Explore some of the most beautiful locales in Patagonia on this 16-day adventure. First, there's Los Glaciares National Park, in Argentina, where you'll take a boat trip on Lake Argentino to Perito Moreno Glacier. Next, you'll enjoy guided hikes in Chile's Torres del Paine National Park before heading to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world, to do some trekking and penguin-spotting.

Highlights

  • Enjoy dinner and a tango show in Argentina's capital of Buenos Aires
  • Take a boat to Perito Moreno, the most awe-inspiring glacier in the region
  • Hike up to Chile's Paine Massif for incredible views of Torres del Paine
  • Go ice trekking on the Ojo de Albino Glacier
  • Explore Ushuaia, including an island full of penguins on the Beagle Channel

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Buenos Aires - Explore Buenos Aires
Day 2 Walking Tour of Buenos Aires Buenos Aires
Day 3 Buenos Aires to Tigre Buenos Aires
Day 4 Fly from Buenos Aires to El Calafate El Calafate
Day 5 Explore Los Glaciares National Park El Calafate
Day 6 El Calafate to Puerto Natales Puerto Natales
Day 7 Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine - Hiking Excursion Torres del Paine
Day 8 Hike Lake Nordenskjöld Torres del Paine
Day 9 Hike the French Valley Torres del Paine
Day 10 Boat Trip to Glacier Grey Torres del Paine
Day 11 Torres del Paine to El Calafate El Calafate
Day 12 Free Day in El Calafate El Calafate
Day 13 El Calafate to Ushuaia Ushuaia
Day 14 Hike to Ojo de Albino Glacier Ushuaia
Day 15 Free Day in Ushuaia Ushuaia
Day 16 Ushuaia to Buenos Aires - Goodbye Argentina  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Buenos Aires - Explore

The Obelisco in Buenos Aires
The Obelisco in Buenos Aires

Welcome to Argentina! The capital city of Buenos Aires is known as the "Paris of South America" and the "Queen of El Plata." Famous for its mix of European ambiance and Latin American culture, it's the birthplace of the tango and is filled with beautiful Baroque architecture. Upon arrival at the airport, a driver will transfer you to your hotel. Once you've had the chance to rest, you can go out and explore. The city center is your best starting point.

Day 2: Walking Tour of Buenos Aires

The Teatro Colón
The Teatro Colón

After breakfast, you'll take an organized tour of Buenos Aires. During this three-hour walking excursion, you'll visit the neighborhood of Retiro plus stroll Avenida 9 de Julio—South America’s widest avenue. You'll pass through the historic city center, home to the Teatro Colón opera house, National Congress, Plaza de Mayo, and the Casa Rosada (Presidential Palace). Then, visit the oldest neighborhood in the city, San Telmo. Afterward, you'll stop by B.A.'s original port, La Boca.

In the evening, enjoy a delicious meal accompanied by a tango performance—one of Argentina's most famous cultural highlights.

Day 3: Buenos Aires to Tigre

The canals of Tigre
The canals of Tigre

Today you'll travel up Río de la Plata where it converges with the Paraña River Delta, located about an hour north of Buenos Aires. During the boat ride, you'll enjoy views of the city skyline as you enter a network of freshwater canals and sail among the islands that make up this unique region. The main port is in Tigre, a Venetian-style village whose small-town and relaxing atmosphere contrast with Buenos Aires' bustling energy.

On the waterfront, you'll find Puerto de Frutos, a maze of craft markets, produce stalls, and artisanal goods. The Museo de Arte features a grand collection of Argentine art spanning two centuries. The Naval Museum and the Museo de Maté are other highlights worth a visit. The latter offers an overview and tasting of maté, an herb cultivated in the Paraná region of the country and used for tea.

Day 4: Fly from Buenos Aires to El Calafate

The city of El Calafate, Argentina
The city of El Calafate, Argentina

After breakfast, you'll head to the airport for a three-hour flight south from Buenos Aires to El Calafate. Known as the gateway to Argentina's glaciers, the city is located on the shores of Lago Argentino, the nation's biggest freshwater lake. If possible, select a window seat to enjoy stunning views of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field along the way.

Upon arrival, you'll transfer from the airport to your hotel for check-in. You can then spend the rest of the day relaxing or strolling around town and visiting its charming cafés and boutiques. You can learn about nearby glaciers at the Glaciarium—a multi-media center that has an ice museum, various interactive displays, and educational information regarding glaciers. Or, don a coat, boots, and gloves, to enjoy a drink at the museum's Glaciobar BrancaIt, Argentina's first ice bar.

Day 5: Explore Los Glaciares National Park

Perito Moreno by boat
Perito Moreno by boat

Today you will head to Los Glaciares National Park. As you enter this protected area, you'll catch your first glimpse of the majestic Perito Moreno. This expansive glacier flows down from the Andes over the turquoise waters of Lago Argentino and ends abruptly in a great wall of ice that curves around the lake. You may also 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 echoes around the lake. 

Perito Moreno is not the only glacier in the area, but it is the most famous in the park. It is one of the few advancing glaciers in the world, which is what causes the calving of ice. After arriving, you can admire Perito Moreno from a number of different vantage points thanks to the network of wooden walkways around the glacier. You will also get the chance to see the massive ice wall up close on a boat tour. 

Day 6: El Calafate to Puerto Natales

Puerto Natales has a colorful waterfront
Puerto Natales has a colorful waterfront

After breakfast in El Calafate, it's time to make your way into Chilean Patagonia from Argentina. This involves hopping on a southbound bus headed for the Chilean town of Puerto Natales. The journey can take upwards of five hours depending on traffic conditions at the Argentina/Chile border.

Puerto Natales is the principal base for excursions into Torres del Paine National Park. Upon arrival, you'll notice a stark contrast between this town and El Calafate/El Chaltén. This coastal hamlet is far less touristic (even in the peak summer months) and retains its air of small-town tranquility practically year-round. 

The best activities in Puerto Natales also happen to be the mildest. The town offers simple pleasures, like strolling the waterfront promenade. It sits on the Ultima Esperanza Sound, which affords views northward to the peaks of Cerro Benitez and Cerro Toro, and it looks phenomenal at sunset. You can also get out and meander among the brightly painted residential houses with their corrugated tin roofs.

Day 7: Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine - Hiking Excursion

The Paine Massif
The Paine Massif

After breakfast in Puerto Natales, you'll pack up and transfer to the entrance of Torres del Paine National Park. From here, you'll make your way to the base of the park's three iconic 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 for dinner and a good night's rest.

Day 8: Hike Lake Nordenskjöld

 Lake Nordenskjöld, Torres del Paine
Lake Nordenskjöld, Torres del Paine

This morning, you'll have breakfast at camp and then prepare for a four-hour hike. Today's route first follows the shore of Lake Nordenskjöld at the foot of the Cuernos where you'll make your way towards Refugio & Camping Chileno, located in the Asencio Valley.

Along the way, you'll hike up Almirante Nieto, a mountain with incredible views of both the lake and the valley. You'll cross a few rivers, hop along rocks, and catch glimpses of glaciers and the mountaintops hovering over you.

Once you reach the camp, spend some downtime relaxing before dinner and then enjoy a good night's sleep.

Day 9: Hike the French Valley

The French Valley, Torres del Paine
The French Valley, Torres del Paine

Today, you'll hike into the heart of the park to visit another iconic area of Torres del Paine: the French Valley. After breakfast, 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 to 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, break for water and snacks. Afterward, you can continue deeper into the French Valley along a steep trail through the lenga forest. Roughly 1.5 miles from Italiano, yoou'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, begin the journey back to the hotel, and spend the remainder of the day relaxing.

Day 10: Boat Trip to Glacier Grey

Grey Glacier
Grey Glacier

This morning, you'll board the Grey III catamaran for a tour of Glacier Grey, which feeds the lake of the same name, Lago Grey. The boat travels across the lake and stops close to the glacier, which gives passengers a prime vantage point to snap photos of its massive ice walls. The Grey III then continues to the other side of the lake, where you'll disembark and make your way to the Bigfoot Basecamp to begin an epic ice hike.

This portion of the trip starts at Islatak Island with a hike up the glacial moraine. After an hour, you'll reach the ice, gear up, and learn the basics and safety protocols of glacier hikes from a pro. Equipped with an ice ax, crampons, helmet, and harness, you will then walk onto the Grey Glacier, where you will step over blue crevasses, hop over meltwater streams, and pass alongside ice caves. It's truly a singular experience. 

Day 11: Torres del Paine to El Calafate

Guanacos frolicking in Torres del Paine
Guanacos frolicking in Torres del Paine

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 in 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 cafes and shops. If you haven't done so yet, prime yourself with information on the nearby glaciers by visiting the Glaciarium. The famous multi-media center in the area. 

Day 12: Free Day in El Calafate

Reserva Laguna Nimez
Reserva Laguna Nimez

Today is free to enjoy El Calafate however you choose. You can book a luxurious spa treatment and spend the day relaxing. Perhaps choose an active adventure like horseback riding on a nearby ranch or embarking on a kayak trip on the lake. You could also tour Reserva Laguna Nimez, a protected area 15 minutes walking distance from town and which is home to exotic birds like the Chilean flamingo. Or simply spend the day hanging out in the cafés in El Calafate.

Day 13: El Calafate to Ushuaia

Early morning view of Ushuaia
Early morning view of Ushuaia

After breakfast in El Calafate, you'll pack up and transfer to the airport for your one-hour flight to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. Upon arrival, you'll check into your hotel and then have the rest of the day to explore.

Located on a bay in the Patagonian region of Tierra del Fuego, Ushuaia sits between the jagged peaks of the Martial Mountains and the silver waters of the Beagle Channel. This is the same waterway Charles Darwin explored when he was traveling on the HMS Beagle almost 200 years ago. Make sure to get out and walk along the waterfront for a better glimpse of the craggy mountains and wide channel. As you stroll amid Ushuaia's colorful buildings, you'll notice an endearing jumble of architectural styles with everything from mock chalets to tumbledown wooden cottages.

For something a little different, visit the building that houses Ushuaia's Maritime Museum, which was 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. Thre's also 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 exhibits on birds and sailing.

For an easy afternoon hike, head 11 miles (17 km) outside of Ushuaia to the trailhead leading to
Laguna Esmeralda. The shores of this turquoise lake are a great spot to enjoy a picnic lunch and take photos. Regarding the cuisine in Ushuaia, the region is famous for its seafood, particularly centolla (king crab). Try it au gratin—it's the most decadent dish in Ushuaia. 

Day 14: Hike to Ojo de Albino Glacier

Trekkers on their way to the lagoon
Trekkers on their way to the lagoon

Today is a full-day guided trek to Ojo de Albino Glacier!

After an early breakfast, you'll be picked up and transferred to a trailhead located 12 miles (20 km) from Ushuaia. Upon arrival, meet your guide and talk through a safety briefing before entering the path. The first section travels through a forest and several peat bogs, crossing the Tierra Mayor Valley until you reach the Laguna Esmerelda, which, as its name indicates, amazes the onlooker with its intense green color.

After a photography break, you'll walk around the lagoon in search of beaver dams until you cross the tree line where the ascension becomes more demanding. Notice how the slope is more pronounced through the large rock formations.

You've now entered a steep mountain landscape where you can appreciate the panoramic views of the valley and Laguna Esmeralda below. Keep going until you finally reach the Ojo del Albino Glacier. This part of the glacier includes a mass of cracked flat ice, surrounded by sharp peaks, and, at the center, melting water with beautiful icebergs. Depending on the conditions of the ice, your guide will decide if it is safe to carry out a glacier transit.

Either way, you will have lunch surrounded by an imposing landscape. After this well-deserved rest, it's time to start making your way back to the entrance for your return to Ushuaia.

Day 15: Free Day in Ushuaia

Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse in Beagle Channel
Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse in Beagle Channel

Today you're free to do as you please in Ushuaia! You can spend more time seeing the sights in town or join an organized excursion.

Suggestions include: 

  • Take a boat cruise on the Beagle Channel. The channel is named after the HMS Beagle, a 19th-century British ship that once carried Charles Darwin to South America. Be prepared for breathtaking panoramic views of the city of Ushuaia and the entire bay. Be on the lookout for diverse marine wildlife such as cormorants and sea lions, especially near the islands of Lobo and De Los Pajaros
  • Hike around Tierra del Fuego National Park. Close to the city, there are many wonders within the park's 155,000 acres. You can take a 4.3 mile (7 km) hike on a coastal path that follows the Beagle Channel, where you'll have prime views along the way. You'll also pass remnants of ancient settlements once occupied by the Yámana indigenous people.
  • Visit the penguins at Isla Martillo. This island on the Beagle Channel is home to thousands of Magellanic penguins (among other species). A guided tour includes a hike where you will learn about the penguins' characteristics and natural habitat.

Day 16: Fly from Ushuaia to Buenos Aires - Departure

Farewell, Argentina
Farewell, Argentina

In morning, you'll head to Ushuaia airport for your flight to Buenos Aires. You'll then transfer to the international airport for your flight back home. Buen viaje!

Map

Map of Southern Patagonia - 16 Days
Map of Southern Patagonia - 16 Days