Even with just eight days, you can experience many of the highlights of Argentina's stunning Patagonia region. The adventure begins with a city tour of Buenos Aires followed by a trip to the far south and Tierra del Fuego for hikes and boat rides on the Beagle Channel. You'll then fly to El Calafate, home to incredible glaciers like Perito Moreno and Upsala, which you'll get to see up close. 

Highlights

  • Enjoy dinner and a tango show in Argentina's capital of Buenos Aires
  • Embark on nature excursions in Patagonia's Tierra del Fuego
  • Tour a colony home to thousands of Magellanic penguins
  • See the mammoth Perito Moreno Glacier up close

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Buenos Aires - Explore Buenos Aires
Day 2 Fly from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia Ushuaia
Day 3 Penguin Colony Excursion Ushuaia
Day 4 Discover Tierra del Fuego National Park Ushuaia
Day 5 Fly from Ushuaia to El Calafate El Calafate
Day 6 Explore Los Glaciares National Park El Calafate
Day 7 Excursion to Upsala Glacier & Estancia Cristina El Calafate
Day 8 Fly from El Calafate to Buenos Aires - Departure  

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 abounds with cobbled streets and beautiful Baroque architecture.

Upon arrival at the airport, a driver will transfer you to your hotel for check-in. Once you've had the chance to rest, you can head out and explore. The city center is your best starting point.

Day 2: Fly from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia

Ushuaia, Argentina
Ushuaia, Argentina

After enjoying city life in Buenos Aires, it's time to venture further south—to the end of the continent. In the morning, you'll transfer to the airport and catch a flight to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. Upon arrival, a driver will meet you and transfer you to your hotel. After checking in and unwinding, you can spend the remainder of the day exploring the city on foot.

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 where Charles Darwin found himself when he was riding the HMS Beagle almost 200 years ago. Getting out and walking along the waterfront allows you a glimpse of these majestic mountains and the impressive channel.

Day 3: Penguin Colony Excursion

Isla de los Lobos, Ushuaia
Isla de los Lobos, Ushuaia

Today you'll embark by boat from the tourist port of Ushuaia out into the Beagle Channel. As you venture out towards the center of the channel you'll be treated to panoramic views of the coast and the skyline of the city, all of which sits under the watchful gaze of Mount Olivia and the Cinco Hermanos Mountains

You'll sail southwest and pass the Isla de los Lobos, which is little more than a rock but happens to be the permanent habitat of a large group of sea lions. You'll have ample opportunity to view these creatures and take plenty of photos. Then, it's off to Isla de los Pájaros (Bird Island). This is a natural habitat of various species of seabirds including Magellanic cormorants and imperial shags. It's a birder's dream, so keep your binoculars and macro camera lens close.

The furthest you'll venture today is Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse, located on the northernmost of a chain of islands of the same name. Here it is possible to see part of the Monte Cervantes, an ocean liner that sank in 1930. Your guide will also point out many sites both onshore and across the channel, such as Estancia Remolino (a remote ranch), Gable Island, and the naval base at Puerto Williams (located on Navarino Island, Chile). 

Eventually, you will reach Martillo Island, where the boat will stop and you can observe the sizeable colonies of Gentoo and Magellanic penguins that call the island home. After this six-hour day-trip, you'll return to the local port and you can spend the remainder of the day enjoying your hotel's amenities and exploring the town.

Day 4: Discover Tierra del Fuego National Park

Coastal trail in Tierra del Fuego
Coastal trail in Tierra del Fuego

Today you'll enjoy beautiful Tierra del Fuego National Park, one of the most frequently visited places around Ushuaia. It's located just outside the city, and there are many wonders within its 155,000 acres.

During this excursion, you'll be accompanied by an expert guide to help you around this protected paradise, from seaside mountains and freshwater rivers to subantarctic forests and tranquil bays. After arriving in the park, you will enjoy a 4.3 mile (7 km) hike on a coastal path that follows the Beagle Channel. This hike offers prime views of the channel along the way, plus the chance to enjoy the diverse flora and fauna, including sea lions, seals, and albatrosses.

While hiking, you will pass the remnants of ancient settlements once occupied by the Yámana indigenous people. At the end of the three-hour trek, you will reach Lago Roca and enjoy its stunning views. Here, you can relax and enjoy a hot lunch before embarking on a canoe ride down the Lapataia River. This waterway leads to your ultimate destination, the spectacular Bahia Lapataia (Lapataia Bay). The bay is located in the Beagle Channel, sitting at the end of Nacional Route No. 3, an extension of the legendary Pan American Highway. From here, you will be transferred back to your hotel in Ushuaia.

Day 5: Fly from Ushuaia to El Calafate

El Calafate, Argentina
El Calafate, Argentina

After breakfast, your driver will transfer you to the airport in Ushuaia for your flight to El Calafate. This regional hub is home to the stunning glaciers of southern Patagonia, including the world-famous Perito Moreno Glacier.

After arriving in El Calafate, your driver will transfer you to your hotel. The rest of the day is free for you to rest or explore this charming city. In the evening, consider stopping by the Laguna Nimez Reserve, where you can admire a diverse array of endemic birds in the sanctuary and watch the sunset over Lago Argentino.

Day 6: 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 7: Excursion to Upsala Glacier & Estancia Cristina

The view from Estancia Cristina
The view from Estancia Cristina

There's more activity in store for you today. Starting early, a driver will pick you and other passengers up from your respective hotels and transfer 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 about six hours. Afterward, you'll embark on a 6-mile (9.5 km) journey by 4x4 over an unpaved road that ascends into the mountains. Upon reaching the Continental Ice Field Refuge, you will exit the vehicle and begin a 20-minute walk featuring 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'll board the boat again and begin the return to Punta Bandera. After landing, you will transfer back to your hotel.

Day 8: Fly from El Calafate to Buenos Aires - Departure

Sunset in Buenos Aires
Sunset in Buenos Aires

This morning, a driver will take you to the airport for your flight back to Buenos Aires. Upon arrival, you will transfer to the international airport for your return flight home. Buen viaje!

Map

Map of Ushuaia & El Calafate Adventure - 8 Days
Map of Ushuaia & El Calafate Adventure - 8 Days