Ushuaia – The City at the End of the World
A Fantastic Starting Point
The gateway to Antarctica, Ushuaia, is at the southernmost tip of South America and aptly nicknamed “The End of the World”. It is the capital of Tierra del Fuego, one of twenty-three provinces in Argentina. Nestled on a steep hill, surrounded by the Martial Mountains and the Beagle Channel, its beauty is a fantastic starting point for any Antarctic cruise.
Then and Now
Ushuaia has a rather interesting history. Its first inhabitants were two indigenous groups who took up residence in both the northern and southern parts of the island. With the Selk’nam Indians, also known as Ona, residing in the north and the Yamanes or Yaganes residing in the south, both groups lived in continuous conflict. It wasn’t until the year 1870 that Ushuaia was founded by British missionaries. Throughout the 20th century, the island was used as a penal colony for some of the most serious criminals. These offenders would spend much of their time helping to build and develop the island, which at the time was mainly a railway settlement known as “The End of the World Train”. This is now a very popular tourist attraction. The prison would operate until 1947 when President Juan Perón closed it due to allegations of abuse and unsafe practices and it is now a museum.
Now a busy port and adventure hub, Ushuaia takes full advantage of its end-of-the-world status, attracting many tourists each year. Offering a host of outdoor adventures, such as hiking, skiing, and kayaking, it is also home to many different species of penguin, seals and seabirds; the perfect destination for lovers of the outdoors. For those who prefer a slightly quicker pace of life, San Martin is the place to head with plenty of pubs, bars, restaurants and shops to choose from. And the best thing is that all shops are duty-free. Of course, when heading anywhere in the world a must-do is to sample some of the local cuisine. You can find foods such as parrilla – a traditional Argentine barbeque served from tents on the roadside or, if you’re feeling fancy, dishes such as king crab and black hake from the more upscale restaurants.
It Doesn’t Stop There
Only forty years ago, Ushuaia had just 5,000 inhabitants. Today, it has a population of 60,000, making it the fastest growing town in the world. Its main economic activities include fishing, natural gas and oil extraction and sheep farming. This is, of course, without mentioning tourism, which brings in a large amount of the city’s income each year. Some of the biggest tourist attractions are Ushuaia’s glaciers, most famously the Martial glacier. However, these are receding at a rapid rate; one of the many reasons to visit soon.
Luckily, we have a selection of cruises that depart from this interesting destination, so you won’t miss out on the spectacular sights this city has to offer. If you’re really keen to get to know Ushuaia, we can help arrange a pre or post-cruise stay. Contact us now for more details.