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Tierra del Fuego, Argentina

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About Tierra del Fuego, Argentina

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Aerial View of Tierra del Fuego

Aerial View of Tierra del Fuego

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Tierra del Fuego Lighthouse

Tierra del Fuego Lighthouse

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Fields of Tierra del Fuego

Fields of Tierra del Fuego

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Tierra del Fuego, a more or less triangular island separated from the southernmost tip of the South American mainland by the twists and bends of the Estrecho de Magallanes, is indeed a world unto itself. The vast plains on its northern reaches are dotted with trees bent low by the savage winds that frequently lash the coast. The mountains that rise in the south are equally forbidding, traversed by huge glaciers slowly making their way to the sea.The first European to set foot on this island was Spanish explorer Hernando de Magallanes, who sailed here in 1520. The smoke that he saw coming from the fires lighted by the native peoples prompted him to call it Tierra del Humo (Land of Smoke). King Charles V of Spain, disliking that name, rechristened it Tierra del Fuego, or Land of Fire.Tierra del Fuego is split in half. The island's northernmost tip, well within Chilean territory, is its closest point to the continent. The only town of any size here is Porvenir. Its southern extremity, part of Argentina, points out into the Atlantic toward the Falkland Islands. Here you'll find Ushuaia, the main destination, on the shores of the Canal Beagle. Farther south is Cape Horn, the southernmost point of land before Antarctica (still a good 500 miles across the brutal Drake Passage).

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Things You Can't Miss

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Explore Dramatic Landscapes
Explore Dramatic Landscapes

Gorgeous lakes, beech woodlands, snow-capped mountains and hiking trails make a visit to Tierra del Fuego National Park an adventure-lover’s delight.

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SuperStock/Alamy

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A Unique Story at Ushuaia’s Maritime Museum
A Unique Story at Ushuaia’s Maritime Museum

Housed in a prison building from the penal-colony era, this small but fascinating museum weaves a tale of convict labor, shipwrecks and pioneer days.

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David Coleman/Alamy

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Wildlife Spectacle on Beagle Channel Islands
Wildlife Spectacle on Beagle Channel Islands

Several tour companies in Ushuaia offer guided cruises where passengers get close looks at seals, sea lions, penguins, albatrosses and geese.

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Jose Fuste Raga/Corbis

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How to Be a Good Tourist 101

6 tips on how to get the most from your trip abroad.

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Stunning Panorama of the Continent’s End
Stunning Panorama of the Continent’s End

Hike the moderately strenuous trail or take a chair lift to Martial Glacier for a vista of Ushuaia, the Beagle Channel and islands on the horizon.

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Holger Leue/Corbis

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10 Beautiful Mountains in America

See (or climb!) these majestic mountains in the United States: McKinley, Rainier, Shasta and seven more.

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The Journey to Lake Escondido Is Half the Fun
The Journey to Lake Escondido Is Half the Fun

Rent a car in Ushuaia for the trip to this mountain-ringed lake. The road winds through a striking windswept landscape, continuing to Lake Fagnano.

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Dmitry_Saparov/Getty Images

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Going Solo? Tips for the Older Traveler Who Is Alone

Planning a trip by yourself? Follow these guidelines to help make it a vacation to remember.

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