When planning my trip I had hoped to cross the Beagle Channel from Ushuaia, Argentina to Puerto Williams, Chile but logistics, politics and economics got in the way.
The logistics: As I am visiting numerous locations I do not have the luxury of time and therefore the risk of not being able to cross the channel on a particular day because of weather or unreliability of transport ruled out this option. The crossing is by inflatable boat with an outboard motor and the flight out of Puerto Williams would have been by DAP’s Twin Otter plane. It would have been quite an adventure …but a bridge too far for me.
The politics: When Argentina forcefully took over the Falkland Islands in 1982 many may not have known that they had “previous”. Four years earlier, despite an international award to Chile, Argentina laid claim to some islands in the Beagle Channel. This became known as the Beagle Conflict and brought the countries to the brink of war and was instrumental in Chile siding with the UK during the Falklands war. Despite the Treaty of Peace and Friendship signed by Argentina and Chile in 1984 all is not forgotten in this region, making it difficult to make the 4 mile crossing across the Beagle Channel.
The economics: Both Ushuaia and Puerto Williams vie for tourism dollars in Tierra del Fuego and it seems that neither side see any benefit in a regular ferry service across the channel.