This adventurous 13-day itinerary combines Argentina's most spectacular scenery in the far north and south. After getting to know Buenos Aires with a local guide, you’ll head to the Brazilian border to hike around hundreds of waterfalls. Then, fly to Patagonia where you'll get up close to glaciers and partake in a range of outdoor activities. Finish back in the capital for a tango dance and hands-on culinary experience.

Highlights

  • Get the lay of the land in Buenos Aires with an experienced local
  • Accomplish three circuits for stunning views of the Iguazú Falls
  • Gear up and walk along a glacier equipped with crampons and an ice ax
  • Go canoeing, hiking, and off-roading in southern Patagonia
  • Join an interactive dinner party and learn about Argentine food and wine

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Buenos Aires Buenos Aires
Day 2 Full-Day Buenos Aires Walking Tour Buenos Aires
Day 3 Fly from Buenos Aires to Puerto Iguazu Puerto Iguazu
Day 4 Explore Iguazú Falls (Argentine Side) Iguazu Falls
Day 5 Fly from Iguazu to El Calafate El Calafate
Day 6 Perito Moreno Glacier Trek El Calafate
Day 7 Ice Rivers Express Boat Tour El Calafate
Day 8 Fly from El Calafate to Ushuaia - Explore the City Ushuaia
Day 9 Trekking & Canoeing in Tierra del Fuego Ushuaia
Day 10 Off-Road Adventure Ushuaia
Day 11 Fly from Ushuaia to Buenos Aires Buenos Aires
Day 12 The Argentine Culinary Experience Buenos Aires
Day 13 Goodbye Buenos Aires!  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Buenos Aires

A Japanese garden in Palermo
A Japanese garden in Palermo

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. 

When evening falls and dinnertime arrives, simulate the locals and order 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: Full-Day Buenos Aires Walking Tour

Street market in San Telmo
Street market in San Telmo

To properly experience Buenos Aires, you must do so on foot. After a fortifying breakfast, prepare yourself for a day of walking and sightseeing throughout this European-inspired metropolis. You'll hit all the main points of interest, aided every step of the way by an English-speaking guide. 

Some highlights of the walking tour include: 

  • Plaza San Martín, located at the end of downtown's commercial pedestrian thruway, Florida Street. This leafy plaza, anchored by a majestic ombú tree, is named after one of the heroes of Argentina's independence movement, General José de San Martín. 

  • The Obelisco, an icon that sits at the nexus of the city where the 16 lanes of Ave. 9 de Julio cross bustling Corrientes Ave. Here you'll find Buenos Aires' theater and music district. It's a hub of activity any day of the week but it's particularly alive on weekend evenings. 

  • Colón Theatre, a nearly 2,500-seat teatro that is perpetually vying with Rio de Janeiro's Theatro Municipal for the title of the most opulent opera house in South America. The building's elegant neoclassical exterior and pitch-perfect interior acoustics make this building a must-visit.  

  • Plaza de Mayo, which is Buenos Aires' main square and home to the Casa Rosada, Argentina's presidential palace. The plaza is the site of some famous events, including the May Revolution of 1810 that kicked off this former Spanish colony's quest for independence. 

  • Metropolitan Cathedral, is the principal Catholic church in the city and another historic building that also faces the Plaza de Mayo. It was consecrated in 1791 but its earliest origins date back to the late 16th century when a humble chapel first sat on the current site.

  • Puerto Madero, whose shimmering office towers and central canal make this one of the most elegant neighborhoods in the city. Some upscale restaurants can be found here, as can Puente de la Mujer, a bridge whose sleek and sensual lines define its title of "Woman's Bridge."

  • Barrio San Telmo, which is BA’s oldest neighborhood and boasts a vibrant tango and arts scene. Its antique markets, cobbled streets dotted with faroles (French streetlamps), and old brick buildings with wooden balconies all add to the uniquely bohemian atmosphere. Sundays are especially buzz with activity as the main street market comes alive around Plaza Dorrego.

  • Barrio La Boca is a well-preserved historic neighborhood that's nearly as old as San Telmo. The area is known for La Bombonera the stadium of one of two principal soccer teams in the city: Boca Juniors. It's also home to colorful Caminito Street, a pedestrian zone teeming with old restaurants and tanguerías

  • Cementerio de Recoleta, this sprawling cemetery is located in the "old money" enclave of Barrio Recoleta. It's filled with the ornate mausoleums of famous, notable, and wealthy Argentines from throughout history. It also happens to be where Evita Perón is interned. 

Day 3: Fly from Buenos Aires to Puerto Iguazu

Puerto Iguazu from above
Puerto Iguazu from above

After breakfast, you will be transferred to the Buenos Aires airport for your flight to Puerto Iguazu. This city is home to the Argentinian side of Iguazu falls, the world's largest waterfall system. Upon arrival in Puerto Iguazu, you will be transferred to your hotel.

You will have the rest of the day free to relax, visit the Three Borders Landmark in the tri-border area between Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay, and enjoy a panoramic view of Iguazu Falls from the walking paths surrounding the cascades.

Day 4: Explore Iguazú Falls (Argentine Side)

Touring Iguazú from the Argentine side
Touring Iguazú from the Argentine side

After breakfast at your hotel, a driver will pick you up and transfer you to the entrance of Iguazú National Park, on the Argentine side of the falls. This is where you will begin the day's adventure. It's a full-day excursion that involves traversing three circuit routes around the falls, each offering exceptional vantage points from which to view this magnificent natural wonder. 

The three circuit routes include:

  • The upper circuit (1 hour) features 2,624 feet (800 m) of catwalks. These walkways are elevated from the jungle surface so as not to disrupt the natural pathways used by the indigenous fauna. The circuit affords views of the upper portion of Iguazú, which means you'll be treated to countless panoramic vistas of the surrounding falls.

  • The lower circuit (2 hours) makes up 5,250 feet (1,600 m). These paths are also elevated and offer views from directly below and around Iguazú falls. This circuit takes you near the base of the falls and provides a unique experience where you'll be up close with the natural surroundings, feeling the magnitude of the falls from up close. 

  • Devil's Gorge (2 hours) is the star of the show. A small tourist train leaves from within the park at the Cataratas Station and travels 18 minutes to Garganta Station, where you'll find restrooms, a snack bar, and the start of the wooden pathway. Then a walk of about 3,937 feet (1200 m) will take you over the river, culminating at a viewpoint. Just hearing the plunging falls reverberating in your ears is a one-of-a-kind experience. Actually peering 269 feet (82 m) down into the cavernous abyss as the highest of Iguazu's falls thunders all around you is downright unforgettable. 

At the end of the tour, the driver will pick you up and transfer you back to the hotel.

Day 5: Fly from Iguazu to El Calafate

A view of Iguazu in the morning hours
A view of Iguazu in the morning hours

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 6: Perito Moreno Glacier Trek

Trekking Perito Moreno
Trekking Perito Moreno

After breakfast at your hotel, you'll transfer 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 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. 

Believe it or not, you will be trekking on top of this glacier. It's a full-day excursion that involves walking over the ice while fully equipped with crampons and an ice axe. And while traversing Perito Moreno is certainly an active adventure, it's perfectly safe 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. 

During the day you'll also have ample time to witness the glacier from one of the many viewing platforms in the park. These platforms are accessible via a network of boardwalks that run along the shores of the lake. They offer the best vantage points and sweeping views of the glacier, making for great photo opportunities.

Day 7: Ice Rivers Express Boat Tour

The main attraction of Los Glaciares National Park is not only Perito Moreno. In fact, there are other massive glaciers to get to know while here, especially Spegazzini and Upsala.

With this boat tour, you will get close enough to the glacier walls that you will actually feel them on your fingertips. After a quick safety session, you and your group will set sail on a catamaran and start navigating between icebergs in the frozen waters of Lake Argentino, all the way to Upsala Glacier. 

The most impressive occasion happens when you arrive at Spegazzini's striking height of 442 feet (135 m)—nearly double the height of the obelisk in Buenos Aires. From here, you will then sail towards the other channels for more spectacular scenery and glaciers. 

Once the tour is complete, you'll return to El Calafate for the night.

Day 8: Fly from El Calafate to Ushuaia - Explore the City

Typical Argentinian treats at a shop in Ushuaia
Typical Argentinian treats at a shop in Ushuaia

After breakfast in El Calafate, you'll pack up and transfer to the airport for your flight to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. Upon arrival, a driver will meet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel where you'll have the rest of the day to explore as you see fit. This day will be relatively relaxed since the next day will feature more physical, outdoors activities.

Located on a bay in the Patagonian region of Tierra del Fuego, the city sits between the jagged peaks of the Martial Mountains and the silver waters of the Beagle Channel. This is also the same waterway where Charles Darwin found himself when he was riding the HMS Beagle almost 200 years ago. Make sure to get out and walk along the waterfront for a better glimpse of the majestic mountains and impressive channel.

Suggested activities in and around town: 

  • Stroll the streets of downtown. As you walk around the colorful shops and buildings, notice an endearing jumble of architectural styles with everything from mock chalets to tumbledown wooden cottages.

  • Stop in at the Prison Museum. The building that houses Ushuaia's Maritime Museum was actually 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. Even today, much of the prison looks unchanged since its doors closed.

  • Visit the Museo del Fin del Mundo, or "End of the World" Museum. Located on the waterfront, this small museum features fascinating exhibits on the region's natural and indigenous history. You'll also find extensive bird and sailing exhibits. 

  • Head to Laguna Esmeralda. A few miles outside of Ushuaia, this is an easy afternoon hike for all levels. Also, the shores of this turquoise lake are great for photos and stopping to enjoy nature.

  • Sample the local cuisine. The region is famous for its seafood, particularly centolla (king crab). Try it au gratin—it'll likely be the most decadent meal of your trip.

Day 9: 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 around Ushuaia. It's close to the city and isn't expensive to enter, which means it's wide open for locals and visitors alike. There are many wonders within its 155,000 acres, so you'll want an experienced guide to show you the best hikes, lakes, and lookout points. 

On this day trip, you'll have a specialized guide to help you discover the natural beauty within the park. You'll get to know 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, but you'll also get to enjoy 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. Located in the Beagle Channel, it sits at the end of the Pan American Highway and Nacional Route No. 3.

Day 10: Off-Road Adventure

Today, you'll embark on a fun, yet relaxing, off-road excursion outside of Ushuaia in the Southern Andes Range. Riding a Land Rover Defender, you'll drive along muddy tracks through forests and rivers, and to the banks of Lago Escondido (Hidden Lake)—a little wonder that hides at the bottom of a valley—as well as the enormous Lake Fagnano. Other stops on the drive include the Carbajal and Tierra Mayor Valleys, Garibaldi Pass, Bronzovich sawmill, and some beaver dams.

For lunch, you'll take part in a barbeque served with Argentine Malbec amongst your fellow travelers from all over the world. 

In the afternoon, you'll return to Ushuaia where you'll have free time to enjoy the city at your leisure.

Day 11: Fly from Ushuaia to Buenos Aires

Enjoy the city's parks
Enjoy the city's parks

This morning, a driver will pick you up at your hotel and transfer you to the airport in Ushuaia. You'll then hop a flight back to the capital of Buenos Aires. Upon arrival, you'll have free time to explore more of the city, perhaps taking advantage of anything you may have missed at the beginning of the trip.  

Consider going out for dinner and a show. No visit to Buenos Aires is complete without taking in a tango performance, and there are plenty of glitzy options to be found in either the city center or Puerto Madero neighborhoods. On this evening out you'll savor the hallmark dishes of Argentina while enjoying a spectacular tango show in the very city where it was invented. As the deft performers move to the music of love, sorrow, and passion, you'll dine on flaky empanadas, succulent steak, and decadent dulce de leche (most tango shows offer vegetarian options).

Day 12: The Argentine Culinary Experience

Tuck into some succulent Argentine beef
Tuck into some succulent Argentine beef

To truly get to the heart of Argentine culture, you must do so one bite (and sip) at a time. While the nation's cuisine may be defined by its beef, a closer inspection reveals a more eclectic array of dishes. And being the hotbed of activity that it is, the capital of Buenos Aires is the perfect place to learn about this culinary heritage in a fun and entertaining way. This is where the Argentine Experience comes in. It's a convivial gastronomic odyssey that celebrates great Argentine food and wine.

Hosted in the trendy neighborhood of Palermo, guests at this unique "dinner party" share a table while enjoying/preparing gourmet food and the country's famous wine, such as the Malbec varietal. Professional hosts guide you through the evening and explain the uniqueness of Argentine culture and how it reveals itself in the nation's food. You'll learn how to seal empanada dough using the traditional repulgue folding technique, and learn how to make alfajores (delicious Argentine cookies). You'll also learn how to prepare your own maté, an herbal tea that is the lifeblood of the country.

The evening begins by preparing three different kinds of wine cocktails as well as some delicious tapas to pair with them. As you progress through the night, you'll also try different boutique wines from the house cellar. By the time the experience ends, you will have enough first-hand knowledge of the traditional food and drink of this country to practically be considered an honorary Argentine!

Day 13: Goodbye Buenos Aires!

Goodbye, Buenos Aires!
Goodbye, Buenos Aires!

Enjoy your last hours in the cosmopolitan capital of Buenos Aires. At the scheduled time, your driver will pick you up and transfer you by private car to Ezeiza International Airport, where you'll catch your return flight home.

Map

Map of Patagonia & Iguazú Falls - 13 Days
Map of Patagonia & Iguazú Falls - 13 Days