Andean Patagonia : Bariloche, Villa la Angostura & San Martín de los Andes, El Calafate – 20
Discover lakes and glaciers in Patagonia, with a tour from San Martin to Bariloche and El Calafate.
DAY 1 : BUENOS AIRES
Description: you will be greeted at Ezeiza airport by your guide and you’ll settle in at the hotel. At the end of the day, a briefing around a map with one of our Operations Representatives will take place. What to see? you may spend the afternoon touring Buenos Aires. The most interesting circuit goes 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 architectural influence. At Plaza de Mayo you will discover the Casa Rosada, the president’s HQ. You may then visit La Boca neighborhood with its colorful houses built from materials recovered from ships, inspiration for painters and poets. San Telmo is home to antique shops and traditional tango bars. Recoleta is a traditional residential neighborhood: walking through its numerous parks and squares is a true pleasure. To end the circuit you may visit Puerto Madero, the old city port which has recently been completely refurbished. You’ll be able to continue exploring the city the last day of your trip. Option:flight over Buenos Aires in a private helicopter. Get an unforgettable panoramic view of Buenos Aires from 200 m in the air, 30 to 45 min tour, covering around 100km. Lunch and dinner: not included. Accomodation: Hotel Mine or equivalent.
DAY 2 : BARILOCHE / CIRCUITO CHICO / BARILOCHE
Description: you will be driven to the airport. After a 2h20 flight, a member of our team will be waiting for you at Bariloche airport to provide you with your vehicle. After carrying out the vehicle security inspection and signing the rental contract you are free to begin your trip. What to see? You may start with an excursion on the southern coast of Lake Nahuel Huapi on the Llao Llao Peninsula. At the base of Mt. Campanario, right across from your hotel, you will find a small chair lift which ascends 1050 meters (3445 ft). Located in the midst of a mosaic of lakes and peninsulas, the panoramic view is uniquely beautiful. Ideal for taking your time and enjoying the moment! On Km 26 of the peninsula, you will see the Llao Llao Hotel and St. Edward’s chapel, emplematic Patagonia lake image. The circuit then crosses a forest and the road, as you go up, allows you to discover successive exceptional viewpoints up to the Swiss Colony. We recommend: hike to Villa Tacul, located at the end of the Llao Llao peninsula; 300 meters (985 ft) from the parking lot you’ll find a rocky viewpoint of Lake Nahuel Huapi. From there you can walk down onto the beaches, an area well known for its myrtles. Distances: 80 km (50 miles) throughout the day. Lunch and dinner: not included. Numerous restaurants along the small circuit or in the Swiss Colony. Accomodation: Hotel & Spa Aldebarán or equivalent.
DAY 3 : BARILOCHE / LAGO NAHUEL HUAPI / VILLA LA ANGOSTURA
What to see? After breakfast, you may circle Lake Nahuel Huapi, the remains of a 100 km (62 mi) long glacier. We recommend: at the Villa La Angostura port, you will find several catamarans which will take you on a tour around the Myrtles Peninsula. At the end of the Park, we suggest an 800-meter (2600 ft) walk through the famous myrtle forest. This tree’s bark is chestnut when it’s young and orange when it reaches adulthood, after 160 to 250 years. You can return on foot to the pier: the walk leads to the peninsula entrance and it is 12 km (7.5 mi), which will take you about 3 hours. Distances: 83 km (51 miles) around the lake, from Bariloche to Villa La Angostura. Lunch and dinner: not included. Numerous restaurants in Villa La Angostura. Accomodation: Hotel Don El Faro or equivalent.
DAY 4 : VILLA LA ANGOSTURA / ROUTE OF THE 7 LAKES / SAN MARTIN DE LOS ANDES
What to see? Start your day on the famous 7 lakes route heading towards San Martin de los Andes. Throughout the day, you will tour different viewpoints with various detours and hikes: detour through Lake Espejo Chico and the north branch of Lake Traful, then walk around Lakes Villarino and Falkner where you can have lunch. Other majestic landscapes await you: on km 141 Vulignanco Falls and Lake Hermoso. Finally you’ll get to the Arrayan viewpoint which overlooks Lake Lacar and San Martin de los Andes. We recommend: taking a walk within the Mapuche community (Indian village). A road will take you to the Bandurrias viewpoint overlooking Lake Lacar, opposite the Arrayan viewpoint. Distances: 110 km (68 miles) total, 48 km (30 miles) dirt road and 62 km (38 miles) paved. Lunch and dinner: not included. We recommend requesting the picnic option at your hotel the night before. Accomodation: Hotel La Casa de Eugenia or equivalent.
DAY 5 : SAN MARTIN DE LOS ANDES / LACS HUECHULAFQUEN and LANIN / SAN MARTIN DE LOS ANDES
What to see? After breakfast, you can begin the excursion around Lake Huechulafquen, located on the southern slope of the majestic Lanin Volcano. Following the Chimehuin River, you arrive at an impressive view of the lake and volcano. Take a detour towards the small pointy chalet. The road circles the lake, runs across a wooded area and ends at a great plain where Lakes Huechulafquen and Paimun meet. You are then at the heart of the Mapuche community. We recommend 1: a short trek to El Saltillo Falls. The path is level for a long stretch then ascends towards the falls alongside the river. The last stretch through the woods is quite steep. The trek takes about 2 hours (round trip). We recommend 2: starting at Port Canoa, you may do a lake excursion from Lake Huechulafquen to Lake Epulafquen to observe the Achen Niyeu Volcano and, above all, the Escorial, (petrified lava river). Duration: 2 hours. This option must be booked at your hotel two days in advance. Note: the boat is a non exclusive 14.5 meter-(47 ft) long catamaran with a max capacity of 60 people, and has a snack bar. The excursions, from December to March, depart at 11 a.m., 1, 3, 5 and 6.30 p.m. Distances: 203 km (126 miles) of which only 88 km (55 miles) are paved. Lunch and dinner: not included. We recommend requesting the picnic option at your hotel the night before. The araucaria forest where the chapel is located, south of Lake Paimun, is a beautiful place for lunch. Accomodation: Hotel La Casa de Eugenia or equivalent.
DAY 6 : SAN MARTIN DE LOS ANDES / PASO DE CORDOBA / LAGO TRAFUL / BARILOCHE
Description: you leave San Martin to enjoy the majestic scenery on route 63 towards Bariloche. You begin by circling Lake Meliquina. It’s hard to avoid detouring to beautiful Lake Filo Hua Hum before returning to the Paso de Cordoba road, which meanders up to the mountain (1300 meters, 4265 ft) alongside extravagant rocky formations. The view is absolutely stunning, especially in autumn. The circuit descends to the confluence of the Limay and Traful rivers. We recommend stopping at the viewpoint of the Wind: a sublime panorama of Lake Traful… After visiting Villa Traful retrace your steps and continue the circuit through the Enchanted Valley, where you will observe strange rocky formations such as the Fingers of God, the Sentinel, the Express Train and the Siamese, among others. Follow the course of the Limay River without missing the Amphitheater viewpoint. Distances: 233 km (145 miles) of which 130 km (81 miles) are dirt roads. Lunch and dinner: not included. We recommend the Ñancu Lahuen restaurant in Villa Traful. Accomodation: Hotel & Spa Aldebarán or equivalent.
DAY 7 : BARILOCHE / EL CALAFATE
Description: around mid-morning you must leave for El Calafate. You will have already scheduled the time and place for returning the car with a person of our staff. From there you will be taken to the airport. After a 1-hour 45-min flight, one of our team members will be waiting at El Calafate airport to provide you with your new vehicle. After carrying out the vehicle security inspection and signing the rental contract you are free to head for your hotel. This city, whose name comes from a kind of blueberry, is famous for its popular ski resort. Located 3 km (1.8 miles) west of the town center, on the glacier route, La Estepa is a lodge with typical southern Patagonia architectural style, introduced by early 20th century English immigrants. The lodge offers a privileged view of one of the beautiful bays of Lake Argentino. What to see? In the afternoon you may take a 3-hour excursion along 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 with many huge mineral mushrooms, and the Sombrero Stones, a series of incrustations on the rocks which have the appearance of Mexican hats and for which there is no scientific explanation. Note: the 4×4 excursion is not included in the price. Don’t hesitate to consult. Distances: the lodge is located 23 km (14 miles) from the airport. Lunch and dinner: not included. Numerous restaurants in El Calafate. Accomodation: Hotel Los Ponchos or equivalent.
DAY 8 : EL CALAFATE / GLACIARS SPEGAZZINI and UPSALA / EL CALAFATE
Description: after enjoying the morning light from the lodge’s breakfast lounge, you depart for Punta Bandera. This full-day excursion will cover the north branch of Lake Argentino, the country’s biggest lake. You board 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. Then you may disembark for lunch, and after an 800-meter (half a mile) walk through a magnificent lenga forest you reach Onelli Bay, which is filled with icebergs in a unique landscape of glaciers and snowed peaks. Back onboard, you navigate for 1 hour to get back to 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: from the lodge to Punta Bandera, 46 km (29 miles). Five hours of nautical excursion. Note: the excursion (VIP seats) is included in the price. Lunch and dinner: not included. We recommend requesting the picnic option at the lodge the night before. Accomodation: Hotel Los Ponchos or equivalent.
DAY 9 : PERITO MORENO / EL CALAFATE
Description: today you have two options: We recommend 1: a mini trek through the southern section of the Perito Moreno glacier. You cross the Rico Arm by boat (15 minutes), and after receiving a short briefing and putting on crampons (ice nails), you are ready to begin a 90-minute circuit on the ice. What is most amazing in this icy world, besides the silence and total absence of life, are the unique deep blue tones. We recommend 2: from the “Bajo la sombras” dock you sail 1 hour towards the southern wall of the glacier. The façade of the glacier is 5 km (3 miles) long; its height reaches 170 meters (557 ft), though only 60 meters (197 ft) emerge from the surface. What to see? After the optional tour, we suggest hiking a trail which borders the Iceberg Canal and enables you to gradually discover the glacier, then reaching the traditional footbridge circuit. The cherry on top of the cake is ending the day with a delicious tea at an ideal place: La Usina, located on the shores of some rapids, under the shade of some lenga trees. Distances: 74 km (46 miles) from the lodge to the footbridges, of which 12 km (7 miles) 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 select this option once you fill in the booking form. Lunch and dinner: not included. We recommend requesting the picnic option at the lodge the night before. Accomodation: Hotel Los Ponchos or equivalent.
DAY 10 : EL CALAFATE / LAGO ROCA / BUENOS AIRES
What to see? Argentineans 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 between the activities the estancia has to offer: a horse ride between the lake and the Crystal Belt; a short climb to the highlands that 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. This Yugoslavian family, pioneers in the region, settled in these lands at the beginning of the 20th century. At around 3 p.m. you will need to head for El Calafate airport. You will have already scheduled the time and place for returning the car with a person of our staff. From there you’ll be driven to the airport. After a 3-hour flight, one of our drivers will be waiting in Buenos Aires to drive you to your hotel. Note: if you want, we can book this farm day for you in advance. Distances: 81 km – 50 miles (36 km – 22 miles are dirt roads) to go, 56 km (35 miles) to get back to Calafate through the old dirt road and then 20 km (12 miles) to the airport. Lunch and dinner: not included. We recommend eating at Estancia Nibepo Aike. Accomodation: San Telmo Luxury Suites or equivalent.
DAY 11 : BUENOS AIRES / FLIGHT
What to see? Before leaving for the airport, you can continue to discover Buenos Aires and/or go shopping. The leather-goods and gaucho articles shops offer typical and original products. We will arrange the time for you to be picked up at the hotel and taken to Ezeiza airport. Timing: allow between 50 and 90 minutes to get from downtown to Ezeiza airport. Lunch: not included. Numerous restaurants in Buenos Aires. Dinner and night: on the plane.