Tierra del Fuego National Park is located on the western half of Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego in an area known for its biological richness. It stretches from the Beagle Channel to the shores of Lago Kami at the southernmost point of Argentine Patagonia.
Tierra del Fuego National Park
Tierra del Fuego National Park, the southernmost park in Argentina, is located on the western half of Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego and situated within Argentina's Tierra del Fuego Province in an area known for its biological richness.
The National Park, created in 1960 and enlarged in 1966, is Argentina's first shoreline national park. The park stretches from the Beagle Channel to the shores of Lago Kami at the southernmost point of Argentine Patagonia.
Tierra del Fuego National Park covers approximately 63,000 ha (155,000 acres) of coastal, woodland, and mountain environments. It is part of the Magellanic subpolar forests ecoregion.
Ushuaia, the capital of Tierra del Fuego Province, is the nearest town at approximately 11 km (7 mi) from the park. The southern terminus of the Pan-American Highway is located within the park, as is the El Parque station of the Southern Fuegian Railway or "Train to the End of the World," the southernmost functioning railway in the world.
The dramatic scenery of Tierra del Fuego National Park includes waterfalls, forests, mountains, lakes, and glaciers. Forests of Antarctic beech, lenga beech, and coihue in the lower elevations of the park are home to many animal species.
Hiking trails and walking paths within the park include:
- Pampa Alta Trail
- Pipo River Waterfalls
- Coastal Path
- Paseo de la Isla
- Lagoon Negra
- Circuit Lengas
- Milestone XXIV
- Guanaco Hill
The park experiences a temperate climate with frequent rain, fog, and strong winds. However, westerly winds over the sea maintain a uniform climate in the park. The average annual rainfall is 700 mm (28 in).
Peak rainfall (snowfall at higher elevations) occurs from March through May; no dry season exists. Average temperatures are about 0 °C (32 °F) in winter and 10 °C (50 °F) in the summer.
The subantarctic forest vegetation is dominated by tree species of coihue, nires, and lenga (a tree or shrub native to the Andes and also known as lenga beech). Above 600 m (2,000 ft) elevation, the flora consists of altoandina with small bushes, plants en cojin, and grasses.
IUCN has reported forests of southern beech species of Nothofagus pumilio, N. antarctica, and N. betuloides. Other species include Berberis buxifolia, Embothrium coccineum, winter's bark Drimys winter, Crowberry, Empetrum rubrum, and mosses.
Magellan coihue (coihue de Magallanes) is found in the park's wettest parts of the Beagle Channel coast. Lenga is located in the Pipo River Valley and some parts of southern mountain slopes and may be thickly set and reach great heights.
Chinese lanterns, hemiparasite, and Pande Indian or Llao Llao, fungus parasites, are found over the branches of the trees. Cinnamon is also reported in many small forest areas of the park.
Peat bogs are found extensively found within the park. These are made up of sphagnum moss and aquatic grasses and occur in damp valleys where low temperatures and slow-moving acidic waters prevent decomposition.
The flower varieties found include calafate, chaura, and michay, which are orange-colored. In addition, flag trees, strawberry devils and small ferns, yellow orchids, and luzuriagas are seen in the understory of forest cover.
Black bush, caulking, grill, and Embothrium cocci with red tubular flowers are typically seen in the Beagle Channel coast and the western part of Lapataia Bay. The chocolate-scented Nassauvia is also found here.
Settlers from Europe and North America introduced many species of animals into the area, such as the European rabbit, North American beaver, muskrat, and gray fox, which rapidly proliferated and caused significant damage to the environment.
Guanaco Lama guanicoe and South American sea lions are in the park. Other notable faunas include several species of penguins, the South Andean deer or Huemul Hippocamelus bisulcus, and the southern river otter Lutra provocax.
The avifauna includes three types of cauquenes (sheld geese), namely, cauquen comun (upland goose or Magellan goose), cauquen real (ashy-headed goose), and caranca (kelp goose), found in open places and beaches.
Other birds include Patagonian woodpeckers, notably the spectacular Magellanic woodpecker, maca común, common maca, heron, pato creston (crested duck), duck overo, corn duck, eagle, southern carancho, and chimango.
Condors can be seen flying through the peaks and valleys of Tierra del Fuego National Park. It is also home to the austral parakeet Enicognathus ferrugineus, a parrot species.
Aquafauna consists of scallops, moon snails, spiral teeth, a few crustaceans like crabs and fish such as sardines, Falkland sprat, Fueguina, merluza and Robalo de cola, jellyfish concentrations, steamer ducks, and cormorants.