Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Hiking at the End of the World & Polenta with Carrots and Beets

Tierra del Fuego National Park is a group of islands off the southernmost tip of South America. The park has several designated trails and camping sites. The following two hikes best represent our experience.

Guanaco Trail
This is the most rigorous and rewarding day hike. It is a 4km climb to the top of Cerro Guanaco, but the last 1km, felt like 3km. The first 3km are spent hiking in the forest, until you reach a plateau with amazing views of the surrounding mountains. However, right before the plateau there is a giant mud pit. Watching everyones faces as we tried and failed to predict which patches of mud were safe, was hilarious. Even though we were all more than slightly miserable, we couldn't stop laughing.

However, the laughter ended when we realized the last 1 km to the top of the mountain was at approximately a 30% incline. My thighs were already screaming, when Brianna decided it was a good idea to make us run the last couple of meters, because we were walking to slow. The pain melted away after seeing the view from the top. We were at the same level as the mountain ridge, and were the only ones there. I sat on the ledge overlooking Ushuaia, and ate a nice crisp apple as it started to snow.

Coastal Trail
Technically the coastal trail is longer then the Guanaco trail, but it was relatively flat, and took less time. This hike weaves in and out of the forrest, following the water. The view didn't compare to that of Cerro Guanoca, but it was still breathtaking. The end of this trail also leads to several smaller trails full of horses, beavers, and overly domesticated foxes.

The fox came out from the woods behind me, while I was eating lunch. He eagerly awaited the possibility of salami (don't worry, I didn't feed him). He was so close I could have stroked his back, but I didn't trust his intentions. I know he was just waiting for the right moment to grab my salami containing bag.

Polenta with Carrots and Beets
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 45-60 minutes
Servings: 4

While I was in Ushuaia I made this dish several times. It involves vegetables, which is always a plus, and is a cheap way to feed a crowd. I brought left overs on the Guanaco hike, but my container spilled. The polenta rolled down the mountain, and I was left without any food.


  • 4 large carrots
  • 1-2 medium beets
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 cup polenta
  • 4 cups water
  • garlic olive oil

Boil the beets until tender (about 40 minutes), remove the skins, and chop them into bite sized pieces. While the beets are boiling, chop the onion and carrots. Add oil to a hot pan, and then add in the onions and carrots. Stir to prevent the onions from over cooking, and to ensure the carrots are cooked evenly.  Cook the polenta based on the instructions on the container. Usually it is a 4:1, water to polenta ratio.  Add garlic olive oil to the polenta to taste. After the vegetables are done cooking, toss them together, before adding to the polenta.

This dish is easy to make if each section is timed correctly. I like to start by boiling the beets. Once the beets are in the pot, I start to boil the water for the polenta. Then I begin to cook the carrots and onions. 


  1. Alana, did you camp at the park? Also, were the horses wild? The landscape is breathtaking.

  2. One: This is amazing. I can't believe you have been so far south!
    Two: I think we both know someone who would have fed the very, very cute fox. How could you deny it with those lovely, begging eyes.....