You won't have to choose between Argentinian and Chilean Patagonia on this 13-day adventure — this wide-ranging itinerary takes you to the highlights of both! The trip kicks off in Buenos Aires, then continues with a short flight to El Calafate, the gateway to Los Glaciares National Park and the magnificent Perito Moreno Glacier. Then you'll travel to Chile's famous Torres del Paine National Park for a few days of hiking. You'll head back to El Calafate to make the connection further south to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world.  Trek on a glacier, boat down the Beagle Channel, and dine on fresh seafood to wrap up the trip.

Highlights

  • Spend a day sightseeing and dining on steak in Buenos Aires
  • Marvel at the dazzling Perito Moreno glacier in Los Glaciares National Park
  • Go hiking in Torres del Paine, one of South America's top national parks
  • Walk on the icy surface of Ojo de Albino Glacier
  • Board a boat in Ushuaia for a cruise down the Beagle Channel

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Buenos Aires & Sightsee Buenos Aires
Day 2 Fly from Buenos Aires to El Calafate El Calafate
Day 3 See Perito Moreno Glacier El Calafate
Day 4 Transfer to Puerto Natales Puerto Natales
Day 5 Hike in Torres del Paine  Torres del Paine
Day 6 Trek to Lake Nordenskjöld Torres del Paine
Day 7 Explore the French Valley Torres del Paine
Day 8 Boat to Grey Glacier Puerto Natales
Day 9 Head Back to El Calafate El Calafate
Day 10 Kayak or Ride Horses in El Calafate El Calafate
Day 11 Discover the Southernmost City in the World Ushuaia
Day 12 Hike to Ojo de Albino Glacier Ushuaia
Day 13 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: Fly from Buenos Aires to El Calafate

The city of El Calafate, Argentina
Lakefront 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 trip. 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.

Day 3: 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. 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 4: Transfer to Puerto Natales

Puerto Natales has a colorful waterfront
Puerto Natales has a colorful waterfront

After breakfast in El Calafate, it's time to make your way into Chile to explore Chilean Patagonia. The trip involves hopping on a southbound bus headed for the Chilean town of Puerto Natales. The journey can take upwards of five hours depending on traffic conditions at the Argentina/Chile border.

Puerto Natales is the principal base for excursions into Torres del Paine National Park. Strolling along the waterfront promenade, looking out over the Ultima Esperanza Sound, you'll see the peaks of Cerro Benitez and Cerro Toro. The views are especially phenomenal at sunset. Meander around the town's brightly painted houses with corrugated tin roofs before dining on seafood in a restaurant. 

Day 5: Hike in Torres del Paine 

The Paine Massif
The Paine Massif

After breakfast in Puerto Natales, you'll pack up and transfer to the entrance of Torres del Paine National Park. From here, you'll make your way to the base of the park's three iconic towers on one of the most popular hiking routes in the park. Although it can be completed in less than a day, this hike is strenuous and requires a good level of physical fitness. However, the stunning views at the base of the Paine Massif make it well worth the effort. 

The trekking route covers 11 miles (18 km) and lasts about nine hours. Every step of the way, you will enjoy views of beautiful scenery, including rushing rivers, native forest, mountain peaks, and narrow valleys. You'll likely spot some impressive birds, too, like condors and black eagles. 

Your route will begin at the Las Torres Hostel and will take you over the Ascencio River, at which point you'll ascend about 1.5 miles (2.5 km) to a lookout featuring panoramic views of the valley below and the surrounding mountains. Then you'll continue through sections of lenga forest until the remaining 45-minute stretch, which is a steep ascent that involves a hard scramble over a moraine to the final path leading up to the viewpoint. This is the hardest portion of the hike. But once you arrive at the lagoon at the base of the Paine Massif and stare up at the nearby Cuernos del Paine (Horns of Paine) jutting into the sky, you'll know the effort was worth it!

You’ll have ample time to rest by the lagoon and marvel at the amazing rock formations as you enjoy a delicious picnic lunch. Then you'll begin the return trip back down the trail. The descent takes approximately four hours. Later, return to your hotel for dinner and a good night's rest.

Day 6: Trek to Lake Nordenskjöld

 Lake Nordenskjöld, Torres del Paine
Lake Nordenskjöld, Torres del Paine

Today's hiking route takes you along the shore of Lake Nordenskjöld as you make your way towards Refugio & Camping Chileno, located in the Asencio Valley. Along the four-hour hike, you'll trek up Almirante Nieto, a mountain with incredible views of both the lake and the valley. You'll cross a few rivers, hop along rocks, and catch glimpses of glaciers and the mountaintops towering over you. Once you reach tonight's camp, spend some downtime relaxing before dinner, then enjoy a good night's sleep.

Day 7: Explore the French Valley

The French Valley, Torres del Paine
The French Valley in Torres del Paine

Today, you'll hike into the heart of the park to visit another iconic area of Torres del Paine: the French Valley. After breakfast, meet your guide and transfer to the Pudeto Ranger Station, located on the shore of Lake Pehoé. From here, it's a half-hour catamaran cruise across to the lake to arrive at the trailhead and begin your trek.

The first part of the trail is relatively flat and leads along the north side of Lago Skottsberg to Refugio Italiano, which is located at the bottom of the French Valley. Here, take a break for water and snacks. Afterward, you can continue deeper into the French Valley along a steep trail through the lenga forest. You'll reach a viewpoint near the Horns of Paine that affords wide views of the French Glacier hanging down from Mount Paine Grande. From here, begin the journey back to the hotel. You'll spend the remainder of the day relaxing.

Day 8: Boat to Grey Glacier

Grey Glacier
Grey Glacier

This morning, you'll board a catamaran for a tour of Grey Glacier, which feeds the lake of the same name, Lago Grey. The boat travels across the lake and stops close to the glacier, which gives passengers a prime vantage point to snap photos of its massive ice walls. The boat then continues to the other side of the lake, where you'll disembark and make your way to the Bigfoot Basecamp to begin an epic ice hike.

This portion of the trip starts at Islatak Island with a hike up the glacial moraine. After an hour, you'll reach the ice, gear up, and learn the basics and safety protocols of glacier hikes from a pro. Equipped with an ice ax, crampons, helmet, and harness, you will then walk onto the Grey Glacier, where you will step over blue crevasses, hop over meltwater streams, and pass alongside ice caves. It's truly a singular experience. 

Following your ice hike excursion, you'll return to your hotel.

Day 9: Head Back to El Calafate

El Calafate
The wooded lakeshore of El Calafate

After breakfast, you'll make the three-hour drive back to El Calafate. 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 10: 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 11: Discover the Southernmost City in the World

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. Located on a bay in the Patagonian region of Tierra del Fuego, Ushuaia sits between jagged mountain peaks 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 elegant chalets to humble wooden cottages.

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 (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. Back in Ushuaia for dinner, go out for seafood, particularly centolla (king crab). 

Day 12: Hike to Ojo de Albino Glacier

Trekkers on their way to the lagoon
Trekkers on their way to the lagoon

Today you'll go on a guided trek to Ojo de Albino glacier. After an early breakfast, you'll be picked up and transferred to a trailhead located 12 miles (20 km) from Ushuaia. Upon arrival, meet your guide and talk through a safety briefing before entering the path. The first section travels through a forest and several peat bogs, crossing the Tierra Mayor Valley until you reach Laguna Esmeralda, so named for its intense green color.

After a photography break, you'll walk around the lagoon in search of beaver dams until you cross the tree line where the hike becomes more demanding. Notice how the slope is more pronounced through the large rock formations. You've now entered a steep mountain landscape where you can appreciate the panoramic views of the valley and Laguna Esmeralda below. Keep going until you finally reach Ojo del Albino. This part of the glacier includes a mass of cracked flat ice surrounded by sharp peaks — and, at the center, melting water with beautiful icebergs. Depending on the conditions of the ice, your guide will decide if it is safe to carry out a glacier trek.

Either way, you will have lunch surrounded by an unforgettable landscape. After this well-deserved rest, it's time to start making your way back to the entrance. Return to Ushuaia and have dinner in a seafood restaurant on the last night of the trip.

Day 13: 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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