This amazing 11-day trip will give you a chance to see some of the most spectacular scenery that Argentine Patagonia has to offer. After exploring Buenos Aires, you'll head to Ushuaia—famed for being "the Southernmost City in the World," where you'll get the chance to see penguins up close and go canoeing in Tierra del Fuego. Then head to El Calafate, the jumping-off point for Los Glaciares National Park to see the Perito Moreno glacier. Finish off your adventure with a day of hiking in El Chaltén at the foot of the spectacular Mt. Fitz Roy. 

Highlights

  • Learn to dine and dance like a local in Argentina's capital
  • Get up close to Perito Moreno—a glacier that is actually advancing
  • Choose between several hikes with stunning views of iconic Mount Fitz Roy
  • Say hello to the Magellanic penguin colony on Isla Martillo
  • Trek and canoe through Tierra del Fuego

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Buenos Aires - Explore the City Buenos Aires
Day 2 Buenos Aires to Ushuaia Ushuaia
Day 3 Penguins on Isla Martillo & Estancia Harberton Ushuaia
Day 4 Trekking & Canoeing in Tierra del Fuego Ushuaia
Day 5 Fly from Ushuaia to El Calafate El Calafate
Day 6 Perito Moreno Full-Day Tour El Calafate
Day 7 From El Calafate to El Chalten El Chalten
Day 8 Full Day Hike to Laguna de Los Tres & Mt. Fitz Roy El Chalten
Day 9 El Chaltén to El Calafate El Calafate
Day 10 Buenos Aires Walking Tour - Tango Lesson Buenos Aires
Day 11 Departing Buenos Aires  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Buenos Aires - Explore the City

The Obelisco, a central monument in Buenos Aires
The Obelisco, a central monument in Buenos Aires

Welcome to Buenos Aires! Also known as the "Paris of South America," the capital of Argentina is a city defined by passion, from its rich tango heritage to its citizens' limitless enthusiasm for fútbol (soccer), the country's most popular sport. 

When you land, a driver will pick you up from the airport and take you to your hotel, where you can rest and recharge after your long flight. But make no mistake: you'll be itching to see what the city has to offer. So after a quick break, make sure to venture out and explore. The best starting point is the city center.

Suggested activities include:

  • Visit the Obelisco, which might be the city's most famous monument. 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 one of the widest avenues in Latin America.
  • Stop by the Teatro Colón, one of South America's premier opera houses, which is known worldwide for its incredible acoustics. Even if you plan on taking a tour or catching a show here later, it's still worth passing by to take in the exterior architecture. The Colon's neoclassical façade has been one of the most handsome buildings in Buenos Aires since its opening in 1908.
  • Stroll through 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 places to walk in the city. Take a romantic stroll by crossing over the canal on the Puente de la Mujer ("Woman's Bridge") at sunset. 
  • Dine at a classic Argentine parilla (steakhouse). When night falls, enjoy a thick, juicy steak (Argentina has some of the best beef in the world) drizzled with delicious chimichurri (a garlic, herb, and vinegar sauce). Buenos Aires is a late-night city, and it's not uncommon for locals to have dinner well past nine in the evening, especially on weekends. 

Day 2: Buenos Aires to Ushuaia

Sunrise in Buenos Aires
Sunrise in Buenos Aires

After breakfast, you'll transfer to the Buenos Aires airport for your flight to Ushuaia, the world's southernmost city, which sits at the edge of the vast South American continent.

When you arrive, check in to your hotel and set out to explore. Ushuaia is located in a large bay with a rocky coast and is surrounded by the snowcapped Martial Range. The city's small downtown is charming, and the waterfront port area is a great place to walk around. You'll want to take it easy today because tomorrow the real outdoor adventure begins. 

Day 3: Penguins on Isla Martillo & Estancia Harberton

Gentoo penguins in Isla Martillo
Gentoo penguins in Isla Martillo

After breakfast at your hotel, it's time for a full-day penguin excursion. The trip starts at the Ushuaia pier, where you'll catch a bus to Estancia Harberton and drive through rugged Fuegian forests until you reach the dock, where your boat will be waiting for you.

From here, you'll board a semi-rigid rubber boat that will take you to an island and give you a chance to see a Magellanic penguin colony (among other species) up close. This guided tour includes a 90-minute hike to both Isla Martillo and Estancia Harberton, where you will learn about the penguins and their natural habitat. Expect plenty of great photo opportunities.

At the end of the tour, you'll return to Ushuaia in time for dinner and a night out on the town.

Day 4: Trekking & Canoeing in Tierra del Fuego

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

Today you'll spend the day in Tierra del Fuego National Park, one of the most popular spots near Ushuaia. It's close to the city and isn't expensive, which means locals and tourists alike often visit. There are lots of things to see within the park's 155,000 acres, and your specialized guide will show you the best hikes, lakes, and lookout points to help you discover the natural beauty of the park. You'll get to know the ins and outs of this protected paradise, from seaside mountains to icy rivers to subantarctic forests and tranquil bays.

A minibus will drive you a short way from your hotel to the entrance of the park. From there you'll hike 4.3 miles (7 km) on a coastal path that follows the Beagle Channel. You'll have great views of the channel along the way, and you'll also get to see the diverse flora and fauna of the area up close. The trail also passes remnants of ancient settlements once occupied by the Yámana indigenous people.

After this brisk three-hour trek, you'll reach Lago Roca, where you can relax and enjoy a hot lunch. Then it's time to start your canoe ride down the Lapataia River towards your ultimate destination, Lapataia Bay. Located in the Beagle Channel,  Lapataia Bay sits at the end of the Pan American Highway and National Route No. 3.

Day 5: Fly from Ushuaia to El Calafate

Lago Argentino
Lago Argentino

This morning, a driver will meet you at your hotel and take 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 driver will take you to your hotel. Spend the rest of the day relaxing, or venture into town to see the many quaint shops and cute cafes. You can also get some information on the nearby glaciers by visiting the Glaciarium, a multi-media center that includes an ice museum and various interactive displays with lots of information about glaciers. It even has a bar made totally of ice.

Day 6: Perito Moreno Full-Day Tour

Perito Moreno Glacier
Perito Moreno Glacier

Today, you're in for an excitement-packed tour. After breakfast at your hotel, it's time to make the one-hour trip 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 out over the turquoise waters of Lago Argentino and ends abruptly in a great wall of ice that curves around the lake. You'll have the chance to witness "calving," the awe-inspiring sight of ice breaking off the glacier and crashing into the tranquil waters below. Every time ice hits the water a thundering crash echoes on the lake. 

While it's not the only glacier in the area, Perito Moreno is the star of the park. It's also one of the few advancing glaciers in the world, which is what causes the calving mentioned above. You'll be able to admire Perito Moreno from a number of different vantage points thanks to the network of wooden walkways that zigzag strategically in front of the glacier. You'll also be able to see the massive ice wall up close on a boat tour. 

After a day spent viewing the glacier and wandering the numerous trails, you'll head back to El Calafate to enjoy a free evening.

Day 7: From El Calafate to El Chalten

Journey down the famous Ruta 40, in Patagonia
Journey down the famous Ruta 40, in Patagonia

After breakfast, a vehicle will pick you up for the three-hour drive to El Chaltén. If the skies are clear, you'll be treated to incredible views of Mount Fitz Roy along the way. Because of this famous peak, the town is nicknamed "hiker's paradise" due to the abundance of mountaineering options all around (which you'll soon get a chance to experience firsthand).

Upon arrival, check into your hotel and take the rest of the day to acclimate to your new surroundings. 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 8: Full Day Hike to Laguna de Los Tres & Mt. Fitz Roy

View from Laguna de los Tres
View from Laguna de los Tres

This morning you'll embark on a full-day adventure into the northern part of Los Glaciares National Park. El Chaltén is the perfect starting point for such an excursion because there are a number of trailheads just outside of town. Many of these lead into the Fitz Roy range and offer wonderful opportunities for day hikes.

In this case, a "day hike" does mean a full day of hiking, since most options can take up to 11 hours, depending on which route you take. The hike you'll likely be embarking on this morning goes to Laguna de los Tres. The trail leads up 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 due to the panoramic view 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 much-deserved rest.

Day 9: El Chaltén to El Calafate

Hiker at the base of Cerro Torre
Hiker at the base of Cerro Torre

Make the three-hour return trip back to El Calafate, and spend your free afternoon exploring the town and its surroundings. 

Day 10: Buenos Aires Walking Tour - Tango Lesson

Don't miss San Telmo, the oldest neighborhood in Buenos Aires
Don't miss San Telmo, the oldest neighborhood in Buenos Aires

The absolute best way to experience the heart and soul of Buenos Aires is on foot. After a hearty breakfast at your hotel, get ready for a fun four-hour walking tour through the streets of this porteña city, accompanied by an English-speaking guide. 

A few highlights include: 

  • Plaza San Martín, which is located at the end of downtown's commercial pedestrian thruway, Florida Street. This leafy plaza is named after one of the heroes of Argentina's independence movement, General José de San Martín. 

  • The Obelisco, a monument that sits at the intersection where the 16 lanes of Ave. 9 de Julio cross bustling Corrientes Ave., Buenos Aires' theater and music district. It's a hub of activity any day of the week—but it's particularly lively on weekend evenings. 

  • Teatro Colón a nearly 2,500-seat theater that is perpetually vying with Rio de Janeiro's Theatro Municipal for the title of the most opulent opera house in South America. The building's elegant neoclassical exterior and pitch-perfect interior acoustics make it a must-see.  

  • Plaza de Mayo, Buenos Aires' main square, and home to the Casa Rosada, Argentina's presidential palace. The famous "pink house" (as the presidential palace is colloquially known), is also rife with history. It's on the front balcony that Juan Perón made some of his most famous speeches with his glamorous wife, Evita, at his side. 

  • Metropolitan Cathedral, is the principal Catholic church in the city and also faces the Plaza de Mayo. It was consecrated in 1791, but its earliest roots date back to the late 16th century when a humble chapel first sat on the current site.

  • Puerto Madero, whose shimmering office towers and central canal make this one of the most elegant neighborhoods in the city. Upscale restaurants can be found here, as can Puente de la Mujer, or "Woman's Bridge."

  • San Telmo, which is BA’s oldest neighborhood and boasts a vibrant tango and arts scene. Its antique markets, cobbled streets dotted with faroles (French street lamps), and old brick buildings with wooden balconies all add to the uniquely bohemian atmosphere. Sundays are especially abuzz with activity as the main street market comes alive around Plaza Dorrego.

  • La Boca is a well-preserved historic neighborhood that's nearly as old as San Telmo. It's home to colorful Caminito Street, a pedestrian zone teeming with old restaurants and tanguerías.

In the evening you'll experience an unforgettable night of dinner and tango performances in one of the best tanguerias in Buenos Aires. You'll feel the romantic ambiance as you listen to the melancholy rhythms of the guitar and bandoneon, and watch the dances of fish-netted and besuited bailanderos. It's a dance that tells the story of loss and heartbreak, passion and love.  

If you feel up for it, you'll also have the opportunity to get up on the dance floor and partake in a tango class.

Day 11: Departing Buenos Aires

Goodbye, Buenos Aires!
Goodbye, Buenos Aires!

Enjoy one last breakfast in Buenos Aires. When it's time, a driver will pick you up and take you to the airport for your flight home. Buen viaje! 

Map

Map of Buenos Aires and Patagonia: Ushuaia, El Calafate & El Chaltén - 11 Days
Map of Buenos Aires and Patagonia: Ushuaia, El Calafate & El Chaltén - 11 Days