As alleys go, this one is mighty long. Glacier Alley—or, as it’s more elegantly known, Avenue of the Glaciers—stretches along a good portion of the celebrated 240-kilometer-long (150-mile-long) Beagle Channel in the vast territory of Tierra del Fuego. Argentina’s Ushuaia and Chile’s Puerto Williams, both common starting points for travelers exploring Glacier Alley, are two of the world’s southernmost towns. As you travel into the Beagle Channel, the vital waterway that allowed ships to avoid the hellish fury of the waters around Cape Horn, you follow the route that the famous HMS Beagle took with a young and then-unknown geologist and naturalist on board, Charles Darwin.
While fighting the harsh elements, and with no creature comforts like the ones enjoyed today, those early sailors were at least treated to one stunning glacier after another, each flowing down from massive mountain ranges and peaks such as the snowcapped one named for Darwin himself. Even if your journey is shrouded in foggy mist, you can’t miss the cracking sound of the blue ice as it tumbles into the channel or the rush of ice-melt waterfalls. Along with all these natural wonders, a visit to Glacier Alley comes with opportunities to see penguin rookeries, humpback whales and seals.