Patagonian Peaks and Plains

A group tour of enormous scope, travelling with expert local guides from Santiago, all the way down to Tierra del Fuego via central Chile and back up to Buenos Aires. Experience some of Patagonia's best trekking in a series of day hikes, visit volcanoes, tour vibrant cities and get the chance to river raft, ice hike and sail the Beagle Channel.

A group tour of enormous scope, travelling with expert local guides from Santiago, all the way down to Tierra del Fuego via central Chile and back up to Buenos Aires. Read more...

20 Days
$5,991

Patagonian Peaks and Plains - 20 - $5,991

Operator's Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Santiago with a walking tour of the city

Those arriving on an international flight will be met at the airport by the tour leader or a local representative. There will be time to relax before exploring the city and visiting a few of the many museums, markets, and parks of this cosmopolitan capital. Santiago is laid out in a broad valley below the snow-capped Andes.

For a panoramic view over the city, visit Cerro Santa Lucia, a central, rather romantic park. For even more panoramic vistas, a cable car leads to the summit of San Cristobal, where you can join Chilean families wandering along the leafy paths. Afterwards, have a beer at one of the pavement cafes in Bellavista. This is an Italian quarter of narrow streets peppered with bars and shops selling local lapis lazuli (only Chile and Afghanistan produce the stones in commercial quantities).

The museum and house of Chilean poet laureate Pablo Neruda is close by, and its unusual interior with an eclectic collection of paintings and bric-a-brac is well worth a visit.

Meals: Breakfast 

Accommodation: Hotel Torremayor Providencia 


Day 2: Optional visits to local vineyards or the port of Valparaíso

Today there is an optional visit to Chile's second city, Valparaíso (2 hrs by bus). This lively seaport is built on a series of hills which form a backdrop to the wide bay, with views over the seaside resort of  Vina del Mar. You can wander through the steep, winding streets and among the brightly-coloured colonial homes built for 19th century British and German merchants, or take a ride in one of the creaky wooden funiculars which link the cliff-top communities.

Time permitting, you may wish to visit one of the vineyards close to Santiago, to sample some highly respected Chilean wine.

Meals: Breakfast 

Accommodation: Hotel Torremayor Providencia 


Day 3: Fly to Temuco, by road to Pucon, to explore the lake district 

Fly south to Temuco; continue by bus to Pucon, leisure capital of the lake district. Located on the shores of Lake Villarrica, Pucon is a popular summer resort overlooked by the dramatic peak of the active Villarrica Volcano (2,840m).

During your free time here, you might hire a bike and follow undulating trails into the forested countryside, stopping off at waterfalls, volcanic lakes, and natural thermal springs. For something a little more adventurous there is the option of river rafting: gliding across the extraordinarily clear, glacial waters between densely-forested banks, and with a towering volcano as your backdrop, is a wonderful way to see the countryside. The river has grade 3/4 rapids, but no previous experience is necessary if you wanted to join a rafting tour.

Length of journey: 1-hour flight, 1.5-hour bus

Meals: Breakfast 

Accommodation: Hostal Geronimo


Day 4: Optional visit to Huerquehue National Park or the opportunity to climb Villarrica volcano

Today offers an excursion is to Huerquehue National Park: follow trails through the mature araucuaria (native monkey puzzle) forests, passing glossy lakes. It's an idyllic, almost fairyland landscape, with buckled roots, vines, and creepers. This full day's walk (5-6 hrs) is quite challenging with some steep sections.

There is also the option to climb to the icy peak of Villarrica volcano. This is a demanding trek which requires a good level of fitness. A local agency provides all the necessary equipment. The steep 1,400m ascent takes 5-6hrs through snow and icy conditions. Views down over the surrounding volcanoes, shimmering lakes and bright green deciduous forests are mind-expanding and at the top, you are greeted by the sight of the deep, smoking crater.

Or you might explore the area on horseback. This is a 4hr optional trip into the Mapuche countryside originally settled by the Mapuche indians in the shadow of Villarrica and Lani-n volcanoes and along the shores of the bright green Curilafquen Lagoon. You can even take a dip in the chilly waters if you dare!

Meals: Breakfast 

Accommodation: Hostal Geronimo


Day 5: Drive to Puerto Varas; visit the Petrohue Falls

A morning bus takes you to Puerto Varas, situated on the shores of Lake Llanquihue (one of the largest natural lakes in South America), in the heart of the lake district. Towering snow-capped volcanoes punctuate a patchwork landscape of cultivated hills and pastures. The town sits in the shadows of the perfect conical peak of the Osorno and Calbuco volcanoes. In the afternoon there is a visit to the crystalline cascade of the Petrohue Falls.

The town itself was originally colonised by German immigrants, so it has a distinctive, Bavarian feel, and many inhabitants are fair-haired and blue-eyed. There are some excellent seafood restaurants and cafés to while away a day at leisure.

Length of bus journey: 4 hours

Meals: Breakfast 

Accommodation: Hotel Puelche


Day 6: Visit Chiloé Island

Today there is a full-day excursion to Chiloé. This extraordinary island developed largely independently from the mainland and has a distinct history, architecture, and mythology. Alighting on its shores is like stepping back into a time of mists and legends. Half the population works in agriculture, the techniques of which have remained unchanged for centuries; distinctive ox-driven carts are to be seen trundling down the island's unpaved roads past unique wood-shingled churches and there are several folksy fishing ports where you can savour fresh oysters.

November-March you can take a boat trip to spot Magellanic and Humboldt penguins. The excursion ends with a visit to a Chilote family, where the traditional curanto is prepared for you; a hearty dish of seafood, meat, potatoes and vegetables, all piled high in a hole in the ground, buried and cooked among glowing embers.

Meals: Breakfast 

Accommodation: Hotel Puelche


Day 7: Fly to Punta Arenas

After a short drive to Puerto Montt, a flight takes you south to Punta Arenas. On a clear day you have views of the southern icecap, its fjords, volcanoes and glaciers. Approaching the city you see the rust brown Patagonian steppes, pitted with small lagoons, stretching out towards the Straits of Magellan. On the other side of the water rise the mountains of the windswept island of Tierra del Fuego.

You’ll overnight in Punta Arenas which was an important, British-influenced trading centre before the opening of the Panama Canal turned it into a backwater; the region's fortunes were only briefly revived during a short-lived gold rush. To add to its woes, the sheep-rearing business has never recovered from the catastrophic collapse of the price of meat and wool. No pure-blooded indigenous people are left alive here; having survived for centuries the rigours of the Antarctic climate they were annihilated by the diseases brought in by sailors and missionaries at the turn of the 20th century.

Length of journey: 2-hour flight

Meals: Breakfast 

Accommodation: Hotel Rey don Felipe


Day 8: By road to Puerto Natales, gateway to Torres del Paine, 3 night stay

Spend the morning exploring the historic city or, weather permitting, head out onto the water for a boat trip to Magdalena Island to visit the large colony of Magellanic penguins that call it home. Alternatively, kayak around the unique natural environment of Agua Fresca Bay.

In the afternoon we continue by bus to Puerto Natales, a small town on the shores of Last Hope Sound, frequented by pelicans, black-necked swans and cormorants, the perfect base for exploring the nearby Torres del Paine National Park.

Length of journey: 3-hour drive

Meals: Breakfast 

Accommodation: Hotel Vendaval


Days 9-10: Walking in the park to see rivers and glaciers

For 2 full days the group will explore the Torres del Paine National Park by private vehicle and on foot, leaving early in the morning and returning to the comfort of Puerto Natales by evening.

Whilst exploring the park there’ll be stops to visit some of the best viewpoints such as Lago Nordenskjold and Salto Grande. The scenery is overwhelming; the granite massif of the Cuernos, milky lakes dotted with icebergs and, soaring above, condors riding against perpetual fierce winds.

Spend the rest of your days exploring the national park on foot. Follow a number of different walking trails winding alongside the glacial lakes and rivers with close-up views of tortured rock towers and needles rising 3,000m into a tempestuous sky. The difficulty and length of the available walks in the park vary hugely, and some may not be suitable for all passengers. The most famous hike is to the 'base of the towers', but this is also the most strenuous lasting at least 8hrs. There should however be something for everyone, so consult your tour leader about which hike would be best suited to you or for alternatives such as horse riding. Water and windproof clothing, as well as suitable footwear, are essential as weather can be very unpredictable.

Meals: Breakfast 

Accommodation: Hotel Vendaval


Day 11: Travel to El Calafate on the shores of Lago Argentino

Head out across the Patagonian steppe, passing guanacos (similar to an ostrich) and flamingos, and with a view of translucent Lago Argentino, the largest lake in the country. It is on these shores that El Calafate, your next port of call, is situated. This is a small town, but it is growing fast, brimming with hotels, cafes, tour agencies, delicatessens, sweet shops and roaming travellers. There's not a huge amount to do in town, which makes for a great opportunity to unwind. It is also convenient base for excursions into the area for those that would like to book some.

Length of journey: 5 to 6-hour bus (including stops and border crossing)

Meals: Breakfast 

Accommodation: Hotel Kapenke 


Day 12: Excursion to the Perito Moreno Glacier

The town is a stopping off point for visitors to the Perito Moreno Glacier, still one of the most dynamic in the world. Driving out towards the glacier the road follows the lake before turning up a wooded valley, dense with beech and birch trees, and continues alongside shimmering lagoons bordered with bright crimson and heather lichens.

The park authorities have been sensitive about keeping the site as natural as possible, and there are no shops or cafes within close proximity of the wooden viewing platforms, which are landscaped into the cliff. Just looking at the cliff-edge of the glacier, which towers 60m above the water surface and is an extraordinary 5km wide, is awe-inspiring in itself. But after a time you hear the unforgettable sound of the glacier calving a vast wedge of ice the size of a tower block and sending it smashing it down into the lake, where it divides and floats away as an iceberg. 

There is an optional mini-trek on the glacier. Walking out on the ice is an extraordinary experience; atop this immense ice sheet you feel exposed to the elements, and you can explore the craggy, desolate landscape, peering into crevasses and deep water pools, squinting against the incredible blue of the ice. It is a 1-2 hour walk on the ice led by a local guide, and crampons are provided.

Length of  journey: 2-hour drive each way

Meals: Breakfast 

Accommodation: Hotel Kapenke


Days 13-14: Drive to El Chaltén and walking in Los Glaciares National Park

Travel by road through the uninhabited wilderness to El Chaltén. This small town enjoys a wonderful location, surrounded by the spectacular jagged mountains of the Fitzroy range in the Los Glaciares National Park, and is our base for 2 days.

Founded in 1985 in order to settle the area and pre-empt Chilean territorial claims El Chalten has grown very rapidly as a centre for climbing and trekking in the summer and cross-country skiing in the winter. Explore this region of extraordinary natural beauty on foot, along one of the national park's many trails. You hike through dense forest and across glacial brooks with the vertical peaks of the Fitzroy Massif, too steep to shelter snow, providing a mesmeric backdrop. All walks are optional and trails are undulating but not strenuous. Be sure to take warm clothes as the weather in the south is notoriously unpredictable.

Length of journey: 3.5-hour drive

Meals: Breakfast 

Accommodation: Hotel Cumbres Nevadas 


Day 15: Fly to Ushuaia, lively port on the southernmost tip of the continent 

An early road journey takes you back to El Calafate for the flight to Ushuaia (some domestic flights have a free baggage limit of 15kg, the excess charge is minimal though).

The world's southernmost city, Ushuaia, sits at the foot of a hand of jagged peaks. Thus isolated, it was a penal colony at the turn of the 20th century and a sleepy frontier town until the late 1970s when it was turned into a tax haven to encourage settlers. Immigration has slackened off nowadays as this status is being rescinded but effects of the boom are nonetheless evident, with chalet-style residences, modern hi-tech factories, shopping malls and duty-free shops.

Length of excursion: 1.5-hour flight 

Meals: Breakfast 

Accommodation: Hostal del Bosque


Day 16: Walk in Tierra del Fuego National Park

Full-day excursion to the nearby Tierra del Fuego National Park, with its bright green deciduous beech forests cascading down to bright lakes and fjords populated by water birds and beavers. Walk along winding, narrow hillside paths to be met with views over the Beagle Channel, and learn about the flora and fauna of the area with your guides, who love the park and have devised their own nature trails. The 4-5 hour walk is at a gentle pace, there are plenty of stops and a packed lunch is provided.

Meals: Breakfast, lunch

Accommodation: Hostal del Bosque


Day 17: Fly to Buenos Aires

Fly to the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires, an elegant and cosmopolitan city famed for its fascinating districts and being the birthplace of the Tango and Diego Maradona. Evenings can be spent sampling the juicy world renowned steak, tasting the famous local wines or enjoying an evening tango show.

Two full days allow for plenty of time to explore its lanes and boulevards as well as make the most of some free time to shop, have a drink and a pastry in a tea-room or peruse the items on display in one of the many markets.

Length of journey: 3.5-hour flight 

Meals: Breakfast 

Accommodation: Kenton Palace


Days 18-19: City tour, optional tango show or boat trip to Colonia, Uruguay

A guided tour of the city takes you to the most famous spots the city has to offer. Starting in the centre of the city, the historic heartland, where government buildings and churches mingle with chic shopping districts, which have a nostalgic, Parisian feel. The quintessential district La Boca with its cobbled streets and brightly painted houses is a must, as is the bohemian district of San Telmo, full of quaint old houses interspersed with antique shops, tango bars and expensive restaurants. Slightly further out of town is the Recoleta district, even more evocative of belle époque French and Italianate architecture. The area is home to the cemetery where Evita is laid to rest, and huge tombs line the alleys. During the winter months, wealthy female residents parade the streets in their fur coats and improbable, towering hairstyles, and take afternoon tea in the city's ornate cafés.

On your free day take a break from the city’s frenzy. Travel by motor catamaran across the River Plate border to Colonia in Uruguay (don't forget your passport) where you can wander cobbled streets and admire the squat colonial houses from the top of the lighthouse, and have a glass of wine or lunch in the yacht club.

Meals: Breakfast 

Accommodation: Kenton Palace


Day 20: Depart for international flight or onward journey

Customer review background image

What our customers think

The hike on Perito Moreno glacier was so cool! I have hiked on other glaciers when the weather was bad, and we happened to get a bright and sunny day for this tour, so it made it very enjoyable.

Alysha Colorado, USA December 2017

Loved the people and the size of the tour. Hotels were wonderful with very comfortable accommodations and great breakfasts. Tour leaders were awesome. It was everything we had hoped for and more.

Marty & Margaret Schmidt United States Of America January 2018

El Chalten turned out to be our favourite place of the trip - such a lovely, charming town with amazing restaurants and bars!

Anne Marie McGonigal United Kingdom December 2018

We thoroughly enjoyed both Chiloe Island with it's great birding and wildlife and Torres del Paine Park's both wildlife and scenery!

Paul Miller United States Of America February 2019

Torres del Paine was an absolute highlight of the trip. Glaciers, mountains, blue lakes... impossible to imagine a more wild and spectacular location.

Audrone Urbonaviciute Belgium November 2019

Prices, Departures and Inclusions

2021

2022

2023

Start date Price (pp)
October 2021
31-Oct-2021 $5,991* Provisional Date
November 2021
21-Nov-2021 $5,991 Provisional Date
December 2021
12-Dec-2021 $5,991* Provisional Date
January 2022
2-Jan-2022 $5,991 Provisional Date
23-Jan-2022 $5,991* -
February 2022
6-Feb-2022 $5,991 Provisional Date
March 2022
6-Mar-2022 $5,991* Provisional Date
October 2022
30-Oct-2022 $5,991 Provisional Date
November 2022
20-Nov-2022 $5,991* Provisional Date
December 2022
11-Dec-2022 $5,991 Provisional Date
January 2023
8-Jan-2023 $5,991* Provisional Date

* Note: Prices are per person. Paid in GBP (£) - figure above is based on today's exchange rate. Actual cost £4,200

Single Supplement And Child Policy

There is no extra cost for single travellers who are willing to share a room. You will be accommodated with another same-sex member of the group who is also travelling solo.

For single travellers who wish to have their own room, there are a limited number of single rooms available and there is a single supplement of  GBP £1,195.

Includes

  • Meals: 19 breakfasts, 1 lunch (day 16)
  • Accommodation: 20 nights, mainly in “no frills” accommodation.
  • Tour leader throughout and local guides in most locations
  • Domestic flights in Chile and Argentina
  • Land and domestic transport
  • Walking tour Santiago
  • Visit to Petrohue Falls
  • Visit to Chiloe Island
  • 2 full days in Torres del Paine to explore by vehicle and foot
  • Excursion to Perito Moreno glacier and walks in Los Glaciares
  • Expedition in Tierra del Fuego
  • City tour of Buenos Aires

Excludes

  • Meals not indicated in itinerary
  • Optional excursions (budget around USD $550 if you are planning to do all)
  • Travel insurance
  • Personal equipment (request our recommended kit list for more details)
  • Gratuities/tips
  • International flights
  • Any visa, passport and vaccination expenses

Questions about this Trip?