Southern Patagonia : Ushuaia & El Calafate – 12

Discover Ushuaia and El Calafate, at the end of the world in Argentinian Patagonia.

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 Be Hollywood or equivalent.

DAY 2 : BUENOS AIRES / EL CALAFATE

Description: after the transfer to the airport and a 3h 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 Patagonial architectural style, introduced by early 20th century English immigrants. The lodge offers a fantastic 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 rich in mineral mushrooms, and the Sombrero Stones, a series of incrustations on the cliffs 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, we recommend el Casimiro.
Accommodation: Hotel Imago or equivalent.

DAY 3: 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’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 takes 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 350, 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 full of icebergs in a unique landscape of glaciers and snowed 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.
Distances and timing: from the lodge to Punta Bandera, 46 km (29 miles). 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 Imago or equivalent.

DAY 4 : PERITO MORENO / EL CALAFATE

Description: this day you have two options:
We recommend 1: a mini trek through the southern section of the Perito Moreno glacier. After crossing the Rico Arm by boat (15 minutes) and receiving a short briefing, you put on crampons (ice nails) and 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 uncommon 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 miles) wide; 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 you reach the traditional footbridge circuit. The cherry on top of the cake is having a delicious tea at an ideal location: La Usina, located on the shores of some rapids, under the shade of the lenga trees.
Distances: 4 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.
Accommodation: Hotel Imago or equivalent.

DAY 5 : EL CALAFATE / LAGO ROCA / EL CALAFATE

What to see? Argentineans call it a “día 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 mi) from Calafate, 36 km (22 mi) are dirt roads.
Note: the farm day activities are included in the price.
Lunch and dinner: not included. A barbecue may be arranged at the estancia.
Accommodation: Estancia Nibepo Aike or equivalent.

DAY 6 : LAGO ROCA / EL CALAFATE / USHUAIA / ROLITO

Description: you will have already scheduled the time and place for returning the car with a member of our team. From there you’ll be taken to the airport. After a 70-minute flight one of our drivers will be waiting in Ushuaia to provide you with your vehicle. After carrying out the vehicle security inspection and signing the rental contract you are free to head for the estancia.
What to see? There you will meet the owners, who will suggest two different excursions.
Option 1: car tour to Cape San Pablo to admire the beaches and the view from the lighthouse; observe the remains of the Desdemona, stranded on the beach, and numerous birds and flowers such as the beautiful Magellan 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 is home to autochthonous fauna and bred animals. Rolito is a 17000-hectare estancia dedicated to the breeding of sheep. The food you’ll enjoy at the estancia is made from fresh products from the property. A good example is the delicious lamb “asado” you’ll enjoy!
Distances and timing: 56 km (35 miles) to El Calafate airport, via the old dirt road, 70-minute flight. 157 km (98 miles), 2 hours 15 min including 14 km (9 miles) dirt road from Ushuaia to Rolito.
Lunch: not included. We recommend Tierra Mayor Lodge.
Tea, dinner and accommodation: Estancia Rolito or equivalent.

DAY 7 : ROLITO / YAWEN

Description: depart early for Yawen. You will cross landscapes of ñires and grasslands and the mountains of Tierra del Fuego will gradually begin to appear. Yawen is an ancient sawmill turned into a lodge by the landowners.
What to see? 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 can enjoy a 360° paranomic view: the Atlantic Ocean, the Darwin range, Lakes Fagnano, Yehuin, Chepelmut and the Pass of Garibaldi. If you like, you may descend to the lodge on foot (600 meters, 1968 ft – 90 min to 2 hours), in order to observe condors, guanacos and if you are lucky, beavers.
Note: la excursión en 4×4 está incluida en la tarifa.
Distances and timing: 100 km (62 miles), 2 hours, including 74 km (46 miles) dirt roads, from Rolito to Yawen.
Lunch, tea, dinner and accommodation: Hosteria Yawen or equivalent.

DAY 8: YAWEN / USHUAIA

Description: after breakfast, you begin your trip to the end of the world, the city of Ushuaia. There are various unmissable stops on the way: Kaiken Lodge, overlooking Lake Fagnano, Petrel Lodge, on the shores of Lake Escondido and the Pass of Garibaldi, just before beginning the descent to the Beagle Canal. In Tierra Mayor Valley, you will cross several winter activity centers, cross country and downhill ski.
What to see? Once settled in the hotel in Ushuaia, you can take a tour around the city: enjoy a panoramic view from the nautical club, visit the Marine Museum located inside the ancient prison with different rooms recreating penitentiary life, witness an exhibition narrating the exploration of Antarctica and see detailed models of ships covering 500 years of history. Plus, Ushuaia is a free market port zone, where you will find very low priced articles.
Distances and timing: 180 km (112 miles) / 3 hours to Ushuaia, the first 60 km (37 miles) are dirt roads.
Lunch and dinner: not included. We recommend Tierra Mayor Lodge.
Accommodation: Hotel Cilene del Faro or equivalent.

DAY 9 : TIERRA DEL FUEGO PARK / USHUAIA

What to see? You may begin with an excursion and walk through Tierra del Fuego National Park. After a short drive to Ushuaia Park restaurant, you walk through level and simple paths. The circuit goes through Lake Roca, Lake Pipo, the mires, lenga forests and beaver dams… the itinerary reaches Lapataia Bay before returning to the restaurant. Then you can drive to Ensenada Bay, where you board a private zodiac for Redonda Island. Before disembarking on the island, you’ll see a colony of Magellan 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 gathers all the vegetation in the area. 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 wish can take the car at any time thanks to a radio link and many crossing with the route.
Distances and timing: 28 km (17 miles) of dirt road by car, roundtrip, + 2 to 3 hour walk according to your pace. 20 minutes on the zodiac, from Lapataia Bay to Redonda Island.
Lunch and dinner: not included. We recommend the park restaurant or taking a picnic.
Accommodation: Hotel Alto Andino or equivalent.

DAY 10 : USHUAIA / CANAL BEAGLE / BUENOS AIRES

What to see? at 9:30 you board for a nautical excursion among the Beagle Canal islands. The circuit begins at Don Eduardo Arturo Brisighelli tourist port and passes by the Sea Lions Island and Birds Island, where you’ll be able to admire Magellan cormorants, albatrosses, Fullman petrels and skuas. The boat then heads for Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse and the archipelago of the same name. 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, a motor yacht for up to 16 passengers, which 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 through a 20 min chair lift.
Description: at the end of the day, you head for Ushuaia airport. You will have already scheduled the time and place for returning the car with a member of our team. After a 3h40 flight, one of our drivers will be waiting in Buenos Aires to take you to your hotel.
Note: the nautical excursion is not included in the price. Don’t hesitate to consult.
Distances and timing: a 2 hours 30 min to 3 hours nautical excursion for Canoero option and 4 hours for the Kams. The chair lift is 7 km (4 mi) away from town.
Lunch and dinner: not included. Numerous restaurants in Ushuaia.
Accommodation: Patios de San Telmo or equivalent.

DAY 11 : BUENOS AIRES / FLIGHT

What to see? Until leaving for the airport, you may continue to discover Buenos Aires and/or go shopping. The leather-goods and gaucho articles shops offer typical and original products. Mind your flight schedule: we will arrange a 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.