The Quetru Crossing - the back way from Aysen to Fitzroy

This is so much more than just a border crossing. Travelling by boat, 4x4 and on foot (as there is no other means), this trip takes you from the southern end of the Carretera Austral through to the Los Glaciares National Park taking in glacial lakes, native forests and remote customs outposts. You’ll meet local gauchos and pioneering families who call this place home accompanied by spine tingling scenery. This is so much more than just a border crossing. Travelling by boat, 4x4 and on foot (as there is no other means), this trip takes you from the southern end of the Carretera Austral through to the Los Glaciares National Park taking in glacial lakes, native forests and remote customs outposts. Read more...

8 Days

$2,475

The Quetru Crossing - the back way from Aysen to Fitzroy - 8 - $2,475

Trip Summary and Itinerary Map

  • You'll be accompanied for the crossing by a local guide to help you navigate and communicate with the local family
  • Hike the trails in the glacial valleys around the "end of the road" quaint village of Villa O'Higgins
  • Visit the famous staggering Pertio Moreno Glacier
  • Hike the stunning trails taking you to Mont Fitzroy and Cerro Torre from El Chalten
  • Stay in a mix of boutique hotels, simple guest houses, and a cosy homestay in a very wild and remote area

Start from Caleta Tortel and end at El Calafate

Landmarks visited on The Quetru Crossing - the back way from Aysen to Fitzroy

Operator's Itinerary

Day 1: Drive Caleta Tortel to Villa O'Higgins

Make your own way to Caleta Tortel, on the Southern Carretera Austral or combine with our “End of The Road” self-drive.

You’ll have the morning free to enjoy the walkways of intriguing Caleta Tortel before your private transfer south to Villa O’Higgins. 

This is a 6 hour journey down to the southern tip of the road including a 30 minute car ferry ride across the “New Year” fjord.

On arrival into Villa O’Higgins, take some time to explore the little village or have a soak in the hotel's wood burning hot tub surrounded by stunning snow capped mountains.

Drive: 150km (gravel) including car ferry

Meals: n/a

Accomodation: Robinson Crusoe Lodge


Day 2: Self-Guided hiking in Villa O'Higgins

Spend the day hiking around the Glacier Mosco Park and on the viewpoint trails around Villa O'Higgins.

Leaving from the village centre of Villa O’Higgins there is a well marked path that takes you to a series of 3 viewpoints that give you lovely views out over Villa O’higgins, Lago O’Higgins and Lago Ciervo. This trail takes about 1 hour in total.

For a slightly longer hike, you can take the 1.8 kilometre trail to the ‘Mirador del Valle’ set up on Cerro Submarino over looking Villa O;Higgins.

For those looking for a full day hike, then there are trails in the Glacier Mosco Park which is just south of Villa O’Higgins.

The Padre Hurtado museum in the main square is also well worth a visit.

Meals: Breakfast

Accommodation: Robinson Crusoe Lodge


Day 3: Boat Crossing Lago O’Higgins to Candelario Mancilla

Take an early morning shuttle from Villa O’Higgins to Puerto Bahamondes (7kms; 15 mins) - the official end of the Carretera Austral.

You will then take a boat ride from Villa O'Higgins to Candelario Mansilla across the vast Lago O’Higgins.

On arrival you will meet your guide and settle into your home stay for the evening. You have the afternoon free to explore the trails in the area.

For example hike to the abandoned Estancia El Palomar - this is a 10km hike out and back that takes you high up along the shores of the Lago O’Higgins. Estancia El Palomar is an abandoned building where Ricardo (your evening’s host), Carmen and their 6 other siblings grew up - it is so cut off that it is hard to imagine a whole family living here.

You will overnight in the home of Ricardo Levican, the grandson of Candelario Mancilla, the original settler in the area. It is simple, rustic, not spotlessly clean but it was warm and welcoming. You can even go and see the water turbine that Candelario built in the late 30s to generate electricity.

Travel: Transfer 7 kms; 15 mins; Boat crossing 2-3 hrs.

Meals: Breakfast, picnic lunch, dinner

Accommodation: Candelario Mansilla Farmhouse (basic homestay)


Day 4: Hike across the border from Chile to Argentina 

Today you will trek from Candelario Mansilla (in Chile) to Punta Norte, Lago del Desierto (in Argentina) followed by a transfer to the hiking town of El Chalten.

From your homestay you will hike 1 km up the track to get to the Chilean customs where you will have your passport stamped and officially leave Chile.

You will then hike for 16 kms on a 4x4 track to get to the official border then once in Argentina, there is a 5 kms trail down to the Lago del Desierto. Here you’ll have your passport stamped to officially enter Argentina.

During the hike, your luggage will be transported by horse to meet you at Lago del Desierto. You’ll then take a boat across the beautiful Lago del Desierto where you’ll get beautiful views towards Mount Fitzroy.

Once at Punta Sur, you’ll have a transfer to El Chalten.

Travel: Hike 22kms; Boat 1 hr; Transfer 1.5 hrs.

Meals: Breakfast, picnic lunch

Accommodation: Senderos Hostería -or similar-, includes breakfast


Day 5: Hike to base of Mount Fitzroy

This trek starts with a transfer to the trailhead at El Pilar, located 17km to the north of the town. The journey itself is enjoyable for the lovely views of the valley, the Rio de Las Vueltas, as you drive, as well as the impressive Cordon de Los Condores. After about 20 minutes you will start to see Mount FitzRoy from a different angle. You'll then set out on the walk, traversing through a dense forest of lengas that provide protection from the winds coming off the Continental Ice Field. From the start you will be able to see lots of different glaciers; Marconi, Electrico, Cagliero and in the distance, towards Lago del Desierto, the Vespignani glacier. The path is easy as it's quite flat and the climbs are gentle.

Arrive at the first viewpoint, Piedras Blancas glacier, and then walk on into a clearing where you can admire the peaks of "S", Saint Exupery, Poincenot, FitzRoy, Mermoz and Guillaumet, in all their splendour. From here, continue for a few more minutes until you arrive at Poincenot campground, located in the beautiful lenga forest inhabited by countless varieties of birds, which will accompany you with their song until the Rio Blanco campground is reached. This is the base camp for the most adventurous climbers who will attempt to conquer these granite masses.

Next, you'll climb for about an hour (400m) until you arrive at Laguna de los Tres. On arriving at the highest point on the path, majestic views of FitzRoy, and the Glacier de los Tres and its lagoon will reward you. The grandeur of this location causes a great sense of reverence. After taking in the view, you will circle Laguna de los Tres and head towards the viewpoint of the Laguna Sucia and its glacier. Again, the breathtaking views are unforgettable. After a rest and a bite for lunch, start the descent and walk back to El Chaltén. En route, you will pass some varying landscape, crystal clear streams and Laguna Capri – a favourite spot for photographers. After visiting the lagoon, drop down into the valley where El Chaltén is located.

Hiking: 8 - 9 hours, 22km

Meals: Breakfast, picnic lunch

Accommodation: Senderos Hosteria (or similar)


Day 6: Hike to the famous Cerro Torre

From El Chalten, head off on the Laguna Torre footpath and after a small climb, you will enter a small nire wood. From here, the path starts to gain height and straighten up alongside the FitzRoy River until it arrives at a viewpoint of the river canyon and the Margarita waterfall. The panorama presents the valley of the FitzRoy River and its serpentine course with the backdrop of the unique Mount Solo, the Adela range and the impressive Mount Torre.

After about an hour of walking, you will arrive at the Mount Torre viewpoint. Make the most of the magnificent views of Mount Torre, the Adela range and glaciers while having a short break.

You'll then walk onwards for around two hours through grand lenga forests, crossing old glacial moraines and wet plains formed by the previous courses of the river until you arrive at Laguna Torre. In this section there is always the possibility of spotting a wide range of birds, including the Magellanic woodpecker. At Laguna Torre, it is usual to see huge icebergs where ice which has fallen off the Torre glacier face.

Laguna Torre is also the source of the River FitzRoy. This river may be crossed by using the Tyrolean rope; used by the climbers to access Torre glacier and to get to the base of the mountain they plan to climb. Walk to the Agostini camp, where climbers from all over the world stay, a lovely springtime walk seeing the abundance of wildflowers endemic to Patagonia.

After a rest and lunch at the lagoon, you will start the trek back to El Chaltén. You will then take a late afternoon public bus from El Chalten to El Calafate and transferred to your hotel on arrival.

Length of excursion: 7 - 8 hours, 20km

Meals: Breakfast, picnic lunch

Accommodation at Madre Tierra Boutique Hotel -or similar-, includes breakfast


Day 7: Excursion to the magnificent Perito Moreno Glacier

Combine a visit to Perito Moreno with an exploration of the fjords of Los Glaciares National Park. Hike around the ancient forests, black sand beaches, hidden waterfalls and massive hanging glaciers before sailing up to Perito Moreno.

You'll have time to gaze at the wall of ice from your boat, and also from the viewing balconies which offer spectacular vistas

Length of excursion: 9 hours

Meals: Breakfast, picnic lunch

Accommodation at Madre Tierra Boutique Hotel -or similar-, includes breakfast


Day 8: Departure Day

After breakfast you will be collected for your transfer to either El Calafate airport or El Calafate bus station for your onward travel.

Prices, Departures and Inclusions

This trip can be set up on a date of your choice depending on availability. Please contact us for more information. 

Prices are based on two people sharing one double room ensuite. 

Includes

  • Meals: 7 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 1 dinner
  • Accommodation: Lodge/Guest House (6 nights); Simple homestay (1 night)
  • Excursions: English speaking guide days 3 & 4; 2 guided day hikes in El Chalten; Perito Moreno excursion.
  • Transport: Private transfer from Caleta Tortel to Villa O’Higgins
  • Transport: Shuttle from Villa O’HIggins to Puerto Bahamondes
  • Transport: Boat crossing Lago O’Higgins & Lago del Desierto
  • Transport: Transfer from Lago del Desierto to El Chalten
  • Transport: Public bus El Chalten to El Calafate (transfer on arrival)

Excludes

  • Entrance fees to National Parks (about U$S 20.- for when visiting Perito Moreno Glacier or joining a boat ride in the surroundings - this must be paid locally in Argentinean pesos and only in CASH  - $AR 800.-)
  • Bus terminal tax (about U$D 2.- for El Chaltén and U$D 2.- for El Calafate)
  • Personal expenses and equipment
  • Meals not mentioned
  • Travel insurance
  • Gratuities
  • Any visa, passport and vaccination expenses

Questions about this Trip?