South America - Wild Patagonia

An epic, in-depth small group tour travelling the length of Patagonia in a kitted-out truck which will take you to places other tourist don't get to experience. Stay in comfortable hotels, visit wineries, volcanic lake districts, estancias, vast plains and beautiful forests and incredible national parks along both Chile's Carretera Austral and Argentina's Ruta 40. An epic, in-depth small group tour travelling the length of Patagonia in a kitted-out truck which will take you to places other tourist don't get to experience. Read more...
27 Days
$12,067

South America - Wild Patagonia - 27 - $12,067

Trip Summary and Itinerary Map

Note: This trip also runs in the reverse direction (Ushuaia to Santiago)

Day 1: Santiago 

Day 2: Santiago to Santa Cruz 

Day 3: Santa Cruz to Pucon 

Day 4: Pucon

Day 5: Pucon

Day 6: Pucon to Bariloche

Day 7: Bariloche

Day 8: Bariloche

Day 9: Bariloche to Futaleufu

Day 10: Futaleufu to Queulat National Park

Day 11: Queulat National Park

Day 12: Queulat National Park to Coyhaique

Day 13: Coyhaique to the Ruta 40

Day 14: Ruta 40

Day 15: Ruta 40 to El Chaltén

Day 16: El Chaltén

Day 17: El Chaltén to El Calafate

Day 18: El Calafate

Day 19: El Calafate to Torres del Paine

Day 20: Torres del Paine

Day 21: Torres del Paine

Day 22: Torres del Paine to Puerto Natales

Day 23: Puerto Natales to Punta Arenas

Day 24: Punta Arenas to Cerro Sombrero

Day 25: Cerro Sombrero to Ushuaia

Day 26: Ushuaia

Day 27: Depart Ushuaia

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. This evening there is a welcome dinner with the group.

Meals: Dinner

Accommodation: Matildas Hotel Boutique


Day 2: Santiago to Santa Cruz

We depart Santiago on the Panamerican Highway, heading to the wine region. The Colchagua Valley is famous as the source of some of Chile's best wines, particularly from the Carmenere grape variety. The Cabernet Sauvignon variety is also grown here.

On arrival we'll visit the Colchagua Museum – one of the most comprehensive in South America.  We'll also visit the winery, taste wine and learn about the wine-making process.

Meals: Breakfast, picnic lunch, dinner

Accommodation: Hotel Terravina


Day 3: Santa Cruz to Pucón

Journeying south in our custom-built truck, we'll pass by small villages, orchards and picturesque lakes and mountains to arrive in Pucón, in the heart of Chile's Lakes District. On the way, we will stop for lunch at the grand Salto del Lajas waterfalls.

Meals: Breakfast, picnic lunch, dinner

Accommodation: Hotel Malahue or similar


Day 4: Pucón

We'll enjoy the natural environment and a cultural experience of the area today at either Villaricca National Park, or one of the nearby national reserve parks.

In the afternoon we'll visit a traditional Mapuche family for a traditional meal. Here we'll learn about the Ruka of the Mapuche people – the heart of their culture.

Meals: Breakfast, picnic lunch

Accommodation: Hotel Malahue or similar


Day 5: Pucón

Enjoy a day at leisure. Numerous outdoor activities can be arranged, such as a one-day hike up the Villarica Volcano to reach the smoking crater, kayaking, mountain biking, horse-riding, fishing, white water rafting and even sky diving. Or you could simply choose to relax by the lake and soak up the beauty of the environment.

Meals: Breakfast

Accommodation: Hotel Malahue or similar


Day 6: Pucón to Bariloche

Today we cross into Argentina by the Lanín Volcano as we pass through the Lanín National Park. On the drive to Bariloche, a resort town on the shores of Lake Nahuel Huapi,we'll follow the scenic seven lakes route.

The town is in a spectacular location, surrounded by mountains and forests in the Nahuel Huapi National Park – the oldest in Argentina. The Alpine-styled architecture, boutique chocolate shops and St Bernard dogs give this place the feel of a Swiss town.

Meals: Breakfast, picnic lunch, dinner

Accommodation: Hotel Cacique Incayal or similar


Day 7: Bariloche

In the morning you are free to explore the town. Take a gondola up to the café at Cerro Otto and explore the forest there.

In the afternoon we'll 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, high tea

Accommodation: Hotel Cacique Incayal or similar


Day 8: Bariloche

A day at leisure here gives you time to try sailing, 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

Accommodation: Hotel Cacique Incayal or similar


Day 9: Bariloche to Futaleufu

Today's journey takes us through the town of Esquel where the 'Old Patagonian Express' still runs. We'll stop in Trevelin – a small town with links to Welsh immigrants – before crossing into Chile in the late afternoon and arriving in the town of Futaleufu.

Meals: Breakfast, picnic lunch, dinner

Accommodation: Hotel El Barranco or similar


Day 10: Futaleufu to Queulat National Park

We continue along the picturesque Carretera Austral, through an area of natural beauty, stopping along the way to take photos and admire the spectacular 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 stop at the fishing village of Puyuhuapi, located on the edge of the Chilean Fjords in a simply stunning setting. In the afternoon we'll get close to a spectacular hanging glacier in the Queulat National Park while walking the park's trails.

We will spend the night in a lodge located on the edge of the Chilean Fjords.

Meals: Breakfast, picnic lunch, dinner

Accommodation: Posada Queulat Eco Lodge


Day 11: Queulat National Park

Today there is the option to hike to a nearby waterfall, visit a private island in the fjords or try sea kayaking, if the weather permits.

Meals: Breakfast, picnic lunch, dinner

Accommodation: Posada Queulat Eco Lodge

Day 12: Queulat National Park to Coyhaique

The road towards Coyhaique starts with 33 bends, climbing up to 500m before heading through two more valleys and some small country towns. The road follows the Simpson River for a stretch, surrounded by lush pastures, mirror lakes and snow-capped mountains.

When we reach the Coyhaique Reserve we'll take an 8km hike to the Green Lake before continuing onto Coyhaique itself.

Meals: Breakfast, picnic lunch, dinner

Accommodation: Raices Bed & Breakfast or similar


Day 13: Coyhaique to the Ruta 40

There is a superb drive through the Cerro Castillo Reserve today, with an opportunity to spot the rare Huemul deer. After stopping for lunch, we cross back into Argentina onto the famous Ruta 40, paralleling the Andean mountain range. Travelling south through the expansive Patagonian plains we stop for the night at a remote Patagonian town.

Meals: Breakfast, picnic lunch, dinner

Accommodation: Hotel Cueva de Las Manos or similar


Day 14: Ruta 40

Today we'll visit the Cuevas de las Manos (Cave of the Hands) – one of the most important archaeological sites in South America. The caves feature paintings that are the most ancient on the subcontinent, made by the first settlers, ancestors of the Tehuelche people (or Patagones), and date back to between 9,300 and 3,300 years ago. In 1999 the site was declared a UNESCO World heritage site.

From here, we continue our journey to spend the night in the small town of Gobernador Gregores.

Meals: Breakfast, picnic lunch, dinner

Accommodation: Hosteria Ruta 40 or similar


Day 15: Ruta 40 to El Chaltén

Enjoy the landscapes of the Patagonian Steppe as we head south. Further on we will arrive in El Chaltén, and the Los Glaciares National Park. The icefield in this park is the world's 3rd largest reserve of fresh water.

In the afternoon there will be time to complete one of the short hikes in the area – up to the eagle and condor viewpoints, or stroll along the river the to Chorillo waterfall.

Our hotel is nestled quietly under the imposing peaks of Mount Fitz Roy, named after the captain of the Beagle, who navigated Darwin's Expedition of the area in 1834.

Meals: Breakfast, dinner

Accommodation: Hotel Lunajuim or similar


Day 16: El Chaltén

Today we'll have a full day of trekking in the Los Glaciares National Park. We usually choose the Lago Torre hike for its stunning scenery and magical views of Cerro Torres or the wonderful Mount Fitz Roy. 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 birds native to this region including woodpeckers, caracaras and even condors.

Meals: Breakfast, picnic lunch

Accommodation: Hotel Lunajuim or similar

Day 17: El Chaltén to El Calafate

In the morning we'll hike up to Laguna Capri on the first section of the Laguna de Los Tres trail. Although it is ascending all the way, our guides will keep a pace that allows us to stop for photos and enjoy the scenery. We'll make our way round the loop of viewpoints for stunning views of the Mt Fitz Roy range.

We'll return to our hotel, take a break and in the mid-afternoon we'll continue our journey by road to El Calafate, stopping off at a historic homestead saloon which was visited by some famous outlaws.

Before arriving in El Calafate, we pass by Lake Argentina, the largest freshwater lake in the country.

Meals: Breakfast, picnic lunch, dinner

Accommodation: Hotel del Glaciar or similar


Day 18: El Calafate

Today we'll set off early to visit the Perito Moreno Glacier. On the drive to the glacier, we'll learn about gauchos and life on estancias and even stop off at one of them for coffee.

The Perito Moreno Glacier is one of the earth's most dynamic and accessible ice fields and can be accessed from a series of walkways. If we're lucky, we'll be able to watch huge chunks of ice breaking free from the face of the glacier and crashing into the water. We'll have several hours at the glacier to explore the walkways and then take a 1hr boat ride to 300m from the glacier's face, before heading back to El Calafate.

Meals: Breakfast, picnic lunch

Accommodation: Hotel del Glaciar or similar


Day 19: El Calafate to Torres del Paine

Today we'll return to Chile to Torres Del Paine National Park, declared Reserve of the Biosphere by UNESCO in 1978 and a trekker's paradise. Iconic towers and horns of granite and rock in this park have given it worldwide fame. The park preserves fragile ecosystems where around 25 species of mammals live, including pumas, foxes, nandues (South American ostrich), condors, flamencos and guanacos. 

The 3 most famous treks we undertake in the park are: Las Torres Hike; French Valley Hike; and Glacier Grey Hike; French Valley Hike; and Los Torres Hike.

Instead of walking these in one go like on the Big W trek (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 very enjoyable.

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, picnic lunch, dinner

Accommodation: Hotel Río Serrano or similar


Day 20: 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 8hrs 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 a steep gradient in areas. It then flattens out as you scale the side of the valley with a river underneath you. Along the way you will arrive at Refugio Chileno where you can buy snacks and rest for a while.

Some people may find that they will just go to this point (a 4hr return hike) and on a clear day you can see Los Torres from here. 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.

For those unable to attempt the walk, we offer a shorter hike to a section of the park with indigenous hand-paintings and views of the Towers.

Meals: Breakfast, picnic lunch, dinner

Accommodation: Hotel Río Serrano or similar

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 21: Torres del Paine

French Valley Hike (Moderate/difficult)

The French Valley is the most picturesque valley in the Torres del Paine National Park. The hike is steep but offers incredible 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 Glacier Grey 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 Glacier Grey. More up and down hiking and at times the track can be rocky and steep. But an equally beautiful walk with stunning views. The short version of the hike ends 7.5km, at Italiano Camp at the valley entrance. From there on the trail becomes loose and steep, but with a 300m gain in elevation you'll have wonderful views of the valley and mountains. You can sit and watch and hear the ice crack and maybe even see a mini-avalanche. The full walk takes approximately 8-9hrs return, including time for lunch and depending on your ability.

Meals: Breakfast, picnic lunch, dinner

Accommodation: Lodge Paine Grande


Day 22: Torres Del Paine to Puerto Natales

Glacier Grey Hike (Easy/moderate)

Grey Glacier is one of the main tourist attractions in Chile. You will be mesmerised with the lakes creamy blue colour, dotted with floating icebergs and with the vast Patagonian Icefield at one end.

On this excellent walk you will begin by walking through forest and then on trails bordering lakes with views of Glacier Grey. The first viewpoint of the glacier is about 2hrs into the walk on a pinnacle of rock. You could have lunch here, and some people finish their hike here and return to the lodge. Another 2hrs further on you get to the main Glacier Grey viewpoint which is a lot closer to the magnificent ice sheet. From here you have a great view of the glacier across the water and also the wonderful blue of the icebergs floating in the lake below. All viewpoints of the glacier are from a front-on angle.

The Glacier Grey Hike is 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 7-8hrs return, including time for lunch and depending on your ability.

Meals: Breakfast, picnic lunch

Accommodation: Hotel Costaustralis or similar


Day 23: Puerto Natales to Punta Arenas

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

Meals: Breakfast, dinner

Accommodation: Hotel Plaza or similar


Day 24: Punta Arenas to Cerro Sombrero

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

Meals: Breakfast, dinner

Accommodation: Hosteria Tunkelen or similar


Day 25: Cerro Sombrero to Ushuaia

In the morning, we'll visit a King Penguin colony – observing them here is a unique opportunity as they are usually only found on more remote places like South Georgia and the Falkland Islands.

We'll later pass Lake Fagnano and cross the Garibaldi Pass (500m) to get to Ushuaia – the largest city in Argentine Tierra del Fuego, and now a major tourist town, complete with casinos and good restaurants, and commonly used as a base for hiking, winter sports and cruises to Antarctica.

Meals: Breakfast, picnic lunch

Accommodation: Hotel Tierra del Fuego or similar


Day 26: Ushuaia

In the morning we'll take a catamaran through the Beagle Channel, from Ushuaia Bay past Archipelago Bridges to Birds Island. Here you can see a vast array of sea birds: comorants, skuas, petrels, ducks, etc. We'll also see sea lions close to here before reaching Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse – the iconic symbol of Ushuaia.

Back in the town, we'll have lunch before visiting the Tierra del Fuego National Park. Here we'll find Ensenada Bay, Alakush Visitors Centre and an old beaver dam before finishing at Lapataia Bay. This is the 'end of the road' where the famous Panamerican Highway finishes, more than 17,000km from its starting point.

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

Meals: Breakfast, picnic lunch, dinner

Accommodation: Hotel Tierra del Feugo or similar


Day 27: Depart Ushuaia

Depart Ushuaia with wonderful memories of your Patagonian adventure.

Meals: Breakfast

Prices, Departures and Inclusions

The price of GBP £8,630 per person is based on two people sharing a room


2021

2022

Start date Price (pp)
October 2021
16-Oct-2021 $12,067* Guaranteed Date Enquire
December 2021
12-Dec-2021 $12,067 Guaranteed Date Enquire
January 2022
12-Jan-2022 $12,067* Guaranteed Date Enquire
February 2022
9-Feb-2022 $12,067 Guaranteed Date Enquire

* Note: Prices are per person. Paid in GBP (£) - figure above is based on today's exchange rate. Actual cost £8,630

Additional Notes

Please note: This itinerary is also available from Ushuaia to Santiago. Of the departures listed above, the following are run in this direction: 12th Dec 2021 & 9th Feb 2022.

Group size – Small group tour; maximum 16 passengers

Single supplement: A 25% supplement applies to solo travellers who do not wish to share accommodation with another person of the same sex.

Includes

  • Meals: 26 breakfasts, 19 picnic lunches, 18 dinners
  • 22 nights accommodation in standard hotels and guesthouses; 3 nights in cabins; 1 night in a hiking lodge
  • Transport in custom built all-terrain expedition vehicles
  • Service of an experienced western tour leader as well as local guides
  • Experienced driver
  • Services of camp assistant while camping
  • All national park entrance fees
  • Vineyard tour and wine making - Colchagua Valley
  • Colchagua museum - Santa Cruz
  • Hiking in Huerquehue or Villarrica National Park – Pucon
  • Seven 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 and Queulat Hanging Glacier – Carretera Austral
  • Enchanted forest hike – Carretera Australuevas de las Manos (hand caves) Argentinean Patagonia
  • Viedma Glacier Ice Trekking – El Chaltén
  • Guided hiking in El Chaltén – El Chaltén
  • Perito 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

  • Meals not indicated in itinerary
  • Drinks during lunch or dinner
  • Personal equipment (see our recommended kit list)
  • Personal travel insurance
  • Gratuities/tips
  • International and domestic/in-country flights
  • Any visa, passport and vaccination expenses

Questions about this Trip?