Port Lockroy: Five Fun Facts
Located off the Antarctic Peninsula’s coast, Port Lockroy is a natural harbor with two ship visits per day during summer, making it Antarctica’s single most visited site.
The 245-square-mile park is in Argentina, but borders Chile. It’s both a UNESCO World Heritage site and an International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Category II park.
There are numerous hiking trails throughout the park. A notable one is the Hito XXIV trail: a 6-mile-long route that goes around Lake Roca to the border of Chile. Milestone Marker 24 indicates the point where the two countries meet. Alternatively, the Coastal Path (Senda Costera) is an 5-mile trip with views of the Beagle Channel, the stretch of water first discovered by the HMS Beagle, with esteemed English naturalist Charles Darwin aboard.
Tierra del Fuego National Park is home to a number of native and nonnative species. At least 50 species of birds have been recorded, among them the Magellanic woodpecker, Andean condor, and austral parakeet. Muskrat, red foxes, and guanaco — a small South American camel — have all been spotted.
The impact of nonnative species can also be seen in the park, with the North American beaver’s introduction, in particular, being notably negative. A mere 50 were imported from Canada in hope of creating a fur trade; today, 200,000 beavers with no natural predators are destroying this important subantarctic forest to build their dams.
After a short early-twentieth-century gold rush ended in Ushuaia — the world’s southernmost city — the Argentinian government decided to use it as a penal colony, segregating its worst criminals on a remote island. The prison closed in 1947 but still stands today as a tourist attraction.
The prison includes a 4.3-mile railway built by the prisoners themselves to transport inmates. Upon the prison’s closure, the line lay abandoned for forty years, but was reestablished as a tourist route through Tierra del Fuego National Park in 1994.
The train ride offers stunning views; as the world’s southernmost functioning railway line, it was named "Tren del Fin del Mundo" (the End of the World Train). It is one of the best ways to access this enormous national park from the city of Ushuaia.
The train ride itself provides plenty of amazing sights. There are Puente Quemado ("the burned bridge") and Macarena Waterfall just outside the park’s border, and the Pipo River, which flows into the park and runs alongside the peat bog, giving the Laguna Negra (black lagoon) its color.
Inside the park, you’ll not miss the 65-mile-long Lake Fagnano. From here, you can see the Andes Mountains. The best views of the Beagle Channel are at Lapataia Bay. Ensenada Bay, meanwhile, offers the best views of the Redonda and Estorbo Islands.
Tierra del Fuego National Park is Argentina’s only coastal national park. If you plan to visit the end of the world, it’s a must-see attraction, with a short 4.3-mile trip from Ushuaia taking you right to the heart of the park.
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