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Calafate - Chaltén - Torres del Paine - Ushuaia
Upon arrival to El Calafate, we’ll pick you up to start your 4-hour trip to El Chaltén. You’ll travel along the famous Route 40, surrounded by the Patagonian steppe, and pass through La Leona River, which connects Lake Argentino and Lake Viedma, and where you’ll get to see La Leona Roadhouse, where the famous thieves Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid hid for a while. After discovering some other gems along your journey through the top Patagonian landscapes, you’ll reach El Chaltén and we’ll drop you off at your hotel.
El Chaltén is the top-rated hiking destination in Argentina. This charming little village sits at the foot of Mount Fitz Roy and it’s surrounded by glaciers, lakes, rivers and forests. It’s also the jumping-off point for most hiking trails in the area. A paradise for sunny walkers and trekkers alike.
Enjoy your afternoon of leisure in Patagonia by relaxing in the local brewery or strolling around a little waterfall…
There is a quick hike you can enjoy to warm up and discover El Chorrillo del Salto, just 1 hour away from the village. Reach its little waterfall encircled by native trees and flora, like the Patagonian Orchid
Today, we have a recommendation for true hiking-lovers: trek all the way to Cerro Torre and Laguna Torre, one of the most famous hiking trails in the area. Step into the wild for about 8 hours and 12 miles. This is a moderate-difficulty hike, but there is no steep climbing involved, so no previous experience is required!
The journey starts at a notable wooden sign which reads ‘Laguna Torre’ and features a woodpecker; you probably already saw the sign if you visited the Cerro Torre Viewpoint the previous day. From there, you will continue through a stunning, multi-colored landscape; snow-capped mountains will rein over the native forest of lenga and ñire trees. You’ll pass by the De Agostini campsite and continue to the front moraine…you can hit the summit in 15 minutes! From here you can descend to the lagoon and watch the floating icebergs, or continue to the Mascardi viewpoint, 1 mile up the hill.
If you liked the Laguna Torre’s hiking trail, you’ll love our next hiking favorite: Laguna de los Tres and the base of Mount Fitz Roy. Go for a medium-difficulty, 9-hour hike to the most impressive views of Rio de Las Vueltas valley. You’ll cross Del Salto Stream, with its icy waters cradled by orange-tinted rocks which frame the breathtaking views of Mount Fitz Roy.
And here’s a little secret: you can also reach Laguna Sucia from Laguna de los Tres… it’s only a 5- minute walk away. Though this hike increases in intensity during the last bit, it’s totally worth it. This is one of the best day-hikes in the world!
Seize the day, wake up early, and watch the sunrise at Laguna de los Tres (see Fitz Roy’s peaks turning red) — this is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. You can depart from the town of El Chaltén during the night or stay one night at Poincenot campsite, just 1 hour away from Laguna de los Tres.
Continue your trip to discover the best of Patagonian by boarding board your bus back to El Calafate. The 3-hour drive back will be a good opportunity to relax while enjoying the passing landscapes out your window. Upon arrival, the bus will drop you at your hotel and you’ll have the remainder of your day to relax or explore the surroundings.
El Calafate is a starting point for adventure-seeking travelers who chace to unearth Patagonia’s most spellbinding natural wonders, like the Perito Moreno Glacier. The Perito Moreno Glacier is one of the only glaciers in the world that’s still advancing. Though it’s not the only glacier in the area, it’s the one that made the city of El Calafate famous worldwide.
For many years now, El Calafate has been considered the capital of the glaciers. Located at the shore of Lago Argentino (the southernmost, largest Patagonian lake) it’s also home to the Spegazzini glacier, which forms the natural border between Argentina and Chile, and the Upsala Glacier, named Glaciar del Gigante (Giant’s glacier) it’s the biggest glacier that sits at the mouth of Lake Argentino.
But there is much more to see in El Calafate than glaciers. Make the most of your free day and discover other secret gems of the region.
Our recommended activities in El Calafate for your free day:
Start the day with a pick-up at your hotel, travel to Puerto Bandera and embark on an 8- hour nautical safari to discover secluded glaciers and waterfalls of Glacier National Park that can be only reached by boat!
Sail Mayo Channel and disembark on Toro Bay to hike through the Patagonian forest; your specialized guide will tell you about the vegetation of this area (very different from other kinds inside the park) and show you the millenary cherry tree and its 3-meter in diameter trunk.
Set sail again to reach the Cerro Negro (Black Hill) and make a half-mile soft hike to the base of the hill to admire the hanging Black Glacier. Enjoy your free time in this place that not many travelers have seen, before departing for our third stop, the famous Perito Moreno Glacier. Our boat will pass by the immense icy wall -take your beanie and grab your camera, you may see a piece of ice breaking!- before stopping at Puerto Moreno. Enjoy your free time, wander the traditional catwalk circuit that surrounds the glacier before sail back to Puerto Bandera, and be driven back to El Calafate.
El Calafate has much more to offer than just its magnificent glaciers… we recommend that you complete this adventure by taking a day tour to immerse yourself in the rural culture of Patagonia.
Inside Glaciers National Park, at the end of National Route 15 and after a 1 hr 30 min drive over a rubble road, sits one of the oldest and most traditional Patagonian ranches in the area. It’s the only ranch that continues to maintain sheep and Hereford cattle-breeding as its main occupation. You can take a day trip to visit its 30,000 acres of land, learn about its history, and witness a sheep-shearing demonstration and horse-training. At the end of the day, a grilled lambed will await, sizzling on its traditional Patagonian rotisserie.
If you would like to add on this tour for your free day, just let your travel advisor know.
In the early morning, we’ll pick you up from your hotel to start your trip to Chile and your full-day visit to Torres del Paine National Park.
First, we’ll drive through the Patagonian steppe for 2hr 30min (you might be able to see rheas, guanacos, Patagonian hare, and even condors!) until reaching the border of Chile in Cancha Carrera, where we’ll go through customs.
We’ll keep traveling through isolated and windy landscapes, occasionally dotted by guanacos and native green-orange-tinted bushes; you’ll truly feel the momentous solitude that characterizes Patagonia. Torres del Paine is a gift that keeps on giving; it will unveil its enthralling natural beauties little by little…
Along a winding road, we’ll make different stops to have a close-up view of various attractions like Cascada Paine (Paine Waterfall), Paine Range at Lake Sarmiento, and the Paine Horns at Lake Nordenskjold. Depending on the weather, we’ll depart on an hour-long walk to reach the lake and get closer to the striking mountain peaks. At midday, after having stopped by the Lago Pehoé Viewpoint to gaze at the vastness of the French Valley, we’ll have our boxed lunch with this mountainous backdrop.
At the end of this dreamy travel experience, we’ll leave you at Laguna Amarga, where your transfer will pick you up and take you to your hotel in Puerto Natales.
Things to take into account during your trip from Argentina to Chile: it is not allowed to take any fresh food, plants, seeds, etc. They are very strict, and fines can be high. If you are not sure whether something is allowed, please declare it (they will provide you with a form) and they will inform you if you can bring it or not. And please, don’t forget your passport!
Today we’ll pick you up really early in the morning from your hotel to drive you to the sector Las Torres and take you to Cerro Paine Ranch, the jumping-off point for our hike, where you’ll have an informative talk about this high-difficulty, amazing outing.
We’ll take the road heading into the valley and after 10 minutes walking, we’ll get to an old rope bridge that crosses the Ascencio River. You’ll see a fork in the road about 500 feet ahead; take a left at the fork to get to the Base Towers!
After following a winding, green slope for about an hour, you’ll pass by a Chilean campsite on the opposite bank of the river. We’ll continue walking for another 45 minutes until reaching Almirante Nieto Hill. Your next stop: the ‘mirador’ (viewpoint) and the foothill of the moraine!
We’ll continue hiking for an hour, and the path will become steeper and steeper as you approach the most amazing view of the three towers: Central, Monzino and Dagostini. Prepare to see some condor nests and the great Peineta Hill!
Time to rest, this is the reward for courageous Patagonia travelers! Take a moment to enjoy this amazing backdrop before returning via the same road to the fork where you started, and your driver will be waiting to take you back to Puerto Natales.
Today, travel deeper into the best of Chilean Patagonia! First, make your way to the bus station of Puerto Natales for your departure to Punta Arenas. We advise arriving there 30 minutes before the departure time, in order to avoid any last-minute inconveniences. This is a 4-hour trip in a standard bus through the steppe, crisscrossed by mountains and fjords. Upon your arrival at the bus station in Punta Arenas, you’ll head to your hotel — you can walk, or take a taxi for around $5-7 US dollars.
Punta Arenas is the southernmost city in Chile, located on the Magellanic Strait, and is the leading port for Antarctic cruises and scientific research. Before the construction of the Panama Canal, Punta Arenas was the most important maritime crossroad between the Pacific and the Atlantic Ocean, and thus, the city grew as a commercial center surrounded by European-style buildings. Its colorful houses, standing out from a backdrop of snow-capped mountains, are a site for sore eyes.
You can enjoy the evening by taking a 3-hour city tour to visit Mirador Hill (and discover the most gorgeous views of Magellan Strait), or stop by the Maggiorino Borgatello Museum to see the masterfully crafted pieces made by the Onas, Yaganes and other natives of the area.
In the early morning, you will get to the bus station to embark on a full-day bus trip to Ushuaia, the last destination of your best of Patagonia journey through Argentina and Chile. Take into account that you’ll be crossing borders again today!
This is a 12-hour trip in a comfortable bus, equipped with reclining seats, where you’ll cross the Patagonian steppe. Look out the window and you’ll see yellow and green grasslands with Chilean gauchos riding into the wild and grazing unbothered sheep until you reach the ferry crossing. It will take around 45 minutes to cross the mythical Strait of Magellan and hit the road again to cross the Chilean border, finally entering Tierra del Fuego Island on Argentine soil.
As the famous end-of-the-world city approaches, grazing sheep will turn into wild guanacos and horses, with snow-capped mountains and evergreen woods arising at the entrance of Ushuaia. Once you get your “Southernmost City” passport stamp, you’ll realize that this intrepid journey through remote Patagonian roads was absolutely worth it.
Upon arrival in Ushuaia, you will be transferred to your hotel. Ushuaia is a small town, and it is really easy to get around on foot. The Yamanas, the region’s first inhabitants, named the area ‘Ushuaia’, which means “protected bay” in their language. Ushuaia was officially incorporated into the Republic of Argentina in 1884, and it soon became a penal colony, in order to establish a permanent Argentine settlement.
Take the afternoon to explore the town, learn about the region’s rich history at the Prisoners’ Museum, or visit the Galleria of Fuegian History (it has a lovely restaurant as well!). Please, don’t forget the local gastronomy! Ushuaia has the best seafood in Argentina.
This bus trip allows you to see the landscape of other, lesser-known parts of Chile, and will give you a much more complete perspective of the area. However, we understand that it is a long journey, and can be a very tiring day. For an additional cost, you can choose a quicker option; from Torres del Paine, you can drive back to El Calafate and then fly to Ushuaia.
Today we’ll pick you up from your hotel to start a 10-hour, moderate difficulty, adventure in Tierra del Fuego National Park, just 7.4 miles away from the city and bordering the shore of the famous Beagle Channel.
Upon arrival to Ensenada Bay, you will have time to enjoy the view over the Beagle Channel before you start hiking along the coast. Four miles of trail awaits you, where you’ll discover native flora, wild fauna and the remains left by the Yamanas, the native inhabitants of the area. After this 3-hour hike, you will reach Lake Roca, where lunch will be served.
After a full homemade picnic, you will start the second part of this adventure. Take your oar and plunge into a 1hr 30 min paddling trip along the Lapataia River (only available for children over 5 years old). Make it all the way to Lapataia Bay, where the Panamerican Highway and National Route 3 end at an awe-inspiring landscape.
After discovering the unique vastness of this stunning setting, we’ll take you back to your hotel to rest and enjoy another Patagonian evening.
In 1833 Charles Darwin sailed the Beagle Channel and found something great. Today it’s your turn: become another explorer of this channel, primitively named Onashaga Channel since the Onas where its first discoverers.
Make your way to the tourist pier (located downtown) to embark on a 4-hour Beagle Channel navigation in a fully equipped boat with a capacity for up to 26 people. With Argentina on your left and Chile on your right, you’ll sail this natural border until reaching the iconic Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse, which is still in operation.
On the way, enjoy uplifting panoramic views of Ushuaia Bay, crowned by the Martial Glacier’s diverse marine wildlife, such as cormorants (flying birds, closely related to penguins) and fur seals. Hop off on Bridges Island to explore its vegetation, and visit the archeological remains of the Yamanas (the native inhabitants) accompanied by a specialized bilingual guide.
During the trip, enjoy bottomless hot cocoa and cookies, or try the maté (loose herbal tea), which is every Argentinian’s favorite drink. Once we get back to the port, you can make your way back to your hotel or stop in a local cafe or brewery to enjoy an amber craft beer paired with a traditional Patagonian appetizer.
Have you ever walked amongst penguins? If not, Ushuaia is your chance to fulfill that bucket-list dream… you can add to this day the Magellanic Penguin Rookery Tour on Martillo Island (available from October to April at an additional cost). On Martillo Island you will also see a very rare type of penguin that is typically only found in Antarctica: the yellow-crested penguin.
Today we’ll take you to the airport, where this trip will come to its end. But don’t be sad! You can return whenever you want (we’ll welcome you with open arms), or… continue your trip towards the North of Argentina, to beautiful Salta or the wine region in Mendoza. Argentina still has plenty to offer! Check out our travelers’ favorite trips to Argentina and Chile.