Trekking Laguna Esmeralda


Trekking Laguna Esmeralda (Español)

For details on the Trek to Laguna Esmeralda

Ask anyone when you arrive in Ushuaia, which trek/hike you should do - Laguna Esmeralda will most likely be the first or one of the top 3 mentioned. Admittedly, it is a trek with stunning scenery and a great introduction to Tierra del Fuego panoramas and conditions and as an added plus, it's not a difficult trek with only a little bit of ascent. This trek can also be done at all seasons although in winter some trekking spikes or crampons are very highly recommended.

Obviously being in Tierra del Fuego, make sure you have clothing with you to cover any weather change which can mean very cold in summer and maybe even snow. So minimum would be having gloves, beanie and a very warm jacket and rain gear...and of course hiking boots. Running shoes elevate the risk unnecessarily of ankle injuries which is unfortunately common here with people without the correct footwear.

During March when the scenery starts getting more colourful with autumn colours.
A month or 2 later will be full on autumn colours.

As some of you that know might know, I'm not a big fan of doing trails where there might be a lot of people - over and above that I usually try and get photos that are different to the run of the mill pics. My way of solving that wee problem is by going very early in the morning so I'm the first (or one of the first) out there and then also have the chance of sunrise photos. Sunrise in summer is more challenging though as the sunrise colours show around 4:30am but in winter, 9:00am in July can get some really worthwhile shots...with a lot of snow! ...just remember that in winter the lake is iced-over and covered in snow as well.

Winter sunrise colours along the trail to Laguna Esmeralda in July.

Due to this trail's popularity, some changes have also been made and two sections of boardwalks have been installed over the peat bog to limit the damage from many feet traipsing (and getting stuck) in it. The peat bogs, (turba) are a very important part of the ecosystems in Tierra del Fuego and need to be preserved. Most of the impact previously was outside winter season when the areas get very wet from rain and subsequently super muddy. In winter everything is covered in snow and ice so not an overly big problem then but this has either way been mitigated now with the boardwalks.

One of the sections with the new boardwalks

This is one of the trails where you'll need to organise transport for as it's almost 20km from Ushuaia. If you like meeting other people on a trek whilst having some knowledgeable guides, you could get hold of a company like Arpon Trekking who in winter will also be helping with trekking spikes and/or other gear you might want to rent as opposed to buying new.

Other transport would be if you end up going with someone you know who has a vehicle or has rented a vehicle which means you could get there at a time that suits you. The other option is the transfer service leaving from the bus terminal in Ushuaia who have generally around two trips per day out to Esmeralda and then later in the day, the returns. This option can be limiting though if you enjoy spending some extra time out there as the departures are later in the morning and cuts significantly the amount of time you can spend out there.

During the early autumn in March

If you're not going with a trekking company and guide, ensure you take water with you and then a flask with a hot drink is always welcome when you get to the lake. In addition to that, make sure you have some snacks and some sandwiches. There aren't places out there to buy food/snacks.

Just after first light around 09:00am - full moon going down.

No matter which season you go, you'll be sure to enjoy this stunning part of Tierra del Fuego known as Tierra Mayor. Take care, make you sure you have the right clothing and kit and leave only footprints - bring the litter back out with you.

Laguna Esmeralda during March

Laguna Esmeralda during July


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