Located in the far reaches of South America, Patagonia is famous for its breathtaking natural scenery. Take your time exploring both the Argentinian and Chilean sides on this 16-day adventure around the region. First you'll get oriented in Buenos Aires, attending a tango show and day-tripping to the river delta of Tigre. Then continue to the renowned wine-growing region of Mendoza to sip and swirl Malbec on a winery tour. The trip takes you to Patagonia next, where you'll spend the bulk of the trip trekking on glaciers, hiking the legendary W circuit in Torres del Paine National Park, and horseback riding or kayaking outside El Calafate.

Highlights

  • Learn about Argentinian culture and attend a tango show in Buenos Aires
  • Boat along the canals of the Tigre river delta 
  • Go wine tasting at several vineyards around Mendoza
  • Kayak on a quiet lake in the foothills of the Andes
  • Hike along the surface of Perito Moreno on a glacier hike
  • Spend four days on the famous W trek in Torres del Paine

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Buenos Aires & Sightsee Buenos Aires
Day 2 Take a Walking Tour of the Capital Buenos Aires
Day 3 Day-trip to Tigre Buenos Aires
Day 4 Fly from Buenos Aires to Mendoza Mendoza
Day 5 Tour Vineyards & Taste Wines Mendoza
Day 6 Kayak & Explore Potrerillos  Mendoza
Day 7 Travel from Mendoza to El Calafate El Calafate
Day 8 See Perito Moreno Glacier El Calafate
Day 9 Kayak or Ride Horses in El Calafate El Calafate
Day 10 Begin Exploring Torres del Paine Torres del Paine
Day 11 Start the W Trek to Refugio el Chileno Torres del Paine
Day 12 Hike to Refugio Los Cuernos Torres del Paine
Day 13 Continue to the French Valley Torres del Paine
Day 14 Trek to Grey Glacier Puerto Natales
Day 15 Transfer Back to El Calafate El Calafate
Day 16 Depart Argentina - End of Trip  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Buenos Aires & Sightsee

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," thanks to its mix of European architecture and Latin American culture. When you arrive at the airport, a driver will be waiting to transfer you to your hotel in the city center. Buenos Aires is the birthplace of tango, and you'll have the chance to see tango dancers performing to live music as you explore downtown. Head south into the neighborhood of San Telmo, walking along cobblestoned streets — this is a great area to soak up the city's historic charm, stop in a traditional café, browse through the antiques at the elegant Mercado San Telmo marketplace, and sit down for dinner at a classic parrilla (steakhouse).  

Day 2: Take a Walking Tour of the Capital

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 and 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). Afterward, you'll stop by the city's original port, La Boca. In the evening, enjoy a delicious meal accompanied by a tango performance. Then get some rest before the adventure continues tomorrow.

Day 3: Day-trip to Tigre

The canals of Tigre
The canals of Tigre

Today you'll travel by boat along the Río de la Plata to the point where it converges with the Paraña River, 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 delta region. The main port is in Tigre. 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 Argentinian art spanning two centuries. The Naval Museum and the Museo de Mate are other highlights worth a visit. The latter offers an overview and tasting of mate, an herb cultivated in Argentina and prepared as a tea-like drink.

After a day enjoying Tigre, you'll board a train back to Buenos Aires.

Day 4: Fly from Buenos Aires to Mendoza

Plaza Independencia, Mendoza
Plaza Independencia in Mendoza

This morning, a driver will transfer you to the airport for your flight to Mendoza. This western region of Argentina is ground zero for the country's booming wine industry. Vineyards abound here, with many producing Argentina's flagship varietal: Malbec. Originally a French import, this previously ignored berry is the foundation of one of the most popular wines in the world.

Mendoza features breathtaking scenery and lots of opportunities for outdoor activities. With the Andes Mountains looming over the area's vineyards, travelers can enjoy hiking, horseback riding, and whitewater rafting. Of course, vineyard tours and wine tastings are also popular activities in the region. 

Upon arrival, you'll transfer to your hotel. You'll then have the rest of the day to relax and explore the city at your own pace. The center of Mendoza features expansive plazas and wide boulevards shaded by leafy trees. One of the most popular meeting spots for locals is Plaza Independencia, with its impressive fountains and elegant acacia trees. There's also Parque General San Martín, an expansive park dotted with palm trees. Check the Museo del Pasado Cuyano, which features many exhibits on local history as well as collections of weapons from the independence era. Relax over dinner before getting out to explore the area's vineyards tomorrow.

Day 5: Tour Vineyards & Taste Wines

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 Lujan de Cuyo. Your first winery tour includes a presentation on the wine-making process and a wine tasting. The second tour includes another tasting. 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, you will visit two more wineries. 

Day 6: Kayak & Explore Potrerillos 

Potrerillos Dam, Mendoza
Beautiful views at Potrerillos

Today you'll venture up to Potrerillos. Located in the foothills of the Andes, it's known for beautiful scenery and great kayaking, hiking, and rafting opportunities. The damming of the Mendoza River here created an artificial lake. You'll then spend a few hours kayaking on the water with a knowledgeable guide. In the afternoon, you'll return to your hotel in Mendoza where you'll have free time to relax.

Day 7: Travel from Mendoza to El Calafate

The city of El Calafate
Waterfront El Calafate

This morning, you'll say goodbye to Mendoza and embark on the next leg of the journey. After breakfast, you'll head to the airport for a flight 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 trip.

After checking into your hotel, you can relax and spend the afternoon exploring the town and its surroundings. Learn about the region's glaciers at the Glaciarium, a multimedia center featuring an ice museum, interactive displays, and educational information. Then enjoy a drink at the museum's Glaciobar BrancaIt, Argentina's first ice bar — be sure to bundle up, as it's chilly inside! For dinner, be sure to sample the local cuisine of roast Patagonian lamb, ribeye steak, and empanadas. Wash it all down with a glass or two of Malbec.

Day 8: See Perito Moreno Glacier

Hiking Perito Moreno, Argentina
Hiking on Perito Moreno

Get ready to explore Los Glaciares National Park. As you enter the park, you'll catch your first glimpse of the majestic glacier known as Perito Moreno. This expansive ice mass flows from the Andes Mountains into the waters of Lago Argentino, ending abruptly in a great wall curving around the lake. View the glacier from one of the park's many viewing platforms, accessible via a network of catwalks that run along the shores of the lake, offering the best vantage points. With a little luck and patience, you may witness "calving," the inspiring sight of ice breaking off the glacier's edge and crashing into the calm waters below. 

Perito Moreno is not the only glacier in the area, but it is the most famous in the park. You can admire the massive glacier from a number of different vantage points, thanks to the network of wooden walkways around the area. You will also get the chance to see the massive ice wall up close on a boat tour. If you like, you can also go on a guided trekking excursion on the surface of the ice. After a day spent viewing the glacier and wandering the numerous trails, head back to El Calafate to enjoy the evening at your leisure.

Day 9: Kayak or Ride Horses in El Calafate

Reserva Laguna Nimez

Reserva Laguna Nimez

Today you are free to enjoy El Calafate however you choose. You could book a luxurious spa treatment and spend the day relaxing. Embark on an active adventure, like horseback riding at a nearby ranch, or go for a kayak trip on the lake. You could also tour Reserva Laguna Nimez, a protected area that's home to exotic birds like the Chilean flamingo. The reserve is located just a short walk outside town.

Day 10: Begin Exploring Torres del Paine

Guanacos in Torres del Paine National Park
Guanacos in Torres del Paine National Park

Today, you'll transfer from El Calafate to Torres del Paine National Park. On the way, you'll pass through expansive grasslands that are home to rheas, guanacos, Patagonian hares, and condors. Make sure to have your passport on hand, as you will cross the border to Chile before ending up at Torres del Paine.

After entering the park through the Laguna Amarga entrance, you'll ride in a shuttle to a comfortable lodge. Keep an eye out for wild guanacos as they roam the nearby windy plains. In addition to the namesake mountains, other highlights of the park include the Salto Grande waterfall, Laguna Amarga, a water-filled caldera, Cuernos del Paine, magnificent granite spires in the shape of horns, and Lake Pehoé, a beautiful lake.

Day 11: Start the W Trek to Refugio el Chileno

Mirador Base Torres
Mirador Base Torres

Embark on a trekking adventure! The excursion begins with a one-and-a-half-hour ascent featuring stunning views of the hanging glacier at Mount Almirante Nieto as well as nearby lakes. Once you reach Refugio el Chileno, you can drop off your bags and take a quick break to refuel.

You'll then hike another hour past lenga forests until you arrive at a moraine. From here it's a steep ascent for 45 minutes until you reach the top, which is known as Mirador Base Torres. Mirador in English means "viewpoint,"  and this little section of the mountain, with the Cuernos Del Paine (Horns of Paine) looming over a jade lagoon, is the best view in the park. From here you can also marvel at the towering peaks of nearby Torre Sur, Central Tower, North Tower, Condor's Nest, and Glacier Torre, all set amidst the sweeping backdrop of the Patagonian highlands.

After spending some time enjoying the views at Base Torres, you'll then hike back to Refugio el Chileno to rest up for the evening. 

Hiking distance: 11 miles (18 km)
Hiking duration: 6.5 hours

Day 12: Hike to Refugio Los Cuernos

The waterfront at Lake Nordenskjöld
The waterfront at Lake Nordenskjöld

After breakfast, you'll depart Refugio el Chileno for a more moderate day of hiking. After passing by the Paine Massif you'll arrive at the base of Mount Almirante Nieto. Then it's more hiking with views of Lake Nordenskjöld's emerald waters, impressive hanging glaciers, and fascinating local flora. Eventually, you will reach the Cuernos sector of the park and spend the night in Refugio Los Cuernos, a refuge located on the hillside in the heart of Torres del Paine.

Hiking distance: 6.8 miles (11 km)
Hiking duration: 4.5 hours

Day 13: Continue to the French Valley

Lake Pehoé
Lake Pehoé

The destination of today's hike is Campamento Italiano, a campsite located 2.5 hours away from Refugio Cuernos. To arrive there involves trekking along the windy shores of Lago Nordenskjöld. Once at Campamento Italiano, you'll leave your heavy gear and continue the trek towards the French Valley, a rocky section of flatland cradled at the base of granite peaks.

Hike another couple of hours through a forest before finally emerging into the valley, and all the incredible scenery will come into view. From a lookout point, enjoy spectacular views of lakes Nordenskjöld, Skottsberg, and Pehoé, as well as the hanging French Glacier. After leaving the lookout, return to gather your large pack and continue another 2.5 hours to Refugio Paine Grande, on the shores of Lake Pehoé, for your overnight stay. 

Hiking Distance: 10.7 miles
Hiking Duration: 7 hours

Day 14: Hike to Grey Glacier

Glacier Grey
Grey Glacier

After a fortifying breakfast, embark on a hike through a small forest to Lago Grey, a lake fed by one of the star landmarks of Torres del Paine, Grey Glacier. This glacial mass makes up a large portion of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field. After about two hours of hiking, you'll get your first glimpse of the glacier's jagged ice walls and the peaks of the Cordon Olguin.

Finish your Torres del Paine adventure aboard a catamaran. You'll embark on a tour of the lake, which will put you close to the glacier and provide some great photo opportunities. The catamaran will then leave you at the shore in the Pudeto sector of the park. Here you'll meet a private driver who will transfer you back to Puerto Natales. In the evening, relax in your hotel after a long day.

Hiking Distance: 7 miles (11 km)
Hiking Duration: 4 hours

Day 15: Transfer Back to El Calafate

The town of El Calafate
The town of El Calafate

After breakfast, a driver will pick you up in Puerto Natales and transfer you back to El Calafate. You'll cross the border into Argentina and have the rest of the day free to relax, hike, do some souvenir shopping, and dine on Argentinian cuisine. Then get some rest before the trip comes to an end tomorrow.

Day 16: Depart Argentina - End of Trip

A nighttime view over Buenos Aires

Today the trip comes to an end. Head to the airport to make your way to your next destination. Safe travels!

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