A monster trout sculpture at the entrance to town announces the de facto fly-fishing capital of Tierra del Fuego, with world-class blue-ribbon angling for colossal sea-run trout. But nonfishers will likely stay in windswept Río Grande for a few hours, before hopping on a bus to Ushuaia, 230km southwest.
Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego
Banked against the Beagle Channel, the hushed, fragrant southern forests of Tierra del Fuego are a stunning setting to explore. West of Ushuaia some 12km along RN 3, Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego was Argentina’s first coastal national park and extends 630 sq km from the Beagle Channel in the south to beyond Lago Fagnano in the north.
Tolhuin & Lago Fagnano
Named for the Selk’nam word meaning ‘like a heart,’ Tolhuin (population 2000) is a lake town nestled in the center of Tierra del Fuego, 132km south of Río Grande and 104km northeast of Ushuaia via smooth asphalt. Muddy streets and clear-cut forests mark this fast-growing frontier town that fronts the eastern shore of Lago Fagnano, also known as Lago Kami.
Tierra del Fuego’s first estancia, Harberton, was founded in 1886 by missionary Thomas Bridges and his family. The location earned fame from a stirring memoir written by Bridges’ son Lucas, titled Uttermost Part of the Earth, about his coming of age among the now-extinct Selk’nam and Yahgan people.
Estancias Around Río Grande
Much of Tierra del Fuego was once the sprawling backyard of wool baron José Menéndez. His first estancia – La Primera Argentina (1897), now known as Estancia José Menéndez, 20km southwest of Río Grande via RN 3 and RC-b – covered 1600 sq km, with more than 140,000 head of sheep. His second and most-treasured venture was La Segunda Argentina, totaling 1500 sq km.