This thirteen-day adventure is perfect for nature-lovers who want to experience more of Patagonia's amazing landscapes and diverse eco-systems. Start with an eco-friendly tour of Buenos Aires on a bamboo bicycle, then head to the Atlantic coast to see whales, sea lions, and more in Peninsula Valdés. Then, go say hello to Magellanic penguins in Ushuaia, and spend a day trekking through Tierra del Fuego National Park. Finally, head to El Calafate for the chance to walk on top of Perito Moreno glacier, and spend a final day in "hiker's paradise" before flying home.

Highlights

  • Snorkel with sea lions in Puerto Madryn
  • Gear up and walk on top of Perito Moreno glacier
  • Go whale-watching off the coast of Peninsula Valdés
  • Make empanadas and more at Buenos Aires' premier dinner party experience
  • Trek through Tierra del Fuego National Park

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Buenos Aires Buenos Aires
Day 2 Buenos Aires Bicycle Tour Buenos Aires
Day 3 Buenos Aires to Puerto Madryn Puerto Madryn
Day 4 Snorkeling with Sea Lions in Puerto Madryn Puerto Madryn
Day 5 Península Valdés & Whale Watching Tour Puerto Madryn
Day 6 Puerto Madryn to Ushuaia Ushuaia
Day 7 Penguins on Isla Martillo & Estancia Harberton Ushuaia
Day 8 Trekking & Canoeing in Tierra del Fuego Ushuaia
Day 9 Fly from Ushuaia to El Calafate El Calafate
Day 10 Perito Moreno Glacier Trek El Calafate
Day 11 El Calafate to El Chaltén El Chalten
Day 12 Full-Day Hike to Mt. Fitz Roy & Return to El Calafate El Calafate
Day 13 El Calafate to Buenos Aires - Departure  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Buenos Aires

A Japanese garden in the Palermo neighborhood
A Japanese garden in the Palermo neighborhood

 Welcome to Buenos Aires! Sometimes called the "Paris of South America," the capital of Argentina is a city defined by passion—from its rich tango heritage to its citizens' limitless enthusiasm for fútbol (soccer), the country's most popular sport. 

When you land, a driver will pick you up from the airport and take you to your hotel, where you can rest and recharge after your long flight. But make no mistake: you'll be itching to see what the city has to offer. So after a quick break, venture out and explore.

In the evening, dine at a classic Argentine parilla (steakhouse). Enjoy a thick, juicy steak (Argentina has some of the best beef in the world) drizzled with delicious chimichurri (a garlic, herb, and vinegar sauce). Buenos Aires is a late-night city, and it's not uncommon for locals to have dinner well past nine in the evening, especially on weekends. 

Day 2: Buenos Aires Bicycle Tour

Your mode of transport: a bamboo bicycle
Your mode of transport: a bamboo bicycle

Today you'll get to experience the city on two wheels with a bicycle tour. You'll zip through the capital and visit every major neighborhood in the city on a bambucicleta, an eco-friendly bamboo bike. It's the perfect way to engage in responsible tourism around the city.

In the morning you'll meet your guide at the Museo de Armas (weapons museum), located on the south side of Plaza San Martín.

The first neighborhood you'll hit is Puerto Madero, a mega-port that was once run-down but has now been transformed into a modern business and finance center. Here you'll visit the Costanera Sur Ecological Reserve, an 865-acre protected area along the waterfront. Share a round of yerba mate (a tea that is a cultural touchstone in Argentina).

Afterward, continue south to La Boca neighborhood to see La Bombonera, the home stadium of famous local fútbol club, the Boca Juniors. You'll also visit colorful Caminito Street, which is filled with art, music, and tango dancing.

Then it's off San Telmo—the oldest neighborhood in Buenos Aires—where you'll enjoy a traditional lunch that includes a wide range of Argentine delights. Next, you'll visit nearby Plaza de Mayo to get a sense of Argentina's history.

You'll now peddle north, where the historic working-class barrios give way to the upper-class enclaves of the aristocracy. First, you'll visit Retiro, a neighborhood famous for its ornate buildings and baroque architecture. Then it's on to the famous Recoleta neighborhood and its Haussmannian architecture.

Here you'll stop at the Recoleta Cemetery, where the most prominent figures of Argentina's history are buried, including Eva "Evita" Peron. Wander through the ornate family crypts and say hello to the cemetery's many friendly stray cats. 

Before ending the tour, you'll visit the historic and trendy neighborhood of Palermo, which is known for its restaurants and large parks designed by legendary Argentine/French landscape architect Charles Thays.

Day 3: Buenos Aires to Puerto Madryn

Sealife in and around Puerto Madryn
Sealife in and around Puerto Madryn

After breakfast in the capital, a driver will pick you up and take you Aeroparque Airport for your flight to Puerto Madryn, a small city on the Atlantic coast.  

Puerto Madryn is on the Golfo Nuevo (New Gulf) of northern Patagonia's Atlantic shore. Off the coast, you can see an abundance of marine mammals—including the southern right whale, which typically breeds here from May to December. 

Puerto Madryn is most famous for being the jumping on/off point for nearby Península Valdés, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is home to lots of wildlife, including sea lions, penguins, guanacos, whales, and orcas. You can also visit nearby Gaiman—a small historic town founded by Welsh settlers in 1875. Gaiman has preserved a lot of its Welsh heritage with tea shops, chapels, and gardens sprinkled throughout town.

Upon arrival at Puerto Madryn, a driver will pick you up at the airport and take you to your hotel. If you have any energy after your flight, stretch your legs with a stroll around this tranquil city. It's a safe, walkable community and the charming waterfront promenade is lined with cafes and restaurants, some of which have patio seating and ocean views. You can also make the short trip to Gaiman for a spot of tea.

Day 4: Snorkeling with Sea Lions in Puerto Madryn

Snorkel with sea lions in Puerto Madryn
Snorkel with sea lions in Puerto Madryn

There are only a few places in South America where you can swim with sea lions in their natural habitat, and Puerto Madryn is one of them. A guide will pick you up at your hotel and take you to their office to change into your swimwear. Then, you'll board a boat at Puerto Pirámides, and sail to a nearby bay where the sea lions like to swim, sleep, and sunbathe.  

Upon arrival, you'll be allowed to hop in the water (wetsuits and equipment will be provided). Sea lions are curious by nature and will swim up to visitors to say hello. A guide will be there to show you how to behave when a sea lion approaches and coach you through this magical experience. 

Day 5: Península Valdés & Whale Watching Tour

Whale breaching near Puerto Madryn
Whale breaching near Puerto Madryn

After breakfast in Puerto Madryn, it's time for a full-day tour of Península Valdés. First, you'll stop at the Istmo Ameghino Interpretation Center, which is filled with information about the area's eco-system, and you'll learn about the different types of fauna that call the peninsula home. The center even has a lookout tower, where you can look out on stunning views of the Golfo Nuevo and the Golfo San José.

After visiting the interpretation center you'll continue to Puerto Pirámides, where you'll board a boat to start your whale-and-wildlife-watching tour.  The ship sails along the coast, and you'll have plenty of opportunities to observe local wildlife in their natural habitat. Keep your eyes peeled for sea lions and (if you're lucky) right whales and killer whales. 

The tour continues after your boat ride. On the way back to Puerto Madryn you'll pass salt flats, as well as Isla de Pájaros, an island abounding with different bird species, including cormorants, egrets, rheas, and flamingos. The tour ends in the late afternoon.

Day 6: Puerto Madryn to Ushuaia

Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse in Beagle Channel
Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse in Beagle Channel

A driver will pick you up at your hotel and take you to the airport for your flight to Ushuaia, a city that sits on the very southern edge of the South American continent. Once you land, another driver will pick you up and take you to your hotel. From there you'll have the rest of the day free to relax in your hotel or enjoy the town. 

Day 7: Penguins on Isla Martillo & Estancia Harberton

Gentoo penguins in Isla Martillo
Gentoo penguins in Isla Martillo

After breakfast at your hotel, it's time for a full day of penguins! The trip starts at the Ushuaia pier, where you'll catch a bus to Estancia Harberton and drive through rugged Fuegian forests until you reach the dock, where your boat will be waiting for you.

From here, you'll board a semi-rigid rubber boat that will take you to an island and give you a chance to see a Magellanic penguin colony (amongst other species) up close. This guided tour includes a 90-minute hike to both Isla Martillo and Estancia Harberton, where you will learn about the penguins and their natural habitat. Expect plenty of great photo opportunities.

At the end of the tour, you'll return to Ushuaia in time for dinner and a night on the town.

Day 8: Trekking & Canoeing in Tierra del Fuego

Coastal trail in Tierra del Fuego
Coastal trail in Tierra del Fuego

Today, you'll spend a day in Tierra del Fuego National Park, one of the most frequently visited places near Ushuaia. On this day trip, a specialized guide will help you discover some of the 155,000-acre park's most beautiful natural scenery and show you the ins and outs of this protected paradise, from seaside mountains to freshwater rivers to subantarctic forests and tranquil bays.

You'll depart from your hotel by minibus for the short ride to the entrance of the park. Then it's a 4.3 mile (7 km) hike on a coastal path that follows the Beagle Channel. You'll have prime views of the channel along the way, and you'll also get to see the diverse flora and fauna of the area. You'll also pass remnants of ancient settlements once occupied by the Yámana indigenous people.

After this brisk three-hour trek, you'll reach Lago Roca where you can relax and enjoy a hot lunch. Then it's time to start the canoe ride down the Lapataia River. This waterway leads to your ultimate destination, Lapataia Bay, the place where the famous Pan-American Highway—which starts all the way up in Alaska—ends.  

Day 9: Fly from Ushuaia to El Calafate

Icebergs on a lake in El Calafate
Icebergs on a lake in El Calafate

After breakfast, transfer to the airport in Ushuaia for your flight to El Calafate, the city closes to the stunning glaciers of Southern Patagonia, including the world-famous Perito Moreno Glacier.

After a short flight, check into your hotel and take the rest of the day to relax or explore the charming city. In the evening, try to stop by the Laguna Nimez Reserve, where you can admire an amazing array of native bird species in the sanctuary and watch the sunset over Lago Argentino.

Day 10: Perito Moreno Glacier Trek

Trekking Perito Moreno
Trekking Perito Moreno

After breakfast at your hotel, you'll make the one-hour trip to Los Glaciares National Park. As you enter the park you'll catch your first glimpse of the majestic Perito Moreno. This expansive ice mass flows down from the Andes out over the turquoise waters of Lago Argentino, ending abruptly in a great wall of ice that curves around the lake. You'll witness "calving," the awe-inspiring sight of ice breaking off the glacier and crashing into the tranquil waters below. Every time ice hits the water a thundering crash echoes on the lake. 

Then it's time for a real adventure: believe it or not, you will be trekking on top of this glacier, thanks to the help of crampons,an ice axe and an experienced guide. Enjoy crossing deep blue ice crevices and hiking over meltwater streams as you experience Perito Moreno from above. 

During the day you'll also be able to admire Perito Moreno from a number of different vantage points thanks to the network of wooden walkways that zigzag strategically in front of the glacier and are great for photos. 

Day 11: El Calafate to El Chaltén

Off to El Chaltén
Off to El Chaltén

In the morning, board a bus for El Chaltén, a town 124 miles (200 km) away in the northern part of Los Glaciares National Park. You'll travel along the famous Ruta 40, which cuts through great expanses of barren steppe and offers beautiful 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" for the abundance of mountaineering options all around.

Upon arrival, head out to explore the town or enjoy some of the shorter, self-guided hikes nearby, such as the Laguna Capri trail.

Day 12: Full Day Hike to Mt. Fitz Roy & Return to El Calafate

View from Laguna de los Tres
View from Laguna de los Tres

This morning you'll embark on a full-day adventure into the northern part of 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 Fitz Roy range and offer wonderful opportunities for day hikes.

In this case, a "day hike" does mean a full day of hiking, since most options can take up to 11 hours, depending on which route you take. The hike you'll likely be embarking on this morning goes 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 due to the panoramic view of the three peaks: Fitz RoyPoincenot, and Torre.

At the end of this 16-mile (26 km) hike, you'll descend the mountain and return to El Chaltén, where your driver will be waiting to take you to your hotel in El Calafate to spend the night.

Day 13: El Calafate to Buenos Aires - Departure

Sunset in Buenos Aires
Sunset in Buenos Aires

Today, it's time to say goodbye to Argentina. Drive to the airport for your flight back to Buenos Aires, then transfer to the international airport for your return flight home. ¡Buen viaje!

Map

Map of Patagonia Adventure: Puerto Madryn, Ushuaia, El Calafate, & El Chaltén - 13 Days
Map of Patagonia Adventure: Puerto Madryn, Ushuaia, El Calafate, & El Chaltén - 13 Days