When people think of Patagonia they think of ancient glaciers, alpine forests, snow-capped granite peaks, and vast expanses of unspoiled nature. You'll experience all of it over nine days in both Argentina and Chile that will take you from Buenos Aires to Chile's premier national park, Torres del Paine. Along the way, you'll enjoy some of the most memorable nature hikes and excursions the world has to offer.

Highlights

  • Enjoy dinner and a tango show in Argentina's capital of Buenos Aires
  • Go trekking outside of El Chalten and enjoy views of Mt. Fitz Roy
  • Take a boat to Perito Moreno, the most awe-inspiring glacier in the region
  • Hike up to Chile's Paine Massif for incredible views of Torres del Paine

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Buenos Aires - Explore Buenos Aires
Day 2 Walking Tour of Buenos Aires Buenos Aires
Day 3 Buenos Aires to El Calafate - Transfer to El Chaltén El Chalten
Day 4 Hike to Laguna de Los Tres El Chalten
Day 5 Hike to Laguna Torre El Chalten
Day 6 El Chaltén to El Calafate - Perito Moreno Glacier Tour El Calafate
Day 7 El Calafate to Torres del Paine - Driving Tour Torres del Paine
Day 8 Hike to Base Torres Torres del Paine
Day 9 Transfer to El Calafate - Departure  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Buenos Aires - Explore

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" and the "Queen of El Plata." Famous for its mix of European ambiance and Latin American culture, it's the birthplace of the tango and abounds with cobbled streets and beautiful Baroque architecture.

Upon arrival at the airport, a driver will transfer you to your hotel for check-in. Once you've had the chance to rest, you can head out and explore. The city center is your best starting point.

Day 2: Walking Tour of Buenos Aires

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 plus 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). Then, visit the oldest neighborhood in the city, San Telmo. Afterward, you'll stop by B.A.'s original port, La Boca.

In the evening, enjoy a delicious meal accompanied by a tango performance—one of Argentina's most famous cultural highlights.

Day 3: Buenos Aires to El Calafate - Transfer to El Chaltén

View of Mt. Fitz Roy over El Chalten
View of Mt. Fitz Roy over El Chalten

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

Upon arrival in El Calafate, a vehicle will pick you up for the three-hour drive to El Chaltén. Along the way, if the skies are clear, you'll be treated to incredible views of Mount Fitz Roy. Upon arrival, you'll check into your hotel and have the rest of the day to acclimate to the area. Perhaps take a walk in town before a relaxing evening sampling El Chaltén's many restaurants and craft-beer bars.

Day 4: Hike to Laguna de Los Tres

Laguna de los Tres
Laguna de los Tres

Put on your hiking shoes because it's time for a full-day, 16-mile (26 km) excursion into Los Glaciares National Park. El Chaltén is the perfect starting point, as there are a number of trailheads just outside of town, many of them leading up to Mt. Fitz Roy.

The destination today is Laguna de los Tres. This glassy body of water earned its name, "the lake of the three," because from its shores you have prime views of three peaks: Fitz Roy, Poincenot, and Torre. To arrive there, you'll follow a trail that leads up through alpine forest and features beautiful views in its own right, particularly of the valley below and Piedras Blancas Glacier

Upon arrival at the lake, you'll take some time to enjoy the rewarding views before descending back down the mountain.

Day 5: Hike to Laguna Torre

Dawn at Laguna Torre
Dawn at Laguna Torre

Today you'll set off on a guided hike from El Chalten to another gem of Patagonia: Laguna Torre. This lake sits at the foot of the granite peak of Cerro Torre and is fed by glacial meltwater. The trail you'll follow will take you through bright green lenga forests and around blue lagoons until you reach the shores of Laguna Torre.

After spending some time at the lake admiring the views, you'll return to El Chaltén along the same path. The total distance of this hike is 15 miles (24 km), and it takes about six hours to complete. 

Day 6: El Chaltén to El Calafate - Perito Moreno Glacier Tour

View of Perito Moreno from the boardwalks
View of Perito Moreno from the boardwalks

You're in for an exciting full-day excursion. It starts with a pick up from your hotel in El Chaltén and a one-hour transfer to Los Glaciares National Park. As you enter the park you'll catch your first glimpse of Perito Moreno. This expansive ice mass flows down from the Andes, ending in a great wall that curves around the lake. Wait a bit and you might witness "calving," the awe-inspiring sight of ice breaking off the facade and crashing into the tranquil waters below. 

While not the only glacier in the area, Perito Moreno is indeed the star of the show. Also unique is that it's one of the few advancing glaciers in the world, a factor that results in the calving mentioned above. Upon arrival, you'll be able to admire Perito Moreno from a number of different vantage points via the network of wooden walkways strategically situated in front of the glacier. Even better, you'll get up close and personal with its massive ice wall on a short boat tour. 

Day 7: El Calafate to Torres del Paine - Driving Tour

Look for guanacos in and outside of the park
Look for guanacos in and outside of the park

This morning, you'll transfer by private vehicle from El Calafate to neighboring Chile for a full-day driving tour around Torres del Paine National Park. The drive takes about four hours depending on congestion at the border. Keep your camera close because as you approach the park you'll spot some local fauna, including many species of birds as well as the guanaco, a wild camelid related to the llama. 

Once inside Torres del Paine, you'll spend the day on a driving tour, stopping at the best viewpoints to spot beautiful landmarks glacial lakes, the thundering waterfalls of Salto Grande, and of course the iconic peaks of the Horns of Paine (part of the Cordillera Paine). Besides stopping for lunch, you'll also be able to enjoy some short hikes around the park grounds. 

After the tour is finished, you'll meet a driver who will transfer you to your lodging near Torres del Paine.

Day 8: Hike to Base Torres

Base of Torres del Paine
Base of Torres del Paine

After breakfast, head up to the base of the Torres del Paine massif (known as Base Torres) 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 and lasts about nine hours. Every step of the way, enjoy views of beautiful scenery comprised of rivers, native forests, mountain peaks, and narrow valleys. Keep a close watch for local bird species, like condors and black eagles. 

Your route begins at the Las Torres Hostel and will take you over the Ascencio River, at which point you'll ascend about 1.5 miles to a lookout featuring panoramic views of the valley below and the surrounding mountains. Then, 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. 

That's the hardest portion of the hike. However, 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, any exhaustion will likely dissipate. You can then rest by the lagoon and enjoy the magnificent views as you enjoy a delicious picnic lunch.

Afterward, begin the return trip back down the trail. The descent takes approximately four hours, at which point you'll reach the hotel.

Day 9: Transfer to El Calafate - Departure

Goodbye, Patagonia
Goodbye, Patagonia

It's time to bid farewell to Patagonia. In the morning you'll transfer to the El Calafate Airport (FTE) for your flight to Buenos Aires (sit near the window for great views of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field). Upon arrival in B.A., you'll connect to the international airport for your flight home. Until next time!

Map

Map of Los Glaciares & Torres del Paine - 9 Days
Map of Los Glaciares & Torres del Paine - 9 Days