• Kristina Foertsch

Part I - Trekking around Ushuaia (Argentina)

Aktualisiert: 5. Feb 2019

A week in Tierra del Fuego

Valle Superior, Tierra del Fuego
Land of fairy tales in Tierra del Fuego

3 Days in


For me, this truly was one of my favourite hikes that we did during our nine months trip in 2017/2018. Probably, this was because it came as a surprise. Honestly, I don’t want to spoil your personal surprise - there are loads of other possibilities and you can go walking in the wilderness around Ushuaia for weeks. See this as an inspiration and be sure that you’ll find the perfect trek for you.

As I wrote in Ushuaia on a budget, I split the description of the trek into three parts, because they are also stand-alone treks, which can be combined with other ideas. In this first part, I want to give you some information about our three days through Tierra del Fuego National Park.


The camping spot at Laguna del Caminante is just superb. The Valle Superior is a true hidden gem in the mountains of Tierra del Fuego. It is home to the vegetation with “fifty shades of green” and absolute mountain solitude. If you climb the ridge at the end of the valley, you have a great view down to the Beagle Canal. Despite being a little crowded Laguna de los Témpanos/Glacier Vinciguerra are amazing.


The trek requires a good level of fitness. You should be comfortable walking in rugged and muddy terrain, but the route is not technically difficult. The way from and to Laguna del Caminante is quite well marked and easy to find. The excursion to Cerro Falso Tonelli has no marked or visible trails and you have to do some scrambling if you want to climb the ridge at the end of the valley.

Maps of Tierra del Fuego, © OpenStreetMap-Contributors

ITINERARY (15. – 21. January 2018):

  1. Ushuaia – Cañadón and Paso de la Oveja – Lago del Caminante

  2. Lago del Caminate – Cerro Falso Tonelli – Lago del Caminate

  3. Lago del Caminante – Laguna de los Témpanos – Laguna Encantada

  4. Laguna Encantada – Lake at the end of Valle de Rio Chico

  5. Lake at the end of Valle de Rio Chico – Ruta 3 – Valle Carbajal

  6. Valle Carbajal – Refugio – Laguna Esmeralda

  7. Laguna Esmeralda – Glaciar del Albino/Laguna Ojo del Albino – Laguna Turquesa – Ushuaia

When we arrived in Ushuaia the owner of our hostel instantly told us about the Cañadón and Paso de la Oveja. Part of the trek passes through the official National Park, but even the guy at the tourist office told us that you don’t need a ticket for this area. Yay! Maybe that changes in the future, but we made the experience that everybody seems to go for the “official park area” and even in high season we only met a couple of other hikers (maybe 10) on this lovely track.

What is “Our time”?

It’s tricky to give an objective estimation about the required time to walk the trail, I know, but I thought a reference might be helpful. Compared to most long-distance hikers we met during the years, I would characterize ourselves as unhurried wanderers, so we are not super-fast.


Ushuaia – Cañadón and Paso de la Oveja – Laguna del Caminante

Our time: 10:00 – 17:00 (from “casa”, including breaks and getting lost/searching the way for 1h at the beginning)

We took a taxi from Ushuaia to what is called “casa” in the map. Unfortunately, the driver dropped us at the wrong place (next to the autodromo). Because we were too proud/stupid to look at our GPS/OsmAnd right at the beginning, we instantly got lost between fences, dogs (behind fences) and wrong directions. Our fault. Once you’re inside the Cañadón the way is hard to miss.

Cañadón de la Oveja, Tierra del Fuego
Shouldn't be hard to find - the entrance to the Cañadón de la Oveja.

Except in the morning, we had a lucky day - good weather, no rain. The camping spot at Laguna del Caminante is superb. Oh, and not to forget – along the way there grows a plant that smells like chocolate, I think it’s called Nassauvia. W-o-n-d-e-r-f-u-l!


Laguna del Caminante – Cerro Falso Tonelli – Laguna del Caminante

Our time: approx. 6h (including some short breaks)

A beautiful day trip up Valle Superior, even though this time we were not so lucky with the weather. Literally, every time we wanted to make a break it started to rain. However, it was absolutely worth the pain and I guess these “50 shades of green” we saw need a lot of water to grow. :)

When you come from the camping spot and arrive at Laguna Superior take the right side (northern side) to go around. The scrambling on the other side is steep, slippery and can be a little bit dangerous.

It’s a little bit embarrassing, but I have to admit that we don’t exactly know, where we’ve been that day. Our map and our GPS somehow didn’t tell us the same thing. Most likely we climbed the ridge of Cerro Falso Tonelli, but I amnot completely sure. Nevertheless, it doesn’t really matter which of the ridges or mountains you climb in that area – if you have a view it is spectacular (we saw the Beagle Canal) and there are no official ways/trails anyway. Go and explore on your own.


Laguna del Caminante – Laguna de los Témpanos – Laguna Encantada

Our time: 09:30 – 20:30 (including breaks)

This was a beautiful, though very long day. Wayfinding is not a problem at all, but especially the trails up to Laguna de los Témpanos/Glacier Vinciguerra can be very muddy.

In the morning, we went down Valle de Andorra until Turberra, a nice and easy way through the woods where we saw our first lack-faced ibis and a pair of Magellanic woodpeckers which courageously chased away a raptor.

Once you’re on the way up to Laguna de los Témpanos you’ll probably meet a lot of Israelis. We’re not sure, but I have the impression it’s one of THE highlights in their Lonely Planet or whatever guidebook. :) On that day we heard the term “Frozen Lake” a lot of times and I never read it in one of our guidebooks.

Man hiking through mud, Tierra del Fuego
Muddy Ways

As many people use it, the way to and from the lake was extremely muddy and sometimes slippery, which makes it a bit more difficult. The lake itself is still very beautiful even though because of the glacial retreat there are no ice floes on it anymore. You can walk around the lake and after we finished our trip we heard that there are sometimes caves opening up in the glacier which you can explore. We haven’t tried it, but if you’re there, it’s probably worth having a look.

You can camp up at the lake (very rocky, windy and cold) or on a meadow beneath it. However, this is less than ideal and because of our plans for the next days we continued to Laguna Encantada, which added another hour to the trip.

Finding a dry spot to pitch the tent at Laguna Encantada was not easy but eventually we succeeded! It’s best if you keep walking on the left side (coming from the valley) until you find a few spots inside the forest. Laguna Encantada is much less crowded than Laguna de los Témpanos.

From Laguna Encantada you can return to Ushuaia or continue into the wilderness. If you want to continue into the wilderness check out Part II of our series Trekking Tierra del Fuego for 7 days .

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