The Beagle Channel Odyssey of Discovery: The Gable Expedition

  • Getting ready for the paddling adventure!

Get ready to experience a one of a kind canoeing and trekking adventure at the Ends of the Earth! We’ll explore the mighty Beagle Channel, the same waters navigated by the first founders of Ushuaia and by adventurous explorers like naturalist Charles Darwin aboard the HMS Beagle in 1833. As we follow this route in our canoes, we’ll feel a sense of freedom and isolation from civilization, taking us back to a time when the Yamana tribe inhabited this distant part of the planet. We’ll stop by the oldest estancia (ranch) in Ushuaia, home to the first non-native settlers of the area. Once our canoeing journey is complete, we’ll hop on a motorboat and make a quick stop at an island where we’ll observe a colony of penguins from our boat. Last, it’s onto our final destination...taking us off the beaten path on the remote, uninhabited Gable Island, the largest island in the Beagle Channel.

Our tour starts in the morning with a scenic ride of about 1 hour and 30 minutes to the starting point of our canoeing expedition. During this ride we’ll see the "árboles bandera" (flag trees), which are trees contorted and twisted into incredible shapes by the strong Patagonian winds.

We arrive at Lashifashaj River, where we’ll receive a quick lesson on paddling technique as well as a safety briefing from our guide. We’ll then hop into our inflatable canoes and set off downriver to start our canoeing journey. In this stretch we will row as the wind helps carry us down the river and into the sea of the Beagle Channel. Along the sea trip, we may encounter some wildlife and many different sea birds. It’s also not uncommon to find sea lions sunbathing along the small islands that mark our way to Harberton Ranch.

We arrive at the Harberton Ranch (the oldest ranch in Ushuaia), founded in 1866 by the Thomas Bridges, who established the first Anglican mission in Ushuaia. He also wrote the first dictionary of the Yaghan language, which he learned in the course of working with the Yamana tribe in his religious mission.

Travelers who prefer to opt out of the canoeing portion of this tour will be taken directly to the Harberton Ranch by vehicle and will enjoy the possibility of touring the ranch, which still preserves its original ambience.

Following this, we’ll board a motorboat and navigate the Beagle Channel, making our way to Martillo Island, where we will do a short stop of about 15 minutes. We’ll stay on the boat next to the shore while we see a colony of thousands of Magellanic penguins.

After the penguin-watching, we’ll navigate to the uninhabited Gable Island, the largest island in the Beagle Channel. After disembarking on this rugged land, we’ll be treated to a tasty lunch with Patagonian wines before heading out on our trekking exploration of the island.

Our trek begins across the island through pastures and vast woods, towards the Southern shore, where we’ll reach the cliffs. The trek takes 2 to 2.5 hours depending on the pace of the group. As we explore the island, we’ll come across remnants of both the Yamana civilization, the first civilization on the island, and the remnants of the first non-native settlers to Ushuaia that once inhabited the Gable Island.

An exciting day of exploration following Ushuaia’s founders’ route comes to an end as we navigate back to Harberton Ranch and then return to our hotel.

Important: the tour’s exact itinerary and duration may change subject to weather conditions and decisions of the tour guide to optimize your tour experience.

Difficulty: Moderate. This activity was designed for beginners with no canoeing experience at all, so the canoeing part of the tour is not hard to complete.
Trek distance: 2.8 miles (4.5 kilometers). Elevation gain: 165 feet (50 meters) with a cumulative elevation gain (refers to the sum of every gain in elevation throughout the entire trek) of 295 feet (90 meters).
For the trekking portion, there is a shorter and a longer route, your tour guide will let you choose which one you prefer and the group will split into 2 if needed. This shorter and easier trek has a distance of 2.8 miles (4.5 kilometers) and an elevation gain of 100 feet (30 meters) .
The minimum age required for this tour is 5 years old. This tour usually operates from October to end of March.

Duration: full day (approximately 9 hours from the time you leave your hotel until you return).

Guide: group guide. The maximum group size for this tour is approximately 20 travelers.

Vehicle: group vehicle.

Includes: lunch with non-alcoholic beverages & wine.