Covering destinations from Buenos Aires all the way to Southern Patagonia, this tour is a great way to discover both Argentina's natural splendor and unique culture while driving at your own pace. In just over two weeks, you will be able to experience some of the country's most iconic destinations through various excursions ranging from quiet retreats and scenic drives to wildlife watching and exhilarating hikes.

Highlights

  • Take control of how you explore Argentina's most iconic destinations
  • Explore the eclectic neighborhoods of Buenos Aires, the vibrant capital city
  • Experience the rugged, Alpine-like beauty of Bariloche and its surroundings
  • Visit and hike acclaimed Patagonian sites such as El Chalten and Torres del Paine

Overview

Get behind the wheel and discover Argentina at your own pace! This scenic self-drive itinerary includes some of the country's most popular destinations such as Buenos Aires and Bariloche before heading south. In Patagonia, stops will include Calafate's Perito Moreno Glacier, Chalten's lovely mountain trails, and of course the spectacular Torres del Paine across the border in Chile.

This route is planned in advance with nights pre-arranged in select hotels and maps given to offer guidance regarding suggested routes. If you're looking to embark on an unrestrained driving adventure across the wild landscapes of Patagonia, this is the trip for you.

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Buenos Aires Buenos Aires
Day 2 Tour and Tango Show Buenos Aires
Day 3 Trip to an estancia or Paraná Delta Buenos Aires
Day 4 Buenos Aires to Bariloche Bariloche
Day 5 Scenic drives through national parks Bariloche
Day 6 Explore Bariloche Bariloche
Day 7 Drive to El Chalten El Chalten
Day 8 Trekking to Cerro Torre or Torre Base El Chalten
Day 9 Trekking and driving to El Calafate El Calafate
Day 10 Horseback riding and visiting Estancia Nibepo Aike El Calafate
Day 11 Trip to Perito Moreno Glacier El Calafate
Day 12 Drive to Torres del Paine Torres del Paine
Day 13 Trekking (Torres del Paine base, Lago Grey, etc.) Torres del Paine
Day 14 Drive to El Calafate El Calafate
Day 15 Return to Buenos Aires Buenos Aires
Day 16 Depart from Buenos Aires N/A

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Begin your adventure in Buenos Aires

Enjoy Buenos Aires, one of the most dynamic cities in South America.

Welcome to Argentina! On your first day, experience Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina that many appropriately call the "Paris of South America". After transferring to your hotel via private service, it's time to explore the city. Walk down cobblestone streets surrounded by traditional European-inspired architecture, rustic outdoor cafes, and the tantalizing aroma of parrilla open-air barbecue. Local antique and artisanal markets offer plenty of bargains, so be sure to check out the leather jackets, boots, and handbags expertly crafted by locals. 

If you want to see more scenic sights, get a glimpse of the Obelisco, Casa Rosada, or the tree-lined streets of Recoleta. Then, later in the day, enjoy a traditional dinner while watching a dazzling tango show — after all, Buenos Aires is the one and only home of tango. Afterwards, explore the colorful San Telmo and Recoleta neighborhoods before heading back to your hotel.

Day 2: Buenos Aires tour and tango show

Buenos Aires' tango culture.

After breakfast, go on a three-hour city tour, with stops that include Retiro, Avenida 9 de Julio, Downtown, Puerto Madero, San Telmo, Recoleta, and La Boca — the main highlights of Buenos Aires. In the evening, enjoy another tango show accompanied by dinner and all the Malbec you could ever drink!

Day 3: Visit a ranch or Paraná Delta

Horses on an estancia (ranch).

Take some time off today to relax or try an optional side tour. A day trip to an estancia ranch makes for a perfect getaway, as several are located just outside the capital city. Alternatively, you can visit El Tigre to see the Paraná Delta, the only delta in the world that flows into a river.

Day 4: Travel to Bariloche, a charming town in Patagonia

The stunning landscape of Bariloche.

At the appropriate time, head to the domestic airport to take your flight to Bariloche. After arriving, pick up your rental car from the airport and drive off to explore the surroundings of the charming Patagonian town. In terms of hiking, there are two suggested trips:

  • Small Circuit: Length: 3-4h (37 miles / 60 km). Highlights: San Carlos de Bariloche surroundings, Bustillo Avenue, Playa Bonita, Campanario Hill, San Pedro Peninsula, Llao Llao area, Puerto Pañuelo, Villa Tacul, Escondido Lake, López Bay, Moreno Lake and El Trébol Lake.

  • Great Circuit: Length: 7-8h (176 miles / 284 km). Highlights: Rincon Chico, Rincon Grande, Limay river, the Amphitheatre, Enchanted Valley, Confluencia, Traful Lake, Villa Traful, Lake Espejo, Lake Correntoso, Puerto Manzano, Villa La Angostura, among others.

Day 5: View lakes, volcanoes and glaciers as you drive through national parks

A section of the popular Route 40.

Continue to experience the natural beauty of Patagonia by driving through some of these routes and landmarks:

Seven Lakes Road to San Martin de Los Andes: A 66 mile (107 km) road connects San Martin de Los Andes with Villa La Angostura. This stunning route offers magnificent landscapes and crosses two national parks. Along the way, see picture-perfect lakes including Machónico, Falkner, Villarino, Escondido, Correntoso, Espejo and Nahuel Huapi.

El Bolson & Esquel: There are two different possibilities for making this trip. You can either take Route 40 directly, a 100 mile (161 km) asphalt road that runs through foothills and plateaus. If you want a more adventurous experience and don't mind a longer, more difficult route, drive adjacent to Los Alerces National Park. This option takes you down a 120 mi (193 km) route along Route 40 as well as the gravel and Provincial Route 15 and Route 71. It borders the Rivadavia, Verde, and Futalaufquen lakes.

Mount Tronador: A volcano located along the border between Argentina and Chile, Mount Tronador sits between the Nahuel Huapi and Vicente Pérez Rosales National Parks. With an altitude of 3470 m, the mountain is home to eight different glaciers and even acquired its name, "The Thunderer", from the sound of falling ice blocks that can be frequently heard near it.

Day 6: Enjoy chocolates and alpine-style architecture in Bariloche

Relaxing by the shores of a lake in Bariloche.

Continue to venture down any of the aforementioned routes, or stay and relax in Bariloche. The town is famous for its locally-crafted chocolates sold along Calle Mitre, the picturesque main street, and also contains a plethora of alpine-style architecture.

Day 7: Bariloche to El Calafate and El Chalten - The Patagonia Adventure

Houses in El Chalten with stunning mountain scenery in the background. 

After returning your rental car, take a flight to El Calafate and receive a new rental car. Hit the road to El Chalten on a 3 hour, 135 mile (217 km) journey, crossing beautiful Patagonian landscapes spanning from deserts to mountains along the famous Route 40. You will also pass by La Leona River, which connects Lake Argentino and Lake Viedma.

El Chalten, located at the foot of Mt Fitz Roy, is a top-rated nature destination and is known as Argentina's "capital of trekking", with trails for all experience levels. Take some time to explore the quaint downtown, go for a walk around a local waterfall, or just relax in the neighborhood brewery. 

Day 8: Trekking in El Chalten

View of Torres del Paine from El Chalten.

Be prepared for an exciting day of exploring Argentina's best natural sites!  You can choose where and when to go at your own pace, as the local trails are self-guided, thoroughly marked, and well-maintained. We will provide you with complete trekking information of the park so that you can decide the best plan to make the most of your day. Here are some examples of the trekking options:

  • From the door of your hotel, you can go for a short 1.9 miles (3 km) walk where you can see the Rio de las Vueltas as well as the Lenga Forest. Make sure to keep an eye out for birds, as several species, especially woodpeckers, can be spotted.
  • If you are looking for great mountain views, hike an extra 1.5 hours to the Cerro Torre viewpoint.
  • For veteran trekkers, continue all the way to Torre Base and push on for the complete eight-hour trek, which offers the most impressive view of Fitz Roy and the whole massif by the Laguna de Los Tres trail. This trek becomes especially challenging on its last leg, but is worth the effort and highly recommended for those who can handle it.

Day 9: Trekking in El Chalten and travel to El Calafate

Flamingoes in El Chalten.

Spend the morning in El Chalten and take the opportunity for a last-minute trek before starting the drive back to El Calafate early in the afternoon. You will spend one night in El Calafate in our selected accommodation.

Day 10: Go horse riding or hiking at a ranch in Los Glaciares National Park

Estancia Nibepo Aike, a ranch in southern Patagonia.

Early in the morning, you will start the 35 mile (56 km) drive to Estancia Nibepo Aike, where you will spend the night in one of the 10 cozy rooms. The estancia is located inside of Los Glaciares National Park and is known for horseback riding and hiking. After a day of adventure, enjoy a farm-to-table dinner featuring fresh garden vegetables and grilled lamb prepared on a traditional Patagonian cross-stake.

Day 11: El Calafate and stunning view of Perito Moreno Glacier

Perito Moreno Glacier

Drive back to El Calafate and stop by Los Glaciares National Park to visit Perito Moreno Glacier, the most famous glacier in the country and a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1981. Enjoy stunning views of the glacier from both the nearby walking trail and viewing platforms before arriving back in El Calafate and spending the night there.

Day 12: Spot wildlife as you travel to Torres del Paine National Park

Sunrise in Torres del Paine.

Wake up early in the morning to start the long 130 mile (210 km) drive to Torres del Paine National Park. On the way there, pass through rolling grasslands home to rheas, guanacos, Patagonian hares, and even condors. After crossing the Patagonian steppe from north to south on a 2.5-hour trip, you will arrive at the Cancha Carrera border post. Make sure to have your passport on hand, as you will cross the border to Chile before ending up at Torres del Paine.

Named the "Blue Towers" for its striking color, Torres del Paine offers some of the most dramatic landscapes in South America. As you travel around, keep an eye out for wild guanacos as they roam the windy plains. In addition to the namesake mountains, other highlights of the park include:

  • Salto Grande: a 213 ft high waterfall 
  • Laguna Amarga: a water-filled caldera
  • Cuernos del Paine: magnificent granite spires in the shape of horns
  • Lake Pehoé: a beautiful lake that reflects the Cuernos del Paine

Day 13: Trekking in Torres del Paine National Park

Lago Grey (Grey Lake), a glacially-fed lake.

Trek any of the available trails, all of which are well-marked and maintained. The most iconic is the trek to the base of Torres del Paine, which includes the world-famous challenge of climbing 2952 ft (900 m) up the granite Paine Horns. This trek takes 8-10 hours for the round trip, with the most rigorous part occurring during the first two hours. After leaving the Hosteria and Refuge Torres del Paine valley area, the rest of the trail is much calmer and offers sweeping views of Ascencio River until you reach Refugio El Chileno.

From here, trek another hour through dense Lenga Forest and reach the moraine, where you will tackle one last difficult climb. Afterwards, reward yourself with the breathtaking view of the Torres del Paine mountains rising into the sky behind azure blue lakes.

If you have extra time, you can also explore the Lago Grey, or Salto Grande & Lake Pehoe routes.

Day 14: Hiking in Torres del Paine and travel back to El Calafate

The towering granite spires of Torres Del Paine.

Spend the morning in Torres del Paine National Park and hike a short trail or two. Then, start the drive back to El Calafate early in the afternoon. The night will be spent in your selected hotel in El Calafate.

Day 15: Last Day in Buenos Aires

Aerial view of Buenos Aires

At the appropriate time, you will drive to the airport (13 miles east of El Calafate), leave your car at the airport counter and take your flight back to Buenos Aires. Upon arrival, you will be taken to your hotel in a private service. Take the rest of the day to do any final activities in the city, whether it be shopping for souvenirs or venturing into a new neighborhood.

Day 16: Depart from Buenos Aires

At the appropriate time, you will be escorted by private service to the airport for your flight back home. Say goodbye to Argentina and return home with countless memories to cherish!

Map

Map of Argentina Self-Drive: Buenos Aires to Patagonia - 16 Days
Map of Argentina Self-Drive: Buenos Aires to Patagonia - 16 Days