Travel to Patagonia : El Calafate, Argentina & Torres del Paine, Chile – 10
Discover the glaciers of Patagonia with El Calafate in Argentina, and Puerto Natales and Torres del Paine in Chile.
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. Accommodation: Hotel Boutique Vitrum or equivalent.
DAY 2 : BUENOS AIRES / EL CALAFATE / PATAGONIA
Description: after your transfer to the airport and a 3-hour flight, a member of our team will be waiting at El Calafate airport to provide you with your vehicle. After carrying out the vehicle security inspection and signing the rental contract you will be free to begin your trip. This city, whose name originates 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 Patagonian 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 carry out 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 full of mineral mushrooms, and the Sombrero Stones, a series of incrustations on rocks which look like Mexican hats, for which there is no scientific explanation. Note: the 4×4 excursion is not included in the price. Don’t hesitate to consult us. Distance: the lodge is located 23 km (14 miles) from the airport. Lunch and dinner: not included. Numerous restaurants in El Calafate, we recommend el Casimiro. Accommodation: Hotel La Cantera Calafate or equivalent.
DAY 3: EL CALAFATE / GLACIER SPEGAZZINI & UPSALA / EL CALAFATE
Description: after enjoying the morning light from the lodge’s breakfast lounge, you will depart for Punta Bandera. This full-day excursion covers the north branch of Lake Argentino, one of the country’s most important lakes. You’ll 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 Park’s 47, and Onelli. To enjoy lunch better you disembark, 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 snowy peaks. Back onboard, you’ll 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. Distance: 46 km (29 miles) from the lodge to Punta Bandera. Five hours of nautical excursion. Note: the excursion (VIP seats) is included in the rates. Lunch and dinner: not included. We recommend requesting the picnic option at the lodge the night before. Accommodation: Hotel La Cantera Calafate or equivalent.
DAY 4 : GLACIER PERITO MORENO / EL CALAFATE
Description: for this day you have two options: We recommend 1: a mini trek through the southern section of the Perito Moreno Glacier. You cross the Rico branch 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 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.
What to see? after the optional tour, we suggest hiking a trail which skirts the Iceberg Canal and enables you to gradually discover the glacier, and then reaches the traditional footbridge circuit. The cherry on top of the cake is having a delicious tea at an ideal place: La Usina, located on the shores of some rapids, under the shade of some lenga trees. Distance: 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 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. Accommodation: Hotel La Cantera Calafate or equivalent.
DAY 5 : EL CALAFATE / LAGO ROCA / EL CALAFATE
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 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. This Yugoslavian family, pioneers in the region, settled in these lands at the beginning of the 20th century. Distances: 81 km (50 miles), 36 km (22 miles) on dirt road and 56 km (35 miles) to return to Calafate. Lunch and dinner: not included. We recommend eating at the lodge of Estancia Nibepo Aike. Accommodation: Hotel La Cantera Calafate or equivalent.
DAY 6 : EL CALAFATE / PUERTO NATALES, CHILE
Description: after breakfast, take the road to Chile which passes by Esperanza, in the heart of the Santa Cruz province, and through the Mt. Castillo border post. What to see? head towards the Estancia Lazo and the Green Lake for a first look at the pillar of Torres del Paine. After having lunch at the lodge, you may stroll on the lake banks, climb to the high mountain grasslands which surround the lodge and enjoy a great panoramic view, or go horseback riding. In the afternoon you take the road to Puerto Natales. The hotel is located 2 km (1.2 miles) before reaching town, on Ultima Esperanza Bay. Once you have checked-in you can go visit Puerto Natales. Note: keep your park entrance ticket, since it’s good for the following day. Distances: 286 km (178 miles) / 3 hour 15 min from Calafate to Mt. Castillo, plus 82 km (51 miles) / 90 minutes to the Green Lake. Finally, 2 hours (110 km – 68 miles) to Puerto Natales. Lunch and dinner: not included. We recommend the Mirador del Paine Inn restaurant (Estancia Lazo – Green Lake). Accommodation: Hotel Altiplánico Patagonia or equivalent.
DAY 7 : PUERTO NATALES / TORRES DEL PAINE
Description: depart early in the morning to take full advantage of Torres del Paine National Park. The trails border the pillar, zigzagging in between the lakes which change colors from turquoise to opaline according to the sun’s position. What to see? you may enter the park through the Amarga Lake area. The Towers appear first, and then The Horns and the Frenchman’s Glacier come into view. We suggest going straight to Lake Grey, arriving around noon and having a 45-minute walk (2.2 km, 1.4 miles) to the end of the peninsula. When you return, don’t miss out on a 10-minute walk on the north side of Lake Pehoe, to visit Salto Grande, a huge waterfall with the pinkish colored rock formations of The Horns in the background. Your lodge is located nearby. Distances: 110 km (68 miles) / 2 hours 15 min from Puerto Natales to the Park entrance; 60 km (37 miles) / 1 hour 45 min to Lake Grey. Another 60 km to the entrance and 32 km (20 miles) back to the lodge. Lunch and dinner: not included. Les recomendamos el restaurante de la hostería del lago Grey o restaurante Sodexho del lago Pehoe. Accommodation: Estancia Cerro Guido or equivalent.
DAY 8 : TORRES DEL PAINE
What to see? you will have the day off to enjoy the activities the lodge has to offer. A horse ride in front of Torres del Paine, from 2 to 5 hours according to your preference, or getting involved in the typical estancia activities: from November 1st -10th, sheep clipping (12000 head of cattle); from November 20th to December 10th , branding and tail clipping of 30000 lambs and 35000 sheep; from December 1st -24th , sheep clipping; from January 2nd -4th, branding and trail herding of 500 calves and 700 cows, from January 15th -20th, sheep trail herding. Note: horse rides are payable in situ. Lunch and dinner: not included. We recommend requesting the lunch box option at the lodge the night before. Accommodation: Estancia Cerro Guido or equivalent.
DAY 9 : TORRES DEL PAINE / EL CALAFATE / BUENOS AIRES
Description: after breakfast, head back to El Calafate through the Mt. Castillo border post. You will already have scheduled the time and place for returning the car with a member of our team. From there you’ll be driven to the airport. After a 3h flight one of our drivers will be waiting in Buenos Aires to take you to your hotel. Distance: 334 km (208 miles) to El Calafate, through Mt. Castillo border post. Lunch and dinner: not included. Accommodation: Hotel Design Ce or equivalent.
DAY 10 : BUENOS AIRES / FLIGHT
What to see? hasta el momento de partir para el aeropuerto, pueden consagrar el día a descubrir Buenos Aires y/o, según lo deseen, a ir de shopping. Los comercios de marroquinería y de objetos gauchescos, particularmente, ofrecen productos típicos e originales. Estén atento a la hora de su vuelo. Fijaremos la hora para pasarlos a buscar por su hotel y llevarlos hasta el aeropuerto. Cronología: you should allow between 50 and 90 minutes for getting from downtown to Ezeiza airport. Almuerzo: libre. Numerous restaurants in Buenos Aires. Dinner and night: on the plane.