Patagonian Peaks and Plains

Travel in a small group with an expert tour leader from Santiago all the way down through central Chile to Tierra del Fuego and back up to Buenos Aires. Experience some of Patagonia's best trekking in Torres del Paine National Park, visit volcanoes and glaciers, tour vibrant cities and get the chance to river raft, ice hike and sail the Beagle Channel. Travel in a small group with an expert tour leader from Santiago all the way down through central Chile to Tierra del Fuego and back up to Buenos Aires. Read more...
20 Days
$5,834

Patagonian Peaks and Plains - 20 - $5,834

Trip Summary and Itinerary Map

Day 1: Arrive in Santiago; Walking tour of the city 

Day 2: Optional visit to Valparaíso or vineyards 

Day 3: Fly to Temuco then by road to Pucón 

Day 4: Optional visit to Huerquehue National Park or Villarrica Volcano

Day 5: Drive to Puerto Varas; Petrohue Falls

Day 6: Chiloé Island

Day 7: Fly to Punta Arenas

Day 8: By road to Puerto Natales

Days 9 & 10: Torres del Paine National Park

Day 11: By road to El Calafate

Day 12: Perito Moreno Glacier

Days 13 & 14: By road to El Chaltén; Los Glaciares National Park

Day 15: Fly to Ushuaia

Day 16: Tierra del Fuego National Park

Day 17: Fly to Buenos Aires

Days 18 & 19: Buenos Aires city tour

Day 20: Depart from Buenos Aires

Start from Santiago and end at Buenos Aires

Landmarks visited on Patagonian Peaks and Plains

Operator's Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Santiago; Walking tour of the city

If arriving on an international flight, you will be met at the airport by the tour leader or a local representative. You will have time to relax before looking around Santiago and visiting a few of the many museums, markets and parks of this cosmopolitan capital. Santiago is in a broad valley below the snow-capped Andes.

For panoramic views over the city, you should visit Cerro Santa Lucia, a central, rather romantic park. Other panoramic vistas can be found by taking a cable car to the summit of San Cristobal, where you can join Chilean families wandering along the leafy paths.

After this, perhaps have a beer at one of the pavement cafés in Bellavista – the Italian district with narrow streets dotted 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.

Accommodation: Hotel Torremayor Providencia 


Day 2: Optional visit to Valparaíso or vineyards

Today there is an optional excursion to Chile's second city, Valparaíso – a UNESCO heritage site. This lively seaport is built on a series of hills which form a backdrop to the wide bay. There are also views over the coastal resort of Vina del Mar.

Take a stroll 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 wooden funiculars linking the cliff-top communities.

If there is enough time, you could visit one of the vineyards close to Santiago, to sample some fine Chilean wines.

Length of excursion: 8hrs

Meals: Breakfast 

Accommodation: Hotel Torremayor Providencia 


Day 3: Fly to Temuco then by road to Pucón

Today you fly 1hr south to Temuco and then continue 90mins by bus to Pucón, the leisure capital of the Lake District. On the shore of Lake Villarrica, Pucón is a popular summer resort with the dramatic peak of the active Villarrica Volcano at 2,840m in the distance.

At Pucón you might like to hire a bike and follow winding trails into the forested countryside, stopping at waterfalls, volcanic lakes, and thermal springs. If you'd prefer something more adventurous, there is the option of river rafting. Glide across extraordinarily clear, glacial waters between forested banks with a towering volcano in the background – an excellent way to see the countryside. The river does have grade 3/4 rapids, but no previous experience of rafting is necessary if you want to join a rafting tour.

Length of journeys: 1hr flight, 1.5hr bus

Meals: Breakfast 

Accommodation: Hostal Geronimo


Day 4: Optional visit to Huerquehue National Park or Villarrica Volcano

Today there is an optional excursion to Huerquehue National Park. Here you can follow trails through the mature araucuaria (native monkey puzzle) forests and pass by glossy lakes. It's an idyllic, almost fairyland landscape, with buckled roots, vines, and creepers. It's a full day's walk (5-6hrs) and can be challenging, especially on the 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, but a local agency will provide all the necessary equipment. The steep 1,400m ascent takes 5-6hrs through snow and icy conditions but the views at the top make it all worth it. Look into the deep, smoking crater, or down over the surrounding volcanoes, shining lakes and vivid green deciduous forests.

Another option is to explore the area on horseback. This is a 4hr trip into the Mapuche countryside (originally settled by the Mapuche indians) along the shore of the bright green Curilafquen Lagoon, in the shadow of Villarrica and Lanín volcanoes. Take a dip in the chilly waters of the lagoon if you dare!

Meals: Breakfast 

Accommodation: Hostal Geronimo


Day 5: Drive to Puerto Varas; Petrohue Falls

In the morning a bus takes you to Puerto Varas, on the shores of Lake Llanquihue in the heart of the Lake District. Here you'll see towering snow-capped volcanoes peppering a landscape of cultivated hills and pastures. The town of Puerto Varas sits in the shadows of the perfect conical peak of the Osorno and Calbuco volcanoes. In the afternoon there is a visit to the Petrohue Falls.

The town itself was originally colonised by German immigrants – you'll notice the distinctive, Bavarian feel – and many inhabitants are fair-haired and blue-eyed. There are some excellent seafood restaurants and cafés to try during your relaxed time here.

Length of excursion: 6hrs

Meals: Breakfast 

Accommodation: Hotel Puelche


Day 6: Chiloé Island

Today there is a full-day excursion to Chiloé Island. Because this extraordinary island developed largely independently from the mainland it has a distinct history, architecture, and mythology. Arriving on its shores is akin to stepping back into a time of mists and legends.

Half of the population works in agriculture using techniques that have remained unchanged for centuries;  ox-driven carts can be seen trundling along the island's unpaved roads past beautiful wood-shingled churches. There are also several small fishing ports where you can try fresh oysters.

From November to March you can take a boat trip to spot Magellanic and Humboldt penguins and finish the excursion with a visit to a Chilote family. They will prepare traditional curanto 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.

Length of excursion: 9hrs

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'll have views from the plane of the southern icecap, its fjords, volcanoes and glaciers. Approaching Punta Arenas you'll see the rust-brown Patagonian steppe, pitted with small lakes stretching out towards the Straits of Magellan. Across the other side of the water rise the mountains of the windswept island of Tierra del Fuego.

Punta Arenas was an important trade centre with British influence before the opening of the Panama Canal turned it into a mere backwater. It was only briefly that the area's fortunes were revived during a brief gold rush. To compound this the local sheep farms never recovered from the collapse of the price of meat and wool. Sadly no pure-blooded indigenous people live here – despite surviving the harsh Antarctic climate for centuries they were annihilated by the diseases carried by sailors and missionaries at the turn of the 20th century. 

Length of journey: 2hr flight

Meals: Breakfast 

Accommodation: Hotel Rey don Felipe


Day 8: By road to Puerto Natales

You can spend the morning exploring the historic city of Punta Arenas or, weather permitting, take a boat trip to Magdalena Island to visit the large colony of Magellanic penguins. Alternatively, kayak around the serene natural environment of Agua Fresca Bay.

In the afternoon we'll take bus to Puerto Natales, a small town on the shore of Last Hope Sound, often home to pelicans, black-necked swans and cormorants and the perfect base for exploring the nearby Torres del Paine National Park.

Length of journey: 3hr drive

Meals: Breakfast 

Accommodation: Hotel Vendaval


Days 9 & 10: Torres del Paine National Park

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

Whilst exploring the park we'll stop to visit some of the best viewpoints such as Lago Nordenskjold and Salto Grande. The scenery is simply stunning; 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 time exploring the National Park on foot along various walking trails alongside the glacial lakes and rivers with breath-taking close-up views of tortured rock towers and needles rising 3,000m into a tempestuous sky.

The length and difficulty of the walks in the park vary vastly and some may not be suitable for everyone. The most famous hike is to the 'base of the towers', but this is also the most strenuous taking at least 8hrs. However, there should be something for everyone, so please just ask your tour leader which hike would be best suited to you, or perhaps try another option, such as horse riding. It is essential to bring both waterproof and windproof clothing, as well as suitable footwear, as the weather can be highly unpredictable.

Meals: Breakfast 

Accommodation: Hotel Vendaval


Day 11: By road to El Calafate

Today we'll head across the Patagonian steppe, passing guanacos (similar to an ostrich) and flamingos, with views of translucent Lago Argentino, the largest lake in the country.

It is on the shores of this lake that El Calafate, your next port of call, is located. Although this is still a small town it's growing fast. You'll find it full of hotels, cafés, tour agencies, delicatessens, sweet-shops and other roaming travellers. Despite there not being much to do in town, it's a pleasant place to unwind and serves as a good base for excursions into the area.

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

Meals: Breakfast 

Accommodation: Hotel Kapenke 


Day 12: Perito Moreno Glacier

From El Calafate you take an excursion to the Perito Moreno Glacier. This is still one of the most dynamic glaciers in the world. The road to the glacier follows the lake before turning up a forested valley, dense with beech and birch trees, then continuing past a series shimmering lagoons bordered with bright crimson and heather lichens.

The park authorities have been diligent about keeping the site around the Perito Moreno Glacier as natural as possible, and therefore there are no shops or cafés near the wooden viewing platforms which are cut into the cliff. From these platforms you will be in awe of the cliff-edge of the glacier, towering 60m above the surface of the water.

If you're lucky, after a time you'll hear the unforgettable sound of the glacier calving a vast chunk of ice the size of a tower block and sending it smashing down into the lake, where it divides and floats away as an iceberg.

For those that want to get even closer, there is an optional mini-trek on the glacier. Walking out on the ice is an extraordinary experience and atop this immense ice sheet you feel exposed to the elements as you explore the craggy, desolate landscape, peering into crevasses and deep water pools, squinting against the incredible blue of the ice. This mini-trek on the ice takes 1-2hrs and is led by a local guide; crampons are provided.

Length of  journey: 2hr drive each way

Meals: Breakfast 

Accommodation: Hotel Kapenke


Days 13 & 14: By road to El Chaltén; Los Glaciares National Park

Today we'll 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 Fitz Roy range in the Los Glaciares National Park, and will be our base for two days.

The town of El Chaltén was founded in 1985 in order to settle the area and pre-empt Chilean territorial claims. Since then it has grown very rapidly as a summer centre for climbing and trekking and for cross-country skiing in the winter.

You can explore this region of exquisite natural beauty on one of the national park's many walking trails through dense forest and across glacial streams. The vertical peaks of the Fitz Roy Massif, too steep to shelter snow, provide a stunning backdrop. All the walks are optional and although the trails are undulating they are not strenuous. Be sure to take warm clothes as the weather in the south is highly unpredictable.

Length of journey: 3.5hr drive

Meals: Breakfast 

Accommodation: Hotel Cumbres Nevadas 


Day 15: Fly to Ushuaia

The day starts with an early morning drive back to El Calafate for the flight to Ushuaia (some domestic flights have a free baggage limit of 15kg, but the excess charge is minimal should you need it).

Ushuaia is the world's southernmost city and is located at the base of a hand of jagged peaks. Being so isolated it was ideally situated for the penal colony that was built here at the turn of the 20th century. Essentially, it was a sleepy frontier town until the late 1970s when it was turned into a tax haven to encourage settlers. Nowadays immigration has slowed as the tax status is being normalised, but the results of the previous prosperity are obvious with chalet-style residences, modern hi tech factories, shopping malls and duty free shops.

Length of excursion: 1.5hr flight 

Meals: Breakfast 

Accommodation: Hostal del Bosque


Day 16: Tierra del Fuego National Park

Today there is a full-day trip to the nearby Tierra del Fuego National Park, with its vivd green deciduous beech forests sweeping down to shining lakes and fjords populated by water birds and beavers. We'll walk along meandering, narrow hillside trails with beautiful views over the Beagle Channel and learn about the flora and fauna of the region from our guides who love the park and have created their own unique nature trails. The 4-5 hour walk is conducted a gentle pace with plenty of stops for photos and soaking up the views.

Length of excursion: 7hrs

Meals: Breakfast, picnic lunch

Accommodation: Hostal del Bosque


Day 17: Fly to Buenos Aires

This morning we'll fly to the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires, an elegant and cosmopolitan city famed for its diverse districts and for being the birthplace of the Tango and Diego Maradona. Evenings can be spent sampling juicy world-famous steak, tasting the fine local wines, or enjoying a tango show.

Two full days in the city afford plenty of time for you to explore its lanes and boulevards, as well as some time to shop, have a drink and a pastry in a tea-room or explore one of the many markets.

Length of journey: 3.5hr flight 

Meals: Breakfast 

Accommodation: Kenton Palace


Days 18 & 19: Buenos Aires city tour

On this guided tour you'll visit the most famous spots the city has to offer. We'll start in the city centre, the city's historic heart, where government buildings and churches mix with chic shopping districts, which have a nostalgic, Parisian feel.

The must-see district is La Boca with its cobbled streets and brightly painted houses, as is the bohemian district of San Telmo, full of curious old houses dotted with antique shops, tango bars and upmarket restaurants. Slightly further out of the centre of town is the Recoleta district, evocative of belle époque French and Italianate architecture. This area is also home to the cemetery where Evita is laid to rest. During the winter months, the wealthy female residents parade the streets in their fur coats and improbable, towering hairstyles, taking afternoon tea in the city's ornate cafés.

To escape the busy city, you can travel by 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 from Buenos Aires

Depart from Buenos Aires on your international flight.

Meals: Breakfast

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

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

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

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

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

Prices, Departures and Inclusions

The price of GBP £4,200 per person is based on two people sharing a room


2021

2022

2023

Start date Price (pp)
October 2021
31-Oct-2021 $5,834* Provisional Date Enquire
November 2021
21-Nov-2021 $5,834 Provisional Date Enquire
December 2021
12-Dec-2021 $5,834* Provisional Date Enquire
January 2022
2-Jan-2022 $5,834 Provisional Date Enquire
23-Jan-2022 $5,834* - Enquire
February 2022
6-Feb-2022 $5,834 Provisional Date Enquire
March 2022
6-Mar-2022 $5,834* Provisional Date Enquire
October 2022
30-Oct-2022 $5,834 Provisional Date Enquire
November 2022
20-Nov-2022 $5,834* Provisional Date Enquire
December 2022
11-Dec-2022 $5,834 Provisional Date Enquire
January 2023
8-Jan-2023 $5,834* Provisional Date Enquire

* 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 picnic lunch (day 16)
  • Accommodation: 20 nights, mainly in comfortable 3-star hotels.
  • 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
  • Any extra/optional excursions (budget around USD $550 if you are planning to do all)
  • Personal travel insurance
  • Personal equipment (see our recommended kit list)
  • Gratuities/tips (for local guides, drivers and tour leader)
  • International and domestic/in-country flights
  • Any visa, passport and vaccination expenses

Questions about this Trip?