Tierra del Fuego is rightly seen as the end of the world. Closer to Antarctica than it is to Buenos Aires, this fractured, truly wild archipelago is split somewhat haphazardly between Chile and Argentina. On the Argentine side is Ushuaia, a modest city and most people’s point of access to the region. Alongside the city is the Beagle Channel, the southern shore of which is Chilean. This whole region, with its jagged peaks and teeming wildlife is a joy to explore on a cruise or tour boat.
Experiencing the Beagle Channel is done best on a tour from Ushuaia. There are many different catamaran cruises and boat tours leaving from the port that take in colonies of sea birds, languorous lounging sealions as well as the beautiful, sparse seascapes that dominate the views all around. Here is a collection of the best Beagle Channel boat tours departing from Ushuaia based on value for money, itinerary, dependability and the rave reviews of previous customers.
FROM: $40/per person
For a highly-regarded introduction to the natural wonder that is the Beagle Channel, this three-hour boat trip certainly packs a lot into the short time. Head past the Ushuaia waterfront before setting sail for some of the wildlife-filled islands dotting the channel, such as the islands of the Birds and Los Lobos, where you can witness roosting cormorants and sea lions respectively. The main destination is the pretty red and white lighthouse of Les Eclaireurs, before taking a different route back to the mainland. This tour departs daily from the blue office on Tourist Wharf in Ushuaia.
From $74/ per person
The Beagle Channel Navigation tour departs twice daily in a zippy catamaran which plies the Channel between various islands to demonstrate both the natural and anthropological histories of the area. See a colony of sea lions on the Island of Alice, or wander around ruins of the Yaghan (aka Yamana) indigenous people’s former settlement on Bridges Islands. Numerous species of birds can regularly be found here, including albatross, skuas and various types of gulls, among others. Hotel pickup can be arranged for an additional fee, otherwise, the tours depart from the Muelle Turistico (Tourist Wharf), which is easily walkable from most parts of Ushuaia.
From $148/ per person
Taking just a few hours to explore the wealth of natural history in the Beagle Channel is not enough for many people, so this full-day alternative offers a fantastic, longer alternative. Estancia Harberton (Harberton Ranch) is located further east along the Beagle Channel from Ushuaia. It was constructed in 1886 by a British missionary, Thomas Bridges, who wrote a dictionary for the Yaghan language. Tours here are included in the price. The journey to the ranch by boat offers ample opportunity to spot wildlife from the deck, including two species of sea lion and many sea birds, including the wonderful penguin colony on Isla Martillo. Food and drinks are available to purchase on board for an additional fee.