Peaks of Patagonia
- Trekking & Hiking
Arriving in Buenos Aires early in the morning we transfer to our hotel in the city (1 hour transfer). After some time to settle in, we will meet our local guide and set off for a tour of the city. We visit the picturesque Boca district and tour the flea markets of San Telmo. Meals are not included today so you are free to grab a bite at the hotel or any of the local restaurants, a great opportunity to get a glimpse of local life in Argentina.
Today we transfer back to the airport for our flight down to El Calafate. The flight is around 3 ½ hours and on arrival we will meet our mountain guide who will accompany us for the rest of the tour. We will have lunch in El Calafate before jumping on a local bus to El Chalten, a journey of about 2½ hours. Once we arrive in El Chalten (weather permitting) we will be able to see the peaks of Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre rising up in the distance. We transfer to our hotel and settle down for the evening.
Our first objective is Laguna Torre at the foot of the breath-taking Cerro Torre peak. Our trail passes through forests and various view points as we wind our way up to the lake. If the weather is clear we can continue past the lake, along the Fitz Roy river to the Maestri Viewpoint and gaze up at the incredible Grande Glacier. After taking some time to appreciate the awesome, near vertical granite peaks, we head to the Thorwood Campsite to spend the night.
NOTE: In El Chalten you will leave part of your luggage in secure storage so you are only carrying the bare minimum whilst trekking. We will collect our non-essential luggage when we return.
After breakfast and breaking camp, we set out for the peak of Loma de las Pizarras at 1708m. The name translates as “The Slate Hill” and from the top we will have spectacular views of Mt Fitzroy and the surrounding peaks and valleys. After some time to relax and soak up the views, we descend again and pass by the Madre and Hija lagoons before arriving at Poincenot Campsite.
Today we start with a steep climb up to the Laguna de los Tres. Mount Fitz Roy towers above the icy waters of the lake and we take some time to enjoy our surroundings and take some photos. A little further along the trail, we look down on the turquoise waters of Laguna Sucia and up to the granite spires and hanging glaciers above. We then start to descend on a little used trail to the Laguna Piedras Blancas and view the glacier cascading down the mountainside into the water. We end our day at Laguna Condor Mountain Refuge where we spend the night in comfortable log cabins situated amongst the trees on the edge of the lake. Make sure to try out their hot tub!
We leave the refuge this morning and climb a ridge to the summit of Loma del Diablo at 1450m. From here we have incredible views of the northern side of Fitz Roy and the surrounding peaks and lagoons. A truly magnificent way to mark the end of our time in the north of Los Glaciares National park. After some time at the summit we descend again and transfer back to El Chalten.
Today we travel south by bus, passing the vast Lago Viedma and Lago Argentino, back to El Calafate. The journey by bus will take roughly 2 ½ hours and on arrival we will transfer to Hotel Kapenke. This afternoon we have free time to explore El Calafate, a great opportunity to do some shopping and explore the town. You could also take the 2km trail to Laguna Nimez, home to hundreds of bird species.
Today we will enter the Los Glaciares National Park once again and have a private tour of the remarkable Perito Moreno Glacier. The glacier is considered the biggest attraction in Argentinian Patagonia. Stretching for 19 miles as it falls from the Patagonian Ice Cap into the waters of Lago Argentino, the wall of ice looms 240ft high. Gigantic ice boulders break away and fall dramatically into the otherwise peaceful waters of the lake. You will have the opportunity to do a boat tour on the lake which is highly recommended. The views of the glacier from the water are staggering. In the afternoon we return to El Calafate, the 78km journey takes about 1 ½ hours each way.
As we begin our journey toward Torres Del Paine National Park, we say good bye to Argentina for the time being and cross the border into Chile. Our destination today is the town of Puerto Natales, the bus journey should take around 5 hours but could be longer depending on the border crossing formalities. On arrival, we transfer to our hotel and there will be some time to explore the town and get a feel for life on the Chilean side of Patagonia.
A short drive of less than two hours in a private vehicle will take us to Torres Del Paine. However, on the way we are going to stop and climb the small peak of Cerro Dorotea, a short hike which should take us around 3 hours. From the top there is magnificent panoramic views of Seño Ultima Esperanza, literally translated as the “fjord of the last hope”. The navigator Juan Ladrillero named the fjord in 1557, because he felt it was his last chance to reach the Strait of Magellan. The fjord ends in a glacier and does not reach the strait. On a clear day we can also the see the peaks of Torres Del Paine in the distance. After descending we continue our drive north to a mountain refuge on the borders of the national park where we will spend the night. Tomorrow we will begin the famous W Trek.
NOTE: In Puerto Natales you will leave part of your luggage in secure storage so you are only carrying the bare minimum whilst trekking. We will collect our non-essential luggage when we return.
Torres del Paine National Park was established in 1959 and designated as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1978. “Paine” means blue, a reference to the colour of the glaciers and lakes that have made the park so famous.
This morning our first objective is Refugio Chileno, after a flat start the trail starts to climb up the valley Ascencio and is moderately steep in places. The surrounding scenery is breath taking right from the beginning. After 2-3 hours the trail descends into forest and we find the refuge and campground on the banks of the river. Beyond the refuge we follow an easy track by the river for 3km before starting a difficult, strenuous climb to Mirador las Torres. The trail is steep and rocky with large boulders scattered about the mountainside, a demanding ascent even for experienced hikers. At the top the reward is staggering. You are standing at the foot of Torres del Paine, the three granite towers that give the park its name. Raising 4000ft into the sky above you, their distant peaks are reflected in the lake at your feet. After taking some time to contemplate the majesty of our surroundings, we turn back and begin our descent back to the Refuge.
After a full-on day yesterday, today we take it easy. We head to the Cuernos sector of the park at the foot of the Cuernos del Paine massif. An easy 12km trail along the edge of Lake Nordenskjold takes us to the Cuernos Refuge where we stay the night.
Today we leave the refuge early (around 7.30am) as we have a big 25km day ahead of us! Our first objective is the Italian camp, a relatively flat 5km walk and a good warm up. Here we start to climb more steeply on a rocky trail up the valley where Paine Grande towers over us with the French Glacier clinging to its side. We stop at the Mirador del Frances (the French viewpoint) for awesome views of the peak. Another 2 to 3 hours of challenging ascent takes us to Mirador Britanico (the British viewpoint) at the head of the valley. Here in the heart of the national park the scenery on all sides is jaw-dropping. We are surrounded by the peaks of Paine Grande, Hoja, Mascara, Cuerno Norte, Fortaleza and Catedral. We still have a long way to go so we leave this unreal viewpoint and descend back down the valley. After reaching the Italian camp we cross a bridge over the Rio Frances and follow an easy trail for 7km to reach Paine Grande Refuge on the shore of Lago Pehoe.
Our final day on the W Trek takes us along the banks of Lago Grey to reach the dramatic glacier at the head of the lake. There is no major ascent although the path will steadily climb as we cross the undulating terrain. Looking down to our left we can see huge blocks of blueish ice that have detached from the glacier and now drift in the lake. After roughly 6km a rocky outcrop provides our first views of the glacier, a whopping 6km across and 90ft high in places. After arriving at Grey Refuge, we will take a boat trip for some up close views of the ice and disembark at Hotel Grey back on the south end of the lake. From the hotel a private transfer will take us to Puerto Natales.
Today we travel from Puerto Natales back to El Calafate by bus, crossing the border back into Argentina. Depending on formalities at the border the journey should take roughly 5 hours. After arriving back in El Calafate you will have some free time to have a wonder around the town and enjoy your final evening in Patagonia.
This morning we say goodbye to Patagonia as we transfer to the airport and board our flight back to Buenos Aires. On arrival we will be transferred to our hotel and have some free time to spend exploring the city.
Transfer to the international airport for your flight home.
details in this programme are regularly updated but unforeseeable and
unpredictable circumstances may result in inaccuracies. In order to provide the
adventure which is best suited to your demands, the weather and the operational
conditions, changes to the itinerary may be made. For safety reasons, we
reserve the rights to interrupt your participation at any time if your
technical level or fitness is deemed unsuitable or if you are seen as a danger
to yourself or to those around you. Under no circumstances would this give rise
to a refund or compensation.
Whilst camping in the Fitz Roy region
your meals will be prepared at the campsites using fresh and locally sourced
ingredients. We will provide you with a
dining tent in which to take your meals and all crockery, cutlery, tables and
chairs are provided. Picnic lunches will
also be prepared for you. You will be expected to carry your share of the food for these 3 days in your backpack. On the third night of this trek you will be staying in a refuge where food will be provided.
In Torres del Paine National Park,
breakfast and dinners will be taken at the mountain refuges and picnic lunches
will be provided. Whilst staying in hotels in the larger towns, you can choose
to eat at the hotel or go out and find a local restaurant.
Argentine cuisine consists mainly of
meat. More precisely, beef. Argentina is renowned for the quality of its
steak and it is a meat lovers paradise. You will find grilled meats available everywhere including tripe,
intestines and even udders. Meat aside,
the cuisine is a mix of Spanish, native American and Italian influences so
vegetarians can always fall back on dishes like gnocchi, pasta and pizza. In the large towns and cities, you will find
all dietary requirements are catered for. You may also have the opportunity to sample “Mate”, a Paraguayan tea
made from a variety of holly and typical drank from a “bombilla”.
If you have special dietary requirements please inform us when booking your adventure. We can cater for vegetarian and gluten free diets and you are welcome to
bring along your own gluten free produce. Please be aware that in Torres del Paine you will need to carry any
special food items yourself.
Whilst trekking, boiled and filtered
water is available every morning for you to fill your bottles or bladder. We recommend you also bring a water filter or
purification system to allow you to refill at refuges or springs. All drinks,
including water, are your own responsibility through out the trip. We don’t recommend the use of plastic bottles
which will need to be carried out and recycled.
In Buenos Aires, El Chalten, El
Calafate and Puerto Natales we
will stay in comfortable 3-star hotels.
Rooms will be double or twin with en-suite bathroom. We ensure that all the hotels we use are well
located to allow you to get out and explore the area.
In Los Glaciares National Park we will be camping. A 3 man tent is provided per two people along
with a foam mattress. You will not need to carry these, however, you will be expected to set them up and take them down the next morning. Sleeping bags can be hired here for an additional cost. Your meals will be prepared at the campsite. A large dining tent is
provided for eating meals and as a communal space. All crockery and cutlery is provided. There
will be dry “long-drop” style toilets at the campsites but no showers so we
advise you to pack wet wipes. On our
last night in the Fitzroy region we will stay at Laguna Condor Refuge in wooden
chalets with twin or double en-suite rooms. Make sure to check out their hot tub!
In Torres del Paine National Park we will be camping. A 2-man tent is provided per two people along with a foam mattress and a sleeping bag. Tents will already be set up with mattresses and sleeping bags inside...some of them are even raised on special platforms! There will be shared bathrooms with flushing toilets and hot water at all sites except Camping Los Perros (cold water only). Your meals will be prepared at the campsite and you will eat in the refuge 'restaurant' each morning and evening. All crockery and cutlery is provided. Packed lunches will be provided from the refuge kitchens each morning for you to take with you in your backpack.
Bag Weight: 15kg
Please be aware that on domestic flights
in Argentina and Chile there is a maximum weight of 15kg on all checked
luggage. If your main bag weighs more
than 15kg you may be asked to pay excess luggage fees at the airport which will be your own
We do not recommend the use of traveller’s cheques as they are often impractical. Bank cards are widely used for most things but it is best to use Visa as Mastercard is not commonly accepted. Your guide will show you the best places to change currency at the best rate. The official exchange rate offered by banks and ATMs is not good as these are controlled by the government and reflect the poor rate of the Argentinian peso. You will therefore find that it is best to take Euros or Dollars with you and exchange locally with "arbolitos" or use specific banks that offer 'Blue Dollar' exchange. See our Argentina Travel Guide for more information on this.
The amounts below will give you an indication of how much to tip. Please note that these amounts are for the entire group, therefore you should divide them by the total number of people in your party. You will be provided with a Tip Recommendation three weeks prior to departure with recommended tips based on the number of people in your group.
Guide: $20 US Dollars per day
Driver: $5 – $10 US Dollars per day
Buenos Aires Tour Guide: $10 (Peaks of Patagonia and Land of Fire only)
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