Venture into the wild for 16 days of adventures in two of Patagonia's most popular national parks. It starts in Chile with day hikes along the most popular routes in Torres del Paine that circumnavigate glacial lakes and ascend towering granite peaks. Next, go horseback riding at a working ranch and continue into Argentina to marvel at the ice floes of Los Glaciares National Park, including the iconic Perito Moreno. Finish the trip with multiple hikes around El Chaltén, the "trekking capital of Argentina."


  • Trek to turquoise glacial lakes and granite peaks in Torres del Paine
  • Marvel at the massive face of Perito Moreno Glacier on a boat tour
  • Ride a horse at a working Patagonian ranch followed by a barbecue
  • Hike to the most scenic lookout points around the iconic Mount Fitz Roy

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Santiago (Chile), Optional Activities Santiago
Day 2 Fly to Puerto Natales, Explore Puerto Natales
Day 3 Boat Ride to Bernardo O'Higgins National Park & Glaciers Puerto Natales
Day 4 Full-Day Torres del Paine Tour Torres del Paine
Day 5 Self-Guided Day Hike to Base Torres Torres del Paine
Day 6 Lake Nordenskjöld Hike, Transfer to Puerto Natales Puerto Natales
Day 7 Hiking & Horseback Riding at Estancia La Peninsula Puerto Natales
Day 8 Transfer to El Calafate (Argentina), Optional Activities El Calafate
Day 9 Perito Moreno Boat & Walking Tour El Calafate
Day 10 Glaciar Sur Hiking & Boating El Calafate
Day 11 Transfer to El Chaltén, Explore El Chaltén
Day 12 Guided Hike to Laguna de los Tres El Chaltén
Day 13 Kayaking in Lago del Desierto El Chaltén
Day 14 Self-Guided Hike in El Chaltén El Chaltén
Day 15 Self-Guided Hike in El Chaltén El Chaltén
Day 16 Transfer to El Calafate, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Santiago (Chile), Optional Activities

Take a stroll around Santiago's Plaza de Armas to see Chile's colonial history

Welcome to Chile! This grand Patagonian adventure kicks off in the capital of Santiago. Most travelers use this metropolis only as a hub for outdoor adventures in other parts of the country. That's a shame because if you stick around awhile, you'll find Santiago to be a prime destination in its own right, filled with history, marvelous architecture, cool bohemian neighborhoods, and great cuisine, including fresh seafood.

See for yourself when, after transferring to your hotel from the airport, you can opt for a self-guided tour of Santiago. You can start at La Moneda, Chile's opulent presidential palace. Next up is Plaza de Armas, the main square. It's home to the 19th-century Palacio de la Real Audiencia (Palace of the Royal Court) and the Catedral Metropolitana, an impressive neoclassical building that dates to 1753. Finish the day walking amid the historic houses and colorful street art in the bohemian Bellavista neighborhood, where you can relax at a café.

For dinner, be sure to 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 from the northern deserts and southern Patagonian regions. You can find great restaurants and wine bars not only in Bellavista but also in the revitalized historic barrios of Yungay and Italia.

Day 2: Fly to Puerto Natales, Explore

Puerto Natales' colorful waterfront
Check out Puerto Natales' colorful and less-touristy waterfront upon arrival

Rise and shine because you're off to Patagonia! Return to the airport this morning and catch a three-hour flight south to Puerto Natales. Upon arrival, another driver will pick you up and transfer you to your hotel. This small port city is famous as the base for excursions into Torres del Paine National Park, a legendary protected area that covers 700 square miles (1,810 sq km) and is renowned for its circuit treks.

After checking in, take the rest of the day to explore. You'll find that Puerto Natales is less touristic than other Patagonian hubs and has an air of small-town tranquility. Here, you can enjoy simple pleasures like strolling the promenade fronting the silver waters of the Seno Última Esperanza (Last Hope Sound). In the distance, you'll see the peaks of Cerro Benitez and Cerro Toro, and the sunset views are phenomenal.

Day 3: Boat Ride to Bernardo O'Higgins National Park & Glaciers

Trail leading to Serrano Glacier
Take your first Patagonian hike to see the Serrano Glacier

After breakfast, you'll hop on a boat for a memorable ride on the Última Esperanza Sound. As you travel along the fjord, the boat will make stops at different viewpoints so you can marvel at the surrounding glaciers, waterfalls, and cliffs. (Keep an eye out for condors flying overhead.)

Your ultimate destination is Bernardo O'Higgins National Park. This massive protected area spans 8,867 square miles (22,860 sq km), making it the country's largest protected area. Here, you'll disembark for a short hike through native forests until you reach the impressive Serrano Glacier.

After some time to snap photos and enjoy the forest, you'll return to the boat and head to the nearby Estancia Perales. Here, you'll break for a traditional lunch of succulent Patagonian barbecue (vegetarian options available), and then transfer back to Puerto Natales.

Day 4: Full-Day Torres del Paine Tour

Make several stops in the park including the Salto Grande waterfall
Wake early and meet your driver for the two-hour ride into Torres del Paine. On a full-day private tour of the park, you'll visit famous attractions, such as Laguna Amarga, which features views of the iconic peaks of the Cordillera Paine. You'll also hike over a suspension bridge in the Lago Grey sector and enjoy views of glaciers. Continue trekking to Salto Grande, the park's famous thundering waterfalls. At the end of the day, you'll transfer to a hotel/lodge adjacent to the park.

Day 5: Self-Guided Day Hike to Base Torres

The spectacular view from Mirador Base Torres
See the Mirador Base Torres during a full-day self-guided hike

It's another early start as you meet your driver for the short ride to the Laguna Amarga entrance of Torres del Paine. Once there, you'll embark on an 11.2-mile (18 km) self-guided hike, which takes all day to complete. Start by following a well-marked trail up Mount Almirante Nieto, which features spectacular views of Lago Nordenskjöld and the Asencio Valley below. After two hours of hiking, you'll reach Refugio & Camping Chileno, where you'll break for lunch.

Then it's another hour of hiking past ancient Lenga forests until you arrive at a moraine. The next part is a 45-minute hard scramble to the top and Mirador Base Torres. In this spot, three granite pillars jut out of the ground over a silver lagoon and make for the best view in the park. You'll also see the towering peaks of nearby Torre Sur, Torre Central, Torre Norte, Condor's Nest, and Glacier Torre. Later, you'll hike back down the mountain and meet your driver for the ride back to Puerto Natales. 

Day 6: Lake Nordenskjöld Hike, Transfer to Puerto Natales

Hike around the turquoise Lago Nordenskjöld, one of the star lakes of Torres del Paine
Leave your hotel/lodge on another day hike, this time around Lago Nordenskjöld, a lake famous for its turquoise waters. The day's route covers 6.8 miles (11 km) and takes 4-5 hours to complete. Throughout the trek, you'll enjoy some of the park's most famous scenery, including viewpoints looking up at the Cuernos del Paine (Horns of Paine) granite peaks. As you skirt the lakeshore, you'll also pass several rivers, waterfalls, and glaciers. At the end of the afternoon, you'll meet your driver and transfer back to Puerto Natales.
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Day 7: Hiking & Horseback Riding at Estancia La Peninsula

Horseback riding with a view
Go horseback riding around a working Patagonian estancia

After breakfast at your hotel, you'll set off for the beautiful Estancia La Peninsula on the Antonio Veras Peninsula. This sprawling sheep and cattle ranch is surrounded by glaciers, mountains, and beech forests. Getting there involves a fun 40-minute boat trip across the Última Esperanza Sound.

When you arrive at this working wool farm, you'll get an overview of the grounds and choose your own adventure for the day. Possible activities include horseback riding, wildlife viewing, hiking, bird-watching, and more. Your schedule depends on your interests. In the afternoon, enjoy a traditional Patagonian asado (barbecue) prepared by the staff and attend the daily sheep-shearing demonstration. Return by boat to Puerto Natales in the evening.

Day 8: Transfer to El Calafate (Argentina), Optional Activities

Travelers flock from all over the world to see the mighty Perito Moreno

It's time to say goodbye to Chile as you journey five hours by bus this morning into Argentina and El Calafate. Sitting on the southern shore of Lago Argentino, this town is the gateway to the massive Southern Patagonian Ice Field, home to Los Glaciares National Park. Within this protected area is the region's star, Perito Moreno, a 96-square-mile (250 sq km) ice formation that is one of the few advancing glaciers in the world.

Upon arrival at the bus terminal, a driver will transfer you to your hotel. You can then wander around and enjoy the quaint cafés and souvenir shops in town. A little later, you'll learn about the region's famous glaciers on a visit to the Glaciarium, a multimedia center with an ice museum, various interactive displays, and educational information regarding glaciers. A real treat is throwing on a coat, boots, and gloves and enjoying a drink at the museum's ice bar.

Day 9: Perito Moreno Boat & Walking Tour

Dramatic views of Perito Moreno by boat
Glide next to Perito's massive ice walls during an hourlong boat tour

Meet your driver this morning and head out on a tour of Los Glaciares National Park. The ride there takes about an hour, and as you enter the park, you'll catch your first glimpse of the mighty Perito Moreno. This expansive glacier flows down from the Andes over the turquoise waters of Lago Argentino, ending in a great wall that curves around the lake. You can enjoy views of this marvel of Mother Nature via a network of wooden boardwalks on the waterfront (be sure to take plenty of photos).

Then, head over to the port at Bajo de Las Sombras and board a boat for a one-hour tour of the glacier's southern face. The first 20 minutes of the trip will take you past icebergs floating on the lake. These are the result of "calving," a periodic occurrence when ice breaks off the face of the glacier. Eventually, you'll get up close with Perito Moreno's massive ice wall, which rises as high as 230 feet (70 m). After the hourlong tour, you'll return to the port and transfer back to El Calafate.

Day 10: Glaciar Sur Hiking & Boating

Glaciar Sur Adventure Tour
Glaciar Sur Adventure Tour

Get ready for another exciting full-day excursion to witness the star attractions of Los Glaciares National Park. Today's adventure will take you slightly off the tourist trail to admire some lesser-visited (but no less incredible) hidden glaciers. A car will pick you up from your hotel in the morning for the 37-mile (60 km) drive along a dirt road called Camino de las Estancias. At the end of the road, at the park's southern end, there's a jetty. Here, you'll board a boat, and after sailing for an hour, you'll disembark and begin a mile-long (2.5 km) trek to the famous Lago Frías.

Once there, you'll hop in a Zodiac and zip over to the opposite side, where you'll continue on the second leg of the hike, which covers 2 miles (4 km). Then trek through a lenga forest and across an ancient glacial valley until finally reaching the upper part of Lago Frías, which is dotted with icebergs. Though it takes much effort to get here, the rewards are worth it, as you'll enjoy prime views of the Dickson, Cubo, and Grande glaciers. After a break for lunch, you'll begin the return journey.

Day 11: Transfer to El Chaltén, Explore

View of Mt. Fitz Roy over El Chalten
Keep an eye out for memorable views of Mount Fitz Roy rising above the town of El Chaltén
Leave El Calafate this morning on a three-hour drive north to El Chaltén. Nicknamed "the trekking capital of Argentina," this town sits on the banks of the Río Las Vueltas. Like El Calafate, it's a gateway to Los Glaciares National Park, with towering peaks rising 10,000 feet (3,048 m) above the windswept landscape. If the skies are clear during the drive, you'll have incredible views of the granite massif of Mount Fitz Roy. After checking into your hotel, you can take a walk around town and pop in at one of El Chaltén's many cafés and craft beer bars. 

Day 12: Guided Hike to Laguna de los Tres

Magnificent mountain views from Laguna de los Tres
Look for three granite peaks looming over the shimmering waters of Laguna de los Tres

After an early breakfast at the hotel, you'll meet your guide and head out on one of the most famous day hikes in El Chaltén: the trail up to Laguna de los Tres. Starting in town, the route covers 12.4 miles (20 km) and takes 8-9 hours to complete. During the trek, you'll pass through native lenga forests and stop at incredible viewpoints looking out to the Fitz Roy Valley and Piedras Blancas Glacier

Then, cross a suspension bridge to reach Río Blanco Base Camp, a major hub for rock climbers. From there, it's a final push to Mirador Laguna de los Tres, which looks out to the gorgeous lagoon and affords panoramic views of three surrounding peaks: Fitz Roy, Poincenot, and Torre. After a break for lunch, you'll have some time to relax and enjoy the scenery before descending back to El Chaltén.

Day 13: Kayaking in Lago del Desierto

Kayak around the calm waters of Lago del Desierto.
Kayak around the calm waters of Lago del Desierto and enjoy the scenery

Get ready to hit the water once again! Your guide will pick you up at your hotel and you'll set out along the scenic route toward one of the region's highlights, Lago del Desierto. Its name means "lake of the desert," and the trip takes about two hours each way. On arrival, your guide will teach you some of the basics of kayaking in the area and get you properly outfitted with the necessary equipment.

Then you'll push off onto the lake's calm, glassy water and begin your paddling adventure, enjoying views of beautiful forests and impressive peaks in the distance. Take a break at Bahía Tranquila, a section of the lake protected from the wind. Since the water is shallow here, it's a nice place to hop off the kayak and enjoy your surroundings. After a 2.5-hour trip around the lake, return to shore. Take some free time to explore the nearby trails or visit the viewpoint of the nearby Huemul Glacier before returning to town for the evening.

Day 14: Self-Guided Hike in El Chaltén

So many trails to choose from
Hit the trail on your own for an exploration around El Chaltén
Spend today discovering the numerous hiking trails of El Chaltén at your own pace. One popular option is the hike to Laguna Torre, which leads through a glacial valley to a scenic lagoon. This trek takes about six hours. Another possibility is the hike to Loma del Pliegue Tumbado, which takes between six and seven hours and offers excellent views over the park. If the weather is clear, you might glimpse the azure waters of Lago Viedma. In the evening, return to El Chaltén.

Day 15: Self-Guided Hike in El Chaltén

Spend the day hiking to glaciers and waterfalls, like Chorillo del Salto
It's another free day to discover new hiking trails around El Chaltén. Beginners can try an easy, 2-3 mile (3-5 km) roundtrip trek to Mirador de los Cóndores or a one-hour hike to the Chorrillo del Salto Waterfall. A more challenging option is trekking up to the Huemul Glacier, located about an hour outside of El Chaltén and named after the elusive south Andean deer. This moderately strenuous journey will take you through some of the most gorgeous scenery in the area, including rivers, streams, and pristine forests. A nice reward is the view of Cerro Torre and Mount Fitz Roy from the top.

Day 16: Transfer to El Calafate, Depart

Until next time, Patagonia!

Say goodbye to Patagonia as you hit the road on the return trip to El Calafate. Enjoy the views of Lago Argentino and the lakeshore as you continue on to the airport, where your flight home awaits. Safe travels!

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Map of Patagonia's National Parks Tour: Torres del Paine & Los Glaciares - 16 Days
Map of Patagonia's National Parks Tour: Torres del Paine & Los Glaciares - 16 Days