This unforgettable 19-day adventure mixes extreme outdoor activities in Argentina with nature tours and wildlife excursions. The journey begins with your arrival in Patagonia, where you'll embark on a hike across the surface of a glacier plus have the opportunity to go whale watching and visit islands home to thousands of Magellanic penguins. You'll cap the journey with a visit to one more natural wonder in the form of the thundering Iguazú Falls.

Highlights

  • Kick off the adventure with dinner and a tango show in Buenos Aires
  • Walk along the surface of Perito Moreno on a glacier hike
  • Explore the coast off Puerto Madryn, home to whales, penguins, and sea lions
  • Enjoy a coastal hike and canoe ride in Tierra del Fuego National Park
  • Walk along the edge of the thundering Iguazú Falls and witness its power

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 Culinary Experience in Buenos Aires Buenos Aires
Day 4 Buenos Aires to Tigre Buenos Aires
Day 5 Fly from Buenos Aires to El Calafate El Calafate
Day 6 Perito Moreno Glacier Hike El Calafate
Day 7 Excursion to Lago Argentino, Glaciers, & Estancia Cristina El Calafate
Day 8 Free Day in El Calafate El Calafate
Day 9 El Calafate to Puerto Madryn Puerto Madryn
Day 10 Explore Península Valdés - Whale-Watching Tour Puerto Madryn
Day 11 Fly to Ushuaia - Explore the City Ushuaia
Day 12 Penguin Colony Excursion Ushuaia
Day 13 Hiking and Canoeing in Tierra del Fuego National Park Ushuaia
Day 14 Free Day in Ushuaia Ushuaia
Day 15 Fly from Ushuaia to Puerto Iguazú - Optional Iguazú Falls Tour Puerto Iguazu
Day 16 Explore Iguazú Falls (Argentine Side) Puerto Iguazu
Day 17 Explore Iguazú Falls (Brazilian Side) Puerto Iguazu
Day 18 Fly from Iguazú to Buenos Aires Buenos Aires
Day 19 Depart Buenos Aires  

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: Culinary Experience in Buenos Aires

Sample some great Argentine wines
Sample some great Argentine wines

To truly get to the heart of Argentine culture, you must do so one bite at a time and one sip at a time. Because while this nation may be defined by its beef, a closer inspection of Argentina's cuisine reveals a more eclectic array of dishes. And Buenos Aires, hotbed of activity that it is, is the perfect place to learn about this culinary heritage in a fun and entertaining way. Enter The Argentine Experience, a convivial gastronomic odyssey that celebrates great Argentine food and wine.

Hosted in the trendy neighborhood of Palermo, guests at this unique "dinner party" share a table while enjoying gourmet food and the country's famous wine (such as the Malbec varietal). Professional hosts guide you through the evening and explain the uniqueness of Argentine culture and how it reveals itself in the nation's food.

Among other things, you'll learn how to seal empanada dough using the traditional repulgue folding technique, how to order a steak like a local (in Spanish), and how to make alfajores (delicious Argentine cookies). You'll also learn how to prepare your own mate, an herbal tea that's the lifeblood of the country.

Day 4: 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 5: Fly from Buenos Aires to El Calafate

Perito Moreno Glacier, El Calafate
Perito Moreno Glacier, El Calafate

After breakfast, a driver will transfer you to the local airport where you'll catch a flight to El Calafate, in Argentine Patagonia. This town sits on the edge of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, which is home to Los Glaciers National Park. The most famous landmark in this protected area is Perito Moreno, a 250 square-kilometer ice formation that is one of the few advancing glaciers in the world. 

Upon your arrival at El Calafate, another transfer will take you to your hotel. You can spend the day relaxing or venture out and enjoy the quaint cafes and shops around town. You can also 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 6: 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 7: Excursion to Lago Argentino, Glaciers, & Estancia Cristina

The views around Estancia Cristina
The views around Estancia Cristina

There's more activity in store for today. After an early breakfast at your hotel, a driver will pick you and other passengers up from your respective hotels for the 28-mile (45 km) drive to the port at Punta Bandera, 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 (16 km) long and one mile wide (1.6 km), the length, breadth, and towering ice walls that define this ancient mass of ice 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 where you'll 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. 

After the museum, you'll embark 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 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 in time for dinner.

Day 8: Free Day in El Calafate

Reserva Laguna Nimez
Reserva Laguna Nimez

Today is free to enjoy El Calafate however you choose. You can book a luxurious spa treatment and spend the day relaxing. Perhaps choose an active adventure like horseback riding on a nearby ranch or embarking on a kayak trip on the lake. You could also tour Reserva Laguna Nimez, a protected area 15 minutes walking distance from town and which is home to exotic birds like the Chilean flamingo. Or simply spend the day hanging out in the cafés in El Calafate.

Day 9: El Calafate to Puerto Madryn

Elephant seal relaxing in Puerto Madryn
Elephant seal relaxing in Puerto Madryn

Now that you've experienced the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, it's time to venture east and enjoy the wonders of northern Patagonia's Atlantic shore, namely the city of Puerto Madryn. This morning, transfer to the El Calafate airport for your flight to Trelew. Upon arrival, a driver will meet you and you'll transfer to your hotel in Puerto Madryn. 

Sitting on the Golfo Nuevo (New Gulf), Puerto Madryn's waters are home to an abundance of marine mammals, including the southern right whale, which breeds in the area from May to December. The city is most famous as being the gateway to nearby Península Valdés, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the best place to view a variety of animals in their natural habitat, including sea lions, penguins, guanacos, whales, and orcas.

Also near to Puerto Madryn is Gaiman, a small historic town founded by Welsh settlers in 1875. Gaiman has preserved many of its Welsh traditions, which is evident in the tea shops, chapels, and gardens found throughout town.

If you have the energy after your flight, feel free to stretch your legs with a stroll around Puerto Madryn. It's a safe, walkable community and there is a charming waterfront promenade here lined with cafes and restaurants with patio seating and ocean views. You can also make the short trip to Gaiman and enjoy a spot of afternoon tea.

Day 10: Explore Península Valdés - Whale-Watching Tour

Whale breaching near Puerto Madryn
Whale breaching near Puerto Madryn

After breakfast in Puerto Madryn, a driver will pick you up at your hotel for an exciting full-day tour of both the land and the sea. The tour starts in Península Valdés, and the first stop is the Istmo Ameghino Interpretation Center. Through various educational exhibits, you will gain insight into the different types of fauna that can be found in this peninsula. There is also a lookout tower featuring stunning views of two magnificent bodies of water: the Golfo Nuevo and Golfo San José.

After visiting the interpretation center, you will continue to Puerto Pirámides. This is the starting point for today's oceanic boat tour. Once aboard the ship, you will sail along the coast and enjoy several opportunities for wildlife sightings. Keep your eyes peeled for sea lions and (if you're lucky) right whales and killer whales. You will also pass a local lighthouse that epitomizes all the seafaring splendor and rugged coastal beauty that Patagonia is famous for.

Your day isn't over after the boat ride. On the way back to Puerto Madryn you will pass some salt flats as well as Isla de Pájaros, an island abounding with different birds including cormorants, egrets, rheas, and flamingos. In the late afternoon, you will return to your hotel where you can recharge or stroll through the city.

Day 11: Fly to Ushuaia - Explore the City

Early morning in Ushuaia
Early morning in Ushuaia

After breakfast in El Calafate, you will pack up and transfer to the airport for your flight to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. Upon arrival, a driver will meet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel where you will have the rest of the day in the charming resort town. 

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. Be sure to get out and walk along the waterfront for a better glimpse of the craggy mountains and wide channel.

Day 12: 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 13: 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. You'll then embark on a four-mile (six-kilometer) coastal walk in which you'll get to observe the surrounding flora and fauna of the region. Interesting animals you can spot include woodpeckers, guanacos, and foxes. In addition, you will be able to see traces of the Yamana indigenous settlements that once existed here.

After three hours, you will 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 important trans-continental route begins in Alaska and covers the entire length of the Americas.

Day 14: Free Day in Ushuaia

Gentoo penguins on Isla Martillo
Gentoo penguins on Isla Martillo

Today you have free to enjoy Ushuaia however you see fit. You can spend more time seeing the sights in town or join an organized excursion.

Day 15: Fly from Ushuaia to Puerto Iguazú - Optional Iguazú Falls Tour

Iguazú is the second-largest waterfall system in the world
Iguazú is the second-largest waterfall system in the world

In the morning, a driver will pick you up from your hotel and transfer you to the airport. A flight will take you from the icy peaks of southern Patagonia to the rainforest jungles of northern Argentina's Misiones Province, near the border with Brazil. Here you'll find the jewel in the crown: Iguazú Falls, the second-largest waterfall system in the world after Victoria Falls.

Upon arrival in the city of Puerto Iguazú, you'll check into your hotel and then have the option for a half-day tour of the Brazilian side of Iguazú Falls beginning in the afternoon. This is a good introduction to the falls, as the Brazilian side offers easily accessible viewpoints where you can enjoy the majesty of this natural wonder without the extensive walking that accompanies a visit to the Argentine side.

So enjoy the falls as you acclimate to the warmer weather (temps here can top 90°F in the summer months). Also, be on the lookout for exotic animals that call the area home, such as monkeys and coatis.

Day 16: Explore Iguazú Falls (Argentine Side)

Touring Iguazú from the Argentine side
Touring Iguazú from the Argentine side

After breakfast at your hotel, a driver will pick you up and drop you off at the entrance of Iguazú National Park, the Argentine side of the falls. This is where you will begin the day's adventure, a full-day tour that involves walking the three circuits that weave around the waterfall. Each of these offers different vantage points from which to view the water. 

The three circuits include:

  • The upper circuit (1 hour) is made up of 2,624 feet (800 m) of walkways elevated above the jungle floor to avoid disrupting the natural paths of indigenous fauna. On this route, you'll see the upper portion of Iguazú, including countless panoramic vistas of the surrounding cascades.
  • The lower circuit (2 hours) is 5,250 feet (1,600 m) long and is also made up of elevated walkways, which go directly below and around the falls. This circuit takes you near the base of the falls and right up to the crashing torrents of water. You'll be able to feel the magnitude of the waterfall from up close.
  • The Devil's Throat (2 hours) is the star of the show. A small tourist train leaves from the Cataratas Station and travels 18 minutes to Garganta Station, where you'll find restrooms, a snack bar, and the start of the path. You'll walk 3,937 feet (1200 m) over the river until you reach the viewing platform. From there you'll be able to peer 269 feet (82 m) down into the water, as the highest of Iguazu's Falls thunders all around you.

At the end of the tour, the driver will pick you up and take you back to your hotel.

Day 17: Explore Iguazú Falls (Brazilian Side)

Pedestrian walkways with epic views
Pedestrian walkways with epic views

The Brazilian side of Iguazú may lack the number of hiking routes found on the Argentine side, but it makes up for it with a wealth of amenities in the form of conveniences and restaurants with terraces overlooking the falls. Upon arrival at the Visitors Center, you'll board a double-decker bus that embarks on a 30-minute ride into the park.

After you jump off the bus, your first stop is a balcony that offers panoramic views of the Argentine side of the falls (be sure to keep your camera at the ready). You'll then hike 3,116 feet (950 m) along the Iguazú River until you reach the falls on the Brazilian side. The walkway passes over the river to the Salto Floriano (Floriano Falls). This magnificent wall of plunging water makes quite an impression, as do the vistas of the lower Iguazú River and the Devil’s Throat Canyon.

Day 18: Fly from Iguazú to Buenos Aires

Enjoy the romance and passion of a tango show
Enjoy the romance and passion of a tango show

Around midday, you'll take a flight from Iguazú to Aeroparque, the central airport in Buenos Aires. Unlike the lengthy drive from Ezeiza International into the city, this drive (in a private car) will be short and sweet. Spend the remainder of the afternoon relaxing and conserving energy because you've got a big night ahead of you. 

In the evening, it's time for "dinner and a show" of the highest order. You'll savor the hallmark dishes of Argentina while enjoying a spectacular tango show in Buenos Aires. As the deft performers 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 professional dancers will take part in a performance of traditional Argentine folkloric music.

Day 19: Depart Buenos Aires

Farewell, Argentina
Farewell, Argentina

Enjoy your last hours in the cosmopolitan capital of Buenos Aires. At the scheduled time, your driver will pick you up and transfer you by private car to Ezeiza International Airport, where you'll catch your return flight home.

Map

Map of Classic Argentina: Patagonia & Iguazú Falls - 19 Days
Map of Classic Argentina: Patagonia & Iguazú Falls - 19 Days