Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego—the names alone spark intrigue and adventure. This 17-day itinerary takes you to some of the most jaw-dropping locations in both areas as you trek into the backcountry along the spine of Chile and Argentina. Hikes in this region are challenging but rewarding and will test your body and lungs. In between treks you'll see massive glaciers, exotic wildlife, and unique cities located on the edge of the world.

Highlights

  • Hike a variety of nature trails from El Chalten
  • Trek to Torre Base for a stunning view of Torres del Paine
  • See the world-famous Perito Moreno Glacier and Grey Glacier through boat tours
  • Canoe and observe wildlife in Ushuaia, at the "End of the World"

Overview

This tour offers a fantastic overview of all of Patagonia's top natural sites, spanning two countries. You will be able to discover the region's iconic glaciers and mountain trails without the constraints of large groups, all while following a flexible and self-paced plan. Highlights of the itinerary include Perito Moreno Glacier, El Chalten village, Torres del Paine National Park, and Ushuaia.

All bus connections, accommodations, and important hiking information are included as part of the tour. Since you will be crossing the Argentina-Chile border, you will need to have your passport on hand. Most travel will be done via public bus, although some routes will be covered by private service and ferries along with an optional flight. Although locations such as El Chalten offer a variety of trails for different experience levels, other treks such as Torre Base and French Valley are more challenging, so this tour is best recommended for those who are physically fit and have previous hiking experience.

Brief Itinerary

Day  Highlights Overnight 
Day 1 Arrival in Buenos Aires - Explore the City Buenos Aires
Day 2 Flight to El Calafate - Transfer to El Chalten El Chalten
Day 3-5 Hiking in El Chalten El Chalten
Day 6 Transfer to El Calafate El Calafate
Day 7 Perito Moreno Glacier Tour El Calafate
Day 8 El Calafate Tours El Calafate
Day 9 Torres del Paine National Park Torres del Paine
Day 10 Hiking to Base of the Torres del Paine Torres del Paine
Day 11 French Valley Trek Refugio Paine Grande
Day 12 Grey Glacier Tour and Puerto Natales Puerto Natales
Day 13 Puerto Natales to Punta Arenas Punta Arenas
Day 14 Scenic Bus Trip to Ushuaia Ushuaia
Day 15 Trekking & Canoeing in Ushuaia Ushuaia
Day 16 Beagle Channel Cruise Ushuaia
Day 17 Flight to Buenos Aires - Departure   

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Buenos Aires - Explore the City

Spend your first day getting a taste of Argentina's capital

Welcome to Argentina! Renowned as the "Paris of South America," and the "Queen of El Plata," the capital city of Buenos Aires is defined by passion. This is exemplified in the rich tango heritage and its citizens' limitless enthusiasm for fútbol (soccer), which is far and away the country's most popular sport. 

When you arrive at the airport, your driver will be waiting to take you in a private car to your hotel where you can relax after a long flight. But make no mistake: the city will beckon you. So after a quick recharge, be sure to venture out into the welcoming arms of Buenos Aires and explore. The best starting point would be the city center.

Suggested activities include:

  • Visit the Obelisco, which might be the most famous icon of the city. This obelisk (which even Argentines admit is a little too reminiscent of the Washington Monument) is worth a visit for its location alone. It sits right in the middle of Avenida 9 de Julio, which boasts a whopping 16 lanes, making it the widest city street in the world.

  • Stop by the Teatro Colon, one of South America's premier opera houses. The horseshoe-shaped gallery features 2,487 seats and incredible acoustics. Even if you plan on taking a tour or catching a show here on another day, it's always breathtaking to pass by its exterior. The Colon's neoclassical facade has been the face of one of the most handsome buildings in Buenos Aires since its opening in 1908.

  • Stroll Puerto Madero, an upscale waterfront neighborhood adjacent to downtown. Puerto Madero may be the "new money" finance center of Buenos Aires, but it's also one of the most pleasant pedestrian areas in a city famous for its paths. A romantic stroll involves walking over the canal on the Puente de Mujer ("Woman's Bridge") at sunset. 

  • Dine at an Argentine steakhouse or parilla. When night falls and dinnertime arrives, do like the locals and enjoy a thick, juicy steak (Argentina has some of the best beef in the world) drizzled with the nation's famous chimichurri (a garlic, herb, and vinegar sauce). Know that Buenos Aires is a culture that thrives after dark, and it's not uncommon for locals to have dinner well past nine in the evening, especially on weekends. 

Day 2: Flight to El Calafate - Transfer to El Chalten

Fitz Roy Mountains from El Chalten

After breakfast in Buenos Aires, you'll fly into El Calafate—the gateway to Los Glaciares National Parkland the Southern Patagonian Ice Field.

From here, you'll ride a comfortable public bus for three hours across the scenic deserts of Southern Patagonia along the famous Route 40. The route travels along the La Leona River, which connects Lake Argentino and Lake Viedma. You will also pass La Leona Road House, where Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid hid for almost a month after a notorious bank robbery.

After you enter the park grounds of El Chalten, visit the Park Ranger Office to pick up some general information and recommendations from the knowledgeable rangers. Then, you're off to explore Argentina's top-ranked trekking destination! Located at the foot of the Fitz Roy Mountain and surrounded by glaciers, lakes, rivers, and forests, El Chalten is a true hidden gem.

The charming village is the nexus for multiple paths that accommodate all experience levels. If you want to wind down first, be sure to check out the nearby waterfall and local brewery.

Day 3-5: Hiking in El Chalten along Self-Guided Paths

Taking a break in El Chalten

Today, you'll take your pick from a variety of splendid trails to hike on today. All trails are ideal self-guided hikes at your own pace since they are well-marked and well-maintained. Additional information for the trails will also be provided.

  • If you want a casual walk, step right out of your hotel onto a three km walk that offers views of the Rio de las Vueltas, lenga forests, and several hubs for spotting fascinating birds such as woodpeckers.
  • If you are looking for something a bit more intense, hike 1.5 hours out to the Cerro Torre viewpoint and gaze at the mountains of the Southern Andes.
  • For diehard trekking fans, continue all the way to Torre Base for the most impressive view of Fitz Roy and the whole massif by the Laguna de Los Tres path. Spanning eight hours, this is a challenging, full-day trek that is well worth the effort. 

If you want a more offbeat experience, the path to Pliegue Tumbado (a chain of three rocky round summits) is definitely worth checking out, as you will stumble upon a truly unique panoramic view of Mount Fitz Roy and Torre.

Day 6: From El Chalten to El Calafate

The road into El Calafate

Spend your last morning in El Chalten before boarding your bus back to El Calafate. On the three-hour ride back, get a chance to relax while looking at the sweeping grasslands through the window.

Day 7: Perito Moreno Glacier Tour

Cruising to Perito Moreno Glacier

Today you'll embark on a full day excursion to Perito Moreno Glacier via shared service, located in Los Glaciers National Park. Perito Moreno Glacier, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1981, is one of the most awe-inspiring destinations in Argentina.

After a guided walk along trails and viewing platforms, you'll set off on a boat cruise that will take you right up to the glacier's 80 m high ice walls! After appreciating the glacier from a variety of perspectives, return to your hotel in El Calafate early in the evening.

Day 8: El Calafate

Glacier in El Calafate

Today, you are free to enjoy any of the optional tours around El Calafate. A visit to Estancia Cristina (ranch), a bike ride out to the lake, or a boat cruise to explore some of the more remote glaciers in the region are all highly recommended.

Day 9: Torres del Paine National Park in Chile

Torres del Paine lake view

Today you'll head toward Torres del Paine National Park. As you drive down miles of open road to the park, keep an eye out for wild rheas, guanacos, Patagonian hare, condors, and other amazing wildlife native to the region.

After traversing into the southern steppe, you will arrive at the Cancha Carrera border post and cross into Chile. Make sure you have your passport available as a proof of identity. After the entire 2.5 hour ride, you will finally arrive at Torres del Paine National Park, named after the vivid blue hues of the namesake mountains that tower over the surroundings. In this world-renown park, you'll see the famous Torres del Paine mountains and other well-known lakes and peaks. 

In the afternoon, you will be dropped off in Laguna Amarga, the main entrance of the park. From there, a shuttle service will take you to your selected accommodation.

Day 10: Base of Torres del Paine

Approaching the summit of Torres del Paine

Trek on your own to the base of the magnificent Torres del Paine for a magnificent excursion like no other. The hike is known by trekkers all around the world for its 900-meter granite Paine Horns climb, which pose a fun, adrenaline-pumping challenge for those looking to put their skills to the test.

Overall, the round trip trek will take about 8-10 hours. The first two hours will take you on an ascent that leaves behind the Hosteria and Refuge Torres del Paine area. This leg is difficult but will give you a good head start on later climbs and transitions into a more relaxed walk with views of Ascencio River.

Once you reach Refugio El Chileno, you have one more hour of hiking through the lenga forest until you finally get to the moraine. This last climb is definitely the hardest, but your hard work will be compensated with a breathtaking final view of massive granite massifs surrounded by the blue expanse of the sky above and lakes below.

Day 11: French Valley Trek

Trekking to French Valley

Today, you will drive an hour out to Pudeto, where you can explore an entirely new side of the park. If you sign up in advance, a local representative can hold onto your luggage until tomorrow for convenience. Make sure to take your money, other valuables, and daily amenities with you in a smaller daypack, as your other belongings will be stored away for the next two days.

From Pudeto, you will travel another 45 minutes to the opposite shore of Lago Pehoe and check into the Paine Grande Refugee, where you will have a cozy bed for the night. Then, trek to the French Valley for fantastic views of the Paine Range (Cuernos, Espada, Máscara, Hoja, Aleta de Tiburón, Catedral, and Paine Grande). This breathtaking trail takes you through serene forests and hanging glaciers to the iconic lookout point, then curves around Lake Skottberg during the trip back.

Day 12: Grey Glacier and Puerto Natales

Grey Glacier boat tour

After a delicious breakfast early in the morning, you will hike approximately four hours from Refugio Paine Grande to the Grey Mountain Hut. Along the way, gaze upon stretches of lakes, mountains, forests, waterfalls, and rivers. Once you arrive, hop onto a scheduled boat and cruise along the water until you approach Grey Glacier. After marveling at the towering ice walls, get dropped off at Hosteria Grey and travel via private transfer to Puerto Natales, where you will stay for the night.

Day 13: From Puerto Natales to Punta Arenas

Strait of Magellan in Chile

Today you will depart by bus to Punta Arenas. Be sure to arrive at the station half an hour early. After three to four hours, you will enter Punta Arenas, Chile's southernmost city. Defined by its aristocratic, European-style architecture, Punta Arenas was once a wealthy port that benefited from ships that would pass through while crossing the Strait of Magellan.

Although the opening of the Panama Canal has diminished its importance, you can still appreciate the city's rich historic legacy. Go for a stroll in the local cemetery known for its impressive mausoleums, or head to the old district to appreciate some of Punta Arenas' best architecture. Although the city now contains more sheep than people, the old mansions and unique character of this eclectic, Patagonian city is sure to catch your eye.

Day 14: Travel to Ushuaia

Ushuaia from above

In the early morning, take a taxi to the bus station and embark on a full-day trip to Ushuaia. Pass through some of Patagonia’s most stunning scenery before crossing the Strait of Magellan to arrive on Tierra del Fuego Island. The bus will cross the border back to Argentina, and continue on until you finally get to Ushuaia, the "City at the End of the World".

This bus trip gives you the opportunity to see the lesser known landscapes of Chile and also includes a ferry ride. However, at 12 hours, the journey is a long and tiring one. If you prefer, you can purchase an additional ticket on your own and fly to Ushuaia instead.

Surrounded by snow-capped mountains and facing the vast Beagle Chanel, Ushuaia is one of the southernmost human settlements in the world. Upon arrival, make your way to your hotel for the night, which should only be a convenient and cheap taxi ride away. 

Day 15: Trekking and Canoeing in Ushuaia

Nature in Ushuaia

Today you'll do some trekking along the coast from Ensenada Bay in Tierra del Fuego National Park, enjoying views over the Beagle Channel. 

As you walk through six km of rugged trails, observe both native wildlife and discover the remains left behind by the Yamanas, the region's original indigenous inhabitants. After three hours, you will stop at Roca Lake for a picnic lunch break, Then, take a canoe out to the Lapataia River and paddle downstream to Lapataia Bay on the Beagle Channel. After admiring the view, head ashore near the endpoint of the Pan-American Highway/Route 3 and return to Ushuaia.

Total duration: 8/10 hours
Trekking: three hours
Canoeing: 1 ½ hours

Day 16: Beagle Channel Cruise

Fur seals and cormorants

Check out the popular tourist pier before embarking on an island-hopping boat excursion out into the famous Beagle Channel. Get a panoramic view of Ushuaia Bay and watch as diverse marine wildlife such as cormorants and fur seals thrive on the De Los Lobos and De Los Pajaros Islands.

On the Bridges Isles, you can even pick up a giant conchero shell and enjoy views of both Chile and Argentina simultaneously. If you're ever hungry or thirsty during the excursion, just return to the boat for some snacks and mate (a traditional South American caffeine-rich infused drink), Argentina's favorite beverage. After passing the Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse, you will return back to Ushuaia.

Day 17: Flight to Buenos Aires - Departure

Goodbye, Argentina

After breakfast, it's time for a flight back to Argentina's capital. Upon arrival in Buenos Aires, transfer to the international terminal for your return flight home. ¡Buen viaje!

Despite the bittersweet goodbye, rest assured that the country will be waiting for you with open arms should you ever decide to return!

Map

Map of Hiking in Southern Patagonia & Tierra del Fuego - 17 Days
Map of Hiking in Southern Patagonia & Tierra del Fuego - 17 Days