- Check out Santiago's wine bars and restaurants in Barrio Bellavista
- Have a BBQ lunch and ride horses at a Patagonian ranch
- Hike through the French Valley in Torres del Paine
- Take a boat tour of Perito Moreno, a 121-square mile glacier
- Stay in an all-inclusive lodge with views of the Fitz Roy Massif
|Day 1||Arrival in Santiago de Chile||Santiago|
|Day 2||Fly from Santiago to Punta Arenas - Transfer to Puerto Natales||Puerto Natales|
|Day 3||Day-Trip to a Patagonian Estancia||Puerto Natales|
|Day 4||Ultima Esperanza Fjord & Rio Serrano Boating Adventure||Torres del Paine|
|Day 5||Lake Pehoé & Grey Lake Tour||Torres del Paine|
|Day 6||Hike to the Base of the Paine Massif||Torres del Paine|
|Day 7||Hike the French Valley||Torres del Paine|
|Day 8||Torres del Paine to El Calafate||El Calafate|
|Day 9||Perito Moreno Boat & Walking Tour||El Calafate|
|Day 10||El Calafate to El Chaltén - Hike to Laguna Capri||El Chalten|
|Day 11||Laguna Condor Mountain Lodge||Laguna Condor|
|Days 12-13||Explore Laguna Condor||Laguna Condor|
|Day 14||Laguna Candor to El Chaltén||El Chalten|
|Day 15||El Chaltén to El Calafate - Departure|
Day 1: Arrival in Santiago de Chile
Welcome to Chile! Upon arrival at Santiago International Airport, a driver will meet you and transfer you to your hotel. You'll have the rest of the day to explore the city at your leisure.
Suggested activities include:
Hike to the top of Cerro San Cristobal, where you can get your bearings by surveying the area from a high vantage point. Pathways lead 2,788 feet (850 m) up this central hill to a series of lookouts that offer wraparound views of Santiago. If you aren't the hiking type, not to worry: catch a scenic gondola instead.
Stroll the cobblestone streets of Barrio Bellavista. On the north side of Santiago, you'll find this trendy enclave, at once fashionable and bohemian. Stroll past colorful houses adorned with graffiti art and choose between an eclectic array of eateries and bars—great for people watching.
Visit the Plaza de Armas, a stone plaza located in Santiago's historic center dating to 1541. There's also the impressive Catedral Metropolitana, a neoclassical church dating to 1748 whose towering twin bell towers dominate the north side of the plaza.
- Snap pics in front of the Palacio de la Moneda. Chile's opulent Presidential Palace (known simply as "La Moneda") is a short stroll from the Plaza de Armas. It was here in 1973 that Chile's armed forces, backed by the U.S. government, overthrew President Salvador Allende, kicking off a brutal right-wing military dictatorship that would last for 17 years. Visitors are welcome.
For dinner be sure to get out of the hotel and enjoy a culinary adventure in the city. In recent years Santiago has emerged as a global foodie destination. Chilean chefs are reinventing traditional dishes like empanadas, cazuelas (stews), and seafood with ingredients harvested all the way from the northern deserts and southern Patagonian regions. You can find great restaurants and wine bars not only in the Bellavista neighborhood but also in the revitalized historic barrios of Yungay and Italia.
Day 2: Fly from Santiago to Punta Arenas - Transfer to Puerto Natales
After breakfast, a driver will meet you at your hotel and transfer you to the airport, at which time you'll catch a flight to the city of Punta Arenas in Chilean Patagonia. Upon arrival in Punta Arenas, you'll hop a bus for a three-hour trip north to Puerto Natales. When you arrive, you'll transfer to your hotel and have the rest of the evening to relax and explore the town.
This small port city is the main base for excursions into Torres del Paine National Park. It's far less touristic than many other Patagonian hubs and thus retains its air of small-town tranquility. Puerto Natales offers simple pleasures like strolling its waterfront promenade, which sits on the Ultima Esperanza Sound. Facing north from here, you'll see the peaks of Cerro Benitez and Cerro Toro, and the view at sunset is phenomenal.
Day 3: Day-Trip to a Patagonian Estancia
After breakfast at your hotel in Puerto Natales, you'll visit the beautiful Estancia La Peninsula. This full-day tour is the perfect way to learn about daily life at a working Patagonian ranch.
The adventure starts with a 30-minute boat ride through the fjords before arriving at the ranch for a welcome pastry and cup of coffee. From here, you will have the chance to choose between a variety of activities such as horseback riding, hiking, or taking a land tour in a 4x4 vehicle. You'll then enjoy a traditional barbecue followed by a demonstration of sheep shearing and wool classification. You will also have a chance to meet the estancia's resident sheepdogs.
At the end of the tour, return by boat to Puerto Natales where you will have the rest of the evening to enjoy at leisure.
Day 4: Ultima Esperanza Fjord & Rio Serrano Boating Adventure
After breakfast, it's time for a boat tour of the Ultima Esperanza Sound, a fjord adjacent to Puerto Natales. During the voyage, there will be opportunities to stop at many viewpoints for a chance to see glaciers, waterfalls, and cliffs. If you keep an eye skyward you'll likely spot condors, too.
Eventually, you will arrive in Bernardo O'Higgins National Park where you'll disembark for a short walk through the native forest of Coigues, Ñirres, and Ciruelillos until reaching the impressive Serrano Glacier. You'll then continue the boat journey up the Río Serrano. enjoying the natural beauty of the region as you go. Eventually you'll arrive in Pueblo Serrano, a village known as the gateway to Torres del Paine National park, where a delicious meal will be waiting for you.
Afterward, you'll head into the park and check into your lodging for the night.
Day 5: Lake Pehoé & Grey Lake Tour
After breakfast in your hotel, you'll meet your guide and transfer by car to the western lakes of Torres del Paine. On the way, you’ll enjoy amazing views of the surrounding mountains and especially the Cuernos del Paine. You'll, of course, stop off at viewpoints along the way to relish the scenery and take copious pictures. Be sure to keep an eye out for the local wildlife, like guanacos, condors, and foxes.
You'll continue south towards the edge of Lake Pehoé, which affords sweeping views further south to Lake Toro. Then you'll head a short distance east to Lake Grey. Once there, you’ll enjoy a delicious picnic lunch on the shore rest up before embarking on an optional boat tour of Grey Glacier. On this trip, you will get close-up views of the 98-foot (30 m) walls of this impressive ice mass in the Southern Patagonian Ice Field. If you get lucky and keep an eye on the surrounding southern beech forests you may even spot some endangered Andean deer.
After the boat trip, you will return to your hotel.
Day 6: Hike to the Base of the Paine Massif
After breakfast, you'll head up to the base of the Torres del Paine towers 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 (18 km) and lasts about nine hours. Every step of the way you will enjoy views of beautiful scenery comprised of rivers, native forest, mountain peaks, and narrow valleys. You'll likely even spot some impressive local avian varieties, like condors and black eagles.
Your route will begin at the Las Torres Hostel and will take you over the Ascencio River, at which point you'll ascend about 1.5 miles (2.5 km) to a lookout featuring panoramic views of the valley below and the surrounding mountains. Then you'll 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.
This is 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, you'll likely forget all about your exhaustion. Upon arrival, you’ll have ample time to rest by the lagoon and marvel at the amazing rock formations as you enjoy a delicious picnic lunch.
Afterward, you'll begin the return trip back down the trail. The descent takes approximately four hours and then you'll head to your hotel.
Day 7: Hike the French Valley
Today you will hike into the heart of the park to visit another iconic area of Torres del Paine: French Valley. After breakfast, you will meet your guide and transfer to the Pudeto Ranger Station, located on the shore of Lake Pehoé. From here it's a half-hour catamaran cruise across to the lake where you'll arrive at the trailhead and begin your trek.
The first part of the trail is relatively flat and leads along the north side of Lago Skottsberg to Refugio Italiano, which is located at the bottom of the French Valley. Here you'll break for water and snacks. Afterward, you'll have the option to continue deeper into the French Valley along a steep trail through lenga forest. Roughly 1.5 miles (2.5 km) from Italiano, you'll reach a viewpoint near the Horns of Paine that affords wide views of the French Glacier hanging down from Mount Paine Grande. From here we will make our way back to the hotel and you can spend the remainder of the day relaxing.
Day 8: Torres del Paine to El Calafate
Today, you will transfer from Torres del Paine National Park to Puerto Natales where you'll catch the 3.5-hour bus north to El Calafate, Argentina.
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. If you haven't done so yet, prime yourself with information on the nearby glaciers by visiting the Glaciarium. This multi-media center has an ice museum, an ice bar, various interactive displays, and educational information regarding glaciers—a great stop before dinner in town.
Day 9: Perito Moreno Boat & Walking Tour
Today, you're in for an exciting full-day excursion. It starts with a pick up from your hotel in El Calafate, followed by a one-hour transfer to Los Glaciares National Park. As you enter the park you'll catch your first glimpse of 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 that curves around the lake. Wait a bit and you'll witness "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.
While not the only glacier in the area, Perito Moreno is indeed the star of the show. It's also unique in that it is 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 also get up close and personal with its massive ice wall on a boat tour.
After a day spent discovering the glacier and wandering the numerous trails, you'll head back to El Calafate to enjoy the evening as you please.
Day 10: El Calafate to El Chaltén - Hike to Laguna Capri
After breakfast, you will go to the bus station in El Calafate where you will board a bus bound for Los Glaciares National Park, specifically the town of El Chaltén. This is a northbound journey that covers about 124 miles (200 km) and takes between 3-4 hours. You'll travel predominantly up Ruta 40, the famous Patagonian highway that cuts through great expanses of barren steppe and affords views of snowy peaks on the horizon.
Eventually, you'll reach the popular tourist town of El Chaltén. The second you arrive you'll see its appeal. 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 all around.
You don't have to wait to discover the area, either. Upon arrival, you'll embark on a two-hour brisk hike amid native forest to a lagoon with deep blue waters. This is Laguna Capri, a lake that sits at the foot of the mountains and offers an unobstructed view of the jutting granite towers of the Fitz Roy massif.
After the hike, you will transfer to your hotel and relax for the remainder of the day.
Day 11: Laguna Condor Mountain Lodge
This morning you won't have to go far for your next destination: Laguna Condor, 11 miles (17 km) outside of El Chalten where you will spend the next three nights. But first, you'll meet your lodge representative in town for a short briefing on the next few days activities. Once that's complete, you'll be driven to the property.
Surrounded by gardens and close to Mt. Fitz Roy, this remote Patagonian lodge is a great way to experience the wild beauty of the region. The eight intimate cabins, with charming rustic decor, offer everything you could possibly need as a base to navigate this little-explored area. Think quiet log cabins tucked away in the woods, a sunken hot tub overlooking the breathtaking scenery of Cerro Fitz Roy, and visits from the resident llamas—it’s nature at its finest.
Full-board service is provided during your stay (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) using local ingredients.
Days 12-13: Explore Laguna Condor
Today is a free day to spend any way you please with options that include hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, fishing and/or relaxing in the hot tub.
With so many activities and expeditions on offer, Laguna Condor is the perfect base for an adrenaline-fueled adventure in this awe-inspiring corner of Patagonia. That being said, the area also caters for those in search of quieter moments, allowing you to take in all the gorgeous scenery as you soak in the hot tub or curl up by the fire.
The camp’s central dining room offers sensational views of Mt. Fitz Roy. Enjoy the warm surroundings with a candlelit dinner prepared by the in-house executive chef, whilst planning which adventure to tackle next.
Day 14: Laguna Candor to El Chaltén
This morning, you'll wake up with a leisurely breakfast at the lodge. Similar to previous days, enjoy some free time in and around the property for hiking, biking, kayaking, or simply relaxing.
At some point in the afternoon (after lunch), you will be returned to El Chaltén for one more night in town before heading back to El Calafate in the morning. Take advantage of any easy afternoon hikes from town, as well as the smattering of interesting brewpubs and eateries you may have missed at the beginning of your stay.
Day 15: El Chaltén to El Calafate - Departure
It's 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.