This amazing 12-day trip gives you a chance to see so much of what Argentina has to offer: from the cultural richness of Buenos Aires to some of the most beautiful landscapes in the country, with stops in El Calafate, El Chaltén, and Ushuaia. Sway to the dramatic tempos of tango, sail through the Beagle Channel, gaze out on the icy vastness of the Southern Patagonia Ice Field and hike around the spectacular Mt. Fitz Roy on this spectacular itinerary. 

Highlights

  • Take in a world-class tango show in one of Buenos Aires' famous tanguerías
  • Sail on the Beagle Channel to see cormorants and sea lions in their natural habitat
  • Trek and canoe through Tierra del Fuego National Park
  • Go off-roading to Lago Escondido
  • Hike around El Chaltén, nicknamed "Hiker's Paradise"

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Buenos Aires, Dinner & Tango Show Buenos Aires
Day 2 Buenos Aires to Ushuaia & Beagle Channel Ushuaia
Day 3 Trekking & Canoeing in Tierra del Fuego Ushuaia
Day 4 Off-Road Adventure Ushuaia
Day 5 Arrive in El Calafate El Calafate
Day 6 Perito Moreno Boat & Walking Tour El Calafate
Day 7 Estancia Cristina Excursion El Calafate
Day 8 Transfer to Chalten El Calafate
Day 9 Full-Day Hike to Laguna de Los Tres & Mt. Fitz Roy El Chalten
Day 10 Hiking in El Chaltén El Chalten
Day 11 El Chaltén to El Calafate & Return to Buenos Aires Buenos Aires
Day 12 Departing Buenos Aires  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Buenos Aires, Dinner & Tango Show

Tango in Buenos Aires

Welcome to Buenos Aires! Known as the "Paris of South America," Argentina's capital is a city defined by passion—as evidenced by its rich tango heritage and its citizens' limitless enthusiasm for fútbol (soccer), the country's most popular sport. 

When you arrive at the airport, your driver will pick you up in a private car and take you to your hotel, where you can relax after your long flight. But make no mistake: the city will be calling to you. So after a quick power nap set out on the tree-lined avenues of Buenos Aires to explore. The best starting point is the city center.

Suggested activities include:

  • Visit the Obelisco, which might be the most recognizable monument in 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 one of the widest avenues in South America.
  •  Stop by the Teatro Colón, one of South America's premier opera houses, which is famous for its world-class acoustics. Even if you plan on taking a tour or catching a show here on another day, it's always worth walking by to take in the beautiful intricacies of its architecture from the outside. The Colon's neoclassical façade has been the face of one of the most handsome buildings in Buenos Aires since its opening in 1908.
  • Stroll through 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 places to walk in a city. For a romantic stroll, cross over the canal on the Puente de la Mujer ("Woman's Bridge") at sunset. 

In the evening, we'll pick you up for a night on the town: dinner and a tango show. Here you’ll discover one of Argentina's most famous traditions, a mesmerizing dance that tells stories of love, sensuality, and passion. A live band of local musicians will serenade you as world-class tango dancers show off their best moves, while you enjoy an à la carte dinner of delicious Argentine cuisine.

Day 2: Buenos Aires to Ushuaia & Beagle Channel

Sunrise in Buenos Aires
Sunrise in Buenos Aires

After breakfast, you'll travel to the Buenos Aires airport for your flight to Ushuaia, the world's southernmost city, perched on the edge of the vast South American continent.

Ushuaia sits in a large bay with a rocky coast, surrounded by the snowcapped Martial Range. The city has a charming downtown and a lovely port. Today is a good time to relax because tomorrow will be filled with more physically-demanding, outdoorsy activities. 

After checking into your hotel, board a boat in Ushuaia's tourist port and sail into the Beagle Channel. As the boat sails further into the channel, you'll get a chance to see panoramic views of the coast and the skyline of the city at the base of Mount Olivia and the Cinco Hermanos Mountains

The cruise will take you southwest and pass the Isla de los Lobos, a nondescript rocky island that happens to be the home of a large group of sea lions. You'll have ample opportunity to see these majestic creatures and take plenty of photos. Then, it's off to Isla de los Pájaros (Bird Island), where various species of seabirds live, including Magellanic cormorants and imperial shags. It's a birder's dream, so keep your binoculars and camera up and ready.

The furthest you'll sail today is Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse, which is located on the northernmost island in Les Eclaireurs Islands. Here you'll see part of the Monte Cervantes, an ocean liner that sank in 1930. Your guide will also point out many points of interest onshore and across the channel, including Estancia Remolino (a remote ranch), Gable Island, and the naval base at Puerto Williams (located on Navarino Island, Chile). 

The tour ends back at Ushuaia's port. From there you can spend the remainder of the day enjoying your hotel's amenities and exploring the town.

Day 3: Trekking & Canoeing in Tierra del Fuego

Canoeing in Tierra del Fuego

Today you'll spend the day in Tierra del Fuego National Park, which is known for its sub-antarctic forest, dramatic scenery and rugged coastline. Once in Ensenada Bay, you'll have time to enjoy the view over the Beagle Channel before starting the walk along the coast. This 3.7-mile (6 km) route allows you to observe the flora and wildlife, including woodpeckers, guanacos, and foxes, as well as discovering traces of the area’s ancient indigenous people, the Yamana. 

After 3 hours, you will arrive at Lake Roca, where lunch will be served. After a picnic, you'll set out on a canoe trip down the Lapataia River, which will take you to Lapataia Bay in the Beagle Channel, the place where the Panamerican Highway ends. This important trans-continental route begins in Alaska, covers the length of the Americas and finishes here, at the "End of the World."

Day 4: Off-Road Adventure

Off-roading in Patagonia

Today you're going on a fun off-road 4x4 drive in the Southern Andes outside of Ushuaia. Your driver will maneuver on muddy tracks through forests and rivers, up to the banks of Lago Escondido (Hidden Lake)—which gets its name from its isolated location at the bottom of a valley—and on to the enormous Lake Fagnano. Other stops on the drive include the Carbajal and Tierra Mayor Valleys, Garibaldi Pass, Bronzovich sawmill, and a few beaver dams.

For lunch, your guides will prepare a barbecue, accompanied by some Argentine Malbec. In the afternoon, you'll return to Ushuaia where you'll have a bit of free time to enjoy the city. 

Day 5: Arrive in El Calafate

Autumn in El Calafate
Autumn in El Calafate

After breakfast, a driver will pick you up at your hotel and take you to the airport for your flight to El Calafate. Once you land, you can spend the rest of the day relaxing or venture out and enjoy the quaint cafes and shops around town. If you want to learn more about glaciers in preparation for your excursion tomorrow head to the Glaciarium, a multi-media center that includes an ice museum with various interactive displays and lots of information about glaciers. It even has a bar made totally of ice.

Day 6: Perito Moreno Boat & Walking Tour

Enjoy the views of Perito Moreno
Enjoy the views of Perito Moreno

Today, you're in for some excitement. After breakfast at your hotel, you'll make the one-hour trip to Los Glaciares National Park. As you enter the park you'll catch your first glimpse of the 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 of ice that curves around the lake. You'll witness "calving," the awe-inspiring sight of ice breaking off the glacier and crashing into the tranquil waters below. Every time ice hits the water a thundering crash echoes on the lake. 

While it's not the only glacier in the area, Perito Moreno is definitely the star of the park. It's also one of the few advancing glaciers in the world, which is what causes the calving mentioned above. You'll be able to admire Perito Moreno from a number of different vantage points thanks to the network of wooden walkways that zigzag strategically in front of the glacier. You'll also be able 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 a free evening.

Day 7: Estancia Cristina Excursion

The view from Estancia Cristina
The view from Estancia Cristina

There's more activity in store for you today. A driver will pick you and other passengers up early in the morning and drive you 28 miles (45 km) to the port at Punta Bandera, located on Lago Argentino. The drive along this route is scenic and pleasant, affording sweeping views of the Patagonian countryside and the charming wooden houses that intermittently dot the landscape. 

Once you reach the port, you'll board a ferry and embark on a journey on the Upsala Channel, passing towering icebergs along the way. As you reach the northern section of the channel you'll see the western front of the Spegazzini Glacier. A over 10 miles long and a mile wide, the length, breadth, and towering ice walls that define this ancient glacier are awe-inspiring. 

After taking the time to admire Spegazzini, you will continue sailing north and into the Cristina Channel. At the far end of this channel, you'll disembark at Estancia Cristina. Expect to arrive late morning. 

Estancia Cristina is one of the most impressive ranch-style lodges in the region. It was founded in 1914 by pioneers and built in a valley once covered by the Upsala Glacier. A visit to the Folkloric Museum (located in an old sheep-shearing shed), offers insight into the history of the estancia. And the surrounding scenery is breathtaking—all around you'll see panoramic views of snow-capped mountains, rivers, lakes, and glaciers. 

All told, you'll stay for about six hours. After the museum, set out on a 6-mile (9.5 km) journey by 4x4 over an unpaved road that ascends into the mountains. After reaching the Continental Ice Field Refuge, you will exit the vehicle and begin a 20-minute walk through the glacial landscapes and Andes mountains until you reach the Upsala viewpoint. Here you will have an unobstructed view of the eastern face of the Upsala Glacier as well as Lake Guillermo and the Southern Patagonian Ice Field

In the late afternoon, you will board the boat again and return to Punta Bandera. After disembarking, you will be taken back to your hotel.

Day 8: Transfer to Chalten

Hiker at the base of Cerro Torre
Hiker at the base of Cerro Torre

Enjoy breakfast at your hotel before the three-hour drive to El Chaltén, the trekking capital of Argentina. Once you arrive, check in to your hotel and enjoy the afternoon. One option is to go on one of the easier half-day hikes closer to town or grab a beer at one of the town's many craft beer pubs. 

Day 9: Full Day Hike to Laguna de Los Tres & Mt. Fitz Roy

View from Laguna de los Tres
View from Laguna de los Tres

Today you'll set out on a full-day outing in Los Glaciares National Park. El Chaltén is the perfect starting point for hiking because there are a number of trailheads that start just outside of town. Many of these lead into the Fitz Roy range and offer wonderful opportunities for day hikes.

A "day hike" here means a full day of hiking, since most trails can take up to 11 hours to complete, depending on which route you take. The hike you'll most likely be doing today goes to Laguna de los Tres. The trail leads up through an alpine forest—where you'll have beautiful views of Piedras Blancas Glacier—and all the way up to the lake. Laguna de los Tres earned its name from the panoramic view it offers of the three peaks: Fitz Roy, Poincenot, and Torre.

At the end of this 16-mile (26 km) hike, you'll descend the mountain and return to your hotel in El Chaltén for a well-earned rest.

Day 10: Hiking in El Chaltén

So many trails to choose from
Hiking in El Chaltén

Today you'll have the whole day to discover numerous hiking trails at your own pace. You can choose when and where to go since all the paths are self-guided, clearly marked, and well maintained.

If you're up for it, go for a "day hike," which can last up to 11 hours, depending on the route you choose. Trails lead up from town and through alpine forests, with a diverse range of landscapes along the way.

There are many easier trails around, too. For an easier option, head out on a short 1.9-mile (3 km) walk with views of lenga forests and the Rio de las Vueltas. This option also gives the chance to see all kinds of birds, including woodpeckers. For more mountain views, head to the Cerro Torre lookout.

Or, set out on a two-hour brisk hike amid 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. 

No matter how you spend your day outdoors, you'll return to your hotel in time to explore more of the bar and restaurant options in El Chaltén.

Day 11: El Chaltén to El Calafate & Return to Buenos Aires

Goodbye, Patagonia
Goodbye, Patagonia

It's time to say goodbye to Patagonia. Today a driver will meet you and take you from El Chaltén to the airport in El Calafate for your flight back to Buenos Aires. Take advantage of your last day in the city for some last-minute sight-seeing and shopping.

Day 12: Departing Buenos Aires

Goodbye, Buenos Aires!
Goodbye, Buenos Aires!

Enjoy one last breakfast in Buenos Aires. When it's time, a driver will pick you up and take you to the airport for your flight home. Buen viaje! 

Map

Map of Buenos Aires and Southern Patagonia - 12 days
Map of Buenos Aires and Southern Patagonia - 12 days