- Enjoy dinner and a tango show in Argentina's capital of Buenos Aires
- Get up close to the massive Perito Moreno glacier
- Take a boat tour of the Upsala Channel and view more incredible glaciers
- Hike the scenic trails in Chile's Torres del Paine National Park
- Enjoy nature excursions around Bariloche
|Day 1||Arrival in Buenos Aires - Explore||Buenos Aires|
|Day 2||Fly from Buenos Aires to El Calafate||El Calafate|
|Day 3||Perito Moreno Glacier Tour||El Calafate|
|Day 4||Excursion to Upsala Glacier & Estancia Cristina||El Calafate|
|Day 5||From El Calafate to Torres del Paine||El Calafate|
|Day 6||Fly from El Calafate to Bariloche||Bariloche|
|Day 7||Half-Day Excursion to Isla Victoria||Bariloche|
|Day 8||Bariloche Guided Tour||Bariloche|
|Day 9||Fly from Bariloche to Buenos Aires||Buenos Aires|
|Day 10||Depart Buenos Aires|
Day 1: Arrival in Buenos Aires - Explore
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 abounds with cobbled streets and beautiful Baroque architecture.
Upon arrival at the airport, a driver will transfer you to your hotel for check-in. Once you've had the chance to rest, you can head out and explore. The city center is your best starting point.
Day 2: Fly from Buenos Aires to El Calafate
Today you'll transfer to the airport in Buenos Aires for your flight to El Calafate, in Argentine Patagonia. This city sits on the edge of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, which is home to Los Glaciers National Park. The most famous landmark here area is Perito Moreno, a 96-square-mile (250 square-km) ice formation that is one of the few advancing glaciers in the world.
Upon your arrival in El Calafate, a driver will meet you and take you to your hotel. You can spend the remainder of the day relaxing or venture out and enjoy the quaint cafes and shops around the city. Another option is to prime yourself with information on the nearby glaciers by visiting the Glaciarium. This multimedia center has an ice museum, various interactive displays, and educational info. For those who like to imbibe, it even has a bar made totally of ice.
Day 3: Perito Moreno Glacier Tour
After breakfast, you'll depart your hotel for a full-day excursion to Perito Moreno Glacier. Comprised of over 96 square miles of solid ice, Perito Moreno is one of the world's most impressive glaciers.
As you head east from El Calafate into Los Glaciares National Park, you'll catch your first glimpse of Perito Moreno. Extending from the Andes, it ends in a great wall that curves around the lake. Three miles of wooden walkways carry visitors all around the glacier and feature many lookout points. As you stand at one of these viewing areas, you're likely to witness "calving," an event where great chunks of ice break off from the glacier wall and crash into the waters below.
But we know you'll be eager to get an even closer view. So this day's itinerary also includes a short cruise across the lake, where you'll get right alongside Perito Moreno's massive ice wall, which reaches heights of 240 feet (74 meters) in places. In the evening, you'll return to your hotel in El Calafate where you can relax and enjoy a lovely dinner.
Day 4: Excursion to Upsala Glacier & Estancia Cristina
There's more activity in store for you today. Starting early, a driver will pick you and other passengers up from your respective hotels and transfer 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.
Having reached the port, you'll board a modern ferry and embark on a journey on the Upsala Channel, passing towering icebergs along the way. As you reach the northern section you'll see the western front of the Spegazzini Glacier. At 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 is the disembarking point for 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 on a valley once covered by the Upsala Glacier. A visit to the Folkloric Museum here (located in an old sheep-shearing shed), offers insight into the history of the estancia. The surrounding scenery is nothing to scoff at either—all around are impressive panoramic views of snow-capped mountains, rivers, lakes, and glaciers.
All told, you will stay here about six hours. Afterward, you'll embark on a 6-mile (9.5 km) journey by 4x4 over an unpaved road that ascends into the mountains. Upon reaching the Continental Ice Field Refuge, you will exit the vehicle and begin a 20-minute walk featuring views of 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.
Day 5: From El Calafate to Torres del Paine
Today, you will catch an early morning bus from El Calafate, in Argentina, south 3.5 hours to Puerto Natales, in Chilean Patagonia. This small port city is the main hub for excursions to Torres del Paine National Park, which was recently voted the 8th Wonder in the World.
On this extensive full-day tour, you'll visit some of Torres del Paine National Park's main attractions, such as the Amarga Lagoon. Nearby you'll find the iconic peaks of the Horns of Paine (part of the Cordillera Paine), the glacially fed Grey Lake, and the thundering waterfalls of Salto Grande. At noon you'll enjoy lunch at a restaurant in the park before continuing on the excursion. Finally, at the end of the day, you'll return to El Calafate.
Day 6: Fly from El Calafate to Bariloche
After breakfast, you'll catch a two-hour flight from El Calafate to San Carlos de Bariloche. This is the main city in Argentina's famously beautiful Lake District, which is the doorstep to Patagonia.
San Carlos de Bariloche was founded in 1902 on the shores of Lago Nahuel Huapi, which itself is part of the larger Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi. The lake straddles the Chilean border, with the city of Bariloche located on the southeast shore. To witness the full scope of the region's unspoiled beauty, you can ride the cable car to the top of Cerro Campanario. The view from atop this 3,444-foot (1,050-meter) mountain is nothing short of breathtaking.
For dinner, regional fare like wild boar and lake trout is popular and delicious, as is fondue (a culinary addition first introduced by the city's Swiss immigrants).
Day 7: Half-Day Excursion to Isla Victoria
Today you'll have the pleasure of sailing around Nahuel Huapi Lake on a half-day tour. First, you'll take a thirty minute transfer from Bariloche to Puerto Pañuelo, where you'll board a catamaran cruise bound for Isla Victoria. This is a little island located on the northern end of the lake and filled with unique flora, including the Antarctic beech. Some of the Antarctic beeches on Isla Victoria are over 600 years old and are an otherworldly tree defined by its deep red bark and serpentine, moss-covered roots.
Once on the island, you can enjoy it as you wish. There are plenty of hiking trails if you want to immerse yourself in nature. Don't worry about getting lost, as bilingual guides will never be far off. Otherwise, relax on the pebbly beach as you gaze out at the glassy, crystalline waters.
After the island, you'll visit the Quetrihué Peninsula portion of Los Arrayanes National Park. This relatively small park (just 17.3 square kilometers/6.7 square miles) is home to a vast arrayán (Chilean myrtle) forest. It's a sight to see, as the thin, red stalks of these exotic trees jut skyward like long fingers reaching for the sky. Wooden walkways cut through the park, so you can enjoy the forest at your leisure. Legend has it that Walt Disney got the inspiration for Bambi's forest after a visit to Los Arrayanes.
Day 8: Bariloche Guided Tour
Today, you'll embark on a guided tour of San Carlos de Bariloche and learn about its rich history. It began as a small mountain village but grew relatively quickly into one of the most attractive and popular cities in Argentina. As you experience the natural beauty of the region and stroll around Bariloche's chalet-like buildings and lovely waterfront, you'll understand why it's so popular with travelers.
At the end of the tour, you'll visit a local microbrewery for lunch and a beer tasting.
Day 9: Fly from Bariloche to Buenos Aires
A driver will meet you at your hotel and transfer you to the airport where you'll catch a flight back to Buenos Aires. You'll then have the rest of the day to relax in your hotel or get out and visit any of the city sites you might have missed thus far.
If you're feeling peckish then maybe visit one of B.A.'s many panaderias (bakeries), where you can indulge in a medialuna (half-moon-shaped pastry) or famous alfajore (cookie with dulce de leche). Perhaps while away the afternoon hours on a patio table at one of the city's many coffee houses. Buenos Aires is proud of its café culture, and there's no better vantage point in which to do some good old fashioned people watching than at one of the many options in the city.
For a delicious piece of B.A. history, stop in at Café Tortoni. This café has been a city institution since it opened back in 1858. Come for a coffee and a churro dipped in dulce de leche, and relish the opulence and history.
Day 10: Depart Buenos Aires
Enjoy one last breakfast in Buenos Aires. When it's time to leave, a driver will pick you up at your hotel and take you to the airport for your flight home. Buen viaje!