South America - Wild Patagonia

An epic, in-depth tour of Patagonia, combining trips to Huerquehue National Park, the Queulat glacier, an isolated fishing village, a working estancia in Argentina and a king penguin colony in Tierra del Fuego, Torres del Paine, El Chalten and sections of both the Carretera Austral and Ruta 40.

27 Days

$7,970

Trip Summary and Itinerary Map

  • Discover the Huerquehue National Park
  • Hit the Carretera Austral for a road trip south through the Andes
  • Visit El Calafate and the Perito Moreno Glacier
  • Explore the Torres del Paine National Park
  • Visit the King Penguin colony at Useless Bay
  • Discover Ushuaia, the world's southernmost city

Start from Santiago and end at Ushuaia

Landmarks visited on South America - Wild Patagonia

Operator's Itinerary

Day 1: Santiago

Your tour begins with a bang in Santiago, Chile's cosmopolitan capital city.

Meals: Dinner


Day 2: Santiago - Santa Cruz

Departure Santiago towards the south via the Panamerican Highway, passing the city of San Fernando on to Santa Cruz (178 kms), located on the shores of the Tinguiririca river, nowadays an active town located in the heart of the wine zone.

The Colchagua Valley, famous for producing some of Chile's finest wines. In particular, the Cabernet Sauvignon variety which thrives during the grape growing season due to the hot sunny climate in this part of Chile, and the Carmenere variety that was thought to be extinct until rediscovered in Chile in 1994.

During this day we will visit a winery, with wine tasting and wine making included. We will also visit the Colchagua Museum, known today as one of the most complete Museums in South America.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Day 3: Santa Cruz - Pucon

Journeying south we pass through small villages and past picturesque lakes and mountains to arrive into Pucon, located in the heart of Chile's Lakes District. On the way, we will stop for lunch at the impressive Salto de Laja waterfalls.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Day 4: Pucon

Lace up your boots to hike Huerquehue National Park that protects 12500 hectares of rivers, waterfalls, alpine lakes and forest. One of the features of Huerquehue are its millenarian forests of Araucarias, which are the perfect backdrop for the small lakes and ponds that dot the park. Tinquilco Lake lies in the lower portion of this protected area and on a clear day the view across the lake to Villarica Volcano is distance is mesmerising.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch


Day 5: Pucon

Enjoy a day at leisure here where it is possible to organise numerous outdoor activities such as a one day hike up the Villarica Volcano to reach the fiery crater, kayaking, mountain biking, horse riding, fishing, white water rafting and even sky diving, or simply relaxing by the lake admiring the beauty of your surroundings.

Meals: Breakfast


Day 6: Pucon - Bariloche

Sit back and marvel along the scenic seven lakes drive to Bariloche, Argentina a resort town nestled peacefully on the shores of the Nahuel Huapi Lake.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Day 7: Bariloche

We will take time to explore the scenic Circuito Chico in the Nahuel Huapi National Park. Enjoy panoramic views of the lake and the national park as well as enjoying the opportunity to stroll through the grounds of Argentina's most famous resort, Llao Llao, where will enjoy afternoon high tea overlooking the lake.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Afternoon Tea


Day 8: Bariloche

A day at leisure here gives you time to pursue interests such as fishing, horse riding on a local estancia, playing golf, paragliding or walking one of the many great walking tracks available in the area.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Day 9: Bariloche - Futaleufu

Cross into Chile and hit the Carretera Austral 'Southern Road', with a reputation as South America's best road trip. The Carretera Austral (Southern Road) is a remote, unspoiled region of intense natural beauty and is often referred to as one of South America's best road trips.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Day 10: Futaleufu - Queulat National Park

We continue along the picturesque Carretera Austral stopping along the way to take photos and admire the spectacular natural vistas. Wild rivers flow through lush forests, rolling hills give way to snow-capped mountains, waterfalls tumble along steep cliff faces, and the world is reflected in mirror like lakes.

At lunch time will arrive at the coastal fishing village of Puyuhuapi, located on the edge of the Chilean Fiords in a setting of incomparable beauty. Tonight we will spend the night in a lodge located on the edge of the Chilean Fiords.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Day 11: Queulat National Park

Take the rare opportunity to get up close and personal to a spectacular hanging glacier in the Queulat National Park. Nature at its finest!We will take a hike to get close to the spectacular Hanging Glacier which is the magnificent centerpiece of the park. Enjoy being surrounded by virgin evergreen forests made up by species like coihue, tepa, tepuala, and Chilean rhubarbs.

After lunch hike to a nearby waterfall, grab a line from the lodge and try your hand at fishing on the edge of the fiords or simply sit and be surrounded by nature.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Day 12: Queulat National Park - Coyhaique

Hike in the beautiful and remote enchanted forest, a relatively short walk encompassing a variety of ecosystems from subtropical forest to glacial peaks. We then continue our journey to Coyhaique.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Day 13: Coyhaique - Ruta 40

Cross back into Argentina and on to the famous Ruta 40 (Route 40), paralleling the remarkable Andean mountain range. Travelling south through the vast Patagonian plains we stop overnight at a remote Patagonian Estancia (ranch).

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Day 14: Ruta 40

Today we make a special visit to the Cuevas de las Manos (Cave of the Hands) which is one of the most important archaeological sites in South America. The caves feature paintings that are the most ancient artistic expressions of the native people of the subcontinent. The paintings were made by the first settlers in these lands, ancestors of the Tehuelche people (or Patagones), and date back to 3300 years ago. The site was declared as a World heritage site by UNESCO in 1999.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Day 15: Ruta 40 - El Chalten

Enjoy the landscapes of the Patagonian Steppe as we head south. Further on we will arrive in El Chalten, and the Los Glaciares National Park. This icefield is the world's 3rd largest reserve of fresh water. Enjoy lodgings in our hotel nestled quietly under the imposing peaks of Mount Fitzroy, named after the captain of the Beagle, who navigated Darwin's Expedition of the area in 1834.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Day 16: El Chalten

Trek through the National Park in El Chalten, Argentina's trekking capital. Enjoy spectacular scenery and obtain views of the magical Cerro Torres or the wonderful Mount Fitzroy.The trekking will vary depending on the conditions however every path through this unspoilt wilderness offers breath-taking views of pristine Lakes, Mountains, Glaciers and Forest. Keep your eyes peeled to spot some of the bird's native to this region including Woodpeckers, Caracaras and even condors.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch


Day 17: El Chalten - El Calafate

The Viedma Glacier is a large glacier located at the Southern Patagonian Ice Field and is the largest glacier in Argentina. Trekking on top of the glacier is a once in a lifetime experience.

We travel by boat to the face of the glacier and land on the rocky shore nearby. After spending some time exploring the face of the glacier we strap on crampons and your expert guides will lead the group for about two hours on the ice. During this unique experience, the guides will explain and show many glacier features, like crevasses and moulins. If there is anyone that does not want to walk on top of the glacier then they have the option of visiting more areas along the face of the glacier including some ice caves if possible.

(Please note the grade of this excursion is "Easy". It does not require any previous experience in Ice Trekking and is suitable for all people of average fitness. Also please note you need to have gloves to take this excursion).

At the end of this wonderful excursion we will continue by road to El Calafate.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Day 18: El Calafate

The Perito Moreno Glacier is one of the earth's most dynamic and accessible ice fields. Visiting the glacier we can witness from a series of walkways huge chunks of ice breaking free from the face of the glacier and crashing with a mighty roar into the water.

We leave early to have the area for just ourselves to enjoy, with no rush and plenty of time for bird watching. Every time you want to stop for pictures you'll be able to. When we get to Moreno Glacier, after a very cool drive through the National Park and the steppe accompanied by an expert professional guide, we don't go straight to the regular panoramic point. That comes after a walk outside the conventional circuits, where we will enjoy almost by ourselves the glacier's north face in all its splendour, watching and hearing giant chunks of ice plummet into the waters of Lake Argentino. Our expert guide will explain anything you want to know about the area as we walk in front of Moreno Glacier on a Nature interpretation walk. We then go into the footbridges area, where you have time to enjoy at your leisure.

At the end of the tour, we ride a boat in front of the Iceberg Channel. This is a wonderful way to get close to the glacier and appreciate its daunting size and power.

After the dizzying encounter with Moreno Glacier, we head back to Calafate, arriving around 5pm.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch


Day 19: El Calafate - Torres Del Paine

Head back into Chile to Torres Del Paine, South America's finest National Park and a trekker's paradise.

Torres del Paine National Park was declared Reserve of the Biosphere by UNESCO in 1978 located among the mountain range of the Andes and the Patagonian steppe. In this zone, the colossal towers and horns of granite and rock that have given worldwide fame to it, with heights of up to 3,050 meters above the sea level. The park preserves fragile ecosystems where about 25 species of mammals live, standing out the pumas, foxes, ?andues (South American ostrich), condors and flamencos and guanacos concentrated between the Sarmiento and Nordenskjold lakes and in the Amarga and Azul lagoons. Famous is the Pehoe and the Grey Lake with its glacier that is 4 km wide and more than 30 meters high.

The 3 most famous treks inside the park are:

(a) Greys Glacier Hike (b) French Valley Hike (c) Los Torres Hike

Instead of walking these in one go like on the Big W (a 4 day hike), we break it into the three separate walks giving people the option of walking all three or only one or two if they would prefer. There are also other activities available inside Torres Del Paine including fabulous horse riding and boat trips for those wanting to walk a little less. Even spending a day around the hotel which is situated right on the edge of Lake Pehoe, where condors often circle overhead, is a great way to spend the day.

The group is assisted by an expert local trekking guide who will share information about the environment and guide you through this wonderful wilderness.

Meals: Breakfast, Dinner


Day 20: Torres Del Paine

Grey's Glacier trek (Easy - moderate) Grey Glacier is one of the principal tourist attractions located in Chile. As soon as you get to this place you will be breath taken with the lakes creamy blue colour dotted with floating icebergs that has at one end the vast Patagonian Ice Field.

This is an excellent walk.Initially you will walk through forest and then bordering lakes and views of the Glacier Grey. There are two options for this walk. You can walk for about 2 +/- hours (1 way) to the first viewpoint of the glacier. It is basically a pinnacle of rock that you can sit on and have lunch. If you wanted a shorter hike you would turn around at this point and head back to the start of the track. Another 2 hours further from this point you get to the main Greys Glacier viewpoint which brings you a lot closer to this magnificent ice sheet. From here you have a great view of the glacier across the water and usually the wonderful blue of the icebergs floating in the lake below. All viewpoints of the glacier are from a front on angle.

Greys Glacier is an excellent walk with fantastic views; it is also the easiest of the three main walks in the park. A lot of it is reasonably flat with a few steep ups and downs in some areas. It is do-able by everyone at their own pace.

The full walk takes approximately 7 - 8 hours return including time for lunch and depending on your ability and physical strength.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Day 21: Torres Del Paine

French Valley Hike (Moderate - Difficult) The French Valley is the most beautiful valley in the Torres del Paine National Park. It is a steep hike and offers incredible its 360 degree unique panoramic views of Los Cuernos del Paine, the French Glacier and Lakes Nordenskjold, Pehoe, Scottsburg and Toro.

This walk starts at the same place as the Greys Glacier walk and between the hikes we stay overnight at the Paine Grande Refuge so that you do not have to return across the lake to our hotel, effectively allowing you additional time to complete the hikes.

This is a very different walk to the Greys Glacier. More up and down hiking and at times the track can be rocky and steep. But an equally beautiful walk with stunning views. Enjoy wonderful views of Lago Pehoe, the surrounding mountains and all the different peaks in the area as well as spectacular hanging glaciers. You can sit and watch and hear the ice crack and maybe even see a mini avalanche. The viewpoint at the end of the trek is amazing - 360 degree views of mountains all around.

The full walk takes approximately 8 - 9 hours return including time for lunch and depending on your ability and physical strength.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Day 22: Torres Del Paine

Las Torres Hike (Difficult) Hiking to view the iconic Las Torres (the towers) is a must do for all keen trekkers. The Torres are three massive granite columns that encircle the smaller Torres Glacier.

This walk takes about 8 hours return. The Towers walk is probably the most testing of all the walks. From Hosteria Las Torres you start off climbing up the side of one of the mountains, all dirt paths and quite steep in gradient in areas. It then flattens out as you scale the side of the valley with a great river underneath you. Along the way you will arrive at another refuge. Here you can buy snacks and rest for a while. Some people may find that they will just go to this point (a 4 hour return hike) and on a clear day you will see Los Torres from this point.Once you leave this refuge you will start climbing again and the last 45 minutes is quite challenging as you scramble up boulders to the base of the towers. It is a walk that anyone of reasonable fitness can do but it is challenging.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

NOTE: regarding hikes in Torres Del Paine - You are not obliged to continue to the furthermost point on each trek unless you want to. There is always the option to take a shorter hike or non-trekking excursions can be arranged locally.


Day 23: Torres Del Paine - Punta Arenas

Having spent four nights inside Torres Del Paine National Park we drive south to Punta Arenas. Tonight you will enjoy a meal of that includes tasters of regional wild game prepared in various ways by the talented head chef.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Day 24: Punta Arenas - Cerro Sombrero

Enjoy your morning exploring Punta Arenas before crossing the Straits of Magellan onto the island of Tierra del Fuego.

Meals: Breakfast, Dinner


Day 25: Cerro Sombrero - Ushuaia

Visit a King Penguin colony on the way to Ushuaia, the most southerly city in the world. King Penguins are usually only found on sub Antarctic islands, such as the remote and difficult to access South Georgia and the Falkland Islands. Observing them in Tierra del Fuego, therefore, is a very unique opportunity!

Ushuaia is the largest city in Argentine Tierra del Fuego, and is now a major tourist town, complete with casinos and nice restaurants, and commonly used as a base for hiking, winter sports and cruises to Antarctica.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch


Day 26: Ushuaia

Today we visit Tierra Del Fuego National Park where you will be able to enjoy the wonderful natural environment with visits to Lake Roca, Beaver Dams and Lapataia Bay, "The End of the Road" where National Route N? 3 ends, over 3000 Km (more than 1,860 miles) from Buenos Aires.

In the afternoon you will embark the catamaran that will take you through the waters of Beagle Channel. The tour begins sailing along Ushuaia Bay from where you will get an excellent panoramic view of the city framed by Andean mountains. Once you have reached the end of the bay, you will go through Paso Chico, which indicates the start of the mythic Beagle Channel. You will border the northern coast passing by Archipelago Bridges till you reach Birds Island, where you will be able to appreciate the great variety of sea birds that live in the area: cormorants, albatrosses, ducks, sea gulls, etc. Close to this place, you will see the Sea Lions and a unique opportunity to watch at the same time sea lions of two different species. You will finally get to Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse, the iconic symbol of the beagle channel before returning to Ushuaia.

In the evening enjoy a special farewell dinner at one of Ushuaia's great restaurants.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Day 27: Ushuaia - Depart

Depart Ushuaia with wonderful memories, and a new respect of our wonderful planet courtesy of Patagonia.

Meals: Breakfast

Prices, Departures and Inclusions

Start date Price (pp)
October 2017
29-Oct-2017 $7,970* Guaranteed Date
November 2017
24-Nov-2017 $7,970 Guaranteed Date
January 2018
2-Jan-2018 $7,970* Provisional Date
29-Jan-2018 $7,970 Provisional Date
February 2018
24-Feb-2018 $7,970* Provisional Date
March 2018
23-Mar-2018 $7,970 Provisional Date

* Note: Prices are per person. Paid in USD ($) - figure above is based on today's exchange rate. Actual cost $7,970

Please note:

Of the departures listed above, the following are run in the reverse direction (Ushuaia-Santiago)

  • 24th Nov '17
  • 29th Jan '18
  • 23rd Mar '18

Single Supplement

A 25% supplement applies to solo travellers who do not wish to share accommodation with another person.


Includes

  • 22 nights accommodation in tourist class hotels; 3 nights in log cabins; 1 night in a hiking lodge
  • Transport in custom built all-terrain expedition vehicles
  • Approximately 26 breakfasts, 22 lunches, 19 dinners
  • Service of an experienced western tour leader as well as local guides
  • Experienced drive
  • Services of camp assistant while camping
  • All national park entrance fees
  • Vineyard tour & wine making - Colchagua Valley
  • Colchagua museum - Santa Cruz
  • Hiking in Huerquehue or Villarrica National Park - Pucon
  • 7 Lakes Drive - Pucon to Bariloche
  • Scenic Circuito Chico tour - Bariloche
  • High Tea - Llao Llao resort, Bariloche
  • South America's best road trip' - Carretera Austral
  • Queulat National Park & Queulat Hanging Glacier - Carretera Austral
  • Enchanted forest hike - Carretera Australuevas de las Manos (Hand Caves) Argentinean Patagonia
  • Viedma Glacier Ice Trekking - El Chalten
  • Guided Hiking in El Chalten - El Chalten
  • Moreno Glacier day trip including Nautical Safari - El Calafate
  • Day Hikes/Excursions- Torres Del Paine National Park
  • Useless Bay King Penguin Colony - Tierra Del Fuego
  • Crossing the Straits of Magellan
  • Beagle Channel Boat trip - Ushuaia
  • Tour of Tierra del Fuego National Park - Ushuaia

Excludes

  • Flights
  • Meals not indicated in itinerary
  • Personal expenses and equipment
  • Travel insurance
  • Gratuities
  • Any visa, passport and vaccination expenses

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