This unforgettable 13-day itinerary allows you to experience exciting activities in some of Argentina's most beautiful regions. After hiking across a glacier near El Calafate, you'll fly to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world, for nature excursions. The journey culminates in Mendoza, Argentina's fertile wine country, where beyond tastings you'll embark on kayak trips and mountain hikes in the surrounding Andes.

Highlights

  • Kick off the trip with dinner and a tango show in Buenos Aires
  • Enjoy a boat tour along the tranquil canals near the river town of Tigre
  • Walk along the surface of Perito Moreno on a glacier hike
  • Hike, canoe, and visit penguins in Patagonia
  • Visit several vineyards in Mendoza on a tasty wine tour

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Buenos Aires - Explore Buenos Aires
Day 2 Walking Tour of Buenos Aires Buenos Aires
Day 3 Fly from Buenos Aires to El Calafate El Calafate
Day 4 Perito Moreno Glacier Hike El Calafate
Day 5 Excursion to Upsala Glacier & Estancia Cristina El Calafate
Day 6 El Calafate to Ushuaia Ushuaia
Day 7 Penguin Colony Excursion Ushuaia
Day 8 Hiking & Canoeing in Tierra del Fuego National Park Ushuaia
Day 9 Fly from Ushuaia to Mendoza - Explore the City Mendoza
Day 10 Mendoza's High-Altitude Mountain Tour Mendoza
Day 11 Potrerillos Half-Day Kayak Excursion Mendoza
Day 12 Mendoza Vineyard Tour & Tasting Mendoza
Day 13 Flight to Buenos Aires - Departure  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Buenos Aires - Explore

The Obelisco in Buenos Aires
The Obelisco in Buenos Aires

Welcome to Argentina! The capital city of Buenos Aires is known as the "Paris of South America" and the "Queen of El Plata." Famous for its mix of European ambiance and Latin American culture, it's the birthplace of the tango and abounds with cobbled streets and beautiful Baroque architecture.

Upon arrival at the airport, a driver will transfer you to your hotel for check-in. Once you've had the chance to rest, you can head out and explore. The city center is your best starting point.

Day 2: Walking Tour of Buenos Aires

The Teatro Colón
The Teatro Colón

After breakfast, you'll take an organized tour of Buenos Aires. During this three-hour walking excursion, you'll visit the neighborhood of Retiro plus stroll Avenida 9 de Julio—South America’s widest avenue. You'll pass through the historic city center, home to the Teatro Colón opera house, National Congress, Plaza de Mayo, and the Casa Rosada (Presidential Palace). Then, visit the oldest neighborhood in the city, San Telmo. Afterward, you'll stop by B.A.'s original port, La Boca.

In the evening, enjoy a delicious meal accompanied by a tango performance—one of Argentina's most famous cultural highlights.

Day 3: 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 4: Perito Moreno Glacier Hike

Hiking Perito Moreno, Argentina
Hiking Perito Moreno, Argentina

After breakfast, you'll head to Los Glaciers National Park to go trekking on Perito Moreno Glacier. On this full-day excursion, you'll walk over Perito Moreno's surface while equipped with crampons and an ice ax. It's a perfectly safe activity, as you'll be accompanied by certified bilingual guides. So enjoy crossing deep blue ice crevices and hiking over meltwater streams as you experience Perito Moreno up close and personal. 

After your expedition on the glacier, you'll have plenty of time to appreciate it from one of the many viewing platforms in the park. These platforms are accessible via a network of walkways that run along the shores of the lake. They offer sweeping views of the glacier, making for great photo opportunities.

Day 5: 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 6: El Calafate to Ushuaia

Early morning view of Ushuaia
Early morning view of Ushuaia

Enjoy a hearty breakfast in El Calafate before transferring to the airport for your one-hour flight to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. Upon arrival, you'll check into your hotel and have the rest of the day to explore.

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 wide channel. As you stroll amid Ushuaia's colorful buildings, you'll notice an endearing jumble of architectural styles with everything from mock chalets to tumbledown wooden cottages.

For something a little different, visit the building that houses Ushuaia's Maritime Museum, which 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. There's also the Museo del Fin del Mundo, or "End of the World" museum. Located on the waterfront, this small museum features fascinating exhibits detailing the region's natural and indigenous history. You'll also find extensive exhibits on birds and sailing.

For an easy afternoon hike, head 11 miles (17 km) outside of Ushuaia to the Laguna Esmeralda trailhead
. The shores of this turquoise lake are a great spot to enjoy a picnic lunch and take photos. Regarding the cuisine in Ushuaia, the region is famous for its seafood, particularly centolla (king crab). Try it au gratin—it's the most decadent dish in Ushuaia. 

Day 7: Penguin Colony Excursion

Isla de los Lobos, Ushuaia
Isla de los Lobos, Ushuaia

Today you'll embark by boat from the tourist port of Ushuaia out into the Beagle Channel. As you venture out towards the center of the channel you'll be treated to panoramic views of the coast and the skyline of the city, all of which sits under the watchful gaze of Mount Olivia and the Cinco Hermanos Mountains

You'll sail southwest and pass the Isla de los Lobos, which is little more than a rock but happens to be the permanent habitat of a large group of sea lions. You'll have ample opportunity to view these creatures and take plenty of photos. Then, it's off to Isla de los Pájaros (Bird Island). This is a natural habitat of various species of seabirds including Magellanic cormorants and imperial shags. It's a birder's dream, so keep your binoculars and macro camera lens close.

The furthest you'll venture today is Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse, located on the northernmost of a chain of islands of the same name. Here it is possible to see part of the Monte Cervantes, an ocean liner that sank in 1930. Your guide will also point out many sites both onshore and across the channel, such as Estancia Remolino (a remote ranch), Gable Island, and the naval base at Puerto Williams (located on Navarino Island, Chile). 

Eventually, you will reach Martillo Island, where the boat will stop and you can observe the sizeable colonies of Gentoo and Magellanic penguins that call the island home. After this six-hour day-trip, you'll return to the local port and you can spend the remainder of the day enjoying your hotel's amenities and exploring the town.

Day 8: Hiking & Canoeing in Tierra del Fuego National Park

Go hiking in Tierra del Fuego National Park
Go hiking in Tierra del Fuego National Park

In the morning, a shuttle will pick you up at your hotel in Ushuaia and drive you to Tierra del Fuego National Park. Located in one of the most notable ecological zones in the Americas, Tierra del Fuego is known for its subantarctic forest, dramatic scenery, and rugged coastline. 

Upon arrival in Ensenada Bay, you'll be treated to a spectacular view of the Beagle Channel. Then it will be time to embark on a four-mile (six-kilometer) coastal walk amid the unique flora and fauna of the region. Interesting animals that call this area home include woodpeckers, guanacos, and foxes. In addition, you'll see traces of the Yamana indigenous settlements that once existed here.

After three hours, you'll arrive at Lake Roca, where a picnic lunch will be served. Afterward, you'll hop in a canoe and paddle down the Lapataia River until you reach the southern end of the Pan-American Highway, the world's longest drivable road. This trans-continental route begins in Alaska and covers the entire length of the Americas.

Day 9: Fly from Ushuaia to Mendoza - Explore the City

Mendoza's vineyards and snowcapped mountains
Mendoza's vineyards and snowcapped mountains

In the morning, you'll leave Ushuaia early and transfer to the local airport for your flight north to Mendoza. Upon your arrival, you will be picked up from the airport and taken to your hotel for check-in, after which you'll have free time to explore.

This relatively sleepy city of about a million people is more than the sum of its parts, as it sits in the heart of Argentina's world-famous wine region. This is ground zero for viticulture in the nation, and it's home to Argentina's flagship wine: Malbec. There's also impressive landscapes and interesting sights all around the city, from the high peak of Aconcagua to the Mendoza River to the little villages that dot the countryside, like Uspallata, which date back to pre-hispanic times.

Day 10: Mendoza's High-Altitude Mountain Tour

Drive into the Andes
Drive into the Andes

Today you'll explore the untamed landscapes and historic sites found just outside the city of Mendoza. The tour starts early, as there's a lot of ground to cover. After a pickup outside your hotel, you'll drive along the Mendoza River and enjoy views of the Cordón del Plata mountain range, a subset of the Andes that is a popular trekking destination. You'll also pass by the Potrerillos Dam, which is notable for distributing all the water for the vineyards of the region. It's also home to hydroelectric power plants that produce 20% of the energy Mendoza consumes.

Continue to Uspallata, a pre-Hispanic indigenous settlement, which at one point was the southernmost territory of the Inca Empire. There are archeological remains here, including the Bóvedas de Uspallata, a series of conical-shaped smelting furnaces built by the Jesuits in the 17th century. Then you'll head to the villages of Picheuta, Polvaredas, Punta de Vacas, and the Los Penitentes ski resort, where you can hop on a chairlift up to a summit featuring panoramic views of the area.

Later, drive to the Puente del Inca, a natural arch that forms a bridge over the Las Cuevas River. You'll now be on the ascent as you climb 9,022 feet (2,750 m) above sea level to a viewpoint at Cerro Aconcagua. At 22,841 feet (6,962 m), this is the highest mountain in the Americas. Other highlights include a visit to the glacial lake of Laguna Horcones.

Your final destination on the day's adventure is the European-style village of Las Cuevas, located just before the Chilean border at 10,498 feet (3,200 m) above sea level. Between Las Cuevas and the international tunnel to Chile, there is a path that leads to Christ the Redeemer of the Andes. This monument sits at 12,572 feet (3,832 meters) above sea level and symbolizes the union between Argentina and Chile.

Day 11: Potrerillos Half-Day Kayak Excursion

Potrerillos Dam, Mendoza
Potrerillos Dam, Mendoza

After breakfast, you'll transfer one hour from your hotel to Potrerillos. This town is located in the foothills of the Andes and is known for beautiful view plus great kayaking, hiking, and rafting opportunities. The damning of the Mendoza River here has created an artificial lake that is perfect for a kayaking excursion. Upon arrival, you will get your gear and receive an introductory safety talk from the professional guide. You'll then spend a few hours kayaking on the lake and taking in the beautiful views.

Day 12: Mendoza Vineyard Tour & Tasting

Malbec grapes in Mendoza
Malbec grapes in Mendoza

Today you will embark on a guided tour of two distinct wine-producing areas around Mendoza: the Maipú Valley and the town of Lujan de Cuyo. Maipú is located a mere 12 miles (20 km) away, while Lujan de Cuyo is located directly adjacent to Mendoza in the south.

The first winery tour includes a presentation on the viniculture process with a subsequent tasting. The second tour includes another tasting as well as more education about wine development. Lunch will be served in the winery's warehouse, where you will enjoy a gourmet menu paired with some of the best wines from the cellar.

Afterward, it's time to visit two more wineries before ending the day's excursion. With a full stomach and a head swirling with all the delicious varietals of Mendoza, you can spend the remainder of the afternoon and evening relaxing while enjoying your hotel's amenities.

Day 13: Flight to Buenos Aires - Departure

Farewell, Argentina
Farewell, Argentina

After breakfast, you'll transfer to the airport for your flight back to Buenos Aires. Upon arrival in the capital, you'll head to the international airport for your flight back home. Buen viaje!

Map

Map of Classic Argentina: Buenos Aires, Patagonia, & Mendoza - 13 Days
Map of Classic Argentina: Buenos Aires, Patagonia, & Mendoza - 13 Days