Vast pampas, fjords, channels, and unexplored mountains make up this unique territory once traveled via land by the Selknam people and via water by the Yámanas people. Yendegaia means «Deep Bay» in the Yagan language. This park in Tierra del Fuego, declared a Biosphere Reserve, was formed thanks to the donation of more than 93,900 acres by the Yendegaia Foundation, led by Douglas and Kristine Tompkins, as well as the incorporation of more than 274,287 acres of parklands by the Chilean government. The Darwin Range and Lake Fagnano frame its pristine landscapes, showcasing this area of incomparable beauty nestled at the very edge of the world.

Can’t Miss

  • Although Yendegaia is not currently open to the public, you can still explore the beauty of Tierra del Fuego, crossing the Strait of Magellan via two different routes: from Tres Puentes to Porvenir or from Punta Delgada to Cerro Sombrero.
  • Visit Lake Deseado.
  • Cross Tierra del Fuego, arriving to Lake Fagnano via Route Y-85.
  • Visit Pingüino Rey Park and take photographs of the Penguin colony at Bahía Inútil (Useless Bay).
  • Explore the trails of the private Karukinka Park near Yendegaia.

Open

Not currently open to the public

Area

372,170 acres

Climate

Oceanic subpolar climate

Rainfall

24 inches annually

Ecosystem

Patagonian steppe, deciduous and evergreen forests, tundra, alpine and coastal vegetation

Founded

December 12, 2013

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“This is the Patagonia of infinite land and water, shattered in a torrent of love and a single river made of miracle.”,

Mario Miranda Soussi

Flora

Six different trees can be found in the sub-Antarctic forests: Ñirre, Canelo, Leña Dura, Notro, Lenga, and Coigüe Magallánico. At 1640 feet above sea level, these trees begin to grow short and squat, bracing themselves against the region’s strong winds. Different types of Moss and Bryophytes grow in the peatlands, and in spring you can find delicate Orchids in the park, such as the Palomita. Murtilla, Frutilla de Magallanes (Magellanic Strawberry), Calafate (Magellan Barberry), Mata Negra, and Chaura can also be spotted in the park, as well as Yareta, a cushion plant that grows in the high passes.

Fauna

Yendegaia National Park is home to several threatened species, including the Zorro Culpeo de Tierra del Fuego, the Huillín (Southern River Otter), and the Canquén Colorado (Ruddy-Headed Goose). This habitat is also home to 49 land and marine birds, including the Bandurria, the Pidén Austral, the Condor, and––in the forests––Comesebos, Rayaditos, Cachañas (Austral Parakeets), and Magellanic Woodpeckers. Guanacos can frequently be spotted on the pampas, as can Tucus. South American Fur Seals, Chungungos (Marine Otters), Toninas Overas, Minke Whales, Southern Right Whales, Orcas, and Sperm Whales also inhabit the park’s coasts.

Culture

The first inhabitants of Tierra del Fuego were the Selknam, who were excellent warriors, experienced hunters, experts in trail-finding, and among the continent’s tallest native peoples, with an average height of 5 feet, 11 inches. Their main source of food was the Guanaco, which they hunted with their bows and arrows. During an initiation ritual called Hain, the Selknam skillfully painted their bodies and wore tree bark masks, symbolizing forest demons. Another group, the Haush people, lived in the Mitre Peninsula and spoke a language different from the Selknam’s. The Haush were expert climbers and, at nighttime, used leather ropes to sneak along the tall cliffs and catch sleeping birds by surprise. Little is known about the Haush; by the beginning of the 20th century, they had mostly disappeared from the territory. In 2018, the first and thus far only cave paintings in the area were found on the island of Tierra del Fuego, in the Ponsomby Sound. The paintings date back to the 16th century and belonged to the Yámana people, fishermen and gatherers who sailed along the shores of Tierra del Fuego in canoes made from Coigüe bark.

infrastructure

  • Bathrooms
  • Lodging
  • Camping
  • Restaurants
  • Information Center
  • Trails
  • Trekking Circuits
  • Picnic Area

How to Get There

Yendegaia Bay is 311 miles south of Punta Arenas. As of right now, the nearest place accessible by land is 9 miles south of Lake Fagnano; the park itself does not have land access at this time. Chile’s Military Workforce and Ministry of Public Works are currently building a road that will connect Lake Fagnano and Yendegaia Bay (Caleta 2 de Mayo) and will permit land access to the park along Route 7. From there, you will be able to take a ferry connecting Tierra del Fuego to Puerto Williams, a voyage of around 4 hours (substantially shorter than the current voyage from Punta Arenas, which takes 36 hours).

At Tres Puentes, 3 miles from Punta Arenas, you can cross the Strait of Magellan and arrive at Porvenir, a voyage of around 2 hours.

You can also cross the strait at Punta Delgada, 106 miles from Punta Arenas along Route CH-255. This voyage takes around 20 minutes and stops at Cerro Sombrero.

In the near future, a ferry called Aunashaka («Onas Channel» in the Selknam language) will offer regular trips from Caleta 2 de Mayo in Yendegaia Bay to Isla Navarino, a voyage of around 4 hours.

Punta Arenas is the nearest airport. DAP Airlines offers flights connecting Punta Arenas and Porvenir, a flight of just 12 minutes.

In Pampa Guanaco, 280 miles south of Punta Arenas, there’s an aerodrome offering private flights connecting to Punta Arenas.

Trails

There are no official trails open to the public at this time. You must get permission from Conaf to enter the parklands.

  • Difficulty

  • Duration

  • Distance

  • Open

Tips

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