Terra del Fuego

Terra del Fuego is an island located on the southern tip of South America separated from the continent by the Magellan Street. The island which has a size of 48,000 km2 (comparable to Switzerland) is divided between Chile and Argentina.

Terra del Fuego has been discovered in 1520 and initially been considered being the southern tip of a separate continent.

While its geographic latitude (on the southern hemisphere) is similar to the area between Berlin and Kopenhagen on the northern hemisphere due to cold water currents coming from the Antarctica it has a sub-polar climate which is simiar to the one of Iceland. Besides its strategic importance, the economic basis of Terra del Fuego is fishing, natural gas and oil extraction, sheep farming, and ecotourism.

The original native Selk'nam and Yaghan populations were greatly exticted during the 19th and 20th century by unequal conflict and persecution by settlers, by infectious diseases to which the indigenous people had no immunity, and by mass transfer to the Salesian mission (Wikipedia). Today only a few members of the native community remain.

The pictures show

  • Crossing the Magellan-Straight and driving on Ruta Y79 and Ruta 3
  • Gauchito Gil (an Argentinian Robin Hood who became a victim of injustice in mid-19th century) is the (unofficial) saint of gauchos and truck drivers. He is worshipped in many small shrines alongside the road. Wine and beer are the usual sacrificial offerings. However, as the graffito on the last picture states, not everybody is fully convinced: “Mas axiones, menos oraciones” (More action, less praying). The tradition has been developed further by German campers who arrange a Gouchito Gil style funeral when a car tyre blows up.  
  • In Ushuaia, the southernmost city of South America, everything circles about the end of the world (fin del mundo) including the train to the end of the world (built by prisoners in the 1930s).
  • The Parque National Terra del Fuego offers nice hikes and scenic camp sites where campers spontaneously sit and cook together.
  • It took some three centuries until explorers were able to draw an accurate map of the Terra des Fuego coastline.
  • Hardly anybody of the native population survived.
  • Salesian mission active in Terra del Fuego
  • The coast line of the Beagle canal is more or less inhibited and offers untouched landscape including herds of wild horses.
  • The town of Rio Grande holds one of the world´s finest fly fishing spots applying a catch-and-release-policy. Some trout weigh up to 8 kg. Being an absolute newcomer to fishing and still struggling with the technique mine had only 0.5 kg.
  • Breath-taking sunsets in Terra del Fuego.