Get out at the second stop (number one being the ticket office) and do the long seaside walk. Do not spend too much time there though, make sure you do it in three hours. Have a cup of coffee at the refuge and then head down to the Policia Nacional and do the round routes (route number 1, 3 and 6 are the best). Hop on the last bus at 7pm (make sure you don't miss it or you will have to travel "a dedo" back to Ushuaia).
- Beagle Channel. Catamaran trips will take you around the Beagle Channel and give you nice views of the mountains, cormorants, penguins, orcas, seals and sea lions.
- Kayak the Beagle Channel. Kayaks with a guide can be hired near the Aeroparque on the promontory jutting out from Ushuaia.
- Ship trips will take you around the Beagle channel and give you nice views of the mountains, cormorants, sea lions and penguins..
- Ushuaia Divers located in the AFASIN Yacht Club, . (Carlos Giuggia)US$150 + AR$40 for 2 dives.
In the winter, the area turns into a large ski resort. In Ushuaia itself there are two pistes on Glacial Martial, both with sea view.
- Cerro Castor (20km to the northwest). If you want more, this centre for winter sports offers alpine and cross-country skiing and snowboarding. Nearby in Las Cotorras you can also ride snowcats or husky sleighs.
There is not much of a nightlife in Ushuaia; most bars and pubs close early.
- Bar Ideal, San Martín 393, . Open until midnight. Irish pub.
- Bodegon Fuegino, San Martín 859, . Locally-sourced, artisanal, home-cooked food. Tapas-style picadas recommended as sampling menu. Good wine selection.
- Dublin Bar, 9 de Julio 168. Popular with tourists.
- Küar, Perito Moreno 2232, e-mail: [email protected]. A couple of kilometers outside town, right above the rocks by the sea, breathtaking bay views and good live music scene, sophisticated and good but not outstanding and somewhat pricey dining. If you don't mind the occasional dropping by of a bunch of gringos, be sure to book a table by the window in the restaurant area or to take a seat by the big wooden steps in the bar area.
- Macario 1910, San Martín 1485, . Local pub food and beers.
- Nautico, Maipú 1210, . Open until 6AM on the weekends.Ushuaia's only real nightclub/disco.
- Cafe Bar Banana, San Martín 273.
- Ushuaia Che, San Martín 452.
- Fusión, Perito Moreno 1530.
- Kaitek, Antartida Argentina 280. Club focusing on electronic music.
Things to know
- The local newspaper is Diario del Fin del Mundo (literally the Newspaper of the End of the World); however, it does not feature cultural events very widely.
- Banks and exchange booths can be found along San Martín.
The world's southernmost city?
You might wonder if Ushuaia really is the southernmost city in the world. This depends on how "city" is defined. On the southern side of the canal is the Chilean town of Puerto Williams which, however, has just 2,000 inhabitants and is therefore often not regarded as a city, nor does it market itself as such. Still further south there's the village of Puerto Toro with fewer than 100 inhabitants, and on Antarctica there are several research stations with hundreds of "inhabitants".
Safety in Ushuaia
Usuaia and the region in general isn't entirely free of crime, but significantly safer than most of Argentina. There aren't any slums, and businesses seldom have bars installed in the front of their windows. Potential criminals from elsewhere would have a hard time getting out of Tierra del Fuego undetected, as the only ways out would be via the airport or Chilean territory.
There are two hospitals in the city:
- Centro Médico Ushuaia, La Estancia 1925, .
- Hospital Regional, Malvinas y 12 de Octubre, .
There are no particular health risks in Ushuaia; the biggest threat would be catching a cold due to the varying weather conditions. But also note that especially in the summer and when trekking in the mountains, you should protect yourself from sunburn, as the ozone layer is relatively thin in this part of the world.