Best time to visit Patagonia

Beagle Channel in Patagonia 2023-2024

Follow the steps of Charles Darwin and see Patagonia the way he saw it back in 1833

Best time: November–April (all year round)

Beagle Channel
Beagle Channel
Beagle Channel
Beagle Channel
Beagle Channel
Beagle Channel

The Beagle Channel is a 240-km-long stretch of water between the archipelago of Tierra del Fuego and smaller islands. It is famous for its beauty as well as for its turbulent history. It was named after the HMS Beagle, which sailed there in the 1820s led by Robert Fitzroy. When the ship made a second visit to the channel it had Charles Darwin aboard.

"The scenery assumed a peculiar and very magnificent character[…] The mountains were here about three thousand feet high, and terminated in sharp and jagged points. They rose in one unbroken sweep from the water’s edge, and were covered to the height of fourteen or fifteen hundred feet by the dusky-colored forest," Darwin later wrote this about his trip.

One of the main passages around South America between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, Beagle Channel soon turned into the main trade route, and in the 1950s it became the center of severe conflict between Argentina and Chile. Only by the end of the 1980s, the countries have peacefully resolved their issues.

You can discover Beagle Channel by taking a half-day cruise from Ushuaia which usually covers the greatest nature sites in the area. One of them is Les Eclaireurs lighthouse located between numerous small islands which is inhabited by sea lions and birds. You can enjoy panoramic views of Tierra del Fuego National Park or take a tour to Martillo Island, home to Magellanic and Gentoo penguins.

If you have time, it's better to opt for a longer cruise lasting for up to seven days and explore the southern part of Beagle Channel and the western Chilean waters that are not usually visited by that many tourists. You will definitely get enough of magical glaciers, fjords and forested land that inspired Darwin's research so many years ago. Visit the Glacier Alley and Pia Glacier (one of Patagonia’s most magnificent attractions), and take a trekking excursion ashore.

Some tours run all year round, but the best time to cruise the Beagle Channel is from November to April because days are longer and winters tend to be severe here. Well, you can still expect some snow, even in January!

Practical info

When is the best time to go for a Beagle Channel cruise?

A Beagle Channel cruise is best taken in the months from November to April, when days are longer, and the winter is milder, but can be taken year-round. It remains an enjoyable experience even in January although you should expect a snowy environment during the trip. Show more

Where can you spot sea lions and birds and what is the significance of Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse?

Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse is nestled among little islands in the Beagle Channel; it is known for its sea lion and bird inhabitants. The Lighthouse is a famous spot, and one of the best ways to see it is by sea while cruising. Being in such an iconic place is an experience in itself. Show more

What does a typical half-day cruise involve and how long is it?

Joining a typical half-day cruise means that you could witness the most significant wonders that Ushuaia has to offer. You can select from several sights, including Les Eclaireurs lighthouse, Tierra Del Fuego National Park or Martillo Island to observe penguins. A half-day cruise typically lasts a few hours. However, if you wish to be more adventurous, you can choose multi-day tours that last up to 7 days and take you to remote parts of the channel. Show more

What makes Beagle Channel significant besides its beauty and what is its history?

Named after HMS Beagle, the Beagle Channel played a vital role in the conflict between Chile and Argentina. It was a trade route and remained a center of severe disputes. The channel is famous for both its history and beauty. However, mutual agreement between the two countries was only developed in the late 1980s after years of conflict resulted in resolving the matter peacefully. Show more

What sites can you visit on a longer cruise and how long can the trip take?

A more extended cruise lasting up to seven days enables you to explore the southern part of the Beagle Channel and the western Chilean waters. Glacier Alley, Pia Glacier, and wooded areas where Darwin's research gained inspiration become accessible. You will have an opportunity to discover secluded places to see the stunning glaciers and fjords while ashore for more excitement on your excursion. Show more

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