- Discover the landmarks and parks of historic Santiago
- Go on hikes in Torres del Paine National Park
- See the massive Perito Moreno Glacier
- Visit a real working ranch in Patagonia
- Enjoy city tours and tango shows in Buenos Aires
|Day 1||Arrive in Santiago (Chile), Optional Activities||Santiago|
|Day 2||Fly to Puerto Natales & Chilean Patagonia||Puerto Natales|
|Day 3||Day Trip to Torres del Paine National Park||Puerto Natales|
|Day 4||Full-Day Hike to Mirador Las Torres||Puerto Natales|
|Day 5||Transfer to El Calafate (Argentina), Optional Activities||El Calafate|
|Day 6||Perito Moreno Glacier Excursion||El Calafate|
|Day 7||Day Trip to Nibepo Aike Estancia||El Calafate|
|Day 8||Fly to Buenos Aires, Optional Activities||Buenos Aires|
|Day 9||City Tour, Dinner & Tango Show||Buenos Aires|
|Day 10||Depart Buenos Aires|
Day 1: Arrive in Santiago (Chile), Optional Activities
Welcome to Chile! This long sliver of a country runs 2,700 miles (4,345 km) along both the Pacific coast and the spine of the Andes mountains. Within its narrow, fertile valleys are impressive cities and towns, like the capital of Santiago. This metropolis sits at 1,700 feet (518 m) above sea level and is surrounded by snowcapped mountains. Lining its wide boulevards are a mix of modern skyscrapers and historical landmarks dating back to the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries.
Upon arrival at Santiago's airport, a driver will pick you up and transfer you to your hotel in the city. After checking in, you'll have the rest of the day free to relax at the hotel. Or, you can hit the street and explore the city on a self-guided tour. One highlight is the Plaza de Armas, the city's main square. It's home to the Palacio de la Real Audiencia (Palace of the Royal Court), built in 1808, which houses the National History Museum of Chile. Also on the plaza is the Santiago Metropolitan Cathedral, an impressive neoclassical building with twin bell towers that dates back to 1753.
Day 2: Fly to Puerto Natales & Chilean Patagonia
In the morning, you'll transfer back to the airport in Santiago and catch a 3.5-hour flight south to Puerto Natales. Upon arrival, another driver will pick you up and transfer you to your hotel. After checking in, you'll have the rest of the day to explore.
This small port city is famous as the base for excursions into Torres del Paine National Park. It is less touristic than other Patagonian hubs and has an air of small-town tranquility. Here, you can enjoy simple pleasures like strolling the promenade fronting the silver waters of the Ultima Esperanza Sound. In the distance, you'll see the peaks of Cerro Benitez and Cerro Toro, and the sunset views are phenomenal.
Day 3: Day Trip to Torres del Paine National Park
After breakfast, your driver will pick you up for the drive to Torres del Paine, the crown jewel of Chile's national parks. Just outside of Puerto Natales, you'll stop at Cuevas del Milodón (Mylodon Caves). This network of caverns houses a replica of a mylodon, a giant herbivore that went extinct in the Pleistocene era. The remains of other ancient animals have been found here, including the prehistoric cave bear and saber-toothed tiger. After the caves, you'll continue for two hours to Torres del Paine. On the way, keep an eye out for endemic animals like the guanaco, a camelid related to the llama.
Upon reaching Torres del Paine, you'll begin the full-day tour. You'll visit some of the park's main attractions, such as the 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, making one last stop at glassy Lago Sarmiento to snap a few final photos.
Day 4: Day Hike to Mirador Las Torres
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Wake up early and embark on a full-day hike up one of the most famous routes in Torres del Paine: the trail to Mirador Las Torres. Located at the foot of the Torres del Paine (Towers of Blue), in this spot, three granite pillars jut out of the ground over a silver lagoon and make for the best view in the park.
It's a challenging ascent that covers about 12.5 miles (20 km) and takes over 12 hours to complete. The trek begins at Reserva Cerro Paine with a walk up Almirante Nieto, a mountain featuring wide views of Lago Nordenskjöld and the Asencio Valley down below. After two hours of steady ascent, you'll arrive at Refugio Chileno, a lodge where you'll take a break and enjoy a box lunch with your fellow hikers.
From here, it's another hour of hiking through a dense lenga forest. After emerging from the forest, you'll approach a rocky moraine and climb up to Mirador Las Torres. You'll likely be exhausted, but the image of those granite peaks towering over you will make the whole experience worthwhile. Later, you'll hike back down the mountain and meet your driver for the ride back to Puerto Natales.
Day 5: Bus to El Calafate (Argentina), Optional Activities
In the morning, you'll say goodbye to Chile as you board a bus for the six-hour drive north into Argentina and El Calafate. This town sits on the shores of Lago Argentino, at the edge of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, home to Los Glacieres National Park. The most famous landmark in this protected area is Perito Moreno, a massive ice flow and one of the few advancing glaciers in the world.
Upon arrival at El Calafate, a driver will meet you at the bus station and take you to your hotel. You can spend the remainder of the day relaxing or venture out and enjoy the quaint cafés and shops around town. You can also prime yourself with information on the nearby glaciers by visiting the Glaciarium. This multimedia center has an ice museum, various interactive displays, and educational information regarding glaciers—it even has a bar made of ice.
Day 6: Perito Moreno Glacier Excursion
After an early breakfast, you'll head out on another full-day adventure. A driver will pick you up from your hotel for the one-hour ride west into Los Glaciares National Park. As you enter, you'll catch your first glimpse of the majestic Perito Moreno. This expansive ice formation flows down from the Andes to the edge of Lago Argentino and has a surface area of 96 square miles (250 sq km).
Once here, you can wander the 2 miles (3 km) of wooden walkways to stake out ideal vantage points to snap photos of this marvel of Mother Nature. Wait a while, and you might see "calving," the awe-inspiring sight of ice breaking off the facade and crashing into the tranquil waters below. Every time ice hits the water a thundering crash reverberates in the ears. At the end of the day, you'll return to El Calafate and your hotel.
Day 7: Day Trip to Nibepo Aike Estancia
For your final day in Patagonia, you'll experience life on a working estancia (ranch). In the morning, your driver will pick you up for the one-hour trip west from El Calafate to Estancia Nibepo Aike. Located on the shores of Lago Roca within Los Glaciares National Park, this country farm offers visitors the opportunity to learn about traditional ranch life amid stunning lenga forests and ñire trees.
Upon arrival, your host and guide will welcome you with a hot drink and a homemade pastry. After learning a bit about the history of the estancia, you'll head over to the paddocks and witness sheep herding and milking, followed by a horseback ride. This fun excursion lasts 45 minutes and will take you through lenga forests on scenic lakeside trails backed by stunning views of the Cordillera de los Andes mountain range.
Day 8: Fly to Buenos Aires, Optional Activities
Say your goodbyes to Patagonia this morning as you transfer to the airport in El Calafate and catch a three-hour flight north to Buenos Aires. Upon arrival at the airport, a driver will pick you up and transfer you to your hotel. Then you'll want to head out and explore Argentina's capital, a massive metropolis home to around 15 million people. This is one of South America's most exciting cities, which you'll see after just a few minutes of wandering its restless streets.
Perhaps stop by Teatro Colón, one of the world's premier opera houses. Since its opening in 1908, the theater's neoclassical facade has marked it as one of the finest buildings in the city. Then, take a stroll through Puerto Madero, an upscale waterfront neighborhood just outside the city center. Definitely don't miss the historic San Telmo, which is the oldest barrio (neighborhood) in the city. And when night falls, do like the locals do and enjoy a thick, juicy steak drizzled with chimichurri at a local parrilla (steakhouse).
Day 9: City Tour, Dinner & Tango Show
Today, you'll embark on a three-hour tour of Buenos Aires' most colorful neighborhoods. A vehicle will pick you up in the morning, and you'll head over to Plaza de Mayo, home to the famous Casa Rosada (Presidential Palace). Continue down the charming streets of San Telmo, past the colorful zinc houses in La Boca, along the Puerto Madero waterfront, and to the gardens of Palermo before ending the tour in Recoleta. While in this affluent barrio, visit the stately Recoleta Cemetery, where notable Argentine historical figures like Eva Perón are buried.
At the end of the tour, you'll have a few hours to relax. Then, at dinnertime, head over to the Monserrat neighborhood and Café de los Angelitos. This historic dining hall boasts over 100 years of history, starting with its humble beginnings in 1890 as a dirt-floor bar. Remodeled over the years, today it's an ornate three-tiered café and theater that hosts nightly tango shows featuring 21 artists, which you'll enjoy with dinner and local wine. At the end of the evening, you'll return to your hotel.