The Beagle Channel Odyssey of Discovery: The Gable Expedition

  • Getting ready for our paddling adventure whilst playing air guitar!

Get ready to experience a one-of-a-kind canoeing and trekking adventure at the Ends of the Earth! We’ll set off to explore the mighty Beagle Channel: the same waters navigated by the first founders of Ushuaia and by adventurous explorers the likes of naturalist Charles Darwin, aboard the HMS Beagle in 1833. As we follow this route in our canoes, we’ll feel both a sense of freedom and isolation from civilization, harkening back to a time when the Yamana tribe inhabited this distant corner 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 have a chance to observe a colony of penguins from aboard our boat. Last, it’s onto our final destination... taking us off-the-beaten-path and on to the remote, uninhabited Gable Island; the largest island in the Beagle Channel.

Our tour kicks off in the morning hours, with a scenic ride of about 1 hour and 30 minutes to the starting point of our canoeing expedition. During this ride we’ll get a firsthand look at the "árboles bandera" (flag trees), which are contorted and twisted into incredible shapes due to thethe strong Patagonian winds.

We’ll next arrive at Lashifashaj River, where we’ll receive a quick lesson on paddling techniques, as well as a safety briefing from our guide. We’ll then hop into our inflatable canoes and set off downriver to start our exciting canoeing journey. In this stretch, we will row as the wind helps carry us down the river and into the the Beagle Channel.

Along this seaborne 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 and guide us to Harberton Ranch.

We arrive at the Harberton Ranch (the oldest ranch in Ushuaia), founded in 1866 by missionary and linguist Thomas Bridges, who established the first Anglican mission in Ushuaia. He’s also known for drafting 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, can instead go with our vehicle to the Harberton Ranch to enjoy a relaxing tour of the grounds, which still preserve its original ambience and charm.

Following this, we’ll step aboard a motorboat and navigate the Beagle Channel, making our way to Martillo Island, where we will make a short stop of about 15 minutes. We’ll remain on the boat next to the shore, while we observe a colony of thousands of Magellanic penguins, and prepare our cameras to snap some memory-making images! After our 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 ruby-red Patagonian wines, before heading out on our trekking exploration of the island.

As we kick off our trek and after a hearty lunch, we’ll find ourselves traversing lush, green pastures and vast woods; as we head towards the Southern shore, where we’ll reach the cliffs. The trek takes between 2 and 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, which once inhabited the Gable Island.

This exciting day of exploration following Ushuaia’s founders’ route comes to an end as we navigate back to Harberton Ranch, for a comfortable transfer back 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.