This adventurous 10-day itinerary takes you deep into the dramatic landscapes of Argentine Patagonia. Hike up rugged mountains, trek across vast glaciers, and horseback ride through a historic Estancia before entering the spectacular Los Glaciares National Park. Here you'll kayak on the serene Lago del Desierto and embark upon a selection of scenic hikes into the Fitz Roy mountain range.

Highlights

  • Explore Argentina's most famous glaciers by boat
  • Go horseback riding on a traditional Estancia
  • Ice trek across the vast Perito Moreno glacier
  • Kayak around the peaceful Lago del Desierto
  • Hike some of Patagonia's most stunning routes

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Fly from Buenos Aires to El Calafate El Calafate
Day 2 Gourmet Glacier Cruise to Perito Moreno & Spegazinni El Calafate
Day 3 Horseback Riding on Estancia Cristina El Calafate
Day 4 Ice Hike on Perito Moreno Glacier El Calafate
Day 5 El Calafate to El Chalten El Chalten
Day 6 Hike to Mount Fitz Roy El Chalten
Day 7 Hike to Mirador Cerro Torre El Chalten
Day 8 Kayak Lago del Desierto El Chalten
Day 9 Hike to Pliegue de Tumbado El Chalten
Day 10 Farewell Patagonia, El Chalten to El Calafate & Departure  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Fly from Buenos Aires to El Calafate

Perito Moreno Glacier.
Perito Moreno Glacier.

Your Patagonian adventure starts with a flight to El Calafate, a city that sits on the shores of Lago Argentino and is known as the gateway to Argentina's glaciers. If you can, get a window seat so you can take in the stunning views of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field below.

Upon arrival at El Calafate, another transfer will take you to your hotel. You can spend the rest of the day relaxing or venture out and enjoy the quaint cafes and shops around town. Maybe prime yourself with information on the nearby glaciers by visiting the Glaciarium. This multi-media center has an ice museum, various interactive displays, and educational information regarding glaciers. For fun, it even has a bar made entirely of ice.

Day 2: Gourmet Glacier Cruise to Perito Moreno & Spegazinni

Sail under the towering ice walls of Perito Moreno Glacier.
Sail under the towering ice walls of Perito Moreno Glacier.

Today you'll venture deep into the Patagonian Ice Field, home to the largest concentration of ice on the planet after Antarctica. In Los Glaciares National Park, discover a magnificent combination of forest, lakes, mountains, ice, and steppes with over 200 glaciers. The most well-known among these ice giants are Spegazzini, rising 442 feet (135 m) above sea level, Upsala, covering an entire valley, and Perito Moreno, continuously advancing and causing spectacular ruptures of its frozen walls.

Embark on a full-day cruise into the heart of these magnificent glaciers. Sailing aboard the María Turquesa cruiser, you'll enjoy the highest standard of comfort and gourmet cuisine for a truly memorable experience. Begin by transferring to the port where you'll sail northwest to Punta Avellaneda and Boca del Diablo. Disembark near the Spegazzini Glacier at Las Vacas Station in the Spegazzini Canal Bay, where you'll enjoy a lovely guided trek to learn more about the local history, flora, and fauna. 

Afterward, you'll head towards the Upsala Canal and navigate to the Herminita Peninsula, the absolute limit for boat navigation in this area. 

In the afternoon, sail along the Tempanos Canal for an alternative view of the ever famous Perito Moreno Glacier. After admiring its dramatic north face, return to the port and head back to El Calafate where you can relax and spend the evening as you please.

Day 3: Horseback Riding on Estancia Cristina

A creek crossing on the ride to Cristina Valley.
A creek crossing on the ride to Cristina Valley.

Early this morning you'll be picked up from your accommodation and head for the remote ranchlands of Estancia Cristina. Set sail from Punta Bandera harbor, gliding over the waters of Lake Argentino’s northern arm to reach the furthest possible point of navigation, the Upsala Channel. Here you'll enjoy an incredible panoramic view of the Upsala Glacier before disembarking at the Estancia.

Meet your horseback guide who will welcome you and introduce your equine partner for the day before you head off on this gentle but rewarding excursion. Expect a scenic mix of mountain views and birdwatching opportunities on the picturesque ride to Cristina Valley.

After leaving the Estancia behind, you'll ride in a northerly direction, heading deeper into nature, crossing the Caterina River and passing the Noria: a replica of the original water-powered wheel that was built here in 1945. The horses make their way along trails of stone and moss, leading you eventually to an elevated lookout point that bestows sweeping views of the valley. If you're lucky, you might catch a glimpse of various native bird species, such as the common and royal goose, black-necked swan, coscoroba swan, and spectacled duck.

As evening falls, return to your hotel in El Calafate to rest up for another day of adventure tomorrow.

Day 4: Ice Hike on Perito Moreno Glacier

Trek across the Perito Moreno glacier.
Trek across the Perito Moreno glacier.

Start today early and embark on an adventurous day of ice hiking! After a pick-up at your accommodation, you'll travel by boat to the impressive ice walls of the Perito Moreno Glacier. Disembark and gear up as specialized bilingual mountain guides welcome you to the small shelter that serves as a base camp. After checking the last details, your group will follow the guides along the lake’s shore towards the edge of the glacier.

Once on the ice, you'll be fitted with a pair of crampons and start the 1.5-hour circuit that travels through a world of streams, small lagoons, gullies, crevasses, and plenty of ice formations in striking colors. The trekking is moderate, and the ice surface over which you walk is irregular but firm and safe. Learn about the flora, fauna, and geology of the region as you travel through the remarkable glacial landscape. After the hike, a leisurely stroll through the forest brings you back to the shelter.

In the afternoon, return to El Calafate.

*Note this activity has an age limit of 65 years old.

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Day 5: El Calafate to El Chalten

Welcome to El Chaltén!
Welcome to El Chaltén!

Today you'll be picked up at your accommodation in El Calafate and depart on a three-hour journey towards El Chalten and Los Glaciares National Park. On a clear day, you'll be rewarded with incredible panoramic views of the famous Mount Fitz Roy and the surrounding mountain range.

Settle into your accommodation, head out to explore the town, full of impressive local eateries, breweries, and wine shops.

Day 6: Hike to Mount Fitz Roy

Magnificent mountain views from Laguna de los Tres.
Magnificent mountain views from Laguna de los Tres.

This morning you'll embark on a full-day excursion into Los Glaciares National Park. With several trailheads just outside of town, El Chaltén is the perfect starting point for treks into the Fitz Roy range and offers fantastic opportunities for day hikes.

Many of these full-day treks can take up to 11 hours, depending on which route you take. The hike you'll be embarking on this morning is to Laguna de los Tres. The trail leads through an alpine forest,  complete with views of Piedras Blancas Glacier, all the way up to the lake. Laguna de los Tres earned its name because its shores offer panoramic views of three peaks: Fitz Roy, Poincenot, and Torre.

At the end of the day's hike, you'll descend the mountain and return to your hotel in El Chaltén.

Hiking Distance:  26 km (16 miles)
Hiking Duration: 8-11 hours

Day 7: Hike to Mirador Cerro Torre

Dawn at Laguna Torre.
Dawn at Laguna Torre.

After breakfast, head out of town on foot for a memorable hike to Laguna Torre. Traverse a glacial valley that has fascinated geologists due to its perfect "U" shape, the result of the area once being covered by large swaths of ice. The total distance of this hike is 14.9 miles (24 km) and takes about six hours to complete.

The hike will take you through bright green lenga forests and around lagoons until you reach the day's final destination: Laguna Torre. This glacial lake sits at the foot of the sharp granite peak of Cerro Torre, and here you'll find the glacier that feeds the lake as well. After spending some time at the lake and admiring the views, you'll return to El Chaltén along the same path.

Day 8: Kayak Lago del Desierto

Kayak around the calm waters of Lago del Desierto.
Kayak around the calm waters of Lago del Desierto.

Get ready to hit the water today, as you're picked up at your accommodation in El Chalten set out along the scenic route towards Lago del Desierto. Upon arrival, your guide will teach you some of the basics of kayaking in the area and provide gore-tex suits.

Launch onto the calm, glassy waters and begin your paddling adventure, surrounded by beautiful forest and impressive peaks in the distance. After a 2.5 hour trip around the lake, you'll return to shore and have some free time to explore the nearby trails or visit the viewpoint of the nearby Huemul Glacier before returning to town for the evening.

Day 9: Hike to Pliegue de Tumbado

Sunset over Viedma Lake.
Sunset over Viedma Lake.

Today's high altitude trek showcases stunning aerial views of the Los Glaciares National Park, with a pleasant climbing loop that's thankfully downhill on the way back. As you hike closer to the rugged Patagonian steppe, the landscape feels much wilder and remote, and your climb is rewarded with great views of Viedma Lake (Argentina's largest lake). The surrounding area was once a seabed, and you can still find ammonites and other fossils among the soil. If winds aren't too strong, stop for lunch with a spectacular view of Fitz Roy, Torre, and the entire park spread out below you, before returning to town for the evening.

Day 10: Farewell Patagonia, El Chalten to El Calafate & Departure

Goodbye Patagonia!
Goodbye Patagonia!

Make sure to take a moment or two to reflect on all the exciting memories you've made over the previous week before saying your farewells to Patagonia today.

At the scheduled time, a driver will pick you up and transfer you El Calafate Airport, where you'll hop a flight back to Buenos Aires and meet your connecting flight home. Upon takeoff, be sure to look out the window and enjoy one final glimpse of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field from your window. Take a mental photo and savor it as a little keepsake until you decide to return.

Map

Map of Best of Argentine Patagonia - 10 Days
Map of Best of Argentine Patagonia - 10 Days