- Explore Perito Moreno Glacier, one of the only advancing glaciers in the world
- Trek through classic Patagonia landscapes in Torres del Paine National Park
- Discover wildlife around Ushuaia, once visited by Charles Darwin
- Encounter a penguin colony off the coast of Estancia Harberton
Southern Patagonia contains some of Argentina's best natural wonders, and it's no surprise that it is the country's most popular area for outdoor activities. This tour starts in El Calafate, the region's hub for seeing the glaciers of Patagonia, and then goes north to El Chaltén before heading back south to Torres del Paine National Park and ending around Ushuaia, the world's southernmost city. By covering four distinct parts of Patagonia, this itinerary allows you to see all types of landscapes, ranging from Magellanic subpolar forests and mountains to ice fields and coastlines.
Keep in mind that seasons are reversed in the Southern Hemisphere, so it is best to visit Patagonia in the summer between November and March. Much of the itinerary is also spent on the road or crossing bodies of water since extensive travel is required to see the disparate regions of Patagonia. Many parts of the tour also include treks and other physically demanding activities, making it best suited for those who are in good physical condition and have previous experience with trekking or high-intensity exercise. If you are an intrepid adventurer who wants a truly unique and stimulating trip, come to Patagonia.
|Day 1||Arrival in Buenos Aires - Explore the City||Buenos Aires|
|Day 2||Buenos Aires - Flight to El Calafate||El Calafate|
|Day 3||El Calafate, Glaciar Perito Moreno||El Calafate|
|Day 4||El Calafate - El Chaltén||El Chaltén|
|Day 5||El Chaltén||El Chaltén|
|Day 6||El Chalten||El Chaltén|
|Day 7||El Chaltén - El Calafate||El Calafate|
|Day 8||El Calafate - Puerto Natales- Parque Nacional Torres del Paine||Torres del Paine|
|Day 9||Trekking Mirador “Base Torres”||Torres del Paine|
|Day 10||Trekking Refugio El Chileno- Refugio Los Cuernos||Cuernos Refugio|
|Day 11||Trekking to the French Valley||Pehoe Lake Refugio|
|Day 12||Trekking to the Grey Glacier - Puerto Natales||Puerto Natales|
|Day 13||Puerto Natales – Ushuaia||Ushuaia|
|Day 14||Trekking and Canoeing in Tierra del Fuego National Park||Ushuaia|
|Day 15||Penguins on Isla Martillo & Estancia Harberton||Ushuaia|
|Day 16||Flight to Buenos Aires - Departure|
Day 1: Arrival in Buenos Aires - Explore the City
Welcome to Argentina! Renowned as the "Paris of South America," and the "Queen of El Plata," the capital city of Buenos Aires is defined by passion. This is exemplified in the rich tango heritage and its citizens' limitless enthusiasm for fútbol (soccer), which is far and away the country's most popular sport.
When you arrive at the airport, your driver will be waiting to take you in a private car to your hotel where you can relax after a long flight. But make no mistake: the city will beckon you. So after a quick recharge, be sure to venture out into the welcoming arms of Buenos Aires and explore. The best starting point would be the city center.
Suggested activities include:
Visit the Obelisco, which might be the most famous icon of the city. This obelisk (which even Argentines admit is a little too reminiscent of the Washington Monument) is worth a visit for its location alone. It sits right in the middle of Avenida 9 de Julio, which boasts a whopping 16 lanes, making it the widest city street in the world.
Stop by the Teatro Colon, one of South America's premier opera houses. The horseshoe-shaped gallery features 2,487 seats and incredible acoustics. Even if you plan on taking a tour or catching a show here on another day, it's always breathtaking to pass by its exterior. The Colon's neoclassical facade has been the face of one of the most handsome buildings in Buenos Aires since its opening in 1908.
Stroll Puerto Madero, an upscale waterfront neighborhood adjacent to downtown. Puerto Madero may be the "new money" finance center of Buenos Aires, but it's also one of the most pleasant pedestrian areas in a city famous for its paths. A romantic stroll involves walking over the canal on the Puente de Mujer ("Woman's Bridge") at sunset.
- Dine at an Argentine steakhouse or parilla. When night falls and dinnertime arrives, do like the locals and enjoy a thick, juicy steak (Argentina has some of the best beef in the world) drizzled with the nation's famous chimichurri (a garlic, herb, and vinegar sauce). Know that Buenos Aires is a culture that thrives after dark, and it's not uncommon for locals to have dinner well past nine in the evening, especially on weekends.
Day 2: Buenos Aires - Flight to El Calafate
After breakfast in Buenos Aires, you'll fly into El Calafate—the gateway to Los Glaciares National Park and the Southern Patagonian Ice Field.
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 totally of ice.
Watch the Patagonian sunset over the Laguna Nimez Nature Preserve or simply rest up for tomorrow's adventure.
Day 3: El Calafate - Perito Moreno Glacier
After breakfast, you will embark on your full-day excursion to Perito Moreno Glacier, one of Argentina's only advancing glaciers. Within Los Glacieres National Park, you will travel along Lake Argentino out from El Calafate until the glacier's towering walls of ice come into view. Three miles of walkways will take you in and out of the glacier, offering both stunning views and soundtracks of the glacier's natural motions. The tour also includes a short boat trip past the glacier, where you can marvel at the glacier's features up-close. Return to your hotel in the evening after a long day of sightseeing.
Day 4: El Calafate - El Chaltén
Ride in a minivan to El Chalten after breakfast, and after three hours of driving, arrive by noon. Before heading to your hotel, stop by the ranger's office to collect information about the various trails and attractions in the area. Spend the rest of the day acclimating to your new surrounding and go for a few quick hikes before calling it a night.
Days 5 & 6: El Chaltén
Spend the next two days discovering the numerous hiking trails of El Chalten at your own pace. If you're up for the challenge, hiking to the foot of Cerro Fitz Roy and Laguna Los Tres is highly recommended. For this trek, you can transfer to Estancia El Pilar as your starting point, allowing for a more convenient hike through a variety of picturesque landscapes before looping back to El Chalten. Otherwise, plenty of beginner-friendly trails are available as well.
Day 7: El Chaltén - El Calafate
Customize your trip with help from a local travel specialist.
Get one last chance to explore the El Chalten area, including the path that leads to the foot of Cerro Torre complete with amazing views of the namesake lake and glacier. In the afternoon, you will be picked up from your hotel by a minivan and travel to El Calafate. Arrive in the evening and check into your local hotel.
Day 8: El Calafate - Puerto Natales - Parque Nacional Torres del Paine
Take the 2:30 PM bus from Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine National Park, a two and a half hour journey with a short stop in the frontier town of Cerro Castillo. After entering the park through the Laguna Amarga entrance, you will entrance fee and ride a shuttle to your refugio, a comfortable lodge right next to the Torres del Paine. Check in and rest up for your big day ahead.
Day 9: Trekking Mirador “Base Torres”
Today, you will start your first trekking experience in Torres del Paine National Park. Start off your morning around 9 AM with a one and a half hour ascent complete with stunning views of the hanging glacier at Mount Almirante Nieto (2,670 m) as well as nearby lakes. Once you reach Refugio Chileno, you can drop off your bags and take a quick break to refuel.
Next, hike for another hour past ancient lenga forests until you reach the moraine base. Brace the steeper, more challenging climb for 45 minutes, and once you get to the top, reward yourself with some of the park's best views from the Mirador Base Torres. Here, you can marvel at the towering peaks of Torre Sur, Central Tower, North Tower, Condor's Nest, and Glacier Torre, all set across the sweeping backdrop of the Patagonian Highlands.
Day 10: Trekking Refugio El Chileno - Refugio Los Cuernos
In today's more moderate trek, you will cross around the Paine Massif past the base of Mount Almirante Nieto. Setting out from Refugio El Chileno, you will hike for half an hour you reach the "shortcut" path towards Refugio Los Cuernos. Then, hike for another 4-5 hours past views of Lake Nordenskjöld's emerald waters, impressive hanging glaciers, and fascinating local flora. In December, the red flowers of Ciruelillo trees come into full bloom, making for a truly special sight if you choose to hike in the summer. Eventually, you will reach the Cuernos sector and spend the night in one of the circuit's most welcoming refugios.
Day 11: Trekking to the French Valley
Prepare for the longest, most arduous, but also most rewarding day of trekking of the circuit! Start off your morning with a smooth, two-hour hike overlooking Lake Nordenskjöld. Once you reach the Campamento Italiano sector, leave your bags at the camp and carry on with a small day pack containing the day's necessary food, water, and extra clothing.
The next 1.5 hour climb starts at the French River Valley, crosses the French Glacier, then finishes at the British Camp. Head slightly off-trail to discover the "British Mirador", which provides one of the most amazing panoramic views in the park. Cerros, Paine Grande, Catedral, Hoja, Máscara, Espada, Aleta de Tiburón and Cuerno Norte Horn can all be seen from this viewpoint. Afterwards, return on the same path to "Campamento Italiano" and then onto the sector where the Pehoe Lake Refugio is located.
Day 12: Trekking to the Grey Glacier - Puerto Natales
Trek to and from the Grey Glacier viewpoint, which begins with a 1.5-hour hike to the first lookout point. Then, follow the western shore of Lake Grey, and arrive at the main viewpoint after 2 hours. Here, admire a spectacular view of Grey Glacier, Olguin Cordon and the surrounding icebergs in the distance. Return along the same path until you arrive at the Pehoe sector, and head to the dock at Lake Pehoe. Board a catamaran (departure time at 6:30 PM) that will take you to the Pudeto sector, where you will then be transported back to Puerto Natales by 9:00 PM. Check into your hotel in Puerto Natales and rest after a long day.
Day 13: Puerto Natales – Ushuaia
Eat breakfast early in the morning and start your journey to Ushuaia at the far southern end of the continent. Start by boarding a bus, which will make a connection in Punta Arenas. Then, continue by ferry to the Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego through the fabled Strait of Magellan. The total trip takes around 14 hours, and after arriving at Ushuaia, make your way to your hotel and get ready for tomorrow's adventure.
Day 14: Trekking and Canoeing in Tierra del Fuego National Park
You will be picked up at your hotel via shared service and drive into the Tierra del Fuego National Park, one of Patagonia's most important natural regions. Once in Ensenada Bay, you will have time to enjoy the view over the Beagle Channel before walking along a 3.7 mile (6 km) trail along the coast. Over the next 3 hours, you will observe local flora and fauna, discover historic traces of the area’s indigenous Yamana people, and arrive at Lake Roca for a picnic. After lunch, take a canoe out to the Lapataia River and paddle downstream until you reach the scenic endpoint of the Pan-American Highway and National Highway No. 3.
Day 15: Penguins on Isla Martillo & Estancia Harberton
Today's tour starts at the pier of the Ushuaia, where a convoy of buses will take visitors to Estancia Harberton via Route 3. After merging into Route J, the road continues through rugged Fuegian forests until reaching the docking point. Embark on a semi-rigid rubber boat for a special, up-close experience on an island featuring a Magellanic penguin colony. A guided tour will take you on a hike, where you will learn about the penguins' characteristics and natural habitat. The tour lasts about 90 minutes and allows for plenty of great photo opportunities.
Day 16: Flight to Buenos Aires - Departure
After breakfast, bid farewell to Patagonia and transfer to the airport for your flight to Buenos Aires. Upon arrival in Buenos Aires, transfer to the international terminal for your return flight home. ¡Buen viaje!