- Enjoy a free-flowing wine and tango show in Buenos Aires
- Visit several vineyards in Mendoza on a fun and educational tour
- Take a boat to Perito Moreno—a glacier that is actually advancing
- Dine on locally-caught seafood in Ushuaia, like king crab
- Cruise through the Beagle Channel and look for diverse marine wildlife
|Day 1||Arrival in Buenos Aires, Dinner & Tango Show||Buenos Aires|
|Day 2||Buenos Aires to Ushuaia & Beagle Channel Cruise||Ushuaia|
|Day 3||Trekking & Canoeing in Tierra del Fuego||Ushuaia|
|Day 4||Penguins on Isla Martillo & Estancia Harberton||Ushuaia|
|Day 5||Fly from Ushuaia to El Calafate||El Calafate|
|Day 6||Perito Moreno Boat & Walking Tour||El Calafate|
|Day 7||Estancia Cristina Excursion||El Calafate|
|Day 8||Farewell to El Calafate & Arrival in Mendoza||Mendoza|
|Day 9||Mendoza Wine Tour||Mendoza|
|Day 10||Full-Day Tour & Trek in Aconcagua National Park||Mendoza|
|Day 11||Fly from Mendoza to Buenos Aires||Buenos Aires|
|Day 12||Buenos Aires Departure|
Day 1: Arrival in Buenos Aires, Dinner & Tango Show
Welcome to Buenos Aires! Also known as 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, make sure to venture out and explore. The best starting point is the city center.
Suggested activities include:
- Visit the Obelisco, which might be the city's most famous monument. 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 one of the widest avenues in Latin America.
- Stop by the Teatro Colón, one of South America's premier opera houses, which is known worldwide for its incredible acoustics. Even if you plan to take a tour or catch a show here later, it's still worth passing by to take in the exterior architecture. The Colon's neoclassical façade has made it one of the most handsome buildings in Buenos Aires since its opening in 1908.
- Stroll through 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 places to walk in the city. Take a romantic stroll by crossing over the canal on the Puente de la Mujer ("Woman's Bridge") at sunset.
In the evening, we'll pick you up from your hotel and take you out to dinner and a tango show. Tango is more than Argentina's national dance: each intricate step tells stories of love, loss, and passion. The evening includes a three-to-four-hour tango performance accompanied by a local music band, along with a delicious à la carte dinner of traditional Argentine cuisine.
Day 2: Buenos Aires to Ushuaia & Beagle Channel Cruise
After breakfast, you'll travel to the Buenos Aires airport for your flight to Ushuaia, the world's southernmost city, which sits at the edge of the vast South American continent.
Ushuaia is in a large bay with a rocky coast, surrounded by the snowcapped Martial Range. The city has a charming downtown area and a lovely port.
After checking into your hotel, board a boat in Ushuaia's tourist port and sail into the Beagle Channel. As the boat sails further into the channel, you'll get a chance to see panoramic views of the coast and the skyline of the city at the base of Mount Olivia and the Cinco Hermanos Mountains.
The cruise will take you southwest and pass the Isla de los Lobos, a nondescript rocky island that happens to be the home of a large group of sea lions. You'll have ample opportunity to see these majestic creatures and take plenty of photos. Then, it's off to Isla de los Pájaros (Bird Island), where various species of seabirds live, including Magellanic cormorants and imperial shags. It's a birder's dream, so keep your binoculars and camera lens up and ready.
The furthest you'll sail today is Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse, which is located on the northernmost island in Les Eclaireurs Islands. Here you'll see part of the Monte Cervantes, an ocean liner that sank in 1930. Your guide will also point out many points of interest onshore and across the channel, including Estancia Remolino (a remote ranch), Gable Island, and the naval base at Puerto Williams (located on Navarino Island, Chile). After the tour, you'll return to Ushuaia's port. From there you can spend the remainder of the day enjoying your hotel's amenities and exploring the town.
Day 3: Trekking & Canoeing 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. On this day trip, a specialized guide will help you discover some of the 155,000-acre park's most beautiful natural scenery. 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, 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 4: Penguins on Isla Martillo & Estancia Harberton
After breakfast at your hotel, it's time for a full-day penguin excursion. 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 out on the town.
Day 5: Fly from Ushuaia 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 on the shores of Lago Argentino that serves as the gateway to Argentina's glaciers and Los Glaciares National Park. 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. You can also visit the Glaciarium, a multi-media ice museum with various interactive displays and lots of information about glaciers that also has a bar made totally of ice.
Day 6: Perito Moreno Boat & Walking Tour
Today, you're in for an exciting full-day tour. 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. You'll witness "calving," the awe-inspiring sight of ice breaking off the façade and crashing into the tranquil waters below. Every time ice hits the water a thundering crash echoes over the lake.
While not the only glacier in the area, Perito Moreno is definitely the star of the park. It's also one of the few advancing glaciers in the world, which causes the calving mentioned above. You'll 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. You'll also be able to see the massive ice wall up close 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 a free evening.
Day 7: Estancia Cristina Excursion
There's more activity in store for you today. A driver will pick you and other passengers up early in the morning and drive you 28 miles (45 km) to the port at Punta Bandera, located on Lago Argentino. The drive along this route is scenic and pleasant, affording sweeping views of the Patagonian countryside and the charming wooden houses that intermittently dot the landscape.
Once you reach the port, you'll board a ferry and embark on a journey on the Upsala Channel, passing towering icebergs along the way. As you reach the northern section of the channel you'll see the western front of the Spegazzini Glacier. At over 10 miles long and a mile wide, the length, breadth, and towering ice walls that define this ancient glacier are awe-inspiring.
After taking the time to admire Spegazzini, you will continue sailing north and into the Cristina Channel. At the far end of this channel, you'll disembark at Estancia Cristina. Expect to arrive late morning.
Estancia Cristina is one of the most impressive ranch-style lodges in the region. It was founded in 1914 by pioneers and built on a valley once covered by the Upsala Glacier. A visit to the Folkloric Museum here (located in an old sheep-shearing shed), offers insight into the history of the estancia. And the surrounding scenery is breathtaking—all around you'll see panoramic views of snow-capped mountains, rivers, lakes, and glaciers.
All told you will stay for about six hours. After the museum, you'll set out on a 6-mile (9.5 km) journey by 4x4 over an unpaved road that ascends into the mountains. After reaching the Continental Ice Field Refuge, you will exit the vehicle and begin a 20-minute walk through the glacial landscapes and Andes mountains until you reach the Upsala viewpoint. Here you will have an unobstructed view of the eastern face of the Upsala Glacier as well as Lake Guillermo and the Southern Patagonian Ice Field.
In the late afternoon, you will board the boat again and begin the return to Punta Bandera. After disembarking, you will be taken back to your hotel.
Day 8: Farewell El Calafate & Arrival in Mendoza
After one last breakfast at your hotel in El Calafate, take a moment or two to reflect on all the exciting memories you've made over the course of the previous week and say goodbye to Patagonia.
At the scheduled time a driver will pick you up and transfer you El Calafate Airport, where you'll hop a flight to Mendoza. Upon takeoff, be sure to look out the window and enjoy one final glimpse of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field from your window.
Upon arrival in Mendoza, your driver will meet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel. Spend the evening at your leisure.
Day 9: Mendoza Wine Tour
t's time to get out in the countryside to discover the region's wine culture. On this tour, you'll visit the most famous wine destinations around Mendoza, from the vineyards near the town of Luján de Cuyo to the fertile soil of the Maipú Valley. It's a fun-filled excursion that mixes equal parts wine history with wine tasting.
First, the history. Over the course of the tour, you will glean insight into how Mendoza developed over the centuries to become Argentina's premier wine-making region. The story begins with the Jesuit priests and European immigrants who settled here and combined their wine-making knowledge with the irrigation techniques (canals and ditches) handed down from the Huarpe indigenous people—techniques which had allowed the Huarpes to transform a vast arid desert into a productive oasis. The end result is a region that is now home to renowned wineries that produce high-quality varietals and are deservedly famous on the global viniculture stage.
You'll visit two wineries that still rely on traditional irrigation methods as well as others that use the latest winemaking technology. On tours of the bodegas' facilities, you'll learn about vinification methods, processing, bottling, and even the labeling of wines. Of course, this will all accompanied by tasting the different varietals these bodegas offer. You'll also get to sample locally grown olives, artisanal cheeses, and even eat Malbec grapes right off the vine.
Day 10: Full-Day Tour & Trek in Aconcagua National Park
After breakfast in Mendoza, get ready for some spectacular scenery as you embark on a full-day driving tour through the Argentinian Andes. During the first part of the drive, you'll visit the small mountain villages of Uspallata, Puente del Inca, Penitentes, and Horcones.
From here, the drive continues uphill where you'll stop for a short trek to the Mount Aconcagua viewpoint. Aconcagua is the highest peak in South America, rising a whopping 22,837 feet (6,961 m).
At the end of the trek, you'll return to the car and drive back to Mendoza for the evening.
Day 11: Fly from Mendoza to Buenos Aires
Today, head to the airport for your flight back to Buenos Aires. Spend your last day in the capital sight-seeing or shopping, and make sure to hit any restaurants or attractions you missed at the beginning of your trip.
Day 12: Buenos Aires Departure
Finally, it's time to say good-bye to Argentina. A driver will pick you up and take you to Ezeiza International Airport, where you'll catch your flight home. Despite the bittersweet goodbye, rest assured that South America will be waiting for you with open arms should you ever decide to return!