- Guided tour of Buenos Aires
- Fly to El Calafate and independently explore the city
- Tour Perito Moreno Glacier; travel to El Chalten
- Hike to Laguna de los Tres and the peaks of Cerro Fitzroy
- Hike to Laguna Torre and its views of Cerro Torres; travel back to El Calafate
- Bus to Puerto Natales and on to Torres del Paine National Park
- Explore the Park with several hikes
- Bus back to Puerto Natales
- Bus to Punta Arenas; chance to explore the city
- Bus to Ushuaia, the world’s southernmost city; cruise the Beagle Channel
- Return to Buenos Aires
Day 1 Buenos Aires
Bienvenidos! Welcome to Argentina! Please arrive make sure you arrive on day 1 by 3.00pm, in time for the first group meeting. Please have lunch prior to the meeting as we'll head out on our first activity straight afterwards. Your leader will leave a note at reception telling you where this important meeting will take place. Please ask a member of reception for this information. If you are intending to hire a sleeping bag for our nights in the Torres del Paine National Park please let your leader know at this meeting. In the afternoon your tour leader will take you for an approximately 2 hour orientation walk around some of Buenos Aires' main attractions. In the evening you have the option of going out for a group dinner. Buenos Aires must be the ultimate cosmopolitan city. With Latin passion, European elegance and a distinctive style, this is a city that will steal your heart. The Portenos (the local residents) are justifiably proud of their city which is comprised of distinct 'barrios' (neighbourhoods), each with their own style. Visit San Telmo for its weekend antiques market and artists' displays. La Boca was settled by waves of immigrants that built brightly painted buildings. It is also home to the world-class football team Boca Juniors and murals of famous footballers cover the district's walls. Recoleta is the place to browse museums with Buenos Aires' well-to-do. When you have finished exploring, settle down at one of the many streetside cafes and prepare yourself for a night of tango at one of the many milongas. If you arrive to Buenos Aires before day 1, there are plenty of galleries, museums and historic buildings to keep you entertained. On the east side of the Plaza de Mayo you will find the Casa Rosada, the pink presidential palace where Eva Peron appeared on the balcony in front of adoring fans in the 1940s. There is also a Museo Evita, dedicated to the life (and gowns) of this famed figure. MALBA is an incredible art gallery showcasing a private collection, including works by Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, and great temporary exhibits. In order to make the most of your day 2 in Buenos Aires (before your flight to Calafate) please exchange USD 150 to Argentinean pesos and USD 150 to Chilean pesos before day 1 of the trip (Sunday). These should be more than enough to cover your personal expenses for the following 4 days in Argentina and 3 days in Chile. Located right in the heart of Buenos Aries, our charming old colonial French style hotel has en suite bathrooms in all tastefully decorated rooms.
Day 2 El Calafate
Today we fly (approx. 3 hrs) south from Buenos Aires to El Calafate, our gateway to the Glacier National Park. You will have a free afternoon to wonder around town and get prepared for the next two days. There are no ATM's available during our glacier excursion, ie from tomorrow morning (day 3) until you return to El Calafate in the evening of day 5, so please make sure you have enough funds for the coming two days. Your group leader will be able to give you an indication of the amount needed. Our hotel is a 10 minute walk from the main street. Rooms are spacious and have en suite bathrooms.
Days 3-4 Perito Moreno Glacier/El Chalten/Glacier National Park
On day 3 we travel by minivan (approx. 2.5 hrs) and after a spectacular drive, you have free time to enjoy the amazing scenery of Perito Moreno Glacier. This is one of the few advancing glaciers in the world and at 3km (1.8 miles) wide and 35km (21 miles) long is a spectacular sight. Watch and listen to the crack of the ice as it plunges into the waters below. Late in the afternoon, we take a local bus (approx. 3 hrs) to El Chalten. While today is a very exciting day, prepare yourself to cover big distances on poorly maintained roads. You will travel 160km to and from Perito Moreno Glaciar and then an extra 220km on to El Chalten. It's all worth it, but be prepared for a long day. The long distances travelled yesterday pay off today, as on day 4 you wake up in the lovely town of El Chalten located in the north of Parque National Los Glaciers, ready to take on some incredible hikes. Hikers and climbers from all around the world congregate here and the atmosphere is laid back and very outdoors-oriented. Today's hike takes us to Laguna de Los Tres to see the magnificent peaks of Cerro Fitzroy. In El Chalten we stay in a basic hostal.
Day 5 El Calafate
On day 5 we hike to Laguna Torre for inspiring views of the Cerro Torres. The hikes in Glacier National Park are moderate - with a few challenging sections - on clearly marked and well maintained trails. The hikes may change depending on weather conditions. Once we come back from the hike, late in the afternoon, we travel back to El Calafate (approx. 3 hrs). We return to our hotel in El Calafate for the evening.
Days 6-9 Torres del Paine National Park/Puerto Natales
Be ready for another long travel day. Early in the morning of day 6 we jump in a local bus to Puerto Natales (approx. 5.5 hours) where we change to another local bus (approx. 2 hours) to Torres del Paine, before taking one final 30 minute bus ride to our campsite. Depending on how busy the border crossing is, you may or may not have time to have lunch in Puerto Natales. Please make sure you have enough water and snacks in case we have to rush through from one bus to the other. This campsite will be home for the next three nights and we will use it as a base while we take on day hikes around the park. While we hike, all your belongings will be left at the campsite, inside your tent. We can not be made responsible for anything that may go missing from your tent, however the campsite dedicates one person to look after the site and our belongings and we have never had anything missing from our tents so far. 3 breakfasts, 2 lunches and 3 dinners will be provided while camping. Dinners are simple (pastas, rice, chicken) and are served in a common dinning area. Lunches consist of sandwiches, fruit and sometimes a chocolate bar. Soft and alcoholic drinks are not provided and there is limited selection for you to buy from at the Camping's general store. If you particularly like certain snacks (almonds, nuts, raisins) or a drink (a bottle of wine, spirit) please make sure you bring it from Buenos Aires or Calafate. Bathroom facilities are available in the campsite with communal showers and bathroom separated by sex. You and a fellow traveller will share a tent for the next 3 nights and will be required to set it up (under Tour Leader's guidance) upon arrival, dismantle and clean it on last day. Sleeping bags are not provided on this trip so please bring your own. Alternatively you can hire it locally for approximately US$30 for the 3 nights. Make sure you tell your leader on day 1 of the trip if you intend to hire it locally for him/her to make the necessary arrangements. A foam camping mattress is provided on this trip but, feel free to bring along your own, should you prefer a more comfortable one (thermarest/inflatable). Sitting at the end of the earth is the awe inspiring Chilean Patagonia. Few people have the opportunity to see this area and those who do find it difficult to forget. Once a sheep estancia, the park was established in 1959. This is magnificent trekking country where nandues, condors and pink flamingos abound. Upon arriving in the park you will most likely be greeted by a herd of guanacos, relatives of alpacas. These strange animals provide great photo opportunities but don't get too close; they're likely to spit at you. There's also some of the world's best trout and salmon fishing. The real star of the show, however, is the magnificent landscape. With sparkling lakes, gushing waterfalls, glaciers and striking mountains, much of our time trekking is spent slack-jawed in awe of our surrounds. The treks are moderate to difficult along clearly marked trails and we will usually hike between 5-8 hours per day. Weather in Patagonia is an important factor to consider - be prepared for cold, wet and sometimes times windy weather. During our time hiking, on clear days, there will be breathtaking views of the Towers of Paine, the park's most famous sight. The Towers can make a sudden appearance on the windswept plains. On day 9 we travel by bus from Torres del Paine to Puerto Natales. Please note that tonight your group may split to 2 or more different hotels which are within 10 minutes walking distance from each other. Your Tour Leader will make the necessary arrangements on the ground and will do all possible to keep couples and passengers travelling together in the same hotel.
Day 10 Punta Arenas
On the morning of day 10, we take a local bus (approx. 3 hours) to Punta Arenas and have the rest of the afternoon free to take in some of the optional activities. Set among windswept plains and looking across the Straits of Magellan to Porvenir and Tierra del Fuego, Punta Arenas feels close to the end of the world. In reality it's not that far away. This is Chile's southernmost city and it has plenty of interesting history. Over the years it has attracted explorers, ranchers and even fortune-seekers, as it was was once an important stop along the Californian gold rush route. In recent years it has become a base for the Chilean Navy and with oil and gas discovered offshore and the growth in adventure tourism, the city is going from strength to strength. It's well worth visiting the hill-side cemetery to see the crypts of the city's leading citizens, and don't miss the chance to sample the seafood, some of the finest in the country. Located in a quiet neighbourhood, our small hotel is about a 15 minute walk from the main part of town.
Days 11-13 Ushuaia
Did we mention we have some travel days on this trip? On day 11 we hit the road for one last (but not least) journey. A whopping 12 hours bus ride takes us back to Argentina and to the southernmost city in the world, Ushuaia. Needless to say you will need to arm yourself with your favourite book, your music player, drinks and snacks. This is the gateway to Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego, Argentina's only coastal park. We cruise the Beagle Channel (named after Charles Darwin's expedition ship) and observe marine wildlife along the park's small islands and inlets. We have some time to visit Ushuaia's museums before returning to Buenos Aires. On day 12 you will take an included boat morning trip on the Beagle Channel. The afternoon of day 12 and day 13 are free for you to explore Ushuaia. Please note in Ushuaia you will stay in B&Bs (Bed and Breakfast) This kind of accommodation offers a unique local charm and interaction that are difficult to experience in a regular hotel. However, due to their limited capacity, please note that your group may be split into 2 or more different properties.
Days 14-15 Buenos Aires
On day 14 you return to Buenos Aires for a final night out. Please note that while we intend to return to Buenos Aires in the early hours of the afternoon, airline schedules in Argentina are known for changing without much notice, meaning that we can potentially arrive in Buenos Aires as late as 11pm on day 14. We return to our centrally located hotel in Buenos Aires for our final night. As there are no activities planned, you are free to depart at any time on day 15.