It is, according to many visitors, one of the most emblematic tours in Ushuaia. All it takes is boarding a train to travel back in time to a special past. Prisoners, jail and bitter, bitter cold.
Although the engines and cars are not the same, the route remains unchanged providing a unique experience. The journey is the one convicts made every day to the forests around the town
to gather wood not to freeze to death, and the train solved the problem.
Unlike those days, throngs of tourists from all over the world now crowd the train station, a mere eight kilometers from Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego National Park
Period music can be heard in the main hall. No sooner had the whistle blown than we boarded the train. At 9:30, Camila, one of the steam engines that cover the southernmost train route in the world, waited at the platform.
After being neglected for forty years, the end of the world train resumed its journeys in 1994. The guide told us the story of the train, the prison and the daily routine over one hundred years ago. Routine at the end of the world
‘Days never change, time seems to be standing still. Always the same: from prison to the camp in the forest and after chopping wood all day, back to prison on the same train,’ was recorded by an inmate in one of the notebooks now on display.
Ninety convicts arrived in Ushuaia from 1883, when President Roca enacted the law for the establishment of the prison in Tierra del Fuego, to 1909 when the railway line was built.
The little train was essential to the construction of the prison and to ensure the supply of wood for heating and cooking. That is why from serial killers, like the notorious Petiso Orejudo (Shorty Big Ears) to political prisoners like Ricardo Rojas all chopped wood. The line extended from the slopes of Mount Susana and along the Pipo River Valley, named after an escaped convict.
Back to the present: we made our way along Cañadón del Toro (Bull Gorge) alongside the river and then crossed over a bridge from where we saw the old crossing used by the prisoners.
Before we knew it, we were at the station at Cascada la Macarena (Macarena Falls) where we stopped to admire the beauty preserved in Tierra del Fuego National Park. We heard that this used to be a mandatory stop to refill the engines with water.
The whistle blew again so we went back to the train to renew our journey. Before entering the woods we passed by a tree cemetery. Our guide explained that the highest stumps were the remains of trees the prisoners chopped down in winter.
We were already approaching Estación del Parque (Park Station), our final destination and the beginning of myriad stories in each and every one of us who went on this fascinating trip.
The End-of-the-World Train offers three different kinds of services:
The special service provides comfort for eight passengers in a finest car with private kitchenette and restroom, tables with tablecloth and natural flowers. Passengers will enjoy a wide array of sweet and salty snacks hosted by a polite waitress. Drinks include: champagne, whisky, wine, beer and non-alcoholic beverages. Likewise, it enjoys an exclusive souvenir from the End of the World. Separate boarding.
Premium class offers comfortable panoramic cars with individual seats and tables decorated with tablecloths and natural flowers. During the journey, passengers may enjoy typical Patagonian flavors: a gourmet spider crab or chicken sandwich, an alfajor filled with calafate jam, a muffin and a chocolate bar. They may also choose a cold or hot drink: a bottle of Chandon 187 champagne, red or white wine, craft beer, soda, water, coffee, tea or hot chocolate. Separate boarding completes the experience of a memorable tour.
Duration: 1 hour.
Opening hours: Departures 9:30am and 3pm. The train operates 365 days a year, adjusting timetables and departures according to season.
Tour type: Contemplative
How to get here: Go along Route 3 till you reach km3042, 8km towards the West of the city.
Bear in mind: To appreciate the ride better and learn the history better, before getting on the train, it is convenient to visit the Museo del Presidio (Prison's Museum). At the ticket office, there is information available about the various trails that cross the area leaving from the Parque station, at the end of the rail.