If you've never butted heads with a glacier, and especially if you won't be covering El Calafate on your trip, then you should check out Glaciar Martial, in the mountain range just above Ushuaia. Named after Frenchman Luís F. Martial, a 19th-century scientist who wandered this way aboard the warship Romanche to observe the passing of the planet Venus, the glacier is reached via a panoramic aerosilla (ski lift). Take the Camino al Glaciar (Glacier Road) 7
km (4 miles) out of town until it ends (this route is also served by the local tour companies). Even if you don't plan to hike to see the glacier, it's a great pleasure to ride the 15-minute lift, which is open daily 10–4:30, weather permitting (it's often closed in winter), and costs about $3USD. If you're afraid of heights, you can instead enjoy a small nature trail here, and the pretty teahouse. You can return on the lift, or continue on to the beginning of a 1-km (½-mile) trail that winds its way over lichen and shale straight up the mountain. After a steep, strenuous 90-minute hike, you can cool your heels in one of the many gurgling, icy rivulets that cascade down water-worn shale shoots or enjoy a picnic while you wait for sunset (you can walk all the way down if you want to linger until after the aerosilla closes). When the sun drops behind the glacier's jagged crown of peaks, brilliant rays beam over the mountain's crest, spilling a halo of gold-flecked light on the glacier, valley, and channel below. Moments like these are why this land is so magical. Note that temperatures drop dramatically after sunset, so come prepared with warm clothing.
Glaciar Martial, Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, 9410, Argentina