On this nine-day adventure, you'll discover two uniquely beautiful locales in Argentina. The first is Buenos Aires, and not only will you tour its historic streets but you'll also make day trips to river towns and country ranches. Then you're off to the Southern Patagonian Ice Field where you'll travel to the most incredible glacier on the continent, Perito Moreno, and marvel at its beauty.

Highlights

  • Discover Buenos Aires on a walking tour
  • Travel to the colorful river town of Tigre
  • Take a boat tour of Lago Argentino, in El Calafate
  • Tour a working Patagonian ranch and visit glaciers

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Buenos Aires Buenos Aires
Day 2 Half-Day City Tour - Dinner & Tango Show Buenos Aires
Day 3 Buenos Aires to Tigre Buenos Aires
Day 4 Gaucho Experience at Estancia Santa Susana Buenos Aires
Day 5 Fly from Buenos Aires to El Calafate El Calafate
Day 6 Perito Moreno Glacier Tour El Calafate
Day 7 Excursion to Upsala Glacier & Estancia Cristina El Calafate
Day 8 Fly from El Calafate to Buenos Aires Buenos Aires
Day 9 Depart Buenos Aires  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Buenos Aires

The famouos Obelisco in downtown Buenos Aires
The famouos Obelisco in downtown Buenos Aires

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 by far 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. 

When evening falls and dinnertime arrives, do like the locals and order 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: Half-Day City Tour - Dinner & Tango Show

The Casa Rosada (Presidential Palace)
The Casa Rosada (Presidential Palace)

One great way to experience Buenos Aires is to do so on foot. So after a fortifying breakfast prepare for some walking and sightseeing throughout this European-inspired metropolis with the aid of an English-speaking guide. 

In the evening, it's time for "dinner and a show" as you savor the hallmark dishes of Argentina while enjoying a spectacular live tango performance. As the dancers move to the music of love, sorrow, and passion, you'll dine on flaky empanadas, succulent steak, and decadent dulce de leche (vegetarian options available). But the night doesn't end with the meal—after dinner, more dancers will take part in a show-stopping performance of traditional Argentine folkloric music.

Day 3: Buenos Aires to Tigre

The canals of Tigre
The canals of Tigre

Today you'll travel up Río de la Plata where it converges with the Paraña River Delta, located about an hour north of Buenos Aires. During the boat ride, you'll enjoy views of the city skyline as you enter a network of freshwater canals and sail among the islands that make up this unique region. The main port is in Tigre, a Venetian-style village whose small-town and relaxing atmosphere contrast with Buenos Aires' bustling energy.

On the waterfront, you'll find Puerto de Frutos, a maze of craft markets, produce stalls, and artisanal goods. The Museo de Arte features a grand collection of Argentine art spanning two centuries. The Naval Museum and the Museo de Maté are other highlights worth a visit. The latter offers an overview and tasting of maté, an herb cultivated in the Paraná region of the country and used for tea.

Day 4: Gaucho Experience at Estancia Santa Susana

Argentinian gauchos in colorful garb
Argentinian gauchos in colorful garb

Just as North Americans have their cowboys, Argentines have their gauchos. This frontier culture is strongest in the pampas (prairies) immediately surrounding the capital since this is where the country was first settled. Gauchos are national symbols in Argentina, whether it's the real-life horsemen who still exist today, or the folk heroes of epic Argentine poems, like Martín Fierro, whose stories are passed down over generations.

Today you'll get a real gaucho experience. You'll be picked up in the morning and whisked off to Santa Susana, a working Argentine estancia (ranch). Here you'll enjoy a welcome reception that includes wine, soft drinks, and empanadas. After a guided tour of the property, you'll do some horseback riding (or perhaps enjoy a carriage ride) before settling in for a traditional folkloric music performance—and everyone's invited to get up and dance.

Lunch will be an Argentine asado (mixed grill) paired with even more of the country's fantastic wine. Real gauchos will then showcase their prowess with the bolas—traditional throwing weapons comprised of round weights connected by cords. Their displays will demonstrate how these deceptively simple weapons, when used in the right hands, can be effective at bringing down horses, cows, and even people. 

After lunch, you'll be treated to more entertainment. The gauchos will continue to showcase their abilities, this time as they perform a series of feats known as carreras de sortijas (ring races). These are typical in gaucho equine competition and showcase the cowboys' great skills on horseback. You will end the day at the estancia with a late-afternoon serving of mate, the popular tea-like infusion that is an indispensable part of Argentine culture. 

By the time you transfer back to your hotel in the evening, you can be happy in the knowledge that you've enjoyed a traditional Argentine frontier experience.

Day 5: Fly from Buenos Aires to El Calafate

The city of El Calafate, Argentina
The city of El Calafate, Argentina

After breakfast, you'll head to the airport for a three-hour flight south from Buenos Aires 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 stunning views of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field along the way.

Upon arrival, you'll transfer from the airport to your hotel for check-in. You can then spend the rest of the day relaxing or strolling around town and visiting its charming cafés and boutiques. You can learn about nearby glaciers at the Glaciarium, a multi-media center that has an ice museum, various interactive displays, and educational information regarding glaciers. Or, don a coat, boots, and gloves, to enjoy a drink at the museum's Glaciobar BrancaIt, Argentina's first ice bar.

Day 6: Perito Moreno Glacier Tour

The massive ice walls of Perito Moreno
The massive ice walls of Perito Moreno

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 7: Excursion to Upsala Glacier & Estancia Cristina

The view from Estancia Cristina
The view from 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 six-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. 

In the late afternoon, you'll board the boat again and begin the return to Punta Bandera. After landing, you will transfer back to your hotel.

Day 8: Fly from El Calafate to Buenos Aires

Caminito Street, in B.A.'s La Boca neighborhood
Caminito Street, in B.A.'s La Boca neighborhood

In the morning, you'll transfer to the airport in El Calafate for your flight back to Buenos Aires. Upon arrival, a private car driver will pick you up and transfer you to your hotel in the city. You'll have the rest of the day to sightsee, perhaps taking advantage of anything you may have missed at the beginning of the trip. Enjoy your final night in the city and try to make time for a special dinner out at a local parilla

Day 9: Depart Buenos Aires

Goodbye, Buenos Aires!
Goodbye, 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! 

Map

Map of Buenos Aires & Calafate Exploration - 9 Days
Map of Buenos Aires & Calafate Exploration - 9 Days