EXPEDITION TO TIERRA DEL FUEGO & PATAGONIA
LOCAL FACTS /
AÓNIKENK (Tehuelche Indians) They were tall nomad and land hunters
who lived between the Los Lagos Region and the Southern Zone. The legend
tells that, due to the big size of their footprints, they were called
Patagones and Patagonia the land they inhabited. They hunted guanacos
and ñandúes (small ostriches), and traded their furs and
feathers with the first settlers in these coasts. The loss of their condition
of nomads, disease and the culture introduced by white men caused the
nearly absolute extinction of this people.
(Ona Indians) They were land
hunters inhabiting Tierra del Fuego. They came to the island at the end
of the last glacial period (10,000 years ago), when it was still connected
to the continent. They had a system of barter with the Yámana people
through the mountain passes in the Ushuaia area. The same as with the
other ethnic peoples of the region, the Onas have disappeared due to contact
They occupied the southern channels of the Beagle, Hoste and Navarino
islands in addition to Cape Horn archipelago. Their means of transportation
was the canoe made of tree bark pieces equipped with seal skin sails,
which could also serve as an awning in rainy weather. It was common for
them to make fire in their canoes to keep warm or illuminate the coast
when landing. Only the women knew how to swim, as it was their duty to
anchor the canoe among seaweeds and then swim ashore. The extinction of
this ethnic group was due to contagion of plagues introduced by sealers
They were seafaring nomads that sailed from island to island and through
channels between the Golfo de Penas on the north and the Strait of Magellan
on the south. They lived on the seals and sea lions that they hunted,
and on the collection of shellfish and fish. They traveled in canoes made
out of three pieces of tree bark joined together with plant fibers or
whale bones. They dressed themselves with a cape made of seal skin to
cover their back or their chest, and to endure the cold they covered their
bodies with colored soil mixed with animal grease. Some of them still
survive in Puerto Edén.
An evergreen tree commonly found in the region. It grows in damp places,
sheltered from the wind. Its cutting is restricted.
LENGA AND ÑIRE
Deciduous trees whose leaves turn red in autumn and fall in winter. Lenga
timber is good for construction and Ñirre to make fire.
A sacred species for Mapuche people. John Winter, one of the captains
of the English corsair Sir Francis Drake's expedition, who arrived in
the 16th century, discovered that its leaves are rich in Vitamin C, and
with them he prepared an infusion to cure scurvy in his sailors.
CYPRESS OF THE GUAITECAS
This species is in danger of extinction. It is very difficult to find
it, its timber was widely used in canoe building due to its resistance
to water and rotting.
A thorny bush growing in dense thickets found throughout Patagonia, with
a delighful sweet fruit like a grape. There is a legend saying that whoever
eats this fruit will return to Patagonia
NOTRO OR CIRUELILLO
It grows on the sunny slopes of mountains, exposed to wind and weather.
Its leaves are perennial, and in springtime, it is covered with clusters
of scarlet flowers.
A mammal that moves by crawling on land. Males are characterized by their
trunk that reaches the maximum development in adulthood.
A mammal similar to a seal which is found in all the channels of the Tierra
del Fuego archipelago. The male forms a harem of 40 females.
This is an elegant flighless bird, which has admirably adapted to life
in the water. It reaches a height of 70 cm, and during springtime it leaves
the water to nest during 40 days in small burrows.
The largest land based flying bird in the world. It can reach a wingspan
up to 3 meters. The male is distinguished because of a red crest on its
A very common type of goose in Patagonia. Its aspect varies according
to sex. The male has a white head and neck, while the female is grayish-brown.
A seabird the size of a penguin. It measures between 65 cm and 70 cm.
It is seen only in spring and summertime.