Southern Patagonia: Ushuaia & El Calafate – 12

This circuit is an excellent way to get to know southern Patagonia; not just its geography but also the music of its soul.

DAY 1: BUENOS AIRES

Description: you will be greeted at Ezeiza airport by your guide and settle in at the hotel. You’ll have the afternoon off, or if you prefer, an initial tour around Buenos Aires. At the end of the day, a briefing around a map with one of our Operations Representatives will take place.
Lunch and dinner: not included.
Accommodation: Nuss Hotel or equivalent.

DAY 2: BUENOS AIRES / EL CALAFATE - "A reality that overwhelms the eye"

Description: after your transfer to the airport and a 3-hour flight, your guide will be waiting for you at El Calafate airport. This city, whose name derives from a kind of blueberry, is famous for its popular ski resort. The lodge offers a privileged view of one of the beautiful bays of Lake Argentino. The afternoon features a 3-hour excursion travelling 15 km (9 miles), in a Land Rover 4×4 (non exclusive) through the Calafate highlands. The circuit covers three areas of great interest: the Calafate Balcony, an excellent viewpoint overlooking Lake Argentino; the Stone Labyrinth, a region rich in mineral mushrooms, and the Sombrero Stones, a series of embeddings on the cliffs that resemble Mexican hats and for which there is no scientific explanation.
Distances: the lodge is located 15 km from the airport.
Lunch: in El Calafate at Casimiro restaurant or equivalent.
Accommodation: Los Ponchos Hotel or equivalent.

DAY 3: EL CALAFATE / SPEGAZZINI & UPSALA GLACIERS / EL CALAFATE - "Ice Carrousel"

Description: after enjoying the morning light from the lodge’s breakfast lounge, you will depart for Punta Bandera. This full-day excursion will cover the north branch of Lake Argentino, the country´s biggest lake. You will board at the Captain’s Club (VIP lounge and private dock), on the Chonek or Nueva Leon catamarans. Zigzagging between the icebergs, the boat will take you through the lake’s different branches to the base of the main glaciers: Spegazzini, with its 80-meter (262 ft) walls, Uspalla, the second biggest glacier among the 47 in the Park, and Onelli. You will disembark for lunch, and after an 800-meter (half a mile) walk through a magnificent lenga forest, you will reach Onelli Bay, which is filled with icebergs in a unique landscape of glaciers and snowed peaks. Back onboard, you’ll sail for 1 hour to meet your guide in Punta Bandera.
Technical description: with a max capacity of 250 people, the Chonek and Nueva Leon catamarans are state-of-the-art ships. They are equipped with all the security devices required by international standards: GPS, plotter, eco-sounder, VHF, heating and bar service.
Distances: 46 km (29 mi) from the lodge to Punta Bandera. Five hours of nautical excursion.
Lunch: gourmet picnic basket provided by your guide from Argentina.
Accommodation: Los Ponchos Hotel or equivalent.

DAY 4: PERITO MORENO GLACIER / EL CALAFATE - "A parade of blues… intense, crystalline, pastel and opaque"

Description: for this day you have two options.
Option 1: a mini trek on the southern section of the Perito Moreno glacier. After crossing the Rico Branch by boat (15 minutes) and receiving a short briefing, you will put on your crampons (ice nails) and you’ll be ready to begin a 90-minute circuit on the ice. What is most amazing in this icy world are the rare deep blue tones.
Option 2: from the “Bajo la sombras” dock you will sail for 1 hour towards the southern wall of the glacier. The façade of the glacier is 5 km (3 mi) long; its height reaches 170 meters (557 ft), though only 60 meters (197 ft) emerge from the surface. After the optional tour, we suggest hiking a trail that skirts the Iceberg Canal and enables you to gradually discover the glacier, and which finally joins the traditional footbridge circuit. To make this day even more unforgettable it must end with a delicious tea; we have the ideal place: La Usina, located on the shores of some rapids, under the shade of some lenga trees.
Distances: 74 km (46 mi) from the lodge to the footbridges, of which the last 12 km (7 mi) are dirt roads.
Note: this trekking adventure is for people over 10 to 65 years old. Two mountain guides will lead each group of 20 people max. We recommend you to select this option once you book.
Lunch: gourmet picnic basket provided by your guide.
Accommodation: Los Ponchos Hotel or equivalent.

DAY 5: EL CALAFATE / LAKE ROCA - "The eternal quest for something different"

Description: Argentines call it a “dia de campo” (farm day): a day for enjoying nature and taking part in typical estancia activities. Nibepo Aike is located in a fairytale landscape: Lake Roca, the southern branch of Lake Argentino, the peaks looming on the other side of the banks, mountain grasslands, lenga forests… Even the access road is beautiful; don’t miss the chance to go up the small hill where the park rangers live. You will have absolute freedom to choose among the activities the estancia has to offer: a horse ride between the lake and the Crystal Belt; a short climb to the highlands which surround the estancia, from where you can see the puzzle formed by the branches of the different lakes, with the Perito Moreno glacier in the background. The estancia’s gauchos will suggest you witness a sheep clipping demonstration, and will invite you to share a hearty asado (barbecue). This Yugoslavian family, pioneers in the region, settled in these lands at the beginning of the 20th century.
Distances: 81 km (50 mi) from El Calafate, 36 km (22 mi) are dirt roads.
Lunch, dinner and accommodation: Estancia Nibepo Aike or equivalent.

DAY 6: LAKE ROCA / EL CALAFATE / USHUAIA / ROLITO - "Lands sown with dreams"

Description: in the morning, your guide will accompany you to El Calafate airport to fly over the Stretch of Magallanes to Ushuaia. Your guide in Tierra del Fuego will greet you and after having lunch and a briefing, you will be taken to Estancia Rolito. There you will meet the owners, who will suggest two different excursions.
Option 1: car tour to Cape San Pablo to admire the beaches from the lighthouse viewpoint; observe the remains of the Desdemona stranded on the beach and numerous birds and flowers, such as the beautiful Magallanes orchid.
Option 2: a walk through a mysterious lenga and ñire forest. These trees acquire intense orange and reddish tones in autumn and light up all of Tierra del Fuego (which means Land of Fire). This relatively open forest homes autochthonous fauna and breeding animals. Rolito is a 17000-hectare estancia dedicated to sheep breeding. The food you’ll enjoy at the estancia is made with fresh products from the property. A fine example is the delicious lamb asado you’ll enjoy!
Distances: 56 km (35 mi) to the El Calafate airport, via the old dirt road, 70 minutes flight. 157 km (98 mi), 2 hours 15 min including 14 km (9 mi) dirt road from Ushuaia to Rolito.
Lunch: during the tour, at the Tierra Mayor Lodge.
Tea, dinner and accommodation: Estancia Rolito or equivalent.

DAY 7: ROLITO / YAWEN - "This land is a dream that will captivate you, music for the soul"

Description: you will depart to Yawen early in the morning. You will cross ñire planted landscapes and grasslands, and the mountains of Tierra del Fuego will gradually begin to appear. Yawen is an old sawmill transformed into a lodge by the landowners. Daniel, who has lived here his whole life, will accompany you on a 4×4 excursion to Mt Shenolsh’s peak, 750 meters (2460 ft) high. From there you will enjoy a 360° paranomic view: the Atlantic Ocean, the Darwin range, Fagnano, Yehuin, Chepelmut and the Pass of Garibaldi. If you like, you may descend to the lnn on foot (600 meters, 1968 ft drop, 90 min to 2 hours), so as to observe condors, guanacos and with a bit of luck, beavers.
Distances: 100 km (62 mi), 2 hours, including 74 km (46 mi) dirt roads, from Rolito to Yawen.
Lunch, tea, dinner and accommodation: Yawen Lodge or equivalent.

DAY 8: YAWEN / USHUAIA - "Yamanas, explorers, conquerors, adventurers, navigators…"

Description: after breakfast, you will begin your trip to the end of the world, the city of Ushuaia. You will have various unavoidable stops on the way: Kaiken Lodge, dominated by Lake Fagnano, Petrel Lodge, on the shores of Lake Escondido and the Pass of Garibaldi just before beginning the descent to the Beagle Channel. In the Tierra Mayor Valley you will cross several winter resort centers, cross country and downhill ski (Mt Castor) before stopping at the Tierra Mayor Lodge for lunch. After lunch, you’ll settle in at your hotel in Ushuaia. Your guide will be available to tour the city: a panoramic view from the nautical club, a visit of the Marine Museum located inside the old prison with different rooms recreating penitentiary life, an exhibition which narrates the exploration of Antarctica and detailed models of ships covering 500 years of history. Plus, Ushuaia is a free market port zone where you will find very low price articles.
Distances: 180 km (112 mi) / 3 hours to Ushuaia, the first 60 km (37 mi) are dirt roads.
Lunch: at the Tierra Mayor Lodge.
Accommodation: Tierra de Leyendas Hotel or equivalent.

DAY 9: TIERRA DEL FUEGO NATIONAL PARK / USHUAIA - "The southernmost post office in the world"

Description: you’ll start with an excursion and walk through Tierra del Fuego National Park. After a short car ride, you will walk through level and simple paths. The circuit will lead you through Lake Roca, Lake Pipo, the mires, lenga forests and beaver dams. The itinerary ends at Lapataia Bay where you will board a private zodiac to reach Redonda Island. Before disembarking on the island, you’ll see a colony of Magallanes cormorants (from Nov to Jan). The surface area of the island is about 10 hectares and its highest point is 105 meters (345 ft) above sea level. Scientifically, Redonda Island constitutes a natural botanical garden which groups all the vegetation in the area. You return by zodiac to Ensenada Bay. At the foot of the pier you will find the southernmost post office in the world. There you will be able to stamp your passport, your postcards or your letters with rare stamps!
Note: during the walk those who prefer can return by car at any given moment since we are equipped with a radio transmitter.
Distances: 28 km (17 mi) of dirt road by car, roundtrip, + 2 to 3 hours walk according to your rhythm. Twenty min on the zodiac, from Lapataia Bay to Redonda Island and 10 min from the island to Ensenada.
Lunch: at the Redonda Island Refuge.
Accommodation: Tierra de Leyendas Hotel or equivalent.

DAY 10 : USHUAIA / BEAGLE CANAL / BUENOS AIRES "Ridge of snowy-white peaks caressed by the wind"

Description: at 9:30 you will board for a nautical excursion around the Beagle Canal islands. The circuit begins at Don Eduardo Arturo Brisighelli tourist port and passes by the Sea Lions Island and the Birds Island, where you’ll be able to admire Magallanes cormorants, albatrosses, Fullman petrels and skuas. The boat then heads for Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse and the archipelago named after it. For this excursion, you may choose between two alternatives.
Option 1: Canoero catamaran, 60 to 75 passengers, no VIP lounge but very spacious decks and bar service.
Option 2: Kams Yacht, motor yacht for up to 16 passengers, with which you can get very close to the small islands. The afternoon activities will depend on the flight time. If there is still time, you can tour the Marcial Glacier which is just above the city and is reached by taking a 20-min chair lift. Then, you will be taken to the Ushuaia airport. After a 3-hour-40-min flight, you will meet your guide in Buenos Aires, who will take you to the hotel.
Distances: 2 hours 30 min to 3 hours of nautical excursion for Canoero option and 4 hours for the Kams. The chair lift is 7 km (4 mi) off town.
Lunch and dinner: not included.
Accommodation: San Telmo Luxury Suites Hotel or equivalent.

DAY 11: BUENOS AIRES / INTERNATIONAL FLIGHT

Description: until leaving for the airport, you will discover Buenos Aires and/or, according to your preference, go shopping. The leather-goods and gaucho articles shops offer typical and original products. The city tour runs through 9 de Julio, the widest avenue in the world with its 65 meter (213 ft) obelisk and Avenida de Mayo, which is well known for its buildings of Galician architecture influence. At Plaza de Mayo you will discover the Casa Rosada, HQ for the president. You will then visit La Boca neighborhood with its colorful houses made of materials recovered from ships which inspire many poets and painers. After that you can go to San Telmo famous for its antique shops and traditional tango bars. Recoleta is a traditional residential neighborhood, where walking is a true pleasure due to its numerous parks and squares. To end the tour, you’ll visit Puerto Madero, the old city port which has recently been completely refurbished. You cannot miss out on this visit!
Option: fly over Buenos Aires on a private helicopter. Enjoy an unforgettable sight of the city from 200m. The tour lasts for around 30 to 45 minutes and covers approximately 100km.
Lunch: at the Gardiner restaurant.
Dinner and night: on the plane.