Reluctantly shared by both Argentina and Chile, this ‘land of fire’ really is the end of the world. Its faraway location has drawn explorers since the days of Magellan and Darwin, and this tradition continues with today’s travelers. A triangular archipelago surrounded by the stormy South Atlantic and the Strait of Magellan, Tierra del Fuego offers plenty of natural beauty: scenic glaciers, lush forests, astounding mountains, clear waterways and a dramatic sea coast. The region’s largest city, Ushuaia, is also the ‘southernmost city in the world’ – a major draw for list-tickers – but has also become the main gateway to wondrous Antarctica. Tierra del Fuego is isolated and hard to reach, but for true adventure-seekers in Argentina it’s a must.
Passing ships gave Tierra del Fuego its name: they spotted distant shoreline campfires that the Yámana (or Yahgan) people tended. In 1520 Magellan paid a visit, but it wasn’t land he was seeking – it was passage to the Asian spice islands. So as ships sailed by, the indigenous Ona (or Selknam) and Haush continued hunting land animals, while the Yámana and Alacalufe (‘Canoe Indians’) lived on seafood and marine mammals. Spain’s withdrawal from the continent in the early 1800s, however, brought on European settlement – and the demise of these indigenous peoples.