Tierra del Fuego National Park lies 12 km to the West of Ushuaia. An area where the Patagonian Andes, forests and lakes meet ocean. This is a guide for the cycle tourer to the practicalities of spending time in the wilderness of the Tierra del Fuego National Park.
Standard entry to the Tierra Del Fuego National Park costs 170 pesos. You receive a free paper map of the park documenting all trails and camping spots. The ticket covers you for 2 nights and 3 days stay inside the park this is perfect time to explore the park. I am told if you exit the park at the end of day 1 and return the following day you have to pay again but I am sure this could be negotiated when purchasing the initial ticket, if you prefer to stay in Ushuaia.
You can purchase a bus ticket for 300 pesos. Buses leave Ushuaia from 9am to 3pm each hour and return every hour from 1pm to 7pm. There are 6 pick up points throughout the park, so you are able to hop on and off to explore different parts. This is a convenient, albeit expensive option giving there are as much as 11 km between sights.
It’s possible to save money and hitchhike. To hitchhike to the park from Ushuaia and westwards through the park it’s best to stick your thumb out in the morning. Hitchhike eastwards or back to Ushuaia in the late afternoon/evening. This is due to the flow of traffic and visitors.
Having a bicycle means freedom from the hourly pick up times and of course it’s free. On leaving the town of Ushuaia the road becomes a dirt track and is very dusty from the Patagonian wind and more so the passing vehicles. Make sure you have a buff or scarf to cover your face so you are not breathing in the dust. However tempting it is to cycle fast on a downhill after an uphill it’s best to take it easy on these roads. You don’t want to be pulling hard on the brakes at speed should you suddenly not be able to see because of the dust. Most of the marked walking trails are non accessible by bicycle but the main routes are and end of route 3, Lago Roca, Pipo River and Zaratiegul Bay are all accessible by bicycle.
Even with a bicycle you may still choose to hitchhike inside the park. For example, on completing a 3 hour coastal trek I hitchhiked back to the starting point rather than walking. On the few occasions I hitchhiked I was picked up within minutes of sticking my thumb out.
Time permitting, I recommend leaving the bicycle and walking the Costera Trail (3 hrs one way) and the Hito XXIV Trail (3 hrs round trip).
Tierra del Fuego National Park has three free camping spots located near Pipo River, Zaratiegul Bay and Laguna Negra. All are shown on your map. There are barbecue/fire pits on each campsite and Pipo River camping spot has portable toilets. I used the free camping spots. During the day I left my tent up with all my kit inside whilst I went exploring. But you leave at your own risk.
Grouped together on Lake Roca are the paid campsite, a refuge and café.
Lake Roca camping (100 pesos/night) showers, toilets, charging points shower block
Lake Roca refugee (220 pesos/night) small kitchen area
KEEP ALL FOOD INSIDE TENT OR HANG FROM A TREE. THE FOXES WILL STEAL FOOD IF LEFT OUT.
Tips for the Cycle Tourer
The shower block at Lago Roca is accessible by anyone walking towards the Hito XXIV Trail as marked on your map. The power points are on the outside of the shower block above the sinks, again accessible to those walking by. Before attempting to shower remember that to exit the park and cycle back to Ushuaia you have to cycle that dusty road again – is it even worth showering?
There is a visitors centre at the beginning of the road to Lago Rocca which hosts a staffed information point and a restaurant offering panoramic views of the mountains. The restaurant has daily specials ranging in price from 110 – 140 pesos. I paid 110 pesos for the meal below. The foxes stole my food one night when I left my food bag outside my tent. The restaurant is strict that no drinks are to be consumed on it’s premises which are not purchased from the restaurant, including water. The café at Lago Rocca is cheaper than the restaurant and does sandwiches from 60 pesos. I got my water bottles filled in both the restaurant and café for free even though the information guide advised me I’d have to pay for water.
Tips for the Cycle Tourer
The toilets in the centre have cold water and soap, a good opportunity to wash socks although you will be told off if staff walk in. There were also charging points in these toilets.
The water is non drinkable throughout the park so you will need to boil water or use a purifier. I filled my water bottles at the restaurant and café.
There is a Tierra Del Fuego information centre in Ushuaia in a separate location to that of the tourist information. It is opened Mon to Fri and closed weekends and holidays.
Parque Nacional Tierra Del Fuego
Av. San Martin 1395
Tierra del Fuego
Tel/Fax: (02901) 421315