South Patagonia Adventure
Duration: 12 days
Highlights: El Calafate, El Chalten, Perito Moreno Glacier, Ushuaia, Buenos Aires
A journey to Argentina's untamed Patagonia.
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Day 1 - Welcome to Buenos Aires
Upon arrival in Buenos Aires, you are met and transferred to your hotel. Welcome to Buenos Aires!
Elegant, old-worldly, with a touch of Paris here and a touch of London there, a dash of New York cosmopolitanism and big splash of Italian exuberance, the city also has a strong Latin America personality as well as uniquely Argentine elements such as tango bars. Here, everything is grand, on a scale fit for kings: Tourists photograph vast steaks at restaurants, Nueve de Julio avenue ranks as the world’s widest, a cemetery so fancy that it occupies one of the poshest parts of the poshest neighborhood, while the entire city fronts onto the world’s widest river. Buenos Aires never fails to impress.
Familiarize yourself with some of the most recognizable landmarks in the ‘Paris of the South’ during a guided half-day Buenos Aires city tour. This tour includes the most historical areas of Buenos Aires. Starting in Plaza de Mayo, the political heart of the city, this square was designed by Don Juan de Garay in 1580. Continue to La Boca, the tough port barrio (neighborhood) and colorful working-class area of Buenos Aires, and finally Puerto Madero, the city’s newest district whose red-brick warehouses have been transformed into trendy restaurants and bars. Board a ferry in Puerto Madero for a 20-minute boat ride on the Río de la Plata (River Plate) to see the city from a completely different angle.
Return to the hotel, where you have some time at leisure.
Overnight: Faena Buenos Aires
Day 2 - Patagonia
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel then transfer to the local airport to board your flight to Calafate. Upon arrival in El Calafate later this afternoon, you are met and transferred to your hotel.
Welcome to El Calafate!
A charming village on the banks of Lake Argentino. Named after a Patagonian bush, according to legend, whoever eats its berries always returns to Patagonia. Picturesque streets are surrounded by beautiful trees and colorful gardens that make this village an oasis in the middle of the barren Patagonian landscape.
El Calafate is the gateway to Los Glaciares National Park an area of lakes, mountains and glaciers with astounding scenery that is best seen from one of the various boat tour options available.
Perito Moreno Glacier is the area’s main attraction, a series of walkways and balconies allow easy access to one of the few remaining advancing glaciers in the world, currently grinding its way down the Andes range into a branch of the enormous Lake Argentino. The more daring may enjoy a trekking experience over its millenarian ice field.
Day 3 - Perito Moreno Glacier: A Patagonian Icon
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel.
During a full-day excursion to see Perito Moreno glacier, travel across the Patagonian steppe and the Patagonian Andean Forest, seeing the distinctive notro tree with intense red flowers, and arrive at the walkways in front of the glacier, which forms the source basin of Argentina and Chile glaciers. Walk the footbridges to catch majestic views and hear the cracks and roars of the incredible living mass that is Perito Moreno. With a 5 kilometers long (3 mile) front wall, soaring 60 meters (180 feet) above the lake level and a 257-square kilometer (99 miles squared) ice field surface, it’s currently grinding its way down the mountains directly into an arm of the enormous Lake Argentino. Enjoy a mini trek experience over its millenarian ice field, beginning at the pier in Bajo de las Sombras port. Embark for a 20-minute group navigation across the Rico Arm, enjoying breathtaking views of the Perito Moreno glacier’s front wall.
You will disembark on the opposite shore, where bilingual mountain guides welcome and lead you to a small shelter. Small groups of not more than 20 follow guides along the lake’s shore towards the edge of the glacier. Once on the ice guides help you to put on a pair of crampons and explain how to use them. The following two-hour circuit introduces you to the fascinating landscape of the glaciers: streams, small lagoons, gullies, crevasses, and plenty of ice formations of the most incredible blues. Trekking is moderate. The ice surface you walk over is irregular, but firm and safe.
*This activity is available for those aged between 10 and 65 and due to the degree of effort and difficulty this excursion presents, pregnant women, overweight people, guests with any type of disability, or health problems will not be allowed to participate.
Not available for:
• Pregnant women
• Minors under 10 or adults over 65 according to travel agency regulations
• People with any degree of mental or mobility problems which can affect their attention or coordination.
• People with respiratory problems (COPD, asthma, emphysema, etc )
• When weight exceeds twice guests’ height in centimeters less 100.
• People suffering central or peripheral cardiovascular diseases: their heart or vessel capabilities are diminished, have stents, pacemakers and other prosthesis devises (Eg: medicated with anticoagulants, grade III varicose, cardiac arrhythmias)
• Those wearing less than a ladies size 5 shoes (or European 35) as there are no crampons available this size.
Day 4 - Explore Patagonia
After breakfast, you will be transferred to El Chalten village northwards from El Calafate. Upon arrival, transfer to Los Cerros del Chalten Lodge to leave your luggage.
El Chalten is located in the Lago Argentino Department, on the northern margin of the Lago Viedma, at the confluence of Río de las Vueltas and Fitz Roy River. It was founded due to geopolitical reasons. Originally, the tehuelche people (natives) gave the name of “Chaltén” -“blue mountain” or “smoking mountain”- to the famous Cerro Fitz Roy, which with its unmistakable and magnificent silhouette always covered by a cloud, made them think of smoke. El Chalten has been declared National Hiking Capital for the quantity of activities for hikers and climbers
Suggested trekking activity:
If short on time, this half-day trek to Lake Capri via Cerro Fitz Roy is a great introduction. Start with a steady, 1-hour incline at a leisurely pace, overlooking the Río de las Vueltas Valley and the first partial views of Fitz Roy. After 45 minutes, arrive at the first viewpoint and see the full extent of this iconic mass of stone, the Fitz Roy, flanked by the Poincenot, Saint Exupéry, Mermoz, and Guillaumet needles. A few meters away, take a detour ending at Laguna Capri surrounded by forest. The return to El Chaltén is mostly downhill.
Overnight: Don Los Cerros
Day 5 - Explore El Chalten
A full-day trek to the foot of mythical Mount Fitz Roy is one of the prettiest in the area.
08.00: Minibus pick up from your hotel and drive to the trailhead, 18 kilometers (12 miles) away. Just before arriving, stop off at a scenic spot overlooking the Fitz Roy. On arrival at the trailhead, enter a beech and ñires forest bordering the Río Blanco. Following this path, an hour’s walk leads to the first viewpoint with excellent views of Piedras Blancas Glacier. Continue for another 45 minutes to Poincenot camp before crossing the river by a suspension bridge to reach Río Blanco, a base camp only used by climbers. Your guide then steers you to Mirador de Laguna de los Tres lookout, a one-hour trek during which you’ll scale 450 meters (1,400 feet). The view of Fitz Roy, the lagoon and its glaciers, is spectacular, as is that of Laguna Sucia. Return to El Chaltén on the path that passes through the Laguna Capri lookout. Arrive at El Chaltén between 17.00 and 18.00.
Overnight: Don Los Cerros
Day 6 - Mount Fitz Roy: A Patagonian Icon
Enjoy the last full day trekking in Pliegue Tumbado. This trail head is located at the edge of El Chaltén town next to the National Park Administration Office. The full-day trail starts with a slight slope for the first hour through lovely beech and ñires forests. On reaching Pampa de las Carretas, appreciate the extensive view of Mounts Fitz Roy, Torre and Huemul.
The trail then leads into the thick forest, where you can identify bird species that inhabit the area. When the forest ends, a barren mountain landscape takes over and the path reverts to the Pliegue-Tumbado viewpoint, where you can see 100 million-year-old marine fossil ammonites and belemnites. From this viewpoint, enjoy a spectacular view of almost the entire area: Fitz Roy river canyon, Cerro Torre glacier, Madre and Hija lagoons, the Fitz Roy, and Laguna Condor. From another angle, you can see Viedma Lake, the valley of River Tunnel, the Windward Passage and the Gateway to the Continental Ice.
Overnight: Don Los Cerros
Day 7 - El Calafate
Today transfer three and a half hours to to El Calafate and transfer to your hotel.
Located in the heart of the Los Glaciares National Park, enjoy a half day private excursion to Estancia Nibepo Aike ranch combining local history and nature. Formerly devoted to raising sheep, Nibepo Aike is now the area’s most prestigious Hereford breeder. With all the remnants of the boom times of wool production, it’s an ideal place to witness a day in the life of an authentic Patagonian ranch. On arrival at the ranch after your private transfer, you are welcomed by the host with mate (yerba mate tea), tea and coffee with homemade biscuits at the foot of a wonderful view of the Andes range. Enjoy a walk in the southern area of Lago Argentino lake, viewing past exposed rock outcrops eroded by glacial action and changes in the lake levels where you can clearly see the folds of the earth’s crust differentiated by the variety of sediments that originated them. These formations continue until you reach the point where the rocks form a natural amphitheater, giving place to calm beaches of curious shapes. Following a path, you discover a forest of beech and nires trees, home to owls, Austral parakeets, rabbits, woodpeckers, eagles and a rich variety of flora and fauna.
Return to the main house to enjoy watching gaucho skills on horseback and a manual sheep-shearing demonstration accompanied by a talk about the classification and wool wrapping. These activities are subject to weather conditions. A tour of the house and barns includes anecdotes about early settlers. After visiting the organic garden, enjoy a meal in the quincho (enclosed barbecue room) of Patagonian roast lamb with fresh salads from the orchard.
This excursion can include horseback riding to Cristal Hill (one hour), which offers an excellent alternative to explore the ranch accompanied by a rural guide.
Day 8 - Ushuaia
Transfer from your hotel to Calafate airport to board your flight to Ushuaia. Flight El Calafate/Ushuaia not included. Upon arrival at Ushuaia airport, you are welcomed by your local host who transfers you to your selected hotel and helps you to check in.
Welcome to Ushuaia City, often referred to as ‘the end of the world’, Ushuaia was once a penal colony but these days, it’s a busy port and the capital of Tierra del Fuego, the largest island in South America. Christened in 1520 by Hernando de Magallanes, it was given its name for the fires lit onshore by the Onas native inhabitants, who arrived some 10,000 years ago when it was still connected to the mainland.
Ushuaia and its surrounding area are now something of a Patagonian paradise with so much to offer visitors - including amazing wildlife, a rich history, treks and walks where you get up close and personal with beavers and unique birds native to these forests, challenging trips for hikers and climbers and the opportunity to hit the slopes depending on the season.
Day 9 - Ushuaia
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel.
Full day tour in north of Ushuaia, unexpected views await. Lakes off-road is an intense way to discover the secrets hidden behind the Southern Andes range. Far from the routine of conventional excursions, enjoy a serious off-road experience. From above the Andes, see Lake Escondido, a natural wonder hidden at the bottom of a valley, as well as the impressive Lake Fagnano.
Day 10 - Gable Island, Penguin & Canoeing
A visit to Gable Island takes you to the world’s end. Away from crowded areas and in the middle of the Beagle Channel, this place is recommended by word-of mouth.
Gable Island offers untouched nature and history in the present tense.
During this full-day excursion, go for a ride, cross the channel by motor boat, go canoeing, walk and discover. On route to Gable Island, see penguins in their natural habitat. This adventure summarizes the history and variety of nature of Tierra del Fuego province.
Day 11 - Buenos Aires
Today transfer from your hotel to Ushuaia Airport.
An evening of intimate music and dance await at Rojo Tango, a unique venue located inside the Faena Universe, in Puerto Madero, for which private round trip transfers, without a guide have been included.
Following a venue transfer, dinner and a tango show await at the Philippe Starck designed cabaret for a performance filled with fantasy, sensuality and Buenos Aires’ classic nostalgia.
Rojo Tango’s vanguard show recreates the age when tango was danced on the streets of Buenos Aires. Talented dancers, musicians and singers leave guests breathless, while the Faena’s gastronomic offering teams aromas and textures with one of Argentina’s finest sparkling wines.
Overnight: Faena Buenos Aires
Day 12 - Depart
After breakfast at the hotel transfer to the international airport to board your flight for the journey home.