Jim’s Accessibility Comments:
From the Princess cruise ship port of Ushuaia, Argentina we decided to tour Tierra del Fuego National Park and what’s known as the End-Of-The-World.
Ushuaia is located in the Beagle Channel, named after the ship HMS Beagle that carried English naturalist Charles Darwin. The dock is located directly in the heart of this small port town so no tender craft are required, and no shuttle or long walk is required to get into town. It was an easy, generally level walk (roll) along the dock and throughout town. We arrived on Sunday when most of the stores were closed, but frankly most of the stores were local supply stores and not the unique local oriented arts and crafts shops or markets.
No loss because when you get to Ushuaia, you visit Tierra del Fuego National Park!
There were multiple modern tour buses departing dockside however none were wheelchair accessible. And although there were wheelchair accessible parking spaces at the taxi stand just 1/2 block from the dock, there were no wheelchair accessible taxis. That said, there were a couple small sedans and at least the taxi driver we found (Jose) was happy to fold up the wheelchair, throw it in the back of the car at each stop and give us a tour of the National Park. It’s one of the most beautiful in the world.
Our round trip tour took about 3 1/2 hours and the cost was U.S. $120 for 2 (Bring Argentine Pesos not U.S. dollars or Chilean Pesos for the tour). Our tour took us past 2 of the most picturesque, scenic lakes on the planet, Lake Roca and Lake Lapataia. The snow capped Martial Mountains, valleys and landscape are certainly in the same category as the Rocky Mountains, Yosemite and New Zealand.
Park entry was an additional $25 for 2 and they only take Argentine Pesos: At the end of the road at Lake Lapataia, at the southern most point in the world, you will travel to one of the world’s most unique and unforgettable milestones: “The End of the World” sign which represents the end of the Pan American Highway that runs from this point to Alaska. This astounding marvel of civil engineering stretches nearly 12,000 miles across 2 continents. Guinness’ Book of World Records lists the highway as the world’s longest “motorable road”.
Also at this point there is a very nice wheelchair labeled boardwalk into the park and out along the lake through the wildlife areas. NICE JOB ARGENTINA!
The End of the World train station is located just before the Tierra Del Fuego Park entrance, about 20 minutes from Ushuaia and the docks. I had wanted to take the train tour but Princess stated it was not wheelchair accessible, and the Train’s website stated the train entry door was extremely narrow – I took that as a discouraging sign so I didn’t book this excursion. However upon arrival we stopped to check things out. My wife went in and discovered there was a “wheelchair compartment” on the train that was apparently wheelchair accessible. There was also a wheelchair accessible restroom at the train station (at least marked as wheelchair accessible) and an easy ramp from the parking lot to the train station platform. The train ride itself was 1 hour 45 minute. Had I known it was accessible, I certainly would have done this. The scenery is spectacular!
So I hope you all give this a shot and drop me a note.
Park Restrooms: I didn’t need a restroom along our 3 1/2 hour tour but a couple spots looked encouraging: (1st) The Alakush Center was a relatively modern building and tour bus stop within Tierra Del Fuego National Park. From the parking lot there was a long ramp into the center and there was the wheelchair accessibility logo. My wife stated the general restrooms were up a flight of stairs however I would think the Alakush center might provide a specially designated restroom for the disabled. (2nd) There was a wheelchair accessible restroom logo at the End of the World train station, and (3rd) a few blocks from the cruise dock was a relatively modern Casino which I also suspect would have an accessible restroom. Most of the shops were closed upon our Sunday arrival so I couldn’t research other properties.
Temperature on January 24 (height of summer was about 45-50 degrees F. but no wind and really a very pleasant day. Without question Ushuaia and Tierra Del Fuego National Park is one of the most spectacularly beautiful areas in the world with its vegetation, peat bogs and mammals! It’s reasonably accessible and not to be missed!