The narrow Beagle Channel, separating Argentina's island chain of Tierra del Fuego to the north from remote Chilean islands to the south, serves as a waterway for the world's southernmost city, Ushuaia. It’s also one of the most important bodies of water in South America.
Most travelers experience this part of the world on multi-day cruises from Ushuaia to Punta Arenas in Chile, and it’s also a fantastic location for whale watching and spotting glaciers (the area is nicknamed Glacier Alley). Those based in Ushuaia can experience the channel in multiple ways; paddle a canoe from Lapataia Bay, sail through on a sightseeing cruise by yacht or catamaran, or explore some of the islands, including rocky islets known for their nesting seabirds or Seal Island.
Things to Know Before You Go
The Beagle Channel is a must-see for adventure travelers, wildlife enthusiasts, and photographers in Patagonia.
Day trips to the Beagle Channel can last anywhere from three to 10 hours, while multi-day tours last up to five days.
Don’t forget to dress in warm layers, as temperatures rarely go above 70 degrees, even during the South American summer.
Bring along a good pair of binoculars for better wildlife-spotting opportunities.
How to Get There
The nearest airport to the Beagle Channel is in Ushuaia, served by daily flights from Buenos Aires and Santiago de Chile. Once in town, the easiest way to experience the channel is by booking a sightseeing cruise or other guided tour.
When to Get There
For the best balance of good weather and fewer crowds, plan to visit during the spring or fall. The best weather falls between December and February, but winds can be strong, creating rougher waters in the Beagle Channel.
The Lighthouse (Not Quite) at the End of the World
Many tours through the Beagle Channel include a visit to Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse, sometimes called the Lighthouse at the End of the World. While the photogenic lighthouse certainly feels far enough from civilization to warrant the nickname, the title actually applies to a lighthouse on Isla de los Estados.