Tierra del Fuego and Ushuaia
Concierge.com's insider take:
Argentina and Chile share ownership of the archipelago dubbed the "land of fire," their border bisecting Isla Grande, the largest island, in a north–south line. Separated from the continent by the Magellan Strait, Tierra del Fuego draws summer hikers and winter skiers in equal measure; Antarctica-bound passengers, too, disembark at Argentine town Ushuaia on cruise ships heading for Cape Horn and beyond. A ruggedly charming frontier town, Ushuaia provides a natural base for forays into the island's glacier-scoured interior, to scale Mount Olivia's distinctive peak, ascend the Martial or Vinciguerra glaciers, or cast for trout on fast-flowing rivers. Chartered yachts and 150-berth catamarans ferry visitors along the Beagle Channel (pictured), the boats followed in the air by giant petrels, black-browed albatrosses, and rock cormorants, and in the water by sea lions and Magellanic penguins. Dramatic Tierra del Fuego National Park lies ten miles west of Ushuaia, with fauna that includes Andean condors, gray fox, and guanaco, along with a destructive population of introduced beavers. The island's oldest farm, Estancia Harberton, lies 53 miles east of Ushuaia, where English missionary Thomas Bridges settled in 1886 in his bid to convert Fireland's now-extinct Yamana, Aush, and Ona tribes. Bridges' son, Lucas, who grew up among the Yamana, vividly described his childhood in Uttermost Part of the Earth, the best-known account of early pioneer life in Patagonia.