Best time to visit Patagonia

Beagle Channel

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

Beagle Channel in Patagonia - Best Time
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© Murray

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-coloured forest," Darwin wrote later about his trip.

Beagle Channel Cruise
Beagle Channel Cruise

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 centre of severe conflict between Argentina and Chile. Only by the end of the 1980s, the countries have peacefully resolved their issues.

A lone sailboat in the distance is a very small thing against the backdrop of the Andes. Beagle Channel near Ushuaia, Argentina
A lone sailboat in the distance is a very small thing against the backdrop of the Andes. Beagle Channel near Ushuaia, Argentina

You can discover Beagle Channel 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 populated 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.

Les Eclaireurs lighthouse
Les Eclaireurs lighthouse

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 as many tourists. You will definitely get enough of magical glaciers, fjords and forested land that inspired Darwin's research so many ago. Visit the Glacier Alley and Pia Glacier (one of Patagonia’s most magnificent attractions), and take a trekking excursion ashore.

Pia Glacier
Pia Glacier
Seabirds of the Beagle Channel
Seabirds of the Beagle Channel

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 in even in January.

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