This active trip highlights two UNESCO-listed parks in South America with some of the most magnificent scenery in the world. Start off in Argentine Patagonia for several days in Los Glaciares National Park—home to a whopping 13 major glaciers and the iconic Mount Fitz Roy. Continue to Torres del Paine National Park in Chilean Patagonia for snow-capped peaks, thundering waterfalls, and turquoise lakes.

Highlights

  • See the rare Perito Moreno glacier by boat
  • Stay in a colorful village overlooking spectacular views of Los Glaciares
  • Take stunning hikes with views of Mount Fitz Roy & Cerro Torre
  • Hike to the base of the Paine massif for an authentic Patagonian experience
  • Explore the best sites of Torres del Paine

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Fly from Buenos Aires to El Calafate El Calafate
Day 2 El Calafate to Puerto Natales Puerto Natales
Day 3 Hike to the Famous Granite Towers in Torres del Paine National Park Torres del Paine
Day 4 Torres del Paine Full-Day Private Tour, Return to El Calafate El Calafate
Day 5 Perito Moreno Boat & Walking Tour, Transfer to El Chalten El Chalten
Day 6 Hike to Mirador Cerro Torre El Chalten
Day 7 Hike to Mount Fitz Roy El Chalten
Day 8 Farewell Patagonia, El Chalten to El Calafate & Departure  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Fly from Buenos Aires to El Calafate

Perito Moreno Glacier.
Perito Moreno Glacier.

Your Patagonian adventure starts with a flight to El Calafate, a city that sits on the shores of Lago Argentino and is known as the gateway to Argentina's glaciers. If you can, get a window seat so you can take in the stunning views of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field below.

Upon arrival at El Calafate, another transfer will take you to your hotel. You can spend the rest of the day relaxing or venture out and enjoy the quaint cafes and shops around town. Maybe prime yourself with information on the nearby glaciers by visiting the Glaciarium. This multi-media center has an ice museum, various interactive displays, and educational information regarding glaciers. For fun, it even has a bar made entirely of ice.

Day 2: El Calafate to Puerto Natales

Puerto Natales' colorful waterfront.
Puerto Natales' colorful waterfront.

In the morning, catch a bus bound for Puerto Natales.  This trip will take about five hours (depending on congestion at the border), and along the way, you'll get your first glimpses of the Patagonian Pampas. If you're lucky, you may spot some of the local wildlife, including guanaco and nandu.

Upon arrival, settle into your accommodation and then head to the Dittmar Adventures office for a trip briefing, where you'll be able to ask any last-minute questions as well as pick up all of your tickets and vouchers for the next few days' adventures.

The small port city of Puerto Natales is the main base for excursions into Torres del Paine National Park. It's far less touristic than many other Patagonian hubs and thus retains its air of small-town tranquility. Enjoy the town's simple pleasures, like strolling its waterfront promenade, which sits on the Ultima Esperanza Sound. Facing north from here, you'll see the peaks of Cerro Benitez and Cerro Toro, and the view is phenomenal at sunset. After your walk, check out one of the numerous restaurant options in town for dinner.

Day 3: Hike to the Famous Granite Towers in Torres del Paine National Park

The spectacular view from Mirador Base Torres.
The spectacular view from Mirador Base Torres.

Hop on a bus from Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine National Park (Laguna Amarga Main Entrance) this morning. The total distance is 70 miles (112 km), and the drive takes about two hours, with a short stop at Cerro Castillo Village. The scenery along the way will be incredible, as you'll get your first glimpses of Torres del Paine's massive peaks as well as some of the local fauna like guanacos. 

Arrive at the Laguna Amarga main entrance and register yourself with the park office. Then it's a quick shuttle ride to the Las Torres sector where you'll check-in and leave your heavier bags before trekking up the mountain. From here, you'll hike up Mt. Almirante Nieto, which features stunning views of the Asencio Valley below and Lake Nordenskjold. After two hours of hiking, you'll reach Refugio Chileno, an excellent spot for lunch or a rest.

It's another hour of hiking past ancient lenga forests before arriving at a moraine. The next part is a challenging steep ascent for 45 minutes until you reach the top, which is known as Mirador Base Torres. "Mirador" in English means "viewpoint,"  and this little section of the mountain, with the Cuernos Del Paine (Horns of Paine) looming over a green lagoon, is the best view in the park. From here, you can also marvel at the towering peaks of nearby Torre Sur, Central Tower, North Tower, Condor's Nest, and Glacier Torre, all set amidst the sweeping backdrop of the Patagonian highlands.

After spending some time enjoying the views at Base Torres, you'll then hike back to Refugio Torre Central to rest up for the evening. 

Hiking Distance:  11.2 Miles (18 km)
Hiking Duration: 8 Hours

Day 4: Torres del Paine Full-Day Private Tour, Return to El Calafate

The Paine River's Salto Grande waterfall.
The Paine River's Salto Grande waterfall.

Day four starts with a pick-up by your guide from Dittmar Adventures, starting you on a journey around Torres del Paine National Park.

You have the chance today to explore Torres del Paine's unique flora and fauna and impressive viewpoints at your own pace. Throughout the day, you'll be transported to different areas of the park that boast dramatic lookouts for viewing the park's wildlife and stunning landscapes, as well as some short hikes and a scenic picnic lunch along the way.

At the end of the tour, you'll be brought to the park entrances to catch your return bus to El Calafate, Argentina.

Day 5: Perito Moreno Boat & Walking Tour, Transfer to El Chalten

Dramatic views of Perito Moreno by boat.
Dramatic views of Perito Moreno by boat.

Today is devoted to an exciting all-day excursion. Start with a pick up from your hotel in El Calafate, followed by a one-hour transfer to Los Glaciares National Park. As you enter the park, you'll catch your first glimpse of majestic Perito Moreno. This expansive ice mass flows down from the Andes out over the turquoise waters of Lago Argentino, ending abruptly in a great wall that curves around the lake. Wait a bit, and you'll witness "calving," the awe-inspiring sight of ice breaking off the facade and crashing into the tranquil waters below.

While not the only glacier in the area, Perito Moreno is definitely the star of the show. It's also unique in that it is one of the few advancing glaciers in the world, a factor that results in the calving mentioned above. Upon arrival, you'll be able to admire Perito Moreno from several different vantage points via the network of wooden walkways strategically situated in front of the glacier. Even better, you'll also get up close and personal with its massive ice wall on a boat tour. 

After a day spent discovering the glacier and wandering the numerous trails, you'll head back to El Calafate, where you will catch your onward transfer to El Chalten.

Day 6: Hike to Mirador Cerro Torre

Dawn at Laguna Torre.
Dawn at Laguna Torre.

After breakfast, you'll head out of town on foot for a memorable hike to Laguna Torre. Traverse a glacial valley that has fascinated geologists due to its perfect "U" shape, the result of the area once being covered by large swaths of ice. The total distance of this hike is 14.9 miles (24 km) and takes about six hours to complete.

The hike will take you through bright green lenga forests and around lagoons until you reach the day's final destination: Laguna Torre. This glacial lake sits at the foot of the sharp granite peak of Cerro Torre, and here you'll find the glacier that feeds the lake as well. After spending some time at the lake and admiring the views, you'll return to El Chaltén along the same path.

Day 7: Hike to Mount Fitz Roy

Magnificent mountain views from Laguna de los Tres.
Magnificent mountain views from Laguna de los Tres.

This morning you'll embark on a full-day excursion into Los Glaciares National Park. With several trailheads just outside of town, El Chaltén is the perfect starting point for treks into the Fitz Roy range and offers fantastic opportunities for day hikes.

Many of these full-day treks can take up to 11 hours, depending on which route you take. The hike you'll be embarking on this morning is to Laguna de los Tres. The trail leads through an alpine forest,  complete with views of Piedras Blancas Glacier, all the way up to the lake. Laguna de los Tres earned its name because its shores offer panoramic views of three peaks: Fitz Roy, Poincenot, and Torre.

At the end of the day's hike, you'll descend the mountain and return to your hotel in El Chaltén.

Hiking Distance:  26 km (16 miles)
Hiking Duration: 8-11 hours

Day 8: Farewell Patagonia, El Chalten to El Calafate & Departure

Goodbye Patagonia!
Goodbye Patagonia!

Make sure to take a moment or two to reflect on all the exciting memories you've made over the previous week before saying your farewells to Patagonia today.

At the scheduled time, a driver will pick you up and transfer you El Calafate Airport, where you'll hop a flight back to Buenos Aires and meet your connecting flight home. Upon takeoff, be sure to look out the window and enjoy one final glimpse of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field from your window. Take a mental photo and savor it as a little keepsake until you decide to return.

Map

Map of Active Patagonia: Los Glaciares & Torres del Paine - 8 Days
Map of Active Patagonia: Los Glaciares & Torres del Paine - 8 Days