Trek your way across Patagonia's glacial landscapes on this rugged 10-day journey through the UNESCO-listed Torres del Paine and Los Glaciares National Parks. Starting in the Chilean town of Puerto Natales, you'll follow the famous "W" circuit trail through Torres del Paine's soaring mountains before hopping over the border to Argentina. Spend a day in El Calafate to experience the towering ice walls of Perito Moreno, then base yourself in the village of El Chaltén to discover the vast glaciers and turquoise lakes of Los Glaciares.

Highlights

  • Discover the best of Chilean & Argentine Patagonia
  • Hike through the spectacular Torres del Paine National Park
  • Admire the impressive Perito Moreno Glacier
  • Experience the majesty of Mount Fitz Roy
  • Complete sections of the famous "W" trek

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Fly from Santiago to Punta Arenas, Transfer to Puerto Natales Puerto Natales
Day 2 Hike to the Granite Towers of Torres del Paine [W Trek Day 1] Torres del Paine
Day 3 Hike Along Lake Nordenskjöld [W Trek Day 2] Torres del Paine
Day 4 Hike from Cuernos to Paine Grande [W Trek Day 3] Torres del Paine
Day 5 Admire Glacier Grey [W Trek Day 4] Puerto Natales
Day 6 Bus from Puerto Natales to El Calafate El Calafate
Day 7 Perito Moreno Boat & Walking Tour, Transfer to El Chaltén El Chaltén
Day 8 Hike to Mount Fitz Roy El Chaltén
Day 9 Hike to Mirador Cerro Torre El Chaltén
Day 10 Farewell Patagonia, El Chaltén to El Calafate & Departure  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Fly from Santiago to Punta Arenas, Transfer to Puerto Natales

An aerial view of Punta Arenas
An aerial view of Punta Arenas

Starting at the Santiago airport, you'll catch a flight to the city of Punta Arenas in Chilean Patagonia. Upon arrival in Punta Arenas, you'll hop a bus for a three-hour trip north to Puerto Natales. When you arrive, transfer to your hotel and take the rest of the evening to relax and explore the town. 

This small port city 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 2: Hike to the Granite Towers of Torres del Paine [W Trek Day 1]

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

In the morning, you'll hop a bus from Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine National Park (Laguna Amarga Main Entrance). 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. From here, you'll hike up Mount Almirante Nieto, which features stunning views of the Asencio Valley below and Lake Nordenskjöld. After two hours of hiking, you'll reach Refugio Chileno, where you'll overnight. Leave your heavier bags here and, after a brief rest, continue trekking up the mountain. 

It's another hour of hiking past ancient lenga forests until you arrive 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 el Chileno to rest up for the evening. 

Hiking Distance: 9.6 miles (15.5 km)
Hiking Duration: 6.5 hours

Day 3: Hike Along Lake Nordenskjöld [W Trek Day 2]

Blue skies over Lake Nordenskjöld
Blue skies over Lake Nordenskjöld

After a hearty breakfast, get ready for your second day of hiking. You'll leave Refugio Torre Central and walk for four hours towards Refugio Cuernos, located on the shores of Lake Nordenskjöld and at the foot of the Cuernos peaks.  Along the way, you'll follow the skirt of Almirante Nieto and hop across rivers, surrounded by a towering backdrop of glaciers and mountaintops. Spend the night at the foot of the iconic granite peaks at the beautiful Refugio Cuernos.

Hiking Distance:  6.8 Miles (11 km)
Hiking Duration: 4.5 Hours

Day 4: Hike from Cuernos to Paine Grande [W Trek Day 3]

The spectacular landscapes of the French Valley
The spectacular landscapes of the French Valley

Shortly after breakfast, you'll set off towards Campamento Italiano, reaching the camp after 2.5 hours of trekking across a windy beach and entering a sheltered valley.  Here you can leave your large pack and continue into the French Valley with just a small daypack.  Cross moraine and forests to reach a clearing that offers breathtaking views of Lake Nordenskjold, Skottsberg, Pehoe, and French Glacier.  After leaving the lookout, return to gather your large pack and continue another 2.5 hours to Refugio Paine Grande on the shore of the beautiful Lake Pehoe.

Hiking Distance: 10.7 miles (17.3 km)
Hiking Duration: 7 hours

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Day 5: Admire Glacier Grey [W Trek Day 4]

The stunning ice formations of Glacier Grey
The stunning ice formations of Glacier Grey

After a restful sleep and an energizing breakfast, begin the day with a four-hour hike through the dense forest along Lake Grey. Be prepared for Patagonia's famously high winds—this section of the park is particularly open. After about two hours of hiking, you'll be rewarded with your first glimpse of the magnificent Glacier Grey before continuing to the Refugio Grey campsite.

In the afternoon, a change of pace takes you aboard the Grey III as you set sail for a tour of the glacier.  After crossing the lake, you'll reach the towering ice walls and admire the glacier's vastness from a perfect vantage point. Disembark and take a short hike across the windswept beach and through the forest before heading to the nearby hotel where you'll catch a transfer and then a bus back to Puerto Natales.

Hiking Distance: 6.8 miles (11 km)
Hiking Duration: 4 hours

Day 6: Bus from Puerto Natales to El Calafate

Enjoy a relaxing afternoon in El Calafate
Enjoy a relaxing afternoon in El Calafate

In the morning, hop on a bus bound for El Calafate in Argentina and check into a cozy B&B near the center of town. The rest of the afternoon and evening is yours to enjoy as you please. After all your trekking and excursions of the previous days, you'll likely prefer an evening stroll about town and a quiet dinner before hitting the hay and recharging those batteries.

Day 7: 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 Chaltén.

Day 8: 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: 16 miles (24 km)
Hiking Duration: 8-11 hours

Day 9: Hike to Mirador Cerro Torre

Dawn at Laguna Torre
Dawn at Laguna Torre

After breakfast, 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 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.

Hiking Distance: 14.9 miles (24 km)
Hiking Duration: 6 hours

Day 10: Farewell Patagonia, El Chaltén 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: Torres del Paine & Los Glaciares National Parks - 10 Days
Map of Active Patagonia: Torres del Paine & Los Glaciares National Parks - 10 Days