A paradise at the end of National Route No. 3

I chose to visit the Tierra del Fuego National Park for the second consecutive day. While I was sharing my breakfast -which consisted of bread with butter, dulce de leche and marmalade, cereals, juice, coffee, tea and milk- with a group of Italians, I wrote to the number of Transportes Santa Lucía, a transportation company that recommended me the driver who had taken me to the city the previous afternoon. At 9:50 they came to pick me up.

I went down to the Alakush Visitor Center and walked to the right, to the viewpoint of Acigami Lake, shared by Argentina and Chile. A few meters away, a sign indicated the start of the path to Hito XXIV and, later, another indicated the path to Cerro Guanaco, whose climb was pending for an upcoming trip.

I advanced for an hour and a half along the northwest margin of the lake, under a rain that added charm to the landscape and a halo of mystery to the experience. After multiple ascents and descents, I arrived at the steel monolith that marks the limit with the neighboring country, more known as Hito XXIV. In addition to the heavy iron figure, a small sign reminded that it is forbidden to enter Chilean territory.

Back to the Visitor Center, I skirted the Lapataia River and crossed the bridge that crosses it. Whidout rain, I made the Walk to the Island, which runs through the Cormorant archipelago and go over along the coasts of the Lapataia and Ovando rivers. The landscape was amazing, as was the size and number of mosquitoes.

I continued towards Black Lagoon, a peat bog in formation. Typical of Tierra del Fuego, peat bogs are the remains of vegetables accumulated and compressed in relief depressions. I returned to the route and walked to the Lapataia lookout. Then, I took the path to the Castorera, where the damage caused by this exotic species is observed, and, a few minutes later, I arrived at Lapataia Bay.

A wooden sign with yellow letters indicated the end of National Route No. 3 and marked the 3079 kilometers that distanced us from Buenos Aires and the 17,846 that separated us from Alaska. Behind began the walkway that leads to Puerto Arias and protects the archaeological site of the passage of visitors. Before reaching the end of the wooden path, I took the way that opened to my right and led to the beacon located on the edge of the Strict Nature Reserve.

The landscape was touching, a true paradise at the end of National Route No. 3. Suddenly, the clouds began to move faster and the wind, which had relaxed, returned to roar loudly. As I approached the beacon, I could hear the rain approaching from the other side of the mountains. I interpreted it as a sign that it was time to return.

The storm broke out when I finished touring the Lapataia Bay footbridge. So, I approached a couple who were in a car and asked if they could get me to the Visitor Center. As they also were going to go to that area, they took me. On the way they recommended places to visit and they warned me to be careful with the peat bogs on the way to Esmeralda Lagoon.

I got out of the car and waited for the truck inside. The rain disappeared after a few minutes and, as the previous day, gave way to a clear sky.

Text and photos by Gabriela Naso.

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