Estancia Harberton private nature reserve

Estancia Harberton private nature reserve

Estancia Harberton is located on the east coast of the Beagle Channel, 75 km from the city of Ushuaia. Within its grounds there is a small nature reserve where you can find all the native tree species of Tierra del Fuego in a single space.

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Although Harberton is not included in any current protected area, its value lies in the fact that it is one of the oldest areas with conservation sites within its livestock management plan. The estancia covers approximately 20,000 hectares, including mountains, forests, lakes and islands, and has been managed as a nature reserve since the opening of the road in 1978. Two sites have special protection: "El Parque", near the estancia, and Isla Yécapasela (Isla Martillo), which is home to a colony of penguins.

The reserve called "El Parque" is a portion of mixed forest, representative of the coastal strip in this area of the island. It is the oldest reserve on the island, since it was fenced by the Bridges family in 1890 to protect the trees from cattle. During the guided tour we can observe specimens of lenga, canelo, ñire and hardwood (maitén), among other native species. There are also replicas of the huts built by the natives in the area.

On Yécapasela Island there is a colony of Magellanic penguins during the spring and summer, and pairs of Gentoo penguins that remain all year round. Occasionally a pair of King penguins has been sighted. The island is the perfect habitat for the colony, as there is abundant food and very few predators in the area. The soil and vegetation provide adequate shelter for nests and young. In addition to the penguins, there are pairs of rock cormorants nesting in the southern cliffs of the island. It is also possible to observe skuas.