Perfect for adventurers hoping to explore Patagonia, one of the last unspoiled regions of the world. You'll discover its splendor over 12 days, beginning in El Calafate with tours of the El Perito Glacier and hikes around the iconic Mt. Fitz Roy. You'll travel further south and visit penguin colonies in Tierra del Fuego and cruise the famous Beagle Channel before heading north to visit an altogether different—yet no less impressive—natural wonder: Iguazú Falls.

Highlights

  • Enjoy dinner and tango shows in Buenos Aires
  • See Patagonian glaciers up close, including the famous Perito Moreno
  • Explore a range of hiking trails around the iconic Mt. Fitz Roy
  • Spot marine wildlife while cruising the Beagle Channel
  • Walk along the edge of the thundering Iguazú Falls and witness its power

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Buenos Aires - Explore Buenos Aires
Day 2 Fly from Buenos Aires to El Calafate El Calafate
Day 3 Explore Los Glaciares National Park El Calafate
Day 4 El Calafate to El Chaltén El Chalten
Day 5 Self-Guided Hiking in El Chaltén El Chalten
Day 6 Enjoy Local Food in El Calafate El Calafate
Day 7 El Calafate to Ushuaia Ushuaia
Day 8 Discover Tierra del Fuego National Park Ushuaia
Day 9 Cruise Along the Beagle Channel Ushuaia
Day 10 Fly from Ushuaia to Iguazú - Afternoon Tour of Iguazú Falls Puerto Iguazu
Day 11 Explore Iguazú Falls (Argentine Side) Puerto Iguazu
Day 12 Buenos Aires Departure  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Buenos Aires - Explore

The Obelisco in Buenos Aires
The Obelisco in Buenos Aires

Welcome to Argentina! The capital city of Buenos Aires is known as the "Paris of South America" and the "Queen of El Plata." Famous for its mix of European ambiance and Latin American culture, it's the birthplace of the tango and is filled with beautiful Baroque architecture. Upon arrival at the airport, a driver will transfer you to your hotel. Once you've had the chance to rest, you can go out and explore. The city center is your best starting point.

Suggested activities include:

  • Visit the Plaza de Mayo, the city's oldest square. This plaza is ringed with ornate government buildings, the Metropolitan Cathedral, City Hall, and the Casa Rosada (Presidential Palace).
  • See the Obelisco, one of the most famous landmarks in the city. This iconic national monument sits in the middle of Avenida 9 de Julio. With 16 lanes, this is the widest city street in the world!
  • Discover the Teatro Colón, one of South America's premier opera houses. The horseshoe-shaped gallery features 2,487 seats and incredible acoustics. You can opt to take a tour or watch a show here. The Colón's neoclassical facade has been the face of one of the most picturesque buildings in Buenos Aires since its opening in 1908.
  • Take a walk in Puerto Madero, an upscale waterfront neighborhood adjacent to Buenos Aires' downtown. Here you can enjoy a romantic stroll over the canal on the Puente de la Mujer bridge at sunset. 
  • Dine at an Argentine steakhouse or parilla. You should plan on eating late because Buenos Aires' culture thrives after dark and it's common to have dinner after 9 pm, especially on the weekends.

Day 2: Fly from Buenos Aires to El Calafate

The city of El Calafate, Argentina
The city of El Calafate, Argentina

After breakfast, you'll head to the airport for a three-hour flight south from Buenos Aires to El Calafate. Known as the gateway to Argentina's glaciers, the city is located on the shores of Lago Argentino, the nation's biggest freshwater lake. If possible, select a window seat to enjoy stunning views of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field along the way.

Upon arrival, you'll transfer from the airport to your hotel for check-in. You can then spend the rest of the day relaxing or strolling around town and visiting its charming cafés and boutiques. You can learn about nearby glaciers at the Glaciarium, a multi-media center that has an ice museum, various interactive displays, and educational information regarding glaciers. Or, don a coat, boots, and gloves, to enjoy a drink at the museum's Glaciobar BrancaIt, Argentina's first ice bar.

Day 3: Explore Los Glaciares National Park

Perito Moreno by boat
Perito Moreno by boat

Today you will head to Los Glaciares National Park. As you enter this protected area, you'll catch your first glimpse of the majestic Perito Moreno. This expansive glacier flows down from the Andes over the turquoise waters of Lago Argentino and ends abruptly in a great wall of ice that curves around the lake. You may also witness "calving", the awe-inspiring sight of ice breaking off the facade and crashing into the tranquil waters below. Every time ice hits the water, a thundering crash echoes around the lake. 

Perito Moreno is not the only glacier in the area, but it is the most famous in the park. It is one of the few advancing glaciers in the world, which is what causes the calving of ice. After arriving, you can admire Perito Moreno from a number of different vantage points thanks to the network of wooden walkways around the glacier. You will also get the chance to see the massive ice wall up close on a boat tour. 

After a day spent viewing the glacier and wandering the numerous trails, head back to El Calafate to enjoy the evening at your leisure.

Day 4: El Calafate to El Chaltén

Mt. Fitz Roy, near El Chalten
Mt. Fitz Roy, near El Chalten

In the morning, you're off on a three-hour drive to El Chaltén. If the skies are clear, you'll find incredible views of Mt. Fitz Roy, the toothlike 11,020-foot (3,359-meter) granite mountain that looms over the town. El Chaltén is regarded as a hiker's paradise due to the proximity of Fitz Roy and other mountaineering options in the area. Upon arrival, you'll check into your hotel and have the rest of the day to acclimate to the region. Perhaps you'll want to take a walk in town before a relaxing evening sampling El Chaltén's many restaurants and craft-beer bars.

Day 5: Self-Guided Hiking in El Chaltén

Admire the view from Laguna de los Tres
Admire the view from Laguna de los Tres

Today is yours to enjoy.  You can easily take a self-guided tour and choose from a variety of trails without fear of getting lost since all the paths are clearly marked and well-maintained.

If you have the energy, you can opt for a "day hike," which can last up to 11 hours depending on the route you choose. Trails lead from town up through alpine forests and feature a diverse range of landscapes. One of the most popular full-day treks is to Laguna de los Tres, offering rewarding views of Mount Fitz Roy and its Aguja Poincenot granite spire. 

There are easier trails, too. You can head out on a short, 1.9-mile walk through lenga forests and along the Rio de las Vueltas. This option allows you to see various endemic birds, such as woodpeckers. For even more mountain views, head to the Cerro Torre lookout. Or set out on a two-hour brisk hike amid the native forest to a lagoon with deep blue waters. This is Laguna Capri, a lake that sits at the foot of the mountains with unobstructed views of the Fitz Roy massif. 

In the evening, after a day spent enjoying nature, you'll return to your hotel in time to enjoy a leisurely dinner and a nightcap in El Chaltén.

Day 6: Enjoy Local Food in El Calafate

Fitz Roy
Fitz Roy

After breakfast, you'll take a three-hour private transfer to reach El Calafate. Upon checking into your hotel, you can then spend the afternoon exploring the town and its surroundings. Browse local shops and enjoy cafés. Be sure to sample the local cuisine and Argentine staples, such as roast Patagonian lamb rib-eye steak and empanadas. You'll want to wash it all down with a great glass or two of Malbec from the Mendoza wine region.

Day 7: El Calafate to Ushuaia

Early morning view of Ushuaia
Early morning view of Ushuaia

Enjoy a hearty breakfast in El Calafate before transferring to the airport for your one-hour flight to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. Upon arrival, you'll check into your hotel and have the rest of the day to explore.

Located on a bay in the Patagonian region of Tierra del Fuego, Ushuaia sits between the jagged peaks of the Martial Mountains and the silver waters of the Beagle Channel. This is the same waterway Charles Darwin explored when he was traveling on the HMS Beagle almost 200 years ago. Make sure to get out and walk along the waterfront for a better glimpse of the craggy mountains and wide channel. As you stroll amid Ushuaia's colorful buildings, you'll notice an endearing jumble of architectural styles with everything from mock chalets to tumbledown wooden cottages.

For something a little different, visit the building that houses Ushuaia's Maritime Museum, which was once an old prison. Constructed at the turn of the 20th century, some 600 convicts occupied 380 cells until the prison's closing in 1947. There's also the Museo del Fin del Mundo, or "End of the World" museum. Located on the waterfront, this small museum features fascinating exhibits detailing the region's natural and indigenous history. You'll also find extensive exhibits on birds and sailing.

For an easy afternoon hike, head 11 miles (17 km) outside of Ushuaia to the Laguna Esmeralda trailhead
. The shores of this turquoise lake are a great spot to enjoy a picnic lunch and take photos. Regarding the cuisine in Ushuaia, the region is famous for its seafood, particularly centolla (king crab). Try it au gratin—it's the most decadent dish in Ushuaia. 

Day 8: Discover Tierra del Fuego National Park

Coastal trail in Tierra del Fuego
Coastal trail in Tierra del Fuego

Today you will enjoy beautiful Tierra del Fuego National Park, one of the most frequently visited places around Ushuaia. It's located just outside the city, and there are many wonders within its 155,000 acres.

During this excursion, you'll be accompanied by an expert guide to help you around this protected paradise, from seaside mountains and freshwater rivers to subantarctic forests and tranquil bays. After arriving in the park, you will enjoy a 4.3 mile (7 km) hike on a coastal path that follows the Beagle Channel. This hike offers prime views of the channel along the way, plus the chance to enjoy the diverse flora and fauna, including sea lions, seals, and albatrosses.

While hiking, you will pass the remnants of ancient settlements once occupied by the Yámana indigenous people. At the end of the three-hour trek, you will reach Lago Roca and enjoy its stunning views. Here, you can relax and enjoy a hot lunch before embarking on a canoe ride down the Lapataia River. This waterway leads to your ultimate destination, the spectacular Bahia Lapataia (Lapataia Bay). The bay is located in the Beagle Channel, sitting at the end of Nacional Route No. 3, an extension of the legendary Pan American Highway. From here, you will be transferred back to your hotel in Ushuaia.

Day 9: Cruise Along the Beagle Channel

Ushuaia from the Beagle Channel
Ushuaia from the Beagle Channel

Wake early and enjoy breakfast in Ushuaia before heading to the pier and boarding a boat for a local cruise. You'll sail along the Beagle Channel, one of the region’s most important waterways named after the HMS Beagle, a 19th-century British ship that brought Charles Darwin to South America. As you pass through the channel, you'll witness breathtaking views of Ushuaia and the mountains behind it. Be on the lookout for marine wildlife such as cormorants and sea lions, especially near the Lobo and De Los Pajaros islands. If winds are calm, you can see all the way to the opposite coast, which stretches across Chile and Argentina. Before heading back to Ushuaia, you'll pass by famed Les Eclaireurs, the "Lighthouse at the End of the World."

Day 10: Fly from Ushuaia to Iguazú - Afternoon Tour of Iguazú Falls

Iguazú is the second-largest waterfall system in the world
Iguazú is the second-largest waterfall system in the world

This morning a driver will pick you up from your hotel and transfer you to the airport. A flight will take you from the rugged forests and icy peaks of southern Patagonia, to the mango trees and rainforest jungles of northern Argentina's Misiones Province. Here you'll find the jewel in the crown: Iguazú Falls, the largest waterfall system in the world.

Upon arrival to the city of Puerto Iguazú, you'll check into your hotel and then have the option for a half-day tour of the Brazilian side of Iguazú Falls (as opposed to the Argentine side) beginning in the afternoon. This is a good introduction to the falls, as the Brazilian side offers easily accessible viewpoints where you can enjoy the majesty of this natural wonder without the extensive walking that accompanies a visit to the Argentine side.

So enjoy the Falls as you acclimate to the warmer weather (temps here can top 90°F in the summer months). Also, be on the lookout for exotic animals that call the area home, such as monkeys and coatis.

Day 11: Explore Iguazú Falls (Argentine Side)

Touring Iguazú from the Argentine side
Touring Iguazú from the Argentine side

After breakfast at your hotel, a driver will pick you up and drop you off at the entrance of Iguazú National Park, the Argentine side of the falls. This is where you will begin the day's adventure, a full-day tour that involves walking the three circuits that weave around the waterfall. Each of these offers different vantage points from which to view the water. 

The three circuits include:

  • The upper circuit (1 hour) is made up of 2,624 feet (800 m) of walkways elevated above the jungle floor to avoid disrupting the natural paths of indigenous fauna. On this route, you'll see the upper portion of Iguazú, including countless panoramic vistas of the surrounding cascades.
  • The lower circuit (2 hours) is 5,250 feet (1,600 m) long and is also made up of elevated walkways, which go directly below and around the falls. This circuit takes you near the base of the falls and right up to the crashing torrents of water. You'll be able to feel the magnitude of the waterfall from up close.
  • The Devil's Throat (2 hours) is the star of the show. A small tourist train leaves from the Cataratas Station and travels 18 minutes to Garganta Station, where you'll find restrooms, a snack bar, and the start of the path. You'll walk 3,937 feet (1200 m) over the river until you reach the viewing platform. From there you'll be able to peer 269 feet (82 m) down into the water, as the highest of Iguazu's Falls thunders all around you.

At the end of the tour, the driver will pick you up and take you back to your hotel.

Day 12: Buenos Aires Departure

Goodbye, Argentina!
Goodbye, Argentina!

Enjoy your final morning with a leisurely breakfast and then transfer to the airport for your flight back home.