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January 17-21, 2011 – Isla Navarino (The End of the World, Chile)

Tierra del Fuego Chilean flagJust across the channel (30 minutes on boat), Puerto Williams is a small village with multicolor houses on the northern shore of the island Navarino. Life is quiet here despite the weather. This is home to the Yaghan tribe, although only one woman speaks their language today, grandma Cristina. It was only 50 years ago that they thrived here. They used oils from the animals they hunted and fished to cover their skin in order to protect from the elements. Due to their diet, they also secreted a substance to isolate them enough from the weather to walk around naked. They heated with fire that they kept alive while boating. There were so many fire camps when the first settlers arrived that they called the place Tierra del Fuego (the Land of Fire).

Judit with Los Dientes de Navarino on the background


Third camp siteLos Dientes de Navarino (Navarino’s teeth) circuit is a 4 to 5 days hike that passes close to these sharp peaks in the middle of a pristine wilderness. Don’t  waste money on waterproof shoes. The pit bogs, rain and snow will make them useless for sure. Weather can really change quickly here, from sunny to rain to snow and back to sunny in the same day. We hiked the last two days with Dor and Yonattan, two Israelis with which we shared frozen toes and hot tea. Weather permitting, the views along the trail are spectacular. Countless crystal clear glacial lakes, snowy peaks, green meadows, dense woods and the Beagle channel all in sight at once. Be aware of the brutal climbs. It seems that Chileans don’t know how useful zig-zags can be.


Judit, Dor and Yonattan after the Virginia passOn the last day on the island, we visited the Martín Gusinde museum, dedicated to the Yaghan tribe and the very recent history of Navarino; a museum worth visiting, if you can read Spanish.

If you crave for a pisco sour…visit the Micalvi, a boat converted into a bar visited by local marines and snobby tourists on their way to sail Cape Horn.


View of the Beagle Channel from Navarino