Between Chile and Argentina sits a narrow strait called the Beagle Channel. It is only 3.1 miles wide and around 149 miles long, and a popular day trip via catamaran. Among the features of the trip is the opportunity to see some of the southern ocean wildlife. This type of tour should be top of your list when looking for amazingly unique Argentina day trip experiences.
- Incredible natural sights
- The Lighthouse at the end of the world
- See and possibly walk among the penguins and other wildlife
Know before you book:
- Park fees may apply for visits to the national park
- It gets incredibly cold
- Port fees may apply, but are not too costly
The Beagle Channel does feature a small population center known as Ushuaia. This is by most agreed accounts the southern-most city on Earth, so, at the very least, that’s another tick off the bucket list for intrepid travelers.
Side note: You may want to choose your words carefully around this topic when in another southern Chilean city, Puerto Williams, but that’s probably a discussion for another time.
Many use the city of Ushuaia as a launch point for boat trips and explorative journeys, although Ushuaia itself is worth a few hours of exploration. When you do take a boat trip from here, you travel eastwards, spotting marine life like sea lions, penguins, birds, dolphins, and whales. Many of the landmarks here, including a famous lighthouse, have some reference to the “end of the world” in their names—in the case of the lighthouse: the Faro del fin Mundo.
Not surprisingly, temperatures around this latitude can be extreme, with an average of just 34 degrees Fahrenheit in July, the heart of winter. In summer, it’s better, rising to an average of about 48 degrees Fahrenheit.
Make no mistake, though. The scenery here is utterly unique and incomparable to anything else you are likely to see on earth. Glaciers, icy waters, animals, and the very experience of being this far south on the planet are well worth the effort of getting here and committing to a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Beagle Channel Catamaran Cruise Prices 2022
Prices for boat and catamaran cruises on the Beagle Channel vary considerably but are surprisingly affordable, despite the uniqueness of the experience. Prices start at $60 USD ($7,763 ARS) and can rise up to $170 USD ($22,000 ARS) or more, depending on the level of luxury and boat, guide costs, etc.
Compare prices across the ticket providers below:
Times for Cruises from Ushuaia
With many operators running the cruises and options, times can vary. The best advice is to check with a tour or operator for their specific times. More than likely, the departure times will also vary depending on which season you sail, as the trip is best experienced in the daytime. Most cruises last at least 3-4 hours.
Best Time to Go on Ushuaia Cruises
It’s fairly reasonable to suggest that summertime is the best time to visit this part of the world and do a Ushuaia cruise, as winters can be very severe. That said, some Ushuaia tours do run year-round, and even in summer, you should expect to see some snow, even if it is in the distance somewhat.
Alternative Beagle Channel Day Cruise Options
Longer tours from Ushuaia do exist. Many also offer the option of walking amongst the penguins or similar experiences (see the list of tours above for some examples). But rest assured that the sight of the glaciers, islands, and surprisingly flat waters of the docks in Ushuaia are worth these reasonable prices alone.
Another piece of trivia: The channel is named for the ship HMS Beagle, which created the first hydrographic survey of the coastline of the region. The ship was captioned by Robert FitzRoy, the future second governor of New Zealand. Before FitzRoy took over the captaincy, Charles Darwin sailed on the same ship under Admiral John Lort Stokes.
Beagle Channel Tours
While you can expect the boat trips and catamaran rides to last around 3 hours, full-day packages that include visits to the national park and Ushuaia also exist. Many tours that offer stops in Ushuaia will only take the sea trip in the afternoon. Many will return at around 6 pm. That said, there may also be morning options, while weather conditions may also influence sailing times.
Take a look at these for a start:
Full Day Tour: Combo Tour by Train and Boat
Looking for a full-day tour with a varying experience? Try this one, which splits its activity over both a train and boat ride, taking eight hours. The tour also explores Terra del Fuego, the southernmost land point of South America, by giving you a ride on the ‘Train of the End of the World.’
You get to spend a little time exploring Ushuaia, which was largely built by prisoners back in the days when it was a penal colony. The boat ride part of the tour departs from Ushuaia in the afternoon.
Along the way, you’ll get to observe much of the island wildlife, as well as have several amazing photo opportunities with ice-capped peaks in the distance.
What we liked: Adds variety with a train ride and boat experience.
- Free hotel pickup and drop off
- Free port pickup and drop off if preferred
- Professional guide
- Port taxes
- Food and drinks
- Entrance fees to national parks
The general starting time of the tour is 8 am. The first stop is the national park, which will require the payment of some additional park fees. Be advised that a passport may be required. The boat ride of the trip starts at around 3 pm, and the tour will end at around 6 pm.Check Price & Book
Half Day Beagle Channel and Sea Lions Island Catamaran Cruise
One of the interesting points of this boat trip is the shipwreck ruins around the waterway, as well as a closer look at the Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse. There’s also a fun foray towards the sea lions, who have quite the reputation for making a huge racket.
This is the route that Darwin followed on his way through this notable waterway and includes views of the Martial Glacier, Five Brothers and Olivia Mountains, and the aforementioned Sea Lion Island.
As an aside, Sea Lion Island, also known as the Isla de Los Lobos, is home to both South American sea lions and South American fur seals. There is also a significant colony of cormorants on the island. How close you get is largely dependent on the type of vessel you are sailing on, but regardless, you’ll get a really great view of the animals on the rocks.
What we liked: Great for if you don’t want it to take the whole day.
- Hotel pickup and drop off
- Transport by coach or minivan
- Professional guide
- Food and drinks
- Boarding Fee ARS$20 (less than $1 USD)
- Beautiful setting
- Unique wildlife experience
- Cold climate
- No food and drink included in general
Specification: Beagle Channel Catamaran Cruise Tickets | Ushuaia Cruises & Tours
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