This 16-day hiking adventure in the Argentinian and Chilean Patagonia provides you the independence to discover this region’s spectacular glaciers and mountain trails without the constraints of a large group. Moving at your own pace, you will be able to explore the Perito Moreno Glacier, trek through the village of El Chalten, discover Torres del Paine National Park and hike around the world’s southernmost town: Ushuaia. This Patagonia trek and wildlife tour will take you through the best of the Argentine Patagonia and across the border into Chile. Expert guides lead the way through ancient forests and Patagonian Steppe past the snow-peaked Paine massif, lakes, rivers, glaciers and exquisite wildlife, with relaxed evenings in comfortable accommodations in which you can enjoy great food and somehow even better wine. The heady mixture of craggy mountains crowned with glaciers and glistening with waterfalls, bushlands dotted with gleaming glacial lakes, flower-filled meadows and windblown cliffs present innumerable opportunities for exploration on foot.
“Thanks so much again! Surtrek, a realiable travel partner and service provider of Operation Earth for our Galapagos Expedition program!”
AM: Upon your arrival in the Argentine city of El Calafate, you will take a comfortable 3-hour public bus ride that will allow you to witness the Southern Patagonia Desert on the famous Route 40. Passing over the La Leona River, which connects Lake Argentino and Lake Viedma, you will see the La Leona Roadhouse, the place where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid hid for almost a month after robbing a bank.
PM: You will then reach the town of El Chalten, which is Argentina’s top-rated trekking destination. Located at the foot of the Fitz Roy Mountain – surrounded by glaciers, lakes, rivers and forest – this town remains as a hidden gem of the south. The charming little village is a paradise for walkers and trekkers alike, as it’s the starting point of most hiking paths in the area. Here, you can explore the surroundings, take a stroll around a small waterfall, or just relax at the local brewery.
AM/PM: Prepare yourself for an exciting day amid untamed nature. El Chalten offers a range of trekking options at all levels of difficulty. Starting from the front door of your hotel, you can go for a short 3 km walk for striking views of the Rio de las Vueltas River and the Lenga Forest, along with a chance to see all kind of birds (a great woodpecker watching op). If you are looking for great mountain views, in just an hour and a half you can reach the Cerro Torre lookout point. Trekking enthusiasts can continue all the way to the Torre base or hike eight hours for the most astounding view of Fitz Roy and the whole massif alongside the Laguna de los Tres path; the last part of this hike is difficult, but completely worth the effort. For this trek, you can choose where and when to go, and proceed at your own pace, as these trails are self-guided, clearly marked and very well maintained. You will be provided with complete information about trekking in the park, which will allow you to decide the best plan for your day.
AM/PM: Today you can choose any other trail from the great variety offered at this National Park offers. Alternatively, you can go on a trekking tour (extra) that will take you over a glacier.
AM/PM: You will have a day on your own to enjoy any of the area’s self-guided trails. One of the most highly recommended is the Pliegue Tumbado trail, which will lead you to points with impressive panoramic views of the Fitz Roy and Torre mountains.
AM: This morning, you can again select from any other trail that this national park offers.
PM: This afternoon you will board your bus back to El Calafate. The 3-hour drive back is a great chance to enjoy the views from your window while you rest up.
AM: After an early breakfast, you will head out (private service) for a full-day’s excursion to the Perito Moreno Glacier in Los Glaciers National Park. The glacier, a UNESCO “World Heritage Site” since 1981, it remains one of the most awe-inspiring landscapes in Argentina. During this one-hour tour, you will have a chance to enjoy stunning views of the glacier from the nearby walking trail and viewing platforms. In addition, your bilingual guide will provide you with all the information you could ever want concerning the glacier.
PM: Later, you will also enjoy the Perito Moreno Glacier boat cruise (included in your package), which will take you close enough to fully appreciate the glacier’s 80-meter-high ice walls. You will then be driven back to your hotel in El Calafate in the early evening.
AM/PM: Today, you will be at your leisure to enjoy any of the optional tours in the El Calafate area. Among the highly recommended ones are a visit to Estancia Cristina, a mountain-bike ride out to the lake, or a boat cruise to explore some of the region’s more remote glaciers.
AM: Early this morning, we will go on a full-day excursion to the Torres del Paine National Park (shared service). Along the way, you are likely to spot rheas, guanacos, Patagonian hare, and even condors. After crossing the Patagonian steppe while traveling north to south for a 2-1/2 hours, we will reach the Argentina-Chile border’s “Cancha Carrera” post. After crossing the border, we will travel through the beautiful Chilean south until reaching the Torres del Paine (meaning “Blue Towers” in the Tehuelche language, due to their predominant color). While in the park, keep your eyes peeled for wild guanacos roaming across the windswept plains. Other natural wonders that you will visit in this internationally celebrated park are Salto Grande, Laguna Amarga, Lago Pehoe, the Cuernos del Paine, and of course the famous Torres del Paine.
PM: In the afternoon, you will be dropped off at the main entrance of the park, Laguna Amarga, where a shuttle service will take you to your selected hotel for the night.
AM: This morning, you can hike out on your own to the base of the magnificent Torres del Paine Mountain. You may want to try to reach the foot of the 900-meter-high granite stone Paine Horns, which is a challenge for climbers from all over the world. On this eight-to-ten-hour roundtrip trek, the very first two hours are very tiring, since you will be walking uphill, leaving the valley where the Hosteria and the Torres del Paine Refuge are located. Later, with spectacular views of the Ascencio River, you will have an easy walk until you reach the El Chileno Refugio.
PM: After resting up at the refuge, you will have one more hour of trekking through the Lenga Forest until you finally get to the Morrein. This is the last leg of your journey – and the most difficult – but it’s well worth the breathtaking views of these massif granite mountains that emerge out of the deep blue lake and reach up into the sky.
AM: This morning you will be picked up at your hotel for a one hour ride (private service) to Pudeto, where you can continue trekking on the other side of the park.
PM: From Pudeto, you will take 45-minute boat cruise to the opposite shore of Pehoe Lake. At the landing, you can go by yourself (just a few meters) to the Paine Grande Refugee, where you will later spend the night. After settling in, you can set out on a hike to the French Valley. Your walk through this beautiful valley will take you through woods and past hanging glaciers to a natural lookout point from where you’ll be able to view several walls of the Paine Range. Later, you can return to your refuge by skirting scenic Lake Skottberg.
AM: After enjoying a delicious early-morning breakfast, you will hike for about four hours from the Paine Grande Refuge to the Grey Mountain Hut. During this trek, you will see picturesque lakes, mountains, forest, waterfalls and rivers before finally reaching the impressive Grey Glacier.
PM: This afternoon, a boat waiting for you at the front of Grey Glacier will take you and drop you off at Hosteria Grey, where a private vehicle will be waiting to take you to Puerto Natales (three to four hours away), where you will spend the night.
AM: Today you will travel by bus to Punta Arenas (Chile’s southernmost city), which you will reach in 3-4 hours. Prior to the opening of the Panama Canal, this city was once wealthy, aristocratic and European in style, as it was the most important stop before or after crossing the Strait of Magellan.
PM: Once you arrive in Punta Arenas, you can see the traces of the city’s heyday, particularly in the architecture of its historic district and by visiting the local cemetery and seeing its elaborate mausoleums. Strolling around town, you will discover the old mansions of this character-filled town in Patagonia’s extreme south.
AM/PM: Early in the morning, you will start a full-day 12-hour* bus trip to the town of Ushuaia, passing some of Patagonia’s most stunning scenery. You will cross the mystical Strait of Magellan before arriving at Tierra del Fuego Island. After crossing the border between Argentina and Chile, the bus will continue driving south until finally arriving in Ushuaia, known as the “City of the End of the World.” This beautiful city is surrounded by mountains and fronts Beagle Chanel.
(*) For an additional cost, you can choose the quicker but less adventurous option of flying to Ushuaia.
AM: After breakfast, you will be picked up from your hotel (shared service) and driven to Tierra del Fuego National Park. Upon reaching Ensenada Bay, you will be able to enjoy the view across Beagle Channel before starting our trek along the coast. We will cover six kilometers of wild trail, which will allow you to observe the native plant and animal life of the channel, as well as the opportunity to discover ancient remains left the areas indigenous people, the Yamanas. After about three hours of hiking, we will reach Roca Lake, where a full picnic lunch will be waiting for you.
PM: After our meal, we will start canoeing down the Lapataia River, which will take you to Lapataia Bay, on the Beagle Channel, precisely where the Pan-American Highway and National Route #3 come to an end. We will then return to Ushuaia.
AM: This morning, after making our way to the tourist pier, we will embark on a boat excursion across the famous Beagle Channel. On the way, you will have panoramic views of Ushuaia Bay, as well as be able to witness the area’s diverse marine wildlife, such as cormorants and fur seals on De los Lobos and De los Pajaros Islands.
PM: On one of the Bridges Isles, you can explore the island for concheros (giant shells) and enjoy the views of both Chile and Argentina. You will also have a chance to see the famous Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse while sampling Argentina’s favorite drink: Mate.
AM: This morning, you will be driven (shared service) to the airport or bus station. From here you can head home or continue your trip onwards to the northern area of our country, the Salta region or perhaps visit the Mendoza wine country. Argentina still has plenty to offer!
“The trip was excellent from beginning to end. The Isabella II was a fine ship and the crew and guides were all of the highest quality. I would recommend them to others. For us, the ship was the perfect size – not too small and not too large”