- Dine and tango like a local while exploring Argentina's capital
- Walk on Perito Moreno glacier equipped with crampons and an ice ax
- Hike to the base of Chile's Paine massif for a true Patagonian experience
- Traverse a moraine on a Via Ferrata route using steel cables
- Spend a half-day climbing various beginner walls near El Chaltén
|Day 1||Arrival in Buenos Aires - Explore the City||Buenos Aires|
|Day 2||Fly from Buenos Aires to El Calafate||El Calafate|
|Day 3||El Calafate to Los Glaciares National Park - Perito Moreno Glacier Hike||El Calafate|
|Day 4||El Calafate - Torres del Paine Driving Tour||Torres del Paine|
|Day 5||Hike to Las Torres - Return to El Calafate||El Calafate|
|Day 6||El Calafate to El Chaltén||El Chalten|
|Day 7||Ice Trekking at Cagliero Glacier||El Chalten|
|Day 8||Hike to Mt. Fitz Roy||El Chalten|
|Day 9||Rock Climbing School in El Chaltén||El Chalten|
|Day 10||El Chaltén to El Calafate - Departure|
Day 1: Arrival in Buenos Aires - Explore the City
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. The best starting point would be the city center.
Suggested activities include:
Visit the Obelisco, which might be the most famous icon of the city. This obelisk (which even Argentines admit is a little too reminiscent of the Washington Monument) is worth a visit for its location alone. It sits right in the middle of Avenida 9 de Julio, which boasts a whopping 16 lanes, making it the widest city street in the world.
Stop by the Teatro Colon, one of South America's premier opera houses. The horseshoe-shaped gallery features 2,487 seats and incredible acoustics. Even if you plan on taking a tour or catching a show here on another day, it's always breathtaking to pass by its exterior. The Colon's neoclassical facade has been the face of one of the most handsome buildings in Buenos Aires since its opening in 1908.
Stroll Puerto Madero, an upscale waterfront neighborhood adjacent to downtown. Puerto Madero may be the "new money" finance center of Buenos Aires, but it's also one of the most pleasant walking areas in a city famous for its walking areas. A romantic stroll involves walking over the canal on the Puente de Mujer ("Woman's Bridge") at sunset.
- Dine at an Argentine steakhouse or parilla. When night falls and dinnertime arrives, do like the locals and enjoy 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: Fly from Buenos Aires to El Calafate
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 3: El Calafate to Los Glaciares National Park - Perito Moreno Glacier Hike
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 ax. 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 4: El Calafate - Torres del Paine Driving Tour
Rise and shine! You'll be picked up bright and early this morning for a transfer to the Chilean/Argentinian border. Shortly after crossing the border, you'll connect with your private guide and embark on the journey to Torres del Paine National Park in Chilean Patagonia.
Upon entering the park, you'll have the whole day to soak in the views and flora and fauna at your own pace (along with your guide). In fact, you'll be transported to different areas of the park that boast the best wildlife and landscapes, stopping at some point for a picnic lunch. When you've finished the day's activities, your guide will take you to your camp where you'll dine, rest, and get ready for tomorrow's big hike.
Day 5: Hike to Las Torres - Return to El Calafate
After waking up with a hearty breakfast at camp, you'll begin the day's adventure—this time by foot—to the iconic towers of the park: Las Torres!
First, you'll hike up Almirante Nieto, a mountain with incredible views of Lake Nordenskjold and the Asencio Valley. After two hours of a steady ascent, you will arrive at a camp where you'll stop for lunch and a rest before continuing onto the Las Torres lookout. The next section includes one hour through a dense Lenga forest, and then you'll continuing the climb until you see the three imposing granite peaks rising 9,000 feet into the air. This impressive sight will take your breath away!
After taking some time to relax in front of the majestic peaks, you will hike back down the moraine to continue hiking through the Asencio Valley, downhill to Camping Torre Central. This is where you'll say goodbye to the park (and eventually your guide!) and transfer back to El Calafate for a full night's rest.
Hiking distance: 11.2 miles (18 km)
Hiking time: 8 hours
Day 6: El Calafate to El Chaltén
After breakfast, a vehicle will pick you up for the three-hour drive to El Chaltén. If the skies are clear, you'll be treated to incredible views of Mount Fitz Roy along the way. Because of this infamous peak, the town is nicknamed "hiker's paradise" due to the abundance of mountaineering options all around (which you'll soon discover).
Upon arrival, check into your hotel and have the rest of the day to acclimate to your new surroundings. Perhaps you'll want to take a walk in town before a relaxing evening sampling El Chaltén's many restaurants and craft-beer bars.
Day 7: Ice Trekking at Cagliero Glacier
After breakfast at your hotel, you'll be picked up for a truly unique excursion! The adventure starts with a transfer to the Los Huemules Reserve just outside of El Chalten where you'll hike through a dense Lenga forest on a well-maintained trail until you reach Laguna Diablo.
Once you reach the lake, you'll gear up for the next part of the trip: a hike that skirts the northern margin of the lake on very irregular terrain until you reach the Via Ferrata (a protected rock climbing method with steel wires, artificial steps, and specially-designed harness belts). Your guide will provide you with all the necessary equipment and brief you on how to use the materials and traverse the moraine safely.
After completing the harnessed course, you will be rewarded with stunning up-close views of the Cagliero Glacier. From here, your guide will fix each participant with crampons and do a brief lesson (or refresher) on ice hiking. You will then explore the glacier on foot for the next few hours depending on the groups physical level and climatic conditions. Following this unrivaled experience, you will return the same way you came, on the Via Ferrata and then through the forest to the trailhead where you'll meet your transfer back to El Chaltén.
Day 8: Hike to Mt. Fitz Roy
This morning you'll embark on a full-day excursion into 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 range of Fitz Roy and offer wonderful opportunities for day hikes.
Let it be known that a "day hike" means a full-day since most options can last up to 11 hours depending on which route you take. The hike you'll likely be embarking on this morning is 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 Roy, Poincenot, and Torre.
At the end of the day's hike, you'll descend the mountain and return to your hotel in El Chaltén.
Hiking distance: 16 miles (26 km)
Hiking duration: 8 to 11 hours
Day 9: Rock Climbing School in El Chaltén
After breakfast in El Chaltén, you'll take part in a unique excursion, which offers the possibility of learning the world of climbing in the hands of the experts: professional mountain guides. This activity is best suited for beginners or for those who have a basic level and want to improve. This is the perfect activity to learn while you're spending time in one of the climbing meccas of the world!
The rock climbing school can take place either in the morning or in the afternoon, depending on your availability, and, of course, weather conditions. The course takes about four hours on various walls located near El Chaltén. For beginners, you'll use the “top rope” system, where the guide sets up a rope from above, allowing climbers to work their way up knowing they are attached, affording maximum safety to the climbers. The aim of this activity is for the climbers to learn the basic concepts of rock climbing.
After the excursion, you'll have the rest of the afternoon and evening to enjoy El Chaltén, carrying along your natural high from rock climbing!
Day 10: 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.