This thrilling 15-day itinerary takes you to the highlights of Patagonia for outdoor adventures in both Argentina and Chile. You'll start on the Argentinian side, getting up close to the Perito Moreno glacier in El Calafate before taking a scenic drive to El Chaltén for hiking and climbing. Then you'll cross over to Chile for four days of trekking on the famous W circuit of Torres del Paine National Park. Finally, you'll head back to Argentina to explore Tierra del Fuego National Park, cruise down the Beagle Channel, spot penguins in the wild, and dine on freshly caught seafood in Ushuaia.

Highlights

  • Marvel at massive Perito Moreno, the most spectacular glacier in the region
  • Go hiking in the mountains outside the adventure hub of El Chaltén
  • Trek, boat, and camp in Chile's Torres del Paine National Park
  • Take a boat trip up the Beagle Channel outside Ushuaia
  • Visit a working ranch in Tierra del Fuego
  • See penguins in their natural habitat on Isla Martillo

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 Enjoy a Scenic Drive to El Chaltén El Chaltén
Day 5 Hike to Laguna de Los Tres El Chaltén
Day 6 Travel from El Chaltén Back to El Calafate El Calafate
Day 7 Begin Exploring Torres del Paine Torres del Paine
Day 8 Start the W Trek to Refugio el Chileno Torres del Paine
Day 9 Hike to Refugio Los Cuernos Torres del Paine
Day 10 Continue to the French Valley Torres del Paine
Day 11 Trek to Grey Glacier Puerto Natales
Day 12 Discover the Southernmost City in the World Ushuaia
Day 13 Explore Tierra del Fuego National Park Ushuaia
Day 14 Visit Estancia Harberton & Isla Martillo Ushuaia
Day 15 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.

Believe it or not, you'll be trekking on top of this glacier today! Your excursion involves walking over the ice, fully outfitted with crampons and an ice ax. Traversing Perito Moreno is an amazing adventure, and a perfectly safe one, as you'll be accompanied by certified bilingual guides who know the terrain. Enjoy the thrill of crossing over deep blue ice crevices and hiking over meltwater streams as you see the glacier up close. 

Day 4: Enjoy a Scenic Drive to El Chaltén

Welcome to El Chaltén with views of Mt Fitz Roy
El Chaltén's welcome sign framed by views of Mount Fitz Roy

After breakfast, head to the bus station in El Calafate to board a bus to El Chaltén. Grab a window seat and get ready to enjoy the incredibly scenic northbound journey that covers 124 miles and takes around three to four hours. You'll ride along Ruta 40, the famous Patagonian highway that cuts through great expanses of barren steppe and reveals views of snowy peaks on the horizon. El Chaltén sits at the foot of the iconic Mount Fitz Roy and is nicknamed "Hiker's Paradise," due to the abundance of mountaineering options around. Tomorrow you'll get out and explore, but for today, just relax in town and have a beer or a meal in one of several cozy restaurants and bars that cater to outdoor enthusiasts.

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Day 5: Hike to Laguna de Los Tres

Laguna de los Tres
Aquamarine waters at Laguna de los Tres

Put on your hiking boots this morning — 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 which lead to Mt. Fitz Roy. Your destination today is Laguna de los Tres. This glassy body of water earned its name — which translates to "Lake of the Three" — because it offers prime views of three peaks. In addition to Fitz Roy, you can see Poincenot and Torre from here. You'll follow a trail that leads up through alpine forest. At the top, take in views of the valley below and Piedras Blancas Glacier. Hike back to El Chaltén for a relaxing evening.

Day 6: Travel from El Chaltén 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 7: Begin Exploring Torres del Paine

Guanacos in Torres del Paine National Park
Guanacos in Torres del Paine National Park

Today, you'll transfer from El Calafate to Torres del Paine National Park. On the way, you'll pass through expansive grasslands that are home to rheas, guanacos, Patagonian hares, and condors. Make sure to have your passport on hand, as you will cross the border to Chile before ending up at Torres del Paine.

After entering the park through the Laguna Amarga entrance, you'll ride in a shuttle to a comfortable lodge. Keep an eye out for wild guanacos as they roam the nearby windy plains. In addition to the namesake mountains, other highlights of the park include the Salto Grande waterfall, Laguna Amarga, a water-filled caldera, Cuernos del Paine, magnificent granite spires in the shape of horns, and Lake Pehoé, a beautiful lake.

Day 8: Start the W Trek to Refugio el Chileno

Mirador Base Torres
Mirador Base Torres

Embark on a trekking adventure! The excursion begins with a one-and-a-half-hour ascent featuring stunning views of the hanging glacier at Mount Almirante Nieto as well as nearby lakes. Once you reach Refugio el Chileno, you can drop off your bags and take a quick break to refuel.

You'll then hike another hour past lenga forests until you arrive at a moraine. From here it's a steep ascent for 45 minutes until you reach the top, which is known as Mirador Base Torres. Mirador in English means "viewpoint,"  and this little section of the mountain, with the Cuernos Del Paine (Horns of Paine) looming over a jade lagoon, is the best view in the park. From here you can also marvel at the towering peaks of nearby Torre Sur, Central Tower, North Tower, Condor's Nest, and Glacier Torre, all set amidst the sweeping backdrop of the Patagonian highlands.

After spending some time enjoying the views at Base Torres, you'll then hike back to Refugio el Chileno to rest up for the evening. 

Hiking distance: 11 miles (18 km)
Hiking duration: 6.5 hours

Day 9: Hike to Refugio Los Cuernos

The waterfront at Lake Nordenskjöld
The waterfront at Lake Nordenskjöld

After breakfast, you'll depart Refugio el Chileno for a more moderate day of hiking. After passing by the Paine Massif you'll arrive at the base of Mount Almirante Nieto. Then it's more hiking with views of Lake Nordenskjöld's emerald waters, impressive hanging glaciers, and fascinating local flora. Eventually, you will reach the Cuernos sector of the park and spend the night in Refugio Los Cuernos, a refuge located on the hillside in the heart of Torres del Paine.

Hiking distance: 6.8 miles (11 km)
Hiking duration: 4.5 hours

Day 10: Continue to the French Valley

Lake Pehoé
Lake Pehoé

The destination of today's hike is Campamento Italiano, a campsite located 2.5 hours away from Refugio Cuernos. To arrive there involves trekking along the windy shores of Lago Nordenskjöld. Once at Campamento Italiano, you'll leave your heavy gear and continue the trek towards the French Valley, a rocky section of flatland cradled at the base of granite peaks.

Hike another couple of hours through a forest before finally emerging into the valley, and all the incredible scenery will come into view. From a lookout point, enjoy spectacular views of lakes Nordenskjöld, Skottsberg, and Pehoé, as well as the hanging French Glacier. After leaving the lookout, return to gather your large pack and continue another 2.5 hours to Refugio Paine Grande, on the shores of Lake Pehoé, for your overnight stay. 

Hiking Distance: 10.7 miles
Hiking Duration: 7 hours

Day 11: Hike to Grey Glacier

Glacier Grey
Grey Glacier

After a fortifying breakfast, embark on a hike through a small forest to Lago Grey, a lake fed by one of the star landmarks of Torres del Paine, Grey Glacier. This glacial mass makes up a large portion of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field. After about two hours of hiking, you'll get your first glimpse of the glacier's jagged ice walls and the peaks of the Cordon Olguin.

Finish your Torres del Paine adventure aboard a catamaran. You'll embark on a tour of the lake, which will put you close to the glacier and provide some great photo opportunities. The catamaran will then leave you at the shore in the Pudeto sector of the park. Here you'll meet a private driver who will transfer you back to Puerto Natales. In the evening, relax in your hotel after a long day.

Hiking Distance: 7 miles (11 km)
Hiking Duration: 4 hours

Day 12: Discover the Southernmost City in the World

Early morning view of Ushuaia
Early morning view of Ushuaia

After an early breakfast in Puerto Natales, you'll begin the unforgettable 14-hour journey to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. First, you'll board a bus from Puerto Natales to Punta Arenas. Then, continue by ferry to Tierra del Fuego via the famous Strait of Magellan.

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 13: Explore Tierra del Fuego National Park

Tierra Del Fuego National Park

Today, go for a hike around Tierra del Fuego National Park. The national park is located close to the city, so it's easily accessible. Enjoy a 4.3-mile (7 km) hike on a coastal path that follows the Beagle Channel, where you'll have prime views along the way. You'll also pass remnants of ancient settlements once occupied by the Yámana indigenous people.

Return to Ushuaia later in the day and enjoy dinner in a restaurant in town.

Day 14: Visit Estancia Harberton & Isla Martillo

Penguins on Isla Martillo

Next up is a penguin-spotting excursion! The trip starts with a bus ride to Estancia Harberton, a working ranch that dates back to 1886. The property, featuring glassy lakes and virgin forests, is wonderful to explore.

After spending some time on the ranch, you'll head to a nearby dock on the Beagle Channel and hop in a zodiac boat. You'll then zip along the water until you reach Isla Martillo, an island that is home to thousands of Magellanic penguins as well as some Gentoo penguins. A guided tour includes a hike where you will learn about the penguins' natural habitat. Then head back to Ushuaia to enjoy one last seafood dinner before flying out the next day.

Day 15: 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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