- Explore Buenos Aires, a European-inspired metropolis
- Travel over the top of Perito Moreno on a glacier hike
- Visit El Chaltén and trek near the base of Fitz Roy
|Day 1||Arrival in Buenos Aires, Dinner & Tango Show||Buenos Aires|
|Day 2||Fly from Buenos Aires to El Calafate||El Calafate|
|Day 3||Perito Moreno Glacier Trek||El Calafate|
|Day 4||Estancia Cristina Excursion||El Calafate|
|Day 5||Transfer from El Calafate to El Chaltén||El Chalten|
|Day 6||Hike to Mt. Fitz Roy||El Chalten|
|Day 7||Hike to Mirador Cerro Torre||El Chalten|
|Day 8||El Chaltén to El Calafate - Departure|
Day 1: Arrival in Buenos Aires, Dinner & Tango Show
Welcome to Buenos Aires, the city often called the "Paris of South America" for its 19th-century architecture and vibrant cultural scene. The city is known for its passion, from its rich tango heritage to its citizens' limitless enthusiasm for fútbol (soccer), the country's most popular sport.
A driver will be waiting to pick you up when you land and drive you to your hotel. After a quick break, make sure to venture out into the city to explore. The best place to start is the city center.
Suggested activities include:
- Visit the Obelisco, which might be the most famous landmark in the city. This obelisk (which even Argentines admit is very 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 and is one of the widest avenues in Latin America.
- Stop by the Teatro Colón, one of South America's most famous houses, known for its world-class acoustics. Even if you plan on taking a tour or catching a show here later, it's always worth walking past to take in the building's exterior: the Colon's neoclassical façade has been 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 walks in the city. Take a romantic stroll over the canal by walking across the Puente de la Mujer ("Woman's Bridge") at sunset.
In the evening, your driver will pick you up for an unforgettable evening of tango and live music. Let yourself be enchanted by a live band serenading you with tango ballads while professional tango dancers show you their most elegant moves. The show will be accompanied by an à la carte dinner, which you can pair with Argentine wines.
At the end of the evening, you will be driven back to your hotel, your head and heart full of the bohemian spirit of our beloved Buenos Aires.
Day 2: Fly from Buenos Aires to El Calafate
In the morning, a driver will meet you at your hotel and take 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. You can also take in some 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. It even has a bar made totally of ice.
Day 3: Perito Moreno Glacier Trek
After breakfast at your hotel, you'll join a tour 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 of ice that curves around the lake. If you're lucky and willing to wait a bit, you might 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 onto the lake.
Believe it or not, you will be trekking on top of the glacier. The full-day excursion involves walking over the ice, equipped with crampons and an ice axe. And while traversing Perito Moreno is certainly an active adventure, it's perfectly safe, and 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 by 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: 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.
Having reached the port, you'll board a modern ferry and embark on a journey on the Upsala Channel, passing towering icebergs along the way. As you reach the northern section 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 is the disembarking point for 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. The surrounding scenery is nothing to scoff at either—all around are impressive panoramic views of snow-capped mountains, rivers, lakes, and glaciers.
All told you will stay here for about six hours. After visiting the museum, you'll embark 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, with views of 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 5: Transfer from 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 famous peak, the town is nicknamed "hiker's paradise" due to the abundance of mountaineering options all around (which you'll soon get a chance to experience firsthand).
Upon arrival, check into your hotel and take 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 6: Hike to Mt. Fitz Roy
This morning you'll embark on a full-day excursion into the northern part of 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 Fitz Roy range and offer wonderful opportunities for day hikes.
In this case, a "day hike" does mean a full day of hiking, since most options can take 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 this 16-mile (26 km) hike, you'll descend the mountain and return to your hotel in El Chaltén for a much-deserved rest.
Day 7: Hike to Mirador Cerro Torre
Today, you'll leave town on foot with a guide. On this trek, you'll hike through a glacial valley that has fascinated geologists due to its perfect "U" shape, the result of the area once being covered by large swaths of ice. The total distance of this hike is 14.9 miles (24 km) and takes about six hours to complete.
The hike will take you through bright green lenga forests and around lagoons until you reach the day's final destination: Laguna Torre. This glacial lake sits at the foot of the sharp granite peak of Cerro Torre, and here you'll find the glacier that feeds the lake as well. After spending some time at the lake and admiring the views, you'll return to El Chaltén along the same path.
Day 8: El Chaltén to El Calafate - Departure
It's time to say goodbye to Patagonia. Today a driver will meet you and drive you to 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.