Patagonia Highlights - 10 Days
- Boat around Perito Moreno Glacier, one of the world's only advancing glaciers
- Hike and ride a horse across the scenery of Mount Fitz Roy and El Chalten
- See the stunning lakes, mountains, and waterfalls of Torres del Paine
- Trek to the Torres Base for the region's most spectacular mountain views
This classic tour is a great way to explore Patagonia's iconic destinations. The itinerary will cover Los Glaciares National Park and Torres del Paine National Park, providing an in-depth experience of across both southern Argentina and Chile. With snow-capped peaks, enormous glaciers, and hiking trails for all levels, this is a great adventure for everyone, from extreme trekkers to casual travelers.
On your free days, you can choose where and when to go on hikes and what pace you want to progress. Since the paths are very well marked and maintained, you will have no problem setting off on a variety of treks. Additionally, complete information on park grounds will be provided on a daily basis, so you will be able to plan your preferred activities each day. Despite the accessibility and flexibility of the tours, those who have more hiking experience will have additional options available.
|Day 1||Arrive in Buenos Aires, Explore the City||Buenos Aires|
|Day 2||Arrival in El Calafate: Buenos Aires - El Calafate||El Calafate|
|Day 3||Perito Moreno Full-Day Boat & Walking Tour||El Calafate|
|Day 4||El Calafate Free Day||El Calafate|
|Day 5||El Calafate - El Chalten||El Chalten|
|Day 6||El Chalten (Free Day)||El Chalten|
|Day 7||El Chaltén to El Calafate & Transfer to Puerto Natales||Puerto Natales|
|Day 8||Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine National Park & Full-Day Tour||Torres del Paine|
|Day 9||Torres del Paine (Free Day)||Torres del Paine|
|Day 10||From Torres del Paine to El Calafate, Depart|
Day 1: Arrive in Buenos Aires, Explore the City
Welcome to Argentina! Renowned as the "Paris of South America," and the "Queen of El Plata," the capital city of Buenos Aires is defined by passion. This is exemplified in the rich tango heritage and its citizens' limitless enthusiasm for fútbol (soccer), which is far and away the country's most popular sport.
When you arrive at the airport, your driver will be waiting to take you in a private car to your hotel where you can relax after a long flight. But make no mistake: the city will beckon you. So after a quick recharge, be sure to venture out into the welcoming arms of Buenos Aires and explore. The best starting point would be the city center.
Suggested activities include:
Visit the Obelisco, which might be the most famous icon of the city. This obelisk (which even Argentines admit is a little too reminiscent of the Washington Monument) is worth a visit for its location alone. 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. Even if you plan on taking a tour or catching a show here on another day, it's always breathtaking to pass by its exterior. The Colon's neoclassical facade has been the face of one of the most handsome buildings in Buenos Aires since its opening in 1908.
Stroll Puerto Madero, an upscale waterfront neighborhood adjacent to downtown. Puerto Madero may be the "new money" finance center of Buenos Aires, but it's also one of the most pleasant walking areas in a city famous for its walking areas. A romantic stroll involves walking over the canal on the Puente de Mujer ("Woman's Bridge") at sunset.
- Dine at an Argentine steakhouse or parilla. When night falls and dinnertime arrives, do like the locals and enjoy a 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). Know that Buenos Aires is a culture that thrives after dark, and it's not uncommon for locals to have dinner well past nine in the evening, especially on weekends.
Day 2: Arrival in El Calafate: Buenos Aires - El Calafate
This morning, a driver will meet you at your hotel and transfer you to the airport for your 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 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 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 totally of ice.
Day 3: Perito Moreno Glacier tour
You're in for an exciting full-day excursion. It starts with a pick up from your hotel in El Calafate, followed by a one-hour transfer to Los Glaciares National Park. As you enter the park you'll catch your first glimpse of majestic 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.
While not the only glacier in the area, Perito Moreno is indeed the star of the show. It's also unique in that it is one of the few advancing glaciers in the world, a factor that results in the calving mentioned above. Upon arrival, you'll be able to admire Perito Moreno from a number of different vantage points via the network of wooden walkways strategically situated in front of the glacier. Even better, you'll also get up close and personal with its massive ice wall on a boat tour.
After a day spent discovering the glacier and wandering the numerous trails, you'll head back to El Calafate to enjoy the evening as you please.
Day 4: El Calafate Free Day
Today, take your pick out of the many optional tours around El Calafate. Visit the Estancia Cristina ranch for a traditional Patagonian experience, rent a bike and go for a ride to Lago Argentino, or venture out on another boat cruise to the glaciers.
Day 5: From El Calafate to El Chalten
After breakfast, a vehicle will pick you up for the drive to El Chaltén along the famous Route 40. The three-hour drive is full of scenic views, passing through La Leona River that connects Lake Argentino and Lake Viedma. Be on the lookout for the La Leona Road House, the former hideout spot of Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid after their notorious bank robbery.
Once you arrive in El Chalten, the bus will stop for 15 minutes at the park ranger office, where you will be given an introduction to the park. One of the top-rated trekking destinations in all of Argentina, El Chalten is a quaint village located at the foot of Mount Fitz Roy, surrounded by glaciers, lakes, rivers, and forests. Here you can set off on a variety of trails in the region.
Take some time to explore your surroundings, go for a stroll to a nearby waterfall, or just wind down in the local brewery.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 6: Explore El Chalten
Get ready to embark on the trekking adventure of your dreams! El Chalten offers a range of options for different levels, from beginners to experienced hikers. You can go for a short 1.9 mile (3 km) walk through the lenga forests to get spectacular views of Las Vueltas River and go birdwatching (there are plenty of woodpeckers here). Alternatively, if you seek something a little more rigorous, set off on a 1.5-hour hike to the Cerro Torre viewpoint for some terrific mountain scenery.
For those who seek a truly challenging trek, the full hike to the Torre Base lasts for 8 hours through multiple ascents and descents. After the difficult last stretch, you will be rewarded with a breathtaking view of Mount Fitz Roy and the whole massif adjacent to the Laguna de Los Tres path.
Day 7: El Chaltén to El Calafate & Transfer to Puerto Natales
Today will be filled with travel as you cross into Chilean Patagonia from Argentina. The first order of business is to transfer back to El Calafate, where you will have a portion of the afternoon free to enjoy lunch and/or a stroll around town. In the late afternoon, you will hop on a southbound bus headed for the Chilean town of Puerto Natales. This journey can take upwards of five hours depending on traffic conditions at the Argentina/Chile border.
Puerto Natales is the principal base for excursions into Torres del Paine National Park. Upon arrival, you'll notice a stark contrast between this town and El Calafate/El Chaltén. This coastal hamlet is far less touristic (even in the peak summer months) and retains its air of small-town tranquility practically year round.
The best activities in Puerto Natales also happen to be the mildest. The town offers simple pleasures, like strolling its waterfront promenade. It sits on the Ultima Esperanza Sound, which affords views northward to the peaks of Cerro Benitez and Cerro Toro, and it looks phenomenal at sunset. You can also get out and meander among the brightly painted residential houses with their corrugated tin roofs.
Day 8: Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine & Full-Day Excursion
Early this morning, depart from your hotel for the Puerto Natales Bus Station, where you will a bus from Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine National Park (Laguna Amarga Main Entrance). The trip takes 2.5 hours (70 miles/112 km), with a short stop at Cerro Castillo Village.
Upon reaching Torres del Paine it's time to start the extensive full-day tour. You'll visit some of the park's main attractions, such as the Amarga Lagoon, which features views of the iconic peaks of the Horns of Paine (part of the Cordillera Paine). You'll also trek alongside Salto Grande, the famous thundering waterfalls found in this national park. At noon, you'll enjoy lunch at a restaurant in the park before continuing on the excursion.
In the late afternoon, transfer to your hotel in Torres del Paine National Park and enjoy some rest and relaxation.
Day 9: Torres del Paine Free Day
On your last day in Torres del Paine, you can conveniently board the bus back to the park and go for a self-guided trek to explore more of the fascinating mountain terrain and its flora and fauna. With multiple lakes, glaciers, and mountains at your fingertips, this is your chance to venture somewhere new.
Day 10: From Torres del Paine to El Calafate, Depart
Today, you will transfer from Torres del Paine National Park to Puerto Natales where you'll catch the 3.5-hour bus north to El Calafate, Argentina
Upon arrival in El Calafate, transfer to the airport to catch your flight back to Buenos Aires. Upon arrival in Buenos Aires, transfer to the international airport for your flight back home. ¡Buen viaje!
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