With a couple of days spare in Ushuaia we figured we’d go put some more stuff in our eyeholes. Lakes and glaciers and the like. Laguna Esmerelda, or Emerald Lake, is a very popular walk about a 20 minute drive from Ushuaia. You can take a shuttle so that’s what we did, at a weekend no less. You’re not going to have this hike to yourself I don’t think. By the time we got there the car park was already full and people had started parking along the road. We jumped out of the minibus and joined the hordes starting out on the trail.
This is such a nice walk. Lots of flat bits with just enough inclines to remind you that you’re alive. If it was any manner of wet though I feel like we’d have been ankle deep in the kind of mud that takes a fancy to your shoes and tries to steal them. As it was we started with a lovely, dry woodland walk. One thing this trail doesn’t have though is facilities and popping off into the woods isn’t an entirely reasonable option for a nature wee if you don’t possess the inherent ability to pee standing up. The trees are tall and thin and would in no way shield my vast arse from the masses. It might as well be painted bright red. I just had to hold it.
The trail emerges from the trees and oh yes, that’s some eyehole fodder right there. Yes please. Then it just kept on getting better and better. We walked alongside a stream for a while and the colour of it was incredible, sort of a milky bluish white. A few people were kneeling beside it and scooping it up for a taste and I’m sure it’s really delicious, cold and pure but I’m way too aware that things die in water and then they rot. Plus I’m British, our waterways are so fucked that I have a complete mistrust of any manner of river water, even if it’s straight from a glacial source. We have badass filters for drinking from rivers but we didn’t have them with us today.
You walk across a very flat bit that would definitely be a swamp if it rained, and you can see a ridge and people were stood on it taking selfies so we figured the lake was over that ridge. Sure enough, we got to the top and there it was. You can certainly see why it’s so popular. Accessible, easy, and utterly fucking stunning. It was overcast so I don’t think we were treated to the full spectrum of green that it would be in the sunshine but it was still fantastic. The shores were filled with domestic tourists sipping mate so we headed around the lake to find our own bit of shore to sit and eat our butties, ideally somewhere with a bit of tree cover to the back so I could offload this Coca Cola I’d foolishly drank before getting on the bus. We plonked ourselves down well away from anyone else and just enjoyed the view.
It certainly wasn’t any manner of peaceful, people were shouting across to their friends and others were playing music. Definitely don’t come here if you were looking forward to the solitude of nature. We walked anticlockwise around the lake, when you get to the back it starts getting a bit squishy with some precarious planks placed over small streams. I say precarious, most people would be fine with it and they’re literally half a foot off the fucking ground but tell that to my stupid brain which was adamant we were going to die.
The west side of the lake is a bit more difficult to walk along than the east side with the rocks and the mud, then you get to a mess of driftwood logs that you have to use to get over a fucking river right as you get back to the south shore. Oh that’s it. We’re definitely going to die. You’ve pretty much circumnavigated the whole thing by now so turning back would be a right bastard. I had to be a brave little soldier and just get across it.
The walk down is nice and you get all those sweet, sweet views you missed before because you had your back to them. We got back to the car park before 2pm and had to wait over an hour for the first bus back to Ushuaia but that was fine. The weather was still holding, it was overcast but there was no threat of rain and we got back in plenty of time to do some souvenir shopping at the artesan market.
The following day we decided to walk up to Glaciar Martial right from our accommodation. It was only 1.2 kilometres to the trailhead but oh my gosh, what a 1.2 kilometres! And I don’t mean that in a good way. The trails we’d done since the cruise had lured us into a false sense of security. They were easy with lots of flat bits. Just the asphalt roads to the trailhead were the kind of inclines that had my calf muscles questioning all of my life choices. Gods, they burned!
We got to the trailhead and carried on up, and up, and up. Then I started getting lightheaded and had to stop, I’m not sure why. I mean, my womb was engaging in The Wringing so I was losing what felt like gallons of fucking blood through my vagina but I’d never had this problem before. The walk flattened out as we picked our way across rickety boardwalks put in place,I assume, to save you from being knee deep in mud and misery. I decided I wanted to continue but by the time we got to the car park with the teahouse I just wasn’t feeling it.
I was obviously feeling tea and cake though so we sat down for a bit of that and chatted about our options. I wasn’t 100% and probably couldn’t be arsed to walk up any more hills. In fact I probably couldn’t be arsed to walk down them either. I was utterly shattered too, way more tired than I had any right being, so the decision was made; we’d take a taxi straight home. I’m pretty glad we did too, we were home long before my digestive system decided it didn’t want anything I’d given it today at all and violently expelled it through my arse via a stream of hot liquid. Oh. Good. So I was actually ill then. I did feel a little bit vindicated for wimping out of a walk but this wasn’t what you wanted on the eve of a very long bus trip north.
Laguna Esmerelda, Ushuaia, Tierra Del Fuego, Argentina
Stayed at: Un Nuevo Despertar, Ushuaia
Useful shit to know…
- Shuttles for Laguna Esmerelda leave from the same place as the shuttles for the national park.
- The first leaves at 10am then it’s hourly.
- The return journeys are at 3pm and 5pm.
- As with the national park, you have to return with the same company you came with.
- At the time of writing it cost AR$5000 (US$27 at the official rate, US$15 at the Blue Dollar) there and back.
- The trail is easy to follow but it will definitely be very muddy if there’s been any rain.
- If you want to walk to Glaciar Martial you can either start from the trailhead at -54.808295, -68.34468 or you can take a taxi up to the car park and walk from there.
- There’s a taxi rank at the carpark too so you should be able to get a ride down.
- It cost AR$1500 to get from the car park to our accommodation so it would probably cost a bit more to get all the way to town.
- Taxis in Ushuaia are metered.
- Buses use the SUBE card, the same one you would use in Buenos Aires.
- You can download an app called Mi Bondi which shows you the bus routes in Ushuaia and where you can recharge your SUBE card. It’s useful to a point but it’s a bit messy.