Hiking Lake Esmeralda in the Tierra del Fuego

The wow factor for nature - does it show nature at its best? Doesn't need to be the wilder-beast migration or diving with hundreds of hammerheads. Rather make you pause as you realise just how awesome the natural world can be
How much does this experience showcase some of the better and finer things that us humans can offer? Sure, it can be ancient ruins and renaissance churches, but it can also be festivals or soaking up some of the great modern cities of the world
Fun factor/activity
Very simple - was it fun? This is usually linked in with doing some kind of activity - i mean, walking along some cliffs is nice, but paragliding from them, now that is fun. Its a vastly underrated factor in a truly great experience
Avoid the crowds
Big tour groups and being surrounded by loud fellow tourists can sap the life out of even the greatest of travel experiences. This score is to reflect just how much you can avoid this. But. . . The score also takes into account if the crowds actually add to the experience, such as with a party town or a bustling food market
World famous
How world famous is the experience?
How hard is it to have a similar experience in other places round the world?
Overall Score
The highest score of nature or culture, + fun factor, + avoid the crowds, + the highest score of world famous or unique. Then turned into a score out of 100. More details at the bottom of the page
77 *What the scores mean and where do they come from
South America
Length of time
1 day or less
Rough cost
Obviously people have different tastes, so this will depend on those tastes, but this is a rough idea of price of the whole experience based on 2 people able to split the accommodation costs and excluding travel there and back
$ 20
Time of year visited
Primary Tags
Click on any of the tags to see all travel experiences with the same tag
All Tags
How this travel experience ranks compared to all the other experiences on this site
55th/372 This travel experience's ranking compared to all the other experiences on this site
Top 20% SUMMARY RATING: World Class


At the southernmost tip of the Americas, the Tierra del Fuego is as strange as it is alluring.  Mountains and volcanoes surround you as you arrive in Ushuaia, the southern most city on earth, and you find yourself in the centre of a big playground of glacial lakes, channels and echoes of the past culture of the original Fuegian natives. Make sure if you’re in this part of the world to take a day to hike up to see the bright blues of the glacial lake Esmeralda and see the surrounding mountains and landscape of this otherworldly part of the world


#1 - Seeing the otherworldly blue colours of the glacial Lake Esmeralda

#2 - Hiking the 4 hour round trip hike to the lake and seeing the thunderous mountains surrounding you

#3 - Criss-crossing over the various streams on your way up to the glacial lake

#4 - Spotting some of the wildlife, including the giant Magellanic Woodpecker up in the trees

Travel Tips

  • For Lake Esmeralda, its simple to get a taxi from Ushuaia to the starting point of the hike – basically the Parking Laguna Esmeralda on google maps and the taxi driver will know.  But you’ll also want to ask if the driver fancies picking you up at the end of the hike as it could be a bit isolating waiting for a taxi / a ride from the Lake back to Ushuaia.  Takes around 4 hours for the 10km / 20,000 steps hike.  Not overly difficult, but obviously keep an eye on the weather
  • As with all things in the Tierra del Fuego, make sure you bring waterproofs and some decent waterproof hiking boots.  The peat bogs towards the start mean you’ll likely get sodden feet without them
  • Make sure to check out some of the other things to do and general tips by checking out the Trip to the end of the earth, 4 days in the Tierra del Fuego entry


Experiences nearby

The below map shows experiences nearby with a colour that reflect the Overall Score of those experiences

Score Detail

Background - how many times have you asked someone what a travel experience was like and the response was "amazing" or "awesome"?  That response is nice to know, but it makes it hard to differentiate that experience compared to others.  That is exactly what these scores are trying to do - differentiate the experience by giving a score out of 10 based on 6 categories and then giving an overall experience score

This overall experience score is calculated by:  take the highest of the "Culture" or "Nature" score (1-10) + "Fun factor" (1-10) + "Avoiding the crowds" (1-10) + highest of the "Unique" or "World Famous score" (1-10).  Then convert into a score out of 100

Extra detail - the logic being that I find all of the 6 individual scores important, but I don't want to mark an experience down just because it doesn't cover both "Culture" and "Nature", or because it isn't both "World Famous" and "Unique".  Take the examples of Safari in The Serengeti and walking through Rome - they both appeal at opposite ends of the nature / culture spectrum, and you can have a fantastic time without needing to appeal to both sides.  So, their overall scores aren't penalized for their lack of one or the other, and I've done the same for "World Famous" vs "Unique".  But . . . I do think that the "Fun factor" of an experience is important, irrelevant of other factors, and so is "Avoiding the Crowds" (or where there are crowds that add to the experience).  So, both of these scores are standalone