Travel to the Land of Fire at the end of the world
Ushuaia is the world's southernmost town, a busy port perched on the edge of land where the Andes meet the Southern Ocean. Behind the city is the fascinating landscape of Tierra del Fuego (Land of Fire), so called because then early explorers saw plumes of smoke from natives' fires, they thought the land itself was burning. Here at the southern tip of South America, where the chain of the Andes finally plunges into the sea, remote and desolate landscapes abound. To the north stretches the windswept barren lands of the Argentinean Pampa, while to the East and West beautiful blue glaciers and pristine national parks, ideal for walking and hiking.
The town offers fine views of the Beagle Channel (named for the boat in which Charles Darwin sailed through the channel in 1832) nowdays frequented by tourist day-cruises and larger ships bound for the fjords and channels of Patagonia and the icy waters of the Antarctic Peninsula.
Insights - Taking the Train to the End of the World
Surely no rail journey has a more evocative (or apocalyptic) name than the the Train to the End of the World, in the Land of Fire. As if that's not enough, in a former life it was known as the Convicts Train, ferrying inmates between the prison in Ushuaia and the foot of Mount Susana, where they would gather materials to take back to the town for use in construction, heating and cooking. Today, it is also known as the slightly more mundane Southern Fuegian Railway.
These days, this hardy steam train takes a more innocent class of passengers on a scenic trip around the countryside surrounding Ushuaia, often ploughing on through the thick snow and the howling wind of Patagonia. It travels over the River Pipo on the 'burnt bridge' before stopping at the wonderfully named Macarena Waterfall Station, where you can view a reconstructed Yamana campsite (an ancient tribe native to the area), as well as the waterfall. It then enters Tierra del Fuego, slowing to pass the tree cemetery, where prisoners gathered wood in the early 20th century, and then finally the peat bog, before arriving at the national park station.
Bi-lingual commentary is provided throughout, telling of the history of the train and the area.
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