Come and enjoy exciting adventures and beautiful scenery in Patagonia over 12 unforgettable days. From Buenos Aires, you'll fly south to the Atlantic coast, where you'll go on whale-watching tours plus visit a penguin colony. After enjoying nature excursions in Tierra del Fuego, you'll head north to El Calafate, where you'll embark on the ultimate adventure: hiking the surface of Perito Moreno Glacier.

Highlights

  • Enjoy dinner and a tango show in Argentina's capital of Buenos Aires
  • Go on an expedition to view exotic marine mammals at Península Valdés
  • Visit an island in Ushuaia that's home to thousands of Magellanic penguins
  • Embark on the trails around the iconic Mt. Fitz Roy
  • Hike over the surface of the famous Perito Moreno Glacier

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Buenos Aires - Explore Buenos Aires
Day 2 Fly from Buenos Aires to Puerto Madryn Puerto Madryn
Day 3 Explore Península Valdés - Whale-Watching Tour Puerto Madryn
Day 4 Visit the Punta Tombo Penguin Colony Puerto Madryn
Day 5 Fly to Ushuaia - Explore the City Ushuaia
Day 6 Discover Tierra del Fuego National Park Ushuaia
Day 7 Beagle Channel Cruise - Transfer to El Chaltén El Chalten
Days 8-9 Self-Guided Hiking in El Chaltén El Chalten
Day 10 Transfer from El Chalten to El Calafate El Calafate
Day 11 Perito Moreno Glacier Hike El Calafate
Day 12 Fly from El Calafate 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: Fly from Buenos Aires to Puerto Madryn

Elephant seals on Península Valdés
Elephant seals on Península Valdés

After breakfast, you'll transfer to Aeroparque Airport, located near the city center, for your flight to Puerto Madryn, the gateway to Argentine Patagonia.  

Puerto Madryn is a town that sits along the Golfo Nuevo (New Gulf) of northern Patagonia's Atlantic shore. This coast is home to an abundance of marine mammals including the southern right whale.  However, Puerto Madryn is most famous as the jumping on/off point for 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 Puerto Madryn is Gaiman—a small historic town founded by Welsh settlers in 1875. Gaiman has preserved many of its Welsh traditions with tea shops, chapels, and gardens sprinkled throughout town. It's a short trip from Puerto Madryn to Gaiman, where you can enjoy a spot of tea.

Upon arrival at Puerto Madryn, a driver will meet you for the transfer to your hotel. If you have the energy after your flight, feel free to stretch your legs with a stroll around this tranquil city. It's a safe, walkable community and the charming waterfront promenade is lined with cafes and restaurants with patio seating and ocean views.

Day 3: 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 4: Visit the Punta Tombo Penguin Colony

Get up close with the penguins at Punta Tombo
Get up close with the penguins at Punta Tombo

Today involves a boat tour down the Atlantic coast and ending at one of the most incredible destinations in  Patagonia: Punta Tombo. In the morning, a driver will meet you at your hotel for the transfer to Puerto Rawson, a fishing village located about 31 miles (50 km) south of Puerto Madryn. You'll then board a ship and start the tour. As you head down the Patagonian coast, keep an eye out for black-and-white Commerson dolphins, known to be the smallest dolphin species in the world. 

The tour continues down to Punta Tombo and its famous penguin colony. This tiny protected area is less than a square mile, but home to the largest colony of Magellanic penguins in Latin America (estimated at over one million). You'll be able to explore the site on foot and wander right alongside these cute, waddling critters. While touching the penguins is strictly prohibited, photos are welcome.

Day 5: 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 6: Discover Tierra del Fuego National Park

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

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 7: Beagle Channel Cruise - Transfer to El Chaltén

Sunset on the way into El Chaltén
Sunset on the way into El Chaltén

Today you'll be traveling north to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Los Glaciares National Park. First, though, you'll get a chance to experience the Beagle Channel on a half-day boat tour to the iconic Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse. On the trip, you'll be treated to panoramic views of Ushuaia Bay as you pass various channel islands home to marine birds and sea lions. 

Upon your return to Ushuaia in the mid-afternoon, you'll transfer to the airport for your flight to El Calafate. From here, you'll take a 3-to 4-hour bus ride to the charming mountain town of El Chaltén. As you travel down the famous Route 40, you'll enjoy desert views of southern Patagonia.

El Chalten is the top-rated trekking destination in Argentina and once you arrive you'll quickly see why. Located at the foot of the iconic Mt. Fitz Roy, it's surrounded by glaciers, lakes, rivers, and forests. It's a hiker's dream as there are many trailheads leading right from town into the surrounding mountains.  

You'll arrive in the late afternoon, which will give you time to relax after checking into your hotel. In the evening, have a stroll around town or simply relax at one of the local restaurants or breweries.

Days 8-9: Self-Guided Hiking in El Chaltén

Admire the view from Laguna de los Tres
Admire the view from Laguna de los Tres

Today is yours to enjoy some hiking at your own pace. Embark on a self-guided tour and choose from a variety of trails without fear of getting lost, since all the paths are clearly marked and well-maintained.

If you have the energy, opt for a day hike, which can last up to 11 hours depending on the route you choose. Trails lead from town up through alpine forests and feature a diverse range of landscapes. One of the most popular full-day treks is to Laguna de los Tres, a glacial lake featuring rewarding views of the peaks of Fitz Roy, Poincenot, and Saint-Exupéry.

There are easier trails, too. You can head out on a short, 1.9-mile walk through lenga forests and along the Las Vueltas River. This option allows you to see various endemic birds such as woodpeckers. For even more mountain views, head to the Cerro Torre lookout. Or set out on a brisk two-hour hike amid the native forest to a lagoon with deep blue waters. This is Laguna Capri, which sits at the foot of the mountains and offers unobstructed views of the Fitz Roy massif. 

In the evening, after a day spent enjoying nature, you'll return to your hotel in time to enjoy a leisurely dinner and a nightcap in El Chaltén.

Day 10: Transfer from El Chalten to El Calafate

El Calafate
El Calafate

After breakfast, you'll hop in a car for the three-hour drive to El Calafate. Upon checking into your hotel, you can relax and spend the afternoon exploring the town and its surroundings. Options include browsing the local shops, doing some souvenir shopping, and hanging out at patio cafés. For dinner, be sure to sample the local cuisine of Argentine staples such as roast Patagonian lamb, rib-eye steak, and empanadas. Wash it all down with a great glass or two of Malbec from the Mendoza wine region.

Day 11: 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 12: Fly from El Calafate to Buenos Aires - Departure

Sunset in Buenos Aires
Sunset in Buenos Aires

This morning, a driver will take you to the airport for your flight back to Buenos Aires. Upon arrival, you will transfer to the international airport for your return flight home. Buen viaje!

Map

Map of Classic Argentine Patagonia - 12 Days
Map of Classic Argentine Patagonia - 12 Days