This amazing 13-day trip includes 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 city at the end of the world." Then you'll head to El Calafate—the jumping-off point for Los Glaciares National Park—where you'll get up close to Perito Moreno. End the adventure in El Chaltén, the Patagonia hiking capital.

Highlights

  • Learn to dance tango like a local in Argentina's capital
  • Get up close to Perito Moreno—a glacier that is actually advancing
  • Hike through the stunning landscapes around the iconic Mount Fitz Roy
  • Meet the penguins on Isla Martillo
  • Go trekking in Tierra del Fuego

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Buenos Aires - Explore the City Buenos Aires
Day 2 Buenos Aires Walking Tour - Tango Lesson Buenos Aires
Day 3 Buenos Aires to Ushuaia Ushuaia
Day 4 Penguins on Isla Martillo & Estancia Harberton Ushuaia
Day 5 Trekking & Canoeing in Tierra del Fuego Ushuaia
Day 6 Fly from Ushuaia to El Calafate El Calafate
Day 7 Perito Moreno Full-Day Tour El Calafate
Day 8 Estancia Cristina Excursion El Calafate
Day 9 From El Calafate to El Chalten El Chaltén
Day 10 Full-Day Hike to Laguna de Los Tres & Mt. Fitz Roy El Chaltén
Day 11 Hiking in El Chaltén El Chaltén
Day 12 El Chalten to Calafate & Return to Buenos Aires Buenos Aires
Day 13 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 monument in Buenos Aires

Welcome to Buenos Aires! Sometimes called 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, 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 to take a tour or catch a show here later, it's still worth passing by to take in the exterior architecture. The Colon's neoclassical façade has made it 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 Walking Tour - Tango Lesson

Don't miss San Telmo, the oldest neighborhood in Buenos Aires
Street market in 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 throughout this European-inspired metropolis, accompanied by an English-speaking guide. 

A few highlights include: 

  • Plaza San Martín 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 nexus of the city 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 alive on weekend evenings. 
  • Colón Theatre, a nearly 2,500-seat teatro 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 this building a must-visit.  
  • 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 this balcony that Juan Perón made some of his most famous speeches with his glamorous wife, Evita, at his side
  • Metropolitan Cathedral, is the main Catholic church in the city and also faces the Plaza de Mayo. It was consecrated in 1791 but its earliest origins date back to the late 16th century when a humble chapel first sat on the current site.
  • Puerto Madero, whose shimmering office towers and canal make it one of the sleekest neighborhoods in the city. Upscale restaurants can be found here, as can the 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 its bohemian atmosphere. Sundays are especially buzz 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 at one of the best tanguerias in Buenos Aires. It's venues such as these that preserve the musical heritage of the city. Tango is a dance that tells the story of loss and heartbreak, passion and love. You'll feel it in the atmosphere, the melancholy rhythms of the guitar and bandoneon, and in the dances of fish-netted and besuited bailanderos

Day 3: Buenos Aires to Ushuaia

Sunrise in Buenos Aires
Sunrise in Buenos Aires

After breakfast this morning, 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.

Located in a large bay featuring a rocky coast and surrounded by the snowcapped Martial Range, Ushuaia has a charming downtown and scenic dock area. Take it easy today, since tomorrow you'll set out for more physical, outdoorsy activities. Upon arrival, check into your hotel room and stroll by the waterfront, or relax and enjoy your hotel. 

Day 4: 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 (amongst 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 on the town.

Day 5: Trekking & Canoeing in Tierra del Fuego

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

Today, you'll spend a day in Tierra del Fuego National Park, one of the most frequently visited places around Ushuaia. On this day trip, a specialized guide will help you discover some of the 155,000-acre park's most beautiful natural scenery. You'll get to know the ins and outs of this protected paradise, from seaside mountains to freshwater rivers to subantarctic forests and tranquil bays.

You'll depart from your hotel by minibus for the short ride to the entrance of the park. Then it's a 4.3 mile (7 km) hike on a coastal path that follows the Beagle Channel. You'll have prime views of the channel along the way, and you'll also get to see the diverse flora and fauna of the area. You'll also pass 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 the canoe ride down the Lapataia River. This waterway leads to your ultimate destination, Lapataia Bay, the place where the famous Pan-American Highway—which starts all the way up in Alaska—ends.  

Day 6: Fly from Ushuaia to El Calafate

Lago Argentino
Lago Argentino

This morning, a driver will meet you at your hotel and transfer you to the airport for your flight to El Calafate, a city on the shores of Lago Argentino that serves as the gateway to Argentina's glaciers and Los Glaciares National Park. 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. You can also visit the Glaciarium, a multi-media ice museum with various interactive displays and lots of information about glaciers. It even has a bar made totally of ice.

Day 7: Perito Moreno Full-Day Tour

Perito Moreno Glacier
Perito Moreno Glacier

Today, you're in for an exciting full-day adventure. Your day 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. You'll witness "calving," the awe-inspiring sight of ice breaking off the façade and crashing into the tranquil waters below. Every time ice hits the water, a thundering crash echoes over the lake. 

While not the only glacier in the area, Perito Moreno is definitely the star of the park. It's also one of the few advancing glaciers in the world, which 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 discovering the glacier and wandering the numerous trails, you'll head back to El Calafate to enjoy a free evening.

Day 8: Estancia Cristina Excursion

The view from Estancia Cristina
The view from Estancia Cristina

Today, a driver will pick you and other passengers up early in the morning and drive 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. 

Once you reach the port, you'll board a ferry and embark on a journey on the Upsala Channel, passing towering icebergs along the way. As you reach the northern section of the channel 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 of 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, you'll disembark at 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. And the surrounding scenery is breathtaking—all around you'll see panoramic views of snow-capped mountains, rivers, lakes, and glaciers. 

All told you will stay for about six hours. After the museum, you'll set out on a 6-mile (9.5 km) journey by 4x4 over an unpaved road that ascends into the mountains. After reaching the Continental Ice Field Refuge, you will exit the vehicle and begin a 20-minute walk through the 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 will board the boat again and begin the return to Punta Bandera. After disembarking, you will be taken back to your hotel.

Day 9: From El Calafate to El Chalten

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

After breakfast, it's time to board your bus for the three-hour journey along Ruta 40 to El Chaltén. Located about 125 miles (200 km) from El Calafate in the northern part of Los Glaciares National Park, El Chaltén is a small town that's been nicknamed "Hiker's Paradise" for the many beautiful, easily-accessible trails that surround it.

Once you arrive and check in to your hotel, set out on a short hike to Laguna Capri, or check out one of the other short trails nearby. If you prefer to rest before your long hike tomorrow, try some local craft beer at one of the many pubs in town. 

Day 10: 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 11: Hiking in El Chaltén

So many trails to choose from
So many trails to choose from

Today you'll have the whole day to discover numerous nearby hiking trails at your own pace. You can choose when and where to go since all the paths are self-guided, clearly marked, and well maintained.

If you're up for it, go for a "day hike," which can last up to 11 hours, depending on the route you choose. Trails lead up from town and through alpine forests, with a diverse range of landscapes along the way.

There are many easier trails around, too. For an easier option, head out on a short 1.9-mile (3 km) walk with views of lenga forests and the Rio de las Vueltas. This option also gives the chance to see all kinds of birds, including woodpeckers. For more mountain views, head to the Cerro Torre lookout.

Or, set out 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 with unobstructed views of the Fitz Roy massif. 

No matter how you spend your day outdoors, you'll return to your hotel in time to explore more of the bar and restaurant options in El Chaltén.

Day 12: El Chalten to Calafate & Return to Buenos Aires

A cobbled street in San Telmo
A cobbled street in San Telmo

After completing a wonderful tour of Argentina's deep south, transfer from Chaltén to El Calafate airport for your flight back to Buenos Aires. 

Upon arrival in Buenos Aires, a private car driver will take you to the hotel again where you'll have the rest of the day to sightsee, and visit any attractions you may have missed at the beginning of the trip, and enjoy your final free night in the city. 

Day 13: Departing Buenos Aires

Goodbye, Buenos Aires!
Goodbye, Buenos Aires!

Enjoy one last porteño breakfast at your hotel, or go into the city for a quick brunch. When the time comes, a driver will pick you up and take you to the airport for your flight home. Buen viaje!