- Strap on the crampons and hike over Patagonian glaciers
- Go on wildlife tours to spot marine animals in Puerto Madryn
- Follow in the footsteps of Darwin as you sail the Beagle Channel
- Spend a couple of days exploring both sides of Iguazú Falls
- Enjoy dinner and a passionate tango show in Buenos Aires
|Day 1||Arrive in Buenos Aires, Self-Guided Tour||Buenos Aires|
|Day 2||Full-Day Buenos Aires Walking Tour||Buenos Aires|
|Day 3||Culinary Workshop & Dinner Party||Buenos Aires|
|Day 4||Fly to El Calafate||El Calafate|
|Day 5||Perito Moreno Glacier Hike||El Calafate|
|Day 6||Boat, Glacier & Estancia Tour||El Calafate|
|Day 7||Fly to Puerto Madryn||Puerto Madryn|
|Day 8||Península Valdés & Whale Watching||Puerto Madryn|
|Day 9||Fly to Ushuaia, Optional Activities||Ushuaia|
|Day 10||Half-Day Penguin Colony Tour||Ushuaia|
|Day 11||Hiking & Canoeing in Tierra del Fuego||Ushuaia|
|Day 12||Fly to Puerto Iguazú||Puerto Iguazú|
|Day 13||Iguazú Falls Tour (Argentine Side)||Puerto Iguazú|
|Day 14||Iguazú Falls Tour (Brazilian Side)||Puerto Iguazú|
|Day 15||Fly to Buenos Aires, Tango Show||Buenos Aires|
|Day 16||Depart Buenos Aires|
Day 1: Arrive in Buenos Aires, Self-Guided Tour
Welcome to Argentina! This South American country is famous for many things: countless natural wonders, beautiful cities, world-class beef, a passion for fútbol (soccer), and a European flare to compliment its Latin American spirit. You'll experience these qualities when you touch down in the capital of Buenos Aires, one of the world's great cities. A driver will be waiting at the terminal to transfer you from the airport to your hotel, and after dropping off your bags, you can head out and stretch your legs on a self-guided tour.
You can start in Centro (the city center) and marvel at the impressive Baroque and neoclassical architecture. Highlight landmarks include 9 de Julio (the widest avenue in the world), the soaring Obelisco monument, and the Teatro Colón, which has consistently been ranked one of the great opera houses in the world since its opening in 1908. Later, when dinnertime arrives, head to a parrilla (steakhouse) and order a thick, juicy steak (Argentina has some of the best beef in the world) drizzled with chimichurri (a garlic, herb, and vinegar sauce).
Day 2: Full-Day Buenos Aires Walking Tour
To properly experience Buenos Aires, you must do so on foot. So after a fortifying breakfast, you'll meet an expert local guide and head out for a full-day walking/sightseeing tour. It begins in Plaza San Martín, located at the end of downtown's commercial pedestrian thruway, Florida Street. This leafy plaza, anchored by a majestic ombú tree, is named after one of the heroes of Argentina's independence movement, General José de San Martín.
Then you'll continue walking amid the historic architecture of the Retiro neighborhood and Avenida 9 de Julio. Highlights include the Congress Building, Plaza de Mayo, and the pink-hued Casa Rosada (Presidential Palace). Then, walk along the upscale waterfront promenades of Puerto Madero before heading to the oldest neighborhood in the city, San Telmo. Afterward, you'll stop by La Boca, the city's original port.
Another highlight is a visit to Recoleta, an old-money neighborhood defined by its Baroque buildings and famous cemetery. It's the final resting place of some of the country's most prominent historical figures, including Eva Perón. At the end of the day, you'll return to your hotel and will have the evening free.
Day 3: Culinary Workshop & Dinner Party
Today, you'll get to the heart of Argentine culture one bite and sip at a time. After a free day in the city, you'll embark in the evening on a gastronomic odyssey that celebrates great Argentine cuisine, going beyond the famous beef and featuring an eclectic array of dishes. Hosted in the trendy neighborhood of Palermo, guests at this hands-on "dinner party" share a table while helping to prepare gourmet food and enjoying the country's famous wine, like the flagship malbec varietal.
Upon arrival, you'll receive a warm welcome from professional hosts who will guide you through the evening and explain how Argentina's unique culture reveals itself in its food. Then the cooking workshop begins, during which you'll make traditional empanadas (including sealing the dough using the repulgue folding technique), get tips on how to order a steak in Spanish and learn to make alfajores (delicious Argentine cookies). You'll also prepare maté, an herbal tea that's the country's lifeblood.
Day 4: Fly to El Calafate
Be ready early, because a driver will meet you at your hotel in the morning for the ride to the airport. There, you'll board a three-hour flight south to the Patagonia region and El Calafate. Known as the gateway to Argentina's glaciers, the town is located on the shores of Lago Argentino, the nation's biggest freshwater lake. The most famous landmark in this protected area is Perito Moreno, a 97-square-mile (250 sq km) ice formation that is one of the few advancing glaciers in the world. Tip: select a window seat to enjoy stunning views of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field as you fly over it.
Upon arrival at El Calafate, another transfer will take you to your hotel. You can spend the rest of the day relaxing or wander around and enjoy the quaint cafés and souvenir shops around town. You can learn about nearby glaciers by visiting the Glaciarium, a multimedia center with an ice museum, interactive displays, and educational info regarding glaciers. For fun, it even has a bar made totally of ice.
Day 5: Perito Moreno Glacier Hike
After breakfast, meet a driver for the ride west into Los Glaciares National Park. As you enter the area, you'll catch your first glimpse of the impressive 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. Every time ice hits the water, a thundering crash reverberates in the ears.
Believe it or not, today, you'll be trekking on top of this glacier. On this full-day excursion, you'll walk over Perito Moreno's surface while equipped with crampons and an ice ax. It's a perfectly safe activity, as certified bilingual guides will accompany you. So enjoy crossing deep blue ice crevices and hiking over meltwater streams as you experience Perito Moreno up close and personal.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
After your expedition on the glacier, you'll have plenty of time to appreciate it from one of the many viewing platforms in the park. These platforms are accessible via a network of walkways that run along the shores of the lake. They offer sweeping views of the glacier, making for great photo opportunities.
Day 6: Boat, Glacier & Estancia Tour
More memorable Patagonia adventures are in store today. After an early breakfast at your hotel, a driver will pick you and other tour-group members up from your respective hotels for the 28-mile (45 km) drive to the port at Punta Bandera, on Lago Argentino. There, you'll board a ferry and ride along the Upsala Channel, passing towering icebergs as you go. When you reach the northern section, you'll see the western front of the Spegazzini Glacier. At over 10 miles (16 km) long and 1 mile (1.6 km) wide, this ancient ice mass is nothing short of awe-inspiring.
After admiring Spegazzini, you'll continue north into the Cristina Channel, arriving at the far end by late morning. You'll disembark at Estancia Cristina, one of the most impressive ranches in the region. It was founded by pioneers in 1914 and built on a valley once covered by the Upsala Glacier. A visit to the Folkloric Museum here (located in an old sheepshearing shed) offers insight into the history of the estancia. The surrounding scenery is gorgeous, too, as all around are panoramic views of snowcapped mountains, rushing rivers, glassy lakes, and ancient glaciers.
After the museum, you'll embark on a 6-mile (9.5 km) journey by 4WD over an unpaved road ascending into the mountains. Once you reach the Continental Ice Field Refuge, you'll exit the vehicle and begin a 20-minute walk with views of glacial landscapes and Andes peaks until you reach the Upsala viewpoint. Here you'll have an unobstructed view of the eastern face of the Upsala Glacier as well as Lago Guillermo and the Southern Patagonian Ice Field. In the late afternoon, you'll return to the boat and begin the trip back to El Calafate.
Day 7: Fly to Puerto Madryn
Now that you've experienced the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, it's time to venture east and enjoy the wonders of northern Patagonia's Atlantic shore. In the morning, you'll transfer to the airport and catch a connecting flight to the city of Puerto Madryn. Sitting on the Golfo Nuevo (New Gulf), the offshore waters are home to abundant marine mammals, including the southern right whale, which breeds in the area from May to December.
The city is most famous for being the gateway to nearby Península Valdés, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the best place to see various marine animals in their natural habitat, including sea lions, penguins, whales, and orcas. Also nearby is Gaiman, a historic town founded by Welsh settlers in 1875. Gaiman has preserved many of its Welsh traditions, evident in the tea shops, chapels, and gardens throughout town.
When you arrive at the airport in Puerto Madryn, a driver will pick you up and transfer you to the hotel. If it's early enough, feel free to stretch your legs with a stroll around this tranquil waterfront city. It's a safe, walkable community with a charming waterfront promenade lined with cafés and restaurants offering ocean views. You can also make the short trip to Gaiman for a spot of afternoon tea.
Day 8: Península Valdés & Whale Watching
A driver will pick you up at your hotel this morning for a full-day tour on land and sea. It starts in Península Valdés at the Istmo Ameghino Interpretation Center. Through various educational exhibits, you'll gain insight into the different types of fauna that call this peninsula home. There's even a lookout tower featuring stunning views of both the Golfo Nuevo and Golfo San José.
After visiting the interpretation center, continue to Puerto Pirámides. This is the starting point for today's oceanic wildlife excursion. Once aboard the ship, you'll sail along the coast and do some wildlife spotting. Keep your eyes peeled for sea lions and (if you're lucky) right whales and orcas. You'll also pass a historic lighthouse that epitomizes the seafaring splendor of coastal Patagonia.
Your day isn't over after the boat ride. On the way back to Puerto Madryn, you'll stop at some salt flats and Isla de Pájaros, an island abounding with different birds, including cormorants, egrets, rheas, and flamingoes. The tour ends in the late afternoon with the return to your hotel.
Day 9: Fly to Ushuaia, Optional Activities
Pack your bags once again because in the morning, you'll transfer to the airport for the two-hour flight to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. Located on a bay in the Patagonian region of Tierra del Fuego, the city lies between the jagged peaks of the Martial Mountains and the silver waters of the Beagle Channel. This is the same waterway where Charles Darwin sailed the HMS Beagle almost 200 years ago. Upon arrival, a driver will pick you up and transfer you to your hotel.
After checking in, you can head out on a self-guided walking tour. The most activity is in Ushuaia's colorful downtown area. There are cafés and restaurants where you can stop and try centolla (king crab), a regional specialty. If you like, stroll the scenic waterfront and visit the Museo del Fin del Mundo (End of the World Museum). It's a small museum, but one that's packed with fine exhibits detailing the area's natural and Indigenous history.
Day 10: Half-Day Penguin Colony Tour
Head to the port in the morning and board a boat for a ride on the Beagle Channel. As you venture into the center of the waterway, you'll enjoy panoramic views of the coast and city skyline. As you sail southwest, you'll pass Isla de los Lobos, which is little more than a rock yet is the permanent habitat of a large group of sea lions. You'll have ample opportunity to view these creatures and take plenty of photos.
Then, it's off to Isla de los Pájaros (Bird Island). This is a natural habitat of various species of seabirds, including Magellanic cormorants and imperial shags. Farther out, you'll spot Les Eclaireurs, an iconic lighthouse located on a chain of islands. Here it's possible to see part of the Monte Cervantes, an ocean liner that sank in 1930.
Eventually, you'll reach Isla Martillo, where the boat will stop. Here, you can observe sizable colonies of gentoo and Magellanic penguins that call the island home. After snapping photos, the boat will return to the port in Ushuaia, and you can spend the remainder of the day enjoying your hotel's amenities and exploring the town.
Day 11: Hiking & Canoeing in Tierra del Fuego
In the morning, a shuttle will pick you up at your hotel in Ushuaia for the drive into Tierra del Fuego National Park. There are many wonders within this 155,000-acre (62,726 ha) protected area, including subantarctic forests, dramatic lakes, and a rugged coastline.
Upon arrival in Ensenada Bay, you'll have a spectacular view of the Beagle Channel. Then embark on a 4-mile (6 km) guided coastal walk in which you'll get to observe the surrounding flora and fauna of the region. Interesting animals you might spot include woodpeckers, guanacos, and foxes. In addition, you can see traces of the Yamana Indigenous settlements that once existed here.
After about three hours, you'll arrive at Lago Roca, where a picnic lunch will be served. Then hop in a canoe and paddle down the Río Lapataia until you reach the southern end of the Pan-American Highway, the world's longest drivable road. This transcontinental route begins in Alaska and covers the entire length of the Americas. Here, you'll board another shuttle and transfer back to Ushuaia.
Day 12: Fly to Puerto Iguazú
It's another early start, as a driver will pick you up for the ride to the airport. There, you'll board a connecting flight that will take you from southern Patagonia's rugged forests and icy peaks to the mango trees and rainforest jungles of northern Argentina's Misiones Province.
Your destination is the town of Puerto Iguazú, which sits at the tri-borders with Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay. Nestled amid the tropical forests is Iguazú Falls, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the second-largest waterfall system in the world after Victoria Falls. Upon arrival, you'll transfer to your hotel and, if it's early enough, can take a half-day tour of the Brazilian side (as opposed to the Argentine side) of Iguazú. This is an excellent introduction to the falls, as the Brazilian side offers easily accessible viewpoints without the extensive walking required on the Argentine side.
So enjoy the falls as you acclimate to the warmer weather (temps here can top 90°F/32°C in the summer months). Also, be on the lookout for exotic animals, such as monkeys and coatis.
Day 13: Iguazú Falls Tour (Argentine Side)
Today you'll come face to face with the grand spectacle of Mother Nature that is Iguazú. After breakfast, a driver will pick you up for the ride into Iguazú National Park, on the Argentine side of the falls. Here, you'll begin your full-day tour in the subtropical forest, home to many wildlife species. Your bilingual guide will point out some animals that live here, including coatis, capuchin monkeys, and various birds like antbirds, toucans, manakins, and parrots.
Continue the hike along both lower and upper walkways that weave around the cascades (prepare to get wet!). One highlight is traversing the boardwalk at the top of Iguazú to the famous Devil's Throat, one of the largest of Igauzu's falls. From a viewing area, you can peer over the edge and see the thundering falls plunge 262 feet (89 m) to the river below (an experience not for the faint of heart). At the end of the tour, a driver will pick you up and take you back to your hotel in Puerto Iguazú.
Day 14: Iguazú Falls Tour (Brazilian Side)
The Brazilian side of Iguazú (known as Iguaçu in Portuguese) may lack the number of hiking routes found on the Argentine side; still, it makes up for it with a wealth of amenities like restaurants with terraces overlooking the falls. Upon arrival at the Visitors Center, you'll board a double-decker bus for a park tour. It will eventually stop at the entrance to a path leading to the falls.
The first stop after you disembark is a balcony that offers panoramic views of the Argentine side of the falls (keep your camera ready). You'll then hike a few hundred meters along the Río Iguazú until you reach the falls on the Brazilian side. The walkway passes over the river and is next to the massive Salto Floriano (Floriano Falls). This magnificent wall of plunging water makes quite an impression, as do the vistas of the lower Río Iguazú and the Devil's Throat.
Day 15: Fly to Buenos Aires, Tango Show
At midday, you'll take a flight from Iguazú to Aeroparque, the central airport in Buenos Aires. Unlike the lengthy drive from Ezeiza International into the city, this drive (in a private car) will be short and sweet. Spend the remainder of the afternoon relaxing and conserving energy because you've got a big night ahead of you.
In the evening, it's time for "dinner and a show." You'll savor the hallmark dishes of Argentina while enjoying the most spectacular tango show in Buenos Aires. As the deft performers move to the music of love, sorrow, and passion, you'll dine on flaky empanadas, succulent steak, and decadent dulce de leche (vegetarian options available). But the night doesn't end with the meal. After dinner, more dancers will participate in a showstopping performance of traditional Argentine folkloric music.
Day 16: Depart Buenos Aires
Time flies when you're enjoying the most incredible natural wonders in the world. Enjoy one last breakfast in Buenos Aires before meeting your driver for the transfer to the airport, where you'll catch your flight home. Ciao!
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