PARQUE NACIONAL TIERRA DEL FUEGO, 12km west of Ushuaia, is the easiest to access of southern Argentina’s national parks. Protecting 630 square kilometres of jagged mountains, intricate lakes, southern beech forest, swampy peat bog, subantarctic tundra and verdant coastline, the park stretches along the frontier with Chile, from the Beagle Channel to the Sierra Inju-Goiyin (also called the Sierra Beauvoir) north of Lago Fagnano, but only the southernmost quarter of this is open to the public, accessed via the RN-3 from Ushuaia. Fortunately, this area contains much of the park’s most beautiful scenery, if also some of the wettest – bring rain gear.
The quarter is broken down into three main sectors: Bahía Ensenada and Río Pipo in the east, close to the station for the Tren del Fin del Mundo; Lago Roca further west; and the Lapataia area south of Lago Roca, which includes Laguna Verde and, at the end of the RN-3, Bahía Lapataia. You can get a good overview of the park in a day, but walkers will want to stay two to three days to appreciate the scenery and the wildlife, which includes birds such as Magellanic woodpeckers (Carpintero patagónico), condors, Steamer ducks, Kelp geese – the park’s symbol – and Buff-necked ibis; and mammals such as the guanaco, the rare Southern sea otter (Nutria marina), the Patagonian grey fox and its larger cousin, the native Fuegian red fox, once heavily hunted for its pelt.