South America - Southern Explorer

A spectacular itinerary that takes you the length of Southern Patagonia in a specially-adapted expedition vehicle, exploring glaciers on foot and by boat, breaking Torres del Paine's W Trek into a series of day hikes, visiting a penguin colony, crossing the Magellan Strait and finishing in remote Ushuaia, all in just two weeks.

13 Days

$5,536

South America - Southern Explorer - 13 - $5,536

Trip Summary and Itinerary Map

  • Explore El Chalten
  • Take boat trip to the face of the largest glacier in Argentina, the Viedma Glacier
  • Tour the earth's most dynamic and accessible ice fields, the Perito Moreno Glacier and witness from walkways huge chunks of ice breaking free from the face of the glacier.
  • Explore Torres del Paine National Park. This zone holds the colossal towers and horns of granite and rock that have given worldwide fame to the region.
  • Visit the King Penguin colony at False Bay, a very unique opportunity as King Penguins are usually only found on sub-Antarctic islands
  • Visit Ushuaia, the world's southernmost city

Start from El Calafate and end at Ushuaia

Landmarks visited on South America - Southern Explorer

Operator's Itinerary

Day 1: El Chalten

After arriving into El Calafate airport you will be met at the airport and transferred to El Chalten, located in the stunning Parque Nacional Los Glaciares.

Meals: Dinner


Day 2: 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 Forests. 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 3: 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 conclusion of this wonderful excursion, we will continue by road to El Calafate. Enroute we will stop at a historic homestead salon with some outlaw visitors.

Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner


Day 4: 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 splendor, 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 5: El Calafate - Torres Del Paine

Head back into Chile to Torres Del Paine, South Americas 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, nandues (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 6: Torres Del Paine

Greys Glacier trek (Easy - moderate).

Grey Glacier is one of the principal tourist attractions located in Chile. You will be stunned by the lake's creamy blue colour, dotted with floating icebergs that at one end has the vast Patagonian Ice Field. This is an excellent walk. Initially, you will walk through forest and then bordering lakes with 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 view point 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. 

Length of hike: 7 hours

Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner


Day 7: 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 view point at the end of the trek is amazing 360-degree views of mountains all around. 

Length of hike: 8 hours

Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner


Day 8: 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.

Length of hike: 8 hours

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 9: 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 10: Punta Arenas - Cerro Sombrero

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

Meals: Breakfast, dinner


Day 11: 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. However you will be 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 12: 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 3 ends, over 3000km (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 13: 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)
November 2018
11-Nov-2018 $5,536* Limited Availability
26-Nov-2018 $5,536 Provisional Date
January 2019
16-Jan-2019 $5,536* Provisional Date
29-Jan-2019 $5,536 Provisional Date
March 2019
12-Mar-2019 $5,536* Provisional Date
26-Mar-2019 $5,536 Provisional Date

* Note: Prices are per person. Paid in GBP (£) - figure above is based on today's exchange rate. Actual cost £4,295

Please note:

Of the departures listed above, the following are run in the reverse direction

(Ushuaia- El Chalten)

  • 25th Nov '18 
  • 29th Jan '19 
  • 26th Mar '19

This trip joins with our Infamous Route 40 trip, please enquire for more information.

Single Supplement:  

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

Includes

  • 12 nights accommodation: 11 nights in comfortable tourist class hotels/ guesthouses, 1 night in a hiking refugio in Torres del Paine National Park
  • Transport in custom built all-terrain expedition vehicles
  • Approx 12 breakfasts, 9 lunches, 9 dinners
  • Experienced Western tour leader and local guides
  • Experienced driver/mechanic
  • Camp assistant whilst camping
  • All National Park entrance fees
  • Viedma Glacier Ice Trekking - El Chalten
  • Guided hiking in El Chalten
  • Moreno glacier day trip, including nautical safari - El Calafate
  • Day hikes/ excursions in Torres del Paine National Park
  • Useless Bay 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 mentioned in inclusions
  • Drinks
  • Additional optional activities
  • Personal expenses and equipment
  • Travel insurance
  • Gratuities
  • Any visa, passport and vaccination expenses

Questions about this Trip?