Come discover the cultural, culinary and natural wonders of Argentina over 15 action-packed days. After touching down in Buenos Aires and enjoying a live tango show, you'll fly south to El Calafate and not only visit the massive Perito Moreno Glacier, but hike across it on a glacier trek. Then you'll conquer the most famous hiking routes around El Chalten before venturing further south to Tierra del Fuego for a cruise up the legendary Beagle Channel and visits to penguin colonies.

Highlights

  • Kick off the trip with dinner and a tango show in Buenos Aires
  • Walk along the surface of Perito Moreno on a glacier hike
  • Pick from a range of hikes affording stunning views of Mt. Fitz Roy
  • Take a boat to Isla Martillo to see huge colonies of penguins
  • Spend a day trekking and canoeing in Tierra del Fuego National Park

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Explore Buenos Aires Buenos Aires
Day 2 Buenos Aires City Tour - Dinner & Tango Show Buenos Aires
Day 3 Fly from Buenos Aires to El Calafate El Calafate
Day 4 Perito Moreno Glacier Trek El Calafate
Day 5 Free Day in El Calafate El Calafate
Day 6 Transfer from El Calafate to El Chaltén El Chalten
Day 7 Full Day Hike to Laguna de Los Tres & Mt. Fitz Roy El Chalten
Day 8 Hike to Mirador Cerro Torre El Chalten
Day 9 Free Day in El Chaltén El Chalten
Day 10 El Chaltén to El Calafate El Calafate
Day 11 Fly from El Calafate to Ushuaia - Explore the City Ushuaia
Day 12 Hiking and Canoeing in Tierra del Fuego Ushuaia
Day 13 Beagle Channel Cruise Ushuaia
Day 14 Day Trip to Estancia Harberton & Isla Martillo Ushuaia
Day 15 Fly from Ushuaia to Buenos Aires - Departure  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Explore Buenos Aires

The Teatro Colón opera house
The Teatro Colón opera house

Welcome to Argentina! Renowned as the "Paris of South America" and the "Queen of El Plata", the capital city of Buenos Aires is famous for its mix of European ambiance and Latin American zest for life. It's the birthplace of Argentina's rich tango heritage, home to some of its most beautiful architecture and its richest museums, and the nucleus of its fútbol (soccer) culture—a sport for which Argentinians have unbridled enthusiasm.

When you arrive at the airport—most likely Ezeiza International—your driver will take you to your hotel where you will have the chance to recharge from the journey. Once you're rested up, be sure to venture out into the welcoming arms of Buenos Aires and explore. The city center is your best starting point.

Suggested activities include:

  • Admire Plaza de Mayo, the city's oldest and most important square, and a site of both celebrations and protests. The plaza is ringed by ornate government buildings, the Metropolitan Cathedral, and the 1580 town hall. In the middle of the landscaped plaza, the Pirámide de Mayo was built in 1811 as a monument to the May Revolution of 1810, which fomented the nation's independence from Spain.
  • Visit the Obelisco, which might be the most famous landmark in the city. Erected in 1936, the stone obelisk commemorates the 400th anniversary of the city's founding. It sits right in the middle of Avenida 9 de Julio, which boasts a whopping 16 lanes, making it the widest city street in the world. 
  • Stop by the Teatro Colon, one of South America's premier opera houses. The horseshoe-shaped gallery features 2,487 seats and incredible acoustics. You can opt to take a tour through the incredibly elaborate opera house or watch a show here. The Colon's stunning neoclassical facade has been regarded as one of the most handsome in Buenos Aires since its opening in 1908.
  • Stroll through Puerto Madero, an upscale waterfront neighborhood adjacent to Buenos Aires' downtown. Puerto Madero is known as the "new money" financial center of Buenos Aires. There is a scenic and lively walking route worth exploring and a canal-front lined with bars and restaurants. Enjoy a romantic stroll over the canal on the Puente de la Mujer at sunset—the innovative, modern footbridge swings open to allow boat traffic to pass.
  • Dine at an Argentine steakhouse, or parilla. When night falls and dinnertime arrives, enjoy an authentic thick, juicy steak (Argentina has some of the best beef in the world), drizzled with the nation's famous chimichurri (a garlic, herb, and vinegar sauce). But plan on dining late—Buenos Aires' culture thrives after dark, and it's common for locals to have dinner after 9 pm, especially on weekends. 

Day 2: Buenos Aires City Tour - Dinner & Tango Show

Casa Rosada in Buenos Aires' Plaza de Mayo
Casa Rosada in Buenos Aires' Plaza de Mayo

After breakfast, you'll join a fascinating tour for an overview of Buenos Aires' history and culture. During this 3-hour tour, you'll visit the neighborhood of Retiro and Avenida 9 de Julio, the world's widest avenue. Along this street, you'll see the Teatro Colón, the continent's most opulent opera house, and the iconic Obelisco monument.

You will also pass through the historic and architecturally impressive city center, home to the Congress Building, Plaza de Mayo, Avenida de Mayo, and the 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.

In the evening, enjoy a delicious meal accompanied by free-flowing wine and a tango performance, one of Argentina's most iconic cultural highlights. After this memorable experience, you'll head back to your hotel to relax for the night.

Day 3: Fly from Buenos Aires to El Calafate

Beautiful view of Lago Argentino
Beautiful view of Lago Argentino

In the morning, a driver will meet you at your hotel and take you to the airport for your flight to El Calafate. Known as the gateway to Argentina's glaciers, the city is located on the shores of Lago Argentino, the nation's biggest freshwater lake. If possible, select a window seat to enjoy the stunning views as you fly over the Southern Patagonian Ice Field. 

Upon arrival at El Calafate, another transfer will take you to your hotel. You can spend the rest of the day relaxing or wandering around enjoying the quaint cafés and souvenir shops in town. You can learn about nearby glaciers by visiting the Glaciarium, a multi-media center that has an ice museum, various interactive displays, and educational information regarding glaciers. Don a coat, boots, and gloves to enjoy a drink at the museum's Glaciobar BrancaIt, Argentina's first ice bar.

Day 4: Perito Moreno Glacier Trek

Hikers trekking Perito Moreno
Hikers trekking Perito Moreno

After breakfast at your hotel, you'll transfer 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 Mountains into the turquoise waters of Lago Argentino, ending abruptly in a great wall curving around the lake. With a little luck and patience, you'll witness "calving," the awe-inspiring sight of ice breaking off the glacier facade and crashing into the tranquil waters below. Every time ice hits the water, a thundering crash will reverberate in your ears. 

Believe it or not, you'll be trekking on top of this glacier—your full-day excursion that involves walking over the ice while fully equipped with crampons and an ice ax. Traversing Perito Moreno is an amazing adventure and a perfectly safe one, as you'll be accompanied by certified bilingual guides who know the terrain intimately. Enjoy the thrill of crossing over deep blue ice crevices and hiking over meltwater streams as you experience Perito Moreno up close. 

During the day you'll also have ample time to witness the glacier from one of the many viewing platforms in the park. These platforms are accessible via a network of boardwalks that run along the shores of the lake. They offer the best vantage points and sweeping views of the glacier and make for great photo opportunities.

Day 5: Free Day in El Calafate

Take an excursion to Reserva Laguna Nimez.
Take an excursion to Reserva Laguna Nimez.

Today, you'll have a free day to explore El Calafate. Arrange a spa treatment at a resort or head out and find more adventures in and around El Calafate, such as horseback riding on a ranch or joining a kayaking tour. Perhaps you'd like to see more sights in Los Glaciares National Park, such as the Spegazzini Glacier, which straddles the border of Argentina and Chile.

For a break from the glaciers, you can also take a 15-minute walk from El Calafate to the Reserva Laguna Nimez ecological reserve. This protected area is a haven for a great variety of birds, including the Chilean flamingo. A self-guided walk along a boardwalk takes visitors around the whole reserve. 

Besides the Glaciarium, you can visit the town's history museum: Centro de Interpretación Histórica. Covering the history of Patagonia since the Ice Age, the museum offers useful information on glaciers, as well as dinosaurs, extinct animals, Indigenous Peoples, and the formation of other geographical landscapes.

Day 6: Transfer from El Calafate to El Chaltén

Mt. Fitz Roy, near El Chalten
Mt. Fitz Roy, near El Chalten

After breakfast, a vehicle will pick you up for the three-hour drive to the town of El Chaltén. If the skies are clear, you'll be treated to incredible views of Mt. Fitz Roy, the toothy 11,020-foot (3,359-meter) granite mountain that looms over the town. El Chaltén is regarded as a hikers paradise due to the proximity of Fitz Roy and other mountaineering challenges in the area.

Upon arrival, you'll check into your hotel and have the rest of the day to acclimate to the area. Perhaps you'll want to take a walk in town before a relaxing evening sampling El Chaltén's many restaurants and craft-beer bars.

Day 7: Full Day Hike to Laguna de Los Tres & Mt. Fitz Roy

Hikers near Laguna de los Tres
Hikers near 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 the route you take. You'll most likely hike to Laguna de los Tres today. 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 8: Hike to Mirador Cerro Torre

Dawn at Laguna Torre
Dawn at Laguna Torre

Today, you'll leave El Chaltén on foot accompanied by a professional guide. On this hike, you'll traverse a glacial valley that has fascinated geologists due to its perfect "U" shape, which is the result of the area once being covered by large swaths of ice. The total distance of this hike is 15 miles (24 km) and takes about six hours to complete.

The journey 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 admiring the views, you'll return to El Chaltén along the same path.

Day 9: Free Day in El Chaltén

Laguna Capri Hike
Laguna Capri hike

Today you'll have the whole day to discover more of El Chaltén and (if you're still up for it) additional hiking trails at your own pace. In fact, you can choose when and where to go since all the paths are self-guided, clearly marked, and well-maintained.

If you've accomplished major treks in previous days, this is your chance to check out some more relaxing trails that depart from town. For an easier option, there's a short 1.9-mile (3 km) walk with views of lenga forests and the winding Rio de las Vueltas. This option also allows the chance to see all kinds of birds, including—if you're lucky—condors and eagles. 

You can also embark 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 and offers unobstructed views of the Fitz Roy massif. 

The Salto El Chorrillo is a pretty waterfall located a short walk from town, and the relaxing walk to it runs along flat ground and through a sparse woodland area. There are plenty of rocks to sit and enjoy the serene landscape of water running over a cliff and into a river below.

Another option is to visit the Huemul Glacier, about an hour outside of town. Named after a native deer, the moderately strenuous hike up to the glacier will bring you through some of the most picturesque scenery in the area, past rivers and streams and through virgin forests. A nice reward is the view of Cerros Torre and Fitz Roy from the top.

When you're done exploring more of the area, head back into town and enjoy some of the best beer in the country. For instance, Don Guerra—a local spot—has a great happy hour and pub food on the menu.

Day 10: El Chaltén to El Calafate

Fitz Roy at sunrise
Fitz Roy at sunrise

After breakfast, you'll take a three-hour private transfer to reach El Calafate. Upon checking into your hotel, you can spend the afternoon exploring the town and its surroundings.

Browse the local shops and enjoy the cafés, and be sure to sample local cuisine, like roast Patagonian lamb and Argentine staples like rib-eye steak and empanadas. You'll want to wash it all down with a great glass or two of Malbec from the Mendoza wine region.

Day 11: Fly from El Calafate to Ushuaia - Explore the City

Early morning view of Ushuaia
Early morning view of Ushuaia

After breakfast in El Calafate, you'll pack up and transfer to the airport for your flight to Ushuaia—the southernmost city in the world. Upon arrival, a driver will meet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel. From there you'll have the rest of the day to explore as you see fit. 

Located on a bay in the Patagonian region of Tierra del Fuego, Ushuaia sits between the jagged peaks of the Martial Mountains and the silver waters of the Beagle Channel. This is the same waterway Charles Darwin explored when he was traveling on the HMS Beagle almost 200 years ago. Make sure to get out and walk along the waterfront for a better glimpse of the craggy mountains and silver channel.

Suggested activities in and around town:

  • Stroll the streets of downtown. As you walk around the colorful shops and buildings, notice an endearing jumble of architectural styles with everything from mock chalets to tumbledown wooden cottages.
  • Stop in at the Prison Museum. The building that houses Ushuaia's Maritime Museum was once an old prison. Constructed at the turn of the 20th century, some 600 convicts occupied 380 cells until the prison's closing in 1947. Today, the prison looks unchanged since its doors closed.

  • Visit the Museo del Fin del Mundo, or "End of the World" Museum. Located on the waterfront, this small museum features fascinating exhibits on the region's natural and indigenous history. You'll also find extensive exhibits on birds and sailing.

  • Head to Laguna Esmeralda. With the trailhead about 11 miles (17 km) outside of Ushuaia, this is an easy afternoon hike for all levels. The shores of this turquoise lake are great for photos and stopping to enjoy nature.

  • Sample the local cuisine. The region is famous for its seafood, particularly centolla (king crab). Try it au gratin—it's the most decadent dish in Ushuaia. 

Day 12: Hiking and Canoeing in Tierra del Fuego

Coastal trail in Tierra del Fuego
Coastal trail in Tierra del Fuego

Spend a day in Tierra del Fuego National Park, one of the most frequently visited places around Ushuaia. It's close to the city, and there are many wonders within its 155,000 acres. You'll have a specialized guide to help you discover the natural beauty within the park. You'll get to know the ins and outs of this protected paradise, from seaside mountains and freshwater rivers to subantarctic forests and tranquil bays.

After arriving, take a magnificent 4.3 mile (7 km) hike on a coastal path that follows the Beagle Channel. You will have prime views of the channel along the way, and the chance to enjoy the diverse flora and fauna, including sea-lions, seals, and albatross. During the hike, you will pass remnants of ancient settlements once occupied by the Yámana Indigenous People.

You'll reach Lago Roca after trekking for three hours. Here you can relax and enjoy a hot lunch before pushing off on a canoe ride down the Lapataia River. This waterway leads to your ultimate destination—the spectacular Bahia Lapataia (Lapataia Bay)—located in the Beagle Channel, sitting at the end of Nacional Route No. 3, an extension of the legendary Pan American Highway. From here, you'll transfer back to your hotel in Ushuaia.

Day 13: Beagle Channel Cruise

Watch a stunning sunset in the Beagle Channel.
Watch a stunning sunset in the Beagle Channel.

After breakfast in Ushuaia, head to the pier to board a boat for a local cruise. Today's excursion sails through the Beagle Channel, one of the region’s most important waterways named after the HMS Beagle, a 19th-century British ship that brought Charles Darwin to South America.

As you pass through the channel, you'll get breathtaking panoramic views of the city of Ushuaia and the entire bay. Be on the lookout for diverse marine wildlife, such as cormorants and sea lions, especially near the Lobo and De Los Pajaros islands. If the winds are calm, you can hop ashore and look out to the opposite coast, stretching across Chile and Argentina. Before making your way back to Ushuaia, see the famous Les Eclaireurs, the so-called "Lighthouse at the End of the World."

Day 14: Day Trip to Estancia Harberton & Isla Martillo

Gentoo penguins on Isla Martillo
Gentoo penguins on Isla Martillo

After breakfast at your hotel, you'll embark on a full-day excursion to do some penguin-spotting. The trip starts at the Ushuaia pier, where you'll catch a bus to Estancia Harberton, a working Patagonian ranch that dates back to 1886. The hacienda's property sits on 50,000 acres that include lakes and forests. You'll pass through some of these rugged Fuegian forests on your way to the estancia. 

Upon arrival on the property, you'll head to a docking point on the shore. You'll then hop in a zodiac boat and zip along the water to Isla Martillo, an island home to thousands of Magellanic penguins and even some gentoo penguins. On a 90-minute walking tour of the island, you'll get up close and personal with these penguins as an expert guide offers insights into their characteristics and behavior. Expect plenty of great photo opportunities.

At the end of the tour, you'll return to Ushuaia in time to have dinner in town.

Day 15: Fly from Ushuaia to Buenos Aires - Departure

Farewell, Argentina
Farewell, Argentina

This morning, you'll head to the airport in Ushuaia for your flight to Buenos Aires. You'll then transfer to the international airport for your flight back home. Buen viaje!

Map

Map of Best of Argentine Patagonia - 15 Days
Map of Best of Argentine Patagonia - 15 Days