Brace yourself for 16 days of wildlife tours, nature hikes, boat trips, and glacier visits in the best place for it: Southern Patagonia. You'll arrive in southern Chile and begin with visits to Magellanic penguin colonies and rugged hikes around the lakes and granite peaks of Torres del Paine National Park. Continue north into Argentina to marvel at the massive Perito Moreno Glacier and enjoy mountain trekking in El Chaltén before returning south for adventures in the subantarctic forests of Tierra del Fuego.


  • Walk with thousands of Magellanic penguins on Patagonia's windswept islands
  • Ride horses around a traditional sheep ranch followed by a barbecue lunch
  • Take guided hikes up to glacial lagoons and granite peaks in Torres del Paine
  • Explore Argentine Patagonia's best sights, from Perito Moreno to Mount Fitz Roy

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Punta Arenas (Chile), Free Time Punta Arenas
Day 2 Day Trip to Isla Magdalena Penguin Colony Punta Arenas
Day 3 Transfer to Puerto Natales, Optional Activities Puerto Natales
Day 4 Hiking & Horseback Riding at Estancia La Peninsula Puerto Natales
Day 5 Guided Hike to Base Torres Puerto Natales
Day 6 Torres del Paine Full-Day Private Tour Puerto Natales
Day 7 Transfer to El Calafate (Argentina), Optional Activities El Calafate
Day 8 Perito Moreno Boat & Walking Tour El Calafate
Day 9 Transfer to El Chaltén, Explore El Chaltén
Day 10 Guided Hike to Laguna de los Tres El Chaltén
Day 11 Guided Hike to Laguna Torre El Chaltén
Day 12 Fly to Ushuaia, Explore Ushuaia
Day 13 Day Trip to Isla Martillo & Puerto Almanza Ushuaia
Day 14 Day Hike in Tierra del Fuego National Park Ushuaia
Day 15 Half-Day Trek to Laguna Esmeralda Ushuaia
Day 16 Fly to Buenos Aires, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Punta Arenas (Chile), Free Time

Enjoy the best views around Punta Arenas at Mirador Cerro de la Cruz

Welcome to Patagonia! You'll arrive deep in the Chilean side of this wild region, which also encompasses the southern cone of Argentina. It's a place filled with rugged national parks, vast ice fields, shimmering lakes, and soaring peaks. Needless to say, the opportunities for outdoor adventure are limitless.

Your trip begins in Punta Arenas. Located on the Strait of Magellan, this port city was founded in 1848 and, in its heyday, was home to the creme de la creme of Patagonian society. Nowadays it's a hub for excursions to famous locales like Torres del Paine National Park. Upon arrival, you'll transfer to your hotel, then you can explore. The perfect starting point for a walk is the Plaza Muñoz Guerrero. Not only is this leafy central plaza a gem (the pathways are lined with French street lamps, and a statue of Magellan sits in the center) but it's also surrounded by grand neoclassical mansions.

If you like, watch the sun go down at Mirador Cerro de la Cruz. This viewpoint overlooks the city all the way out to the Strait of Magellan, making it a great place to see your first Patagonian sunset. Later, enjoy dinner at one of the restaurants in town. Seafood is a staple, so sample some local specialties, like chupe de centolla (souffle of king crab), oysters, scallops, and other fresh shellfish.

Day 2: Day Trip to Isla Magdalena Penguin Colony

Meet some flightless friends on your trip to Isla Magdalena

It's time for your first excursion in Patagonia! Bright and early, you'll transfer from downtown Punta Arenas by vehicle to a pier on the Strait of Magellan, then board a boat that will take you 18 miles (30 km) northeast to Isla Magdalena. On this island is Los Pingüinos Natural Monument, a protected area home to Chile's largest colony of Magellanic penguins (over 100,000 of them).

First, though, you'll travel to Isla Marta. Located in the middle of the strait, it's home to a large colony of Patagonian sea lions whose numbers top a thousand. These aren't the only residents on this rocky outpost—you'll also find several seabirds, which include cormorants, skuas, arctic pigeons, and more.

Eventually, you'll arrive at Isla Magdalena, where you'll disembark and spend one hour onshore. While here, you'll follow a 2,624-foot (800 m) path to an old lighthouse that offers sweeping views of the strait. As you go, you'll enjoy the company of the island's penguin residents. There's no experience on earth like hiking alongside these waddling birds amid waters that Magellan himself first mapped and later made famous by Charles Darwin. Afterward, it's time to return to the boat and transfer back to Punta Arenas.

Day 3: Transfer to Puerto Natales, Optional Activities

Puerto Natales' colorful waterfront
Take a walk in Puerto Natales and look at boats cruising across the Última Esperanza Sound

After breakfast, you'll hop on a bus for the three-hour drive north to Puerto Natales. This waterfront town is famous as the base for excursions into Torres del Paine, a legendary protected area that covers 700 square miles (1,810 sq km) and is renowned for its circuit treks. Upon arrival, a driver will pick you up and take you to your hotel.

After checking in and receiving a trip briefing, you'll have the rest of the day free. Simple pleasures in Puerto Natales include strolling the promenade fronting the silver waters of the Seno Última Esperanza (Last Hope Sound). In the distance, you'll see the peaks of Cerro Benitez and Cerro Toro, and the sunset views are phenomenal.

Day 4: Hiking & Horseback Riding at Estancia La Peninsula

Horseback riding with a view
Saddle up for a ride around the rugged landscapes of Patagonia

After breakfast at your hotel, you'll set off for the beautiful Estancia La Peninsula on the Antonio Veras Peninsula. This sprawling sheep and cattle ranch is surrounded by glaciers, mountains, and beech forests. Getting there involves a fun 40-minute boat trip across the Última Esperanza Sound.

When you arrive at this working wool farm, you'll get an overview of the grounds and choose your own adventure for the day. Possible activities include horseback riding, wildlife viewing, hiking, bird-watching, and more. Your schedule depends on your interests. In the afternoon, enjoy a traditional Patagonian asado (barbecue) prepared by the staff and attend the daily sheep-shearing demonstration. Return by boat to Puerto Natales in the evening.

Day 5: Guided Hike to Base Torres

Check out views at Mirador Base Torres, which are some of the best in the park

The early start is well worth it, as today you'll embark on the most famous day hike in Torres del Paine. First, meet your driver for a two-hour ride north to the entrance of the park. Once there, you'll embark on an 11.2-mile (18 km) guided hike that begins on a well-marked trail up Mount Almirante Nieto. This section of the route features spectacular views of Lago Nordenskjöld and the Asencio Valley below. After two hours of hiking, you'll reach Refugio & Camping Chileno, where you'll break for lunch.

Then it's another hour of hiking past ancient Lenga forests until you arrive at a moraine. The next part is a 45-minute hard scramble to the top and Mirador Base Torres. In this spot, three granite pillars jut out of the ground over a silver lagoon and make for the best view in the park. You'll also see the towering peaks of nearby Torre Sur, Torre Central, Torre Norte, Condor's Nest, and Glacier Torre. Later, you'll hike back down the mountain and meet your driver for the ride back to Puerto Natales. 

Day 6: Torres del Paine Full-Day Private Tour

The Paine River's Salto Grande waterfall
Get plenty of photo opportunities at the Paine River's Salto Grande waterfall
Wake early and return to Torres del Paine. On a full-day private tour of the park, you'll visit famous attractions, such as Laguna Amarga, which features views of the iconic peaks of the Cordillera Paine. You'll also hike over a suspension bridge in the Lago Grey sector and enjoy views of glaciers. Continue trekking to Salto Grande, the park's famous thundering waterfalls. At the end of the day, you'll return to Puerto Natales.

Day 7: Transfer to El Calafate (Argentina), Optional Activities

El Calafate is home to Perito Moreno, one of the icons of Argentine Patagonia
Plan your trip to Patagonia
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Say goodbye to Chile as you journey five hours by bus this morning into Argentina and El Calafate. Sitting on the southern shore of Lago Argentino, this town is the gateway to the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, home to Los Glaciares National Park. Within this protected area is Perito Moreno, a 96-square-mile (250 sq km) ice formation that is one of the few advancing glaciers in the world.

Upon arrival at the bus terminal, a driver will transfer you to your hotel. You can then wander around and enjoy the quaint cafés and souvenir shops in town. A little later, you'll learn about the region's famous glaciers on a visit to the Glaciarium, a multimedia center with an ice museum, various interactive displays, and educational information regarding glaciers. A real treat is throwing on a coat, boots, and gloves and enjoying a drink at the museum's ice bar.

Day 8: Perito Moreno Boat & Walking Tour

Dramatic views of Perito Moreno by boat
See Perito Moreno from strategic viewpoints and then cruise right up to its ice walls

Meet your driver this morning and head out on a tour of Los Glaciares National Park. The ride there takes about an hour, and as you enter the park, you'll catch your first glimpse of the mighty Perito Moreno. This expansive glacier flows down from the Andes over the turquoise waters of Lago Argentino, ending in a great wall that curves around the lake. Enjoy views of this marvel of Mother Nature via a network of wooden boardwalks on the waterfront (be sure to take plenty of photos).

Then, head over to the port at Bajo de Las Sombras and board a boat for a one-hour tour of the glacier's southern face. The first 20 minutes of the trip will take you past icebergs floating on the lake. These are the result of "calving," a periodic occurrence when ice breaks off the face of the glacier. Eventually, you'll get up close with Perito Moreno's massive ice wall, which rises as high as 230 feet (70 m). After the hourlong tour, you'll return to the port and transfer back to El Calafate.

Day 9: Transfer to El Chaltén, Explore

View of Mt. Fitz Roy over El Chalten
El Chaltén is a little mountain town surrounded by some of the best hiking routes in Argentina
Leave El Calafate this morning on a three-hour drive north to El Chaltén. Nicknamed "the trekking capital of Argentina," this town sits on the banks of the Río Las Vueltas. Like El Calafate, it's a gateway to Los Glaciares National Park, with towering peaks rising 10,000 feet (3,048 m) above the windswept landscape. If the skies are clear during the drive, you'll have incredible views of the granite massif of Mount Fitz Roy. After checking into your hotel, you can take a walk around town and pop in at one of El Chaltén's many cafés and craft beer bars. 

Day 10: Guided Hike to Laguna de los Tres

The granite spire of Fitz Roy looms over Laguna de los Tres

After an early breakfast at the hotel, you'll meet your guide and head out on one of the most famous day hikes in El Chaltén: the trail up to Laguna de los Tres. Starting in town, the route covers 12.4 miles (20 km) and takes 8-9 hours to complete. During the trek, you'll pass through native lenga forests and stop at incredible viewpoints looking out to the Fitz Roy Valley and Piedras Blancas Glacier

Then, cross a suspension bridge to reach Río Blanco Base Camp, a major hub for rock climbers. From there, it's a final push to Mirador Laguna de los Tres, which looks out to the gorgeous lagoon and affords panoramic views of three surrounding peaks: Fitz Roy, Poincenot, and Torre. After a break for lunch, you'll have some time to relax and enjoy the scenery before descending back to El Chaltén.

Day 11: Guided Hike to Laguna Torre

Guided Hike to Laguna Torre
Today's route is another famous hike up to one of Patagonia's star lakes
In the morning, you'll set off on a guided hike from El Chaltén to another gem of Patagonia: Laguna Torre. This lake sits at the foot of the granite peak of Cerro Torre and is fed by glacial meltwater. The trail you'll follow runs about 12 miles (20 km) and takes you through bright green lenga forests and around blue lagoons until you reach the lakeshore. After relaxing and admiring the impressive views, you'll return to El Chaltén along the same path. In total, the hike takes between 7-8 hours to complete and there will be stops for snacks and lunch along the way..

Day 12: Fly to Ushuaia, Explore

Early morning in Ushuaia
Enjoy some free time in Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world

This morning, transfer back to El Calafate, where you'll board a 1.5-hour flight to Ushuaia and the Tierra del Fuego region of Patagonia. The southernmost city in the world, it's situated between the jagged peaks of the Martial Mountains and the silver waters of the Beagle Channel—the waterway Charles Darwin explored when he arrived on the HMS Beagle almost 200 years ago. Upon arrival at the airport, you'll transfer to your hotel, and after checking in, you can head out on a self-guided walking tour.

You'll find the most activity in Ushuaia's compact downtown area. Here there are cafés and restaurants where you can stop and try centolla (king crab), a regional specialty. If you like, stroll down the scenic waterfront and visit the Museo del Fin del Mundo (End of the World Museum). It's a small museum but is packed with fine exhibits detailing the area's natural and Indigenous history.

Day 13: Day Trip to Isla Martillo & Puerto Almanza

Time to visit some penguins
Make friends with more penguins on Isla Martillo

After breakfast, transfer east of Ushuaia through a glacial valley to Brown Bay, where you'll take a boat ride on the Beagle Channel. This cruise passes some incredible landscapes, and the highlight is visiting Isla Martillo, which is home to colonies of sea lions and Magellanic penguins.

After the boat tour ends, you'll meet a local family for lunch in the small village of Puerto Almanza. Enjoy fresh, local seafood straight from channel waters as you chat with the family, fishermen, and other village residents. It's a great way to learn about the daily routine of locals in this far-flung corner of the world. 

Later, embark on a hike through the forest along the Río Lasifashaj. The short route will take you along meadows to the Cascada Lasifashaj, a secluded waterfall. After the hike, it will be late afternoon, and you'll head to one of the famous "flag trees" of Tierra del Fuego to witness a golden Patagonian sunset. The area is full of these oddly beautiful trees, which are misshapen and bent due to the extreme winds. After the sunset, you'll transfer back to Ushuaia. 

Day 14: Day Hike in Tierra del Fuego National Park

Coastal trail in Tierra del Fuego
A hike through Tierra del Fuego National Park reveals the most secluded parts of the Beagle Channel

A shuttle will pick you up in the morning at your hotel in Ushuaia for the transfer to Tierra del Fuego National Park. Located just outside the city, this vast protected area encompasses 155,000 acres (62,726 ha) of pristine wilderness that includes subantarctic forests and a rugged coastline.

Upon arrival in Ensenada Bay, you'll have a spectacular view of the Beagle Channel. There, you and your group will embark on a 4.3-mile (7 km) coastal walk amid the region's unique flora and fauna. Interesting animals here include woodpeckers, guanacos, and foxes. In addition, you'll see traces of the Yámana Indigenous settlements that once existed in the region.

After three hours, you'll arrive at Lago Roca, where a picnic lunch will be served. Relax and enjoy your leisurely meal amid gorgeous lake and river views before embarking on the last leg of the hike to the southern end of the Pan-American Highway. There, a shuttle will pick you up for the ride back to Ushuaia.

Day 15: Half-Day Hike to Laguna Esmeralda

The turquoise waters of Laguna Esmeralda
Your reward for the day's hike is the turquoise Laguna Esmerelda

Meet your driver at 8:30 am and leave on another active adventure that starts with a scenic drive along beautiful Route 3. Heading away from the Beagle Channel, you'll pass some of the most gorgeous valleys in Tierra del Fuego. At one such valley, you'll leave the car behind and head out on a three-hour, cross-country wilderness hike.

This 5.8-mile (9.4 km) trek will take you over a peat bog to a forest full of native lenga trees. From there, cross beaver dams and follow a stream to reach Laguna Esmeralda. Framed by snowcapped mountains and glassy turquoise waters, this is one of the most popular hiking destinations in Patagonia. Here you can relax and enjoy lunch surrounded by some of the area's most visual hanging glaciers. Afterward, you'll head back along the same trail and meet your driver for the ride back to the city.

Day 16: Fly to Buenos Aires, Depart

Until next time, Patagonia!
You've traveled as far south as possible without dipping into Antarctica. Now it's time to head north back to civilization. In the morning, a driver will pick you up for the transfer to the airport in Ushuaia, where you'll board a plane to Buenos Aires and catch your connecting flight home. Safe travels! 

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Map of Classic Southern Patagonia Active Tour - 16 Days
Map of Classic Southern Patagonia Active Tour - 16 Days