If you want to experience the heart of Argentine Patagonia, come to Los Glaciers National Park. It's not only home to a whopping 13 major glaciers (47 total), but the iconic Mt. Fitz Roy as well. This one-week itinerary begins with your arrival in the nation's capital of Buenos Aires, where you can take the day and explore the city. Then you're off to El Calafate, where you'll actually get to hike across the iconic Perito Moreno Glacier. Then it's off to the town of El Chaltén and hiking excursions around the famous Mt. Fitz Roy.

Highlights

  • Explore Buenos Aires, a European-inspired metropolis
  • Take a tour of the glaciers near the town of El Calafate
  • Travel over the top of Perito Moreno on a glacier hike
  • Visit El Chaltén and trek near the base of Fitz Roy

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Buenos Aires - Explore the City Buenos Aires
Day 2 Arrival in El Calafate: Buenos Aires - El Calafate El Calafate
Day 3 Perito Moreno Glacier Hike El Calafate
Day 4 El Calafate to El Chaltén El Chalten
Day 5 Hike to Mt. Fitz Roy El Chalten
Day 6 Hike to Mirador Cerro Torre El Chalten
Day 7 El Chaltén to El Calafate - Departure  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Buenos Aires - Explore the City

The Obelisco, a central monument in Buenos Aires

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 walking areas in a city famous for its walking areas. 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: Arrival in El Calafate: Buenos Aires - El Calafate

Perito Moreno Glacier

This morning, a driver will meet you at your hotel and transfer you to the airport for your flight to El Calafate, a city that sits on the shores of Lago Argentino and is known as the gateway to Argentina's glaciers. If you can, get a window seat so you can take in the stunning views of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field as you fly over it. 

Upon arrival at El Calafate, another transfer will take you to your hotel. You can spend the rest of the day relaxing or venture out and enjoy the quaint cafes and shops around town. Maybe prime yourself with information on the nearby glaciers by visiting the Glaciarium. This multi-media center has an ice museum, various interactive displays, and educational information regarding glaciers. For fun, it even has a bar made totally of ice.

Day 3: Perito Moreno Glacier Hike

Trekking Perito Moreno

After breakfast, you'll return to Los Glaciers National Park to go trekking on Perito Moreno Glacier. On this full-day excursion, you'll walk over Perito Moreno's surface while equipped with crampons and an ice ax. It's a perfectly safe activity, as you'll be accompanied by certified bilingual guides. So enjoy crossing deep blue ice crevices and hiking over meltwater streams as you experience Perito Moreno up close and personal. 

After your expedition on the glacier, you'll have plenty of time to appreciate it from one of the many viewing platforms in the park. These platforms are accessible via a network of walkways that run along the shores of the lake. They offer sweeping views of the glacier, making for great photo opportunities.

Day 4: El Calafate to El Chaltén

Evening in El Chaltén

After breakfast, a vehicle will pick you up for the three-hour drive to El Chaltén. If the skies are clear, you'll be treated to incredible views of Mount Fitz Roy along the way. Upon arrival, you'll check into your hotel and have the rest of the day to acclimate to your new surroundings. We recommend taking the opportunity to enjoy a relaxing evening sampling one of El Chaltén's many restaurants and craft-beer bars. 

Day 5: Hike to Mt. Fitz Roy

View from Laguna de los Tres

This morning you'll embark on a full-day excursion into Los Glaciares National Park. El Chaltén is the perfect starting point for such an excursion because there are a number of trailheads just outside of town. Many of these lead into the range of Fitz Roy and offer wonderful opportunities for day hikes.

Let it be known that by "day hike," we mean all day long, as many of these treks can last up to 11 hours depending on which route you take. The hike you'll be embarking on this morning is to Laguna de los Tres. The trail leads up through an alpine forest,  complete with views of Piedras Blancas Glacier, all the way up to the lake. Laguna de los Tres earned its name because from its shores you have a panoramic view of three peaks: Fitz Roy, Poincenot, and Torre.

At the end of the day's hike, you'll descend the mountain and return to your hotel in El Chaltén.

Hiking Distance:  26 km (16 miles)
Hiking Duration: 8-11 hours

Day 6: Hike to Mirador Cerro Torre

Dawn at Laguna Torre

Today, you'll leave from town on foot with your own guide. This trek is a bit gentler than the Laguna de los Tres hike as there isn't nearly as much of a steep uphill ascent. Instead, you'll be traversing a glacial valley that has fascinated geologists due to its perfect "U" shape, the result of the area once being covered by large swaths of ice. The total distance of this hike is 24 km (14.9 miles), and it takes about six hours to complete.

The hike will take you through bright green lenga forests and around lagoons until you reach the day's final destination: Laguna Torre. This glacial lake sits at the foot of the sharp granite peak of Cerro Torre, and here you'll find the glacier that feeds the lake as well. After spending some time at the lake and admiring the views, you'll return to El Chaltén along the same path.

Day 7: El Chaltén to El Calafate - Departure

Goodbye, Patagonia

It's now time to say goodbye to Patagonia. Today a driver will meet you and transfer you from the town of El Chaltén to the airport at El Calafate Airport for your flight to Buenos Aires. Upon arrival in Buenos Aires, transfer to the international airport for your flight home. It's a bittersweet moment, to be sure, but on the ascent look out the plane window and, if it's a clear day, you'll be able to see the Southern Patagonian Ice Field stretched out before you in all its glory. Quite the farewell indeed.