Trekking El Chaltén, Fitz Roy and Torres del Paine
This trek will take you to the most beautiful regions of the Patagonia Glaciers.
DAY 1: EZEIZA AIRPORT / BUENOS AIRES
Description: one of our drivers will welcome you at Ezeiza Airport and take you to your hotel. After settling in, you will have some free time to discover Buenos Aires. You will also have more time to explore the city on the last day of your trip in Argentina. Visiting Palermo, Recoleta and Puerto Madero could be a good start. At the arranged time, you’ll be given a detailed briefing around a map with one of our operations representatives at the hotel. Lunch and dinner: not included. Accommodation: Esplendor Buenos Aires Hotel or equivalent.
DAY 2: BUENOS AIRES / EL CALAFATE / EL CHALTÉN / CHORILLO DE SALTO
Description: your driver will take you to the domestic airport, Aeroparque. After a 3 hour flight, a Patagonian driver will welcome you at El Calafate Airport and drive you directly to El Chaltén via the famous route 40. This city became one of the main South American trekking and climbing destinations in the eighties. The main attraction is the Fitz Roy granite peak surrounded by the summits of Saint-Exupéry, Guillaumet, Mermoz, Poincenot and the Cerro Torre. The Fitz Roy was named after the British explorer Robert Fitz Roy. However, French mountaineer Lionel Terray was the first to reach its summit in 1952. Trekking in this massif offers incredibly beautiful views. After this long expedition, you can go to Chorrillo del Salto, a 50-foot tall waterfall located on the last stretch of Las Vueltas River. Duration and distance: 125 miles from El Calafate to El Chaltén, 3 hours by car. Lunch: not included. You can have lunch at estancia La Leona, on your way to El Chaltén. Dinner and Accommodation: Los Cerros del Chaltén Hotel or equivalent.
Chorillo de Salto Waterfalls in brief: Duration: 2 hours round-trip. Difficulty: Very easy. Distance: 5.6 miles round-trip from the center of El Chaltén. S49°19’09” W72°53’40”. Height variation and GPS positioning: 20 feet. S49°17’46” W72°54’18”.
DAY 3: EL CHALTÉN / FITZ ROY / TREKKING LAGUNA TORRE / MIRADOR MAESTRI
Description: the trek begins in the valley of the Fitz Roy River followed by ancient forests of lenga and ñire trees. Little by little, the Fitz Roy massif will appear. You continue to Cerro Torre camp site, also called Agostini. From that point you can go to Mirador Maestri from which there is an unrivalled view over Torre Glacier. Comment: The second half of the excursion (Mirador Maestri) is more difficult. Without being technical, it is intended for trekkers in good physical condition. Lunch: picnic from the hotel. Dinner and Accommodation: Los Cerros del Chaltén Hotel or equivalent.
Torre area in brief: Difficulty: easy. However, if you decide to continue on one of the two extensions, a good level of fitness is required given the distances involved: 9,6 mile round-trip from El Chaltén to Agostini camp. Total Duration: 6 hours. Total height variation: +- 1771 feet. Total Distance: 10,3 miles. Extension: from Agostini camp to Maestri viewpoint: 1.2 miles, 50 minutes for one way only. Altitude difference: 708 feet.
DAY 4: EL CHALTÉN / MOUNT FITZ ROY / HIKING LAGUNA DE LOS TRES
Description: In our opinion, this is the second best trek in El Chaltén. From the village, head northeast toward Laguna Capri. 3.7 miles later, pass the sign indicating Capri camp on your left and keep going up the río del Salto. The impressive needles of the massif will progressively appear before you. Except for the incline at the beginning, the rest of the trek is relatively flat. You will then cross a forest to reach the Poincenot and Río Blanco camps on the base of Mount Fitz Roy. From Río Blanco, a 1,378-foot high trail will take you to the De los Tres lake. The view of Mount Fitz Roy, Mount Poincenot and the Needles Mermoz, Saint-Exupéry and Guillaumet is sensational. Lunch: picnic from the hotel. Dinner and Accommodation: Los Cerros del Chaltén Hotel or equivalent.
De Los Tres area in brief: Difficulty: Technically easy. However the duration of the excursion requires a good level of fitness. You may stop halfway at the Capri lake, which offers a beautiful view of the Fitz Roy. El Chalten > base Camp of Rio Blanco: 6.4 miles, 3h10 one-way. Altitude difference: 905 feet. Camp Rio Blanco > Laguna de Los Tres: 1.3 miles, 1h05 one-way. Altitude difference: 1,558 feet. Total duration: from 8 to 9 hours. Total height variation: – + 3.608 feet. Total distance: 15.4 miles.
DAY 5: NAVIGATION / TREKKING GLACIER VIEDMA
Description: today you’ll travel by car to Puerto Bahía Túnel to board the Huemul catamaran. Boat trip on Lake Viedma. The sediments carried from the glaciers give the lake its milky blue color. 40 minutes later, you’ll disembark on a rocky mound to the south of the eponymous glacier. You will get closer to the glacier before putting on crampons. You then start trekking on the largest glacier in Los Glaciares National Park. The most surprising feature of this trip is the visit to the blue ice caves. Their colors range from transparent blue (indicating the most resistant ice layer) to white and grey. The nature of the ice changes according to water seepage replacing the air in the ice. You will finally admire the different blue tones indicating the collapsing seracs in a final cruise along the front of the glacier. Return to Puerto Bahía Túnel. Lunch: picnic from the hotel. Dinner and Accommodation: Los Cerros del Chaltén Hotel or equivalent.
Viedma Glacier in brief: Difficulty: medium. Height variation: about 328 feet. Distance and duration: Bahía Túnel is located 6.8 miles south of El Chaltén. The entire trek includes 40 min on the boat and a 2-hour trek over ice.
DAY 6: TREKKING LOMA DEL PLIEGUE TUMBADO / EL CHALTÉN / EL CALAFATE
Description: you’ll depart in the morning for Mount Pliegue Tumbado, to the south of Fitz Roy River. It boasts one of the most beautiful panoramic views with a view including Mount Fitz Roy, the Cerro Torre, and the rivers and valleys of the region. There are several observation towers along the ascent to the summit of the mountain (4,343 feet above sea level). The path of the trek crosses Patagonian steppe landscapes, forests and stony tracks. Once at the top of the mountain, you will appreciate an unforgettable view of the glaciers and the snowy summits. The way back will follow the same route. Once back at your hotel, you will be driven to El Calafate. The city was named after a berry (similar to the blueberry) and looks like a ski resort. Located 1.8 miles west of the city on the road to the glaciers, the hosteria La Estepa has the typical Southern Patagonian architecture created by the English immigrants at the beginning of the 20th century. The lodge has a chosen view on a bay of Lake Argentino. Lunch: picnic provided by the guide. Duration and distances: 137 miles, 3h15 from El Chaltén to El Calafate.
Accommodation: Imago Spa Hotel or equivalent (dinner: not included).
The Loma del Pliegue area in brief: Difficulty: Medium. El Chalten > Fork Loma del Pliegue: 3.7 miles, 2h one-way. Height variation: 1,857 feet. Fork > Loma del Pliegue Tumbado: 1.6 miles, 1h15 one-way. Height variation: 1,161 feet. Total duration: from 7 to 8 hours. Total height variation: + 3,020 feet. Total distance: 10.5 miles. Altitude and GPS positioning of El Chaltén: 1,325 feet, S49°19’52” W72°53’43”. Altitude and GPS positioning of Fork Loma del Pliegue: 3,182 feet, S49°22’04” W72°56’06”. Altitude and GPS positioning of Loma del Pliegue Tumbado: 4,343 feet, S49°22’29” W73°56’37”.
DAY 7: EL CALAFATE / SPEGAZZINI AND UPSALLA GLACIER BOAT EXCURSION / EL CALAFATE
Description: having admired the morning light from the dining room, a driver will take you to Puerto Punta Bandera. This full-day excursion will take you to the north branch of Lake Argentino, the largest Argentinean lake. You will board at the Captain Club (VIP lounge and private deck) on the Chonek or Nueva Leon catamarans. Zigzagging between the icebergs (“témpanos” in Spanish), the boat will take you to the different branches of the lake at the foot of the main galaciers of the Patagonian ice field. The excursion includes the Spegazzini glacier and its 262-foot high walls, the Upsala glacier, the second largest glacier of the 47 glaciers in the park and the Onelli glacier. To better enjoy your lunch, you’ll disembark to reach Onelli bay after a 0.5 mile-walk in a forest of lenga trees. The bay is filled with icebergs and surrounded by the breathtaking scenery of glaciers and snowed peaks. You then return to Punta Bandera. In the late afternoon, your driver will take you back to El Calafate. Technical description: The Chonek and Nueva León catamarans are state-of-the-art models and have international standards of safety equipment radar, GPS, plotter, eco sound technology, VHF, heater and bar service. VIP Lounge: The VIP lounge has a capacity for 14-passengers. It is equipped with a bar and two decks. One alcoholic drink and all non alcoholic drinks are free. You will enjoy the beautiful landscape in the best conditions. Our rates (see below) include the water excursion in the VIP lounge. Duration and distance: 26.5 miles from the hosteria to Punta Banderas. The excursion starts at 8:30 am, the boat leaves at 9am and returns at about 4pm. The total excursion is around 7 hours long. Lunch: “gourmet” picnic basket provided by the guide. Accommodation: Imago Spa Hotel or equivalent (dinner: not included).
JOUR 8 : TREKKING GLACIER PERITO MORENO / "BIG ICE" CIRCUIT DE 7 HEURES SUR LE GLACIER
Description: you’ll depart in the morning for Perito Moreno National Park. After crossing the Brazo Rico by boat (20 min), you will walk to the southern tip of the Perito Moreno Glacier. You will put on crampons to start the 6-hour walk over the ice. In addition to the remarkable silence, the most striking elements in this ice chaos are the intense blues of the glacier. After the walk, we recommend discovering the traditional catwalks. Duration and distance: 45 miles from the hosteria to Puerto Bajo de las Sombras of which the last 6-miles are dirt road. Lunch: picnic provided by the guide. Accommodation: Imago Spa Hotel or equivalent (dinner: not included).
Glacier Perito Moreno Trek in brief: Difficulty: this trek requires a good level of fitness. It is not technically difficult, however the trek requires some experience of walking on ice. Duration: 7 hours. Comment: The “Big Ice” trek can be done by people aged 18 to 45. Another one-hour excursion over ice, the “mini trek”, is accessible to people aged between 10 and 65. Two mountain guides supervise each group.
DAY 9: EL CALAFATE / CERRO CASTILLO / MIRADOR DEL PAINE / TORRES DEL PAINE
Description: after breakfast, a driver will take you to Chile, through Esperanza in the province of Santa Cruz and through the border-post of Cerro Castillo. You will then change cars and your new driver will take you to the mythical Torres del Paine Park. Whether at the Lazo estancia or at “Mirador del Paine”, the afternoon will be devoted to hiking the banks of Laguna Verde. In addition, you can either climb up the high mountain pastures above the estancia to enjoy a great view or take a horseback ride. In the afternoon, you will be driven to Estancia Cerro Guido. The main activity of this estancia is cattle and sheep breeding. It is adjacent to the Park and faces the Torres del Paine. In this impressive landscape, you will immerse yourself in Chilean Patagonian culture and tradition. The estancia is made up of 20 buildings including the gauchos’ house, the bakery, the kitchen, the public school, the shearing barn, the iron workshop, the dairy house, the cow shed, the stables, the sheepfolds, the administrative building, the “quincho”…for barbecues and the main house. After settling in, you can take a tour around the property with the gauchos. Duration and distance:178 miles from Calafate to Cerro Castillo (3h15), 39 miles to Laguna Verde (1h30), and finally 36 miles to the estancia of Cerro Guido (1h). Lunch: picnic provided by the guide. Accommodation: Estancia Cerro Guido (dinner: not included).
DAY 10: TORRES DEL PAINE PARK / HIKING MIRADOR DE LAS TORRES
Description: depart from the hosteria “Las Torres”. You will first walk down a path that skirts the Ascendio Valley, and then crosses a forest of lenga and cohiue trees. Once at the Torres guard post or “Torre” camp, you will start a one-hour climb on a moraine to the Mirador De las Torres, located at the bottom of the lake at the foot of the three towers: South, Central and North Towers. The way back will follow the same route to “Las Torres” where your driver will be waiting to drive you back to Cerro Guido. Lunch: picnic provided by the guide. Accommodation: Estancia Cerro Guido (dinner: not included).
Mirador de las Torres in brief: Difficulty: The trek is not technically difficult but requires a good level of fitness. Hosteria Las Torres > Camping Torres: 8.5 miles, 2h45 one-way. Altitude difference: 1.358 feet. Torres camp > Mirador Torres: 0.9 miles, 50 min one way. Altitude difference: 1.161 feet. Total duration: From 7 to 8 hours. Total height variation: – + 3.937 feet. Total distance: 10.1 miles.
DAY 11: TORRES DEL PAINE PARK / TRKS FRENCH VALLEY / HOSTERÍA GREY
Description: you will drive to the area of Pudeto, where you will board a catamaran at 9:30am to cross Lake Pehoe (30 min). From the guard post, you will start a two-hour hike in the French Valley under the eponymous Glacier. After skirting Lake Skottsberg you’ll cross some forests. When you reach a footbridge, you’ll head to the Italian camp from where you can admire the main peaks of Paine: Punta Bariloche, Central, Principal and North peaks. According to time and pace, you can keep walking to the British camp. You go back along the same path. After crossing back on the catamaran, you will disembark at the north end of Lake Pehoe. From there, a 10-minute walk will take you to “Salto Grande”, a huge waterfall with the skin-colored Horns in the background. After settling in at the Hosteria Grey, you can take a 45-minute hike to the end of the peninsula (1.4 miles). Lunch: picnic provided by the guide. Distances: 28km from Cerro Guido to the entrance of the Park. 60km to Grey lodge. Accommodation: Hosteria Grey (dinner: not included).
French Valley in brief: Difficulty: easy. Northwest guard post of Lake Pehoe > Italian Camp: 5.5 miles, 2h one-way. Height variation: 341 feet. Altitude and GPS positioning of the Northwest guard post of Lake Pehoe: 407 feet, S50.97’38” W72.87’82”. Altitude and GPS positioning of the Italian camp: 748 feet, S51°02’40” W73.0415″. Total duration: from 4 to 5 hours. Total height variation: + 341 feet. Total distance: 11.1 miles. For your information: the round-trip walk to the British camp is considered too long, but it’s up to you to explore the French Valley. Italian camp > British camp: 3.7 miles, 2h30 one-way. Height variation: 1,526 feet. Altitude and GPS positioning of the British camp: 2,274 feet, S50°98’68” W73.0549″.
DAY 12: LAKE GREY BOAT EXCURSION / GLACIER GREY / PUERTO NATALES
Description: we recommend a 3-hour boat excursion on Lake Grey. From Hosteria Grey, you will first take a small boat before changing boats at the peninsula to the Rutas Patagonia to go towards the Grey Glacier. This excursion is particularly amazing for the shades of colors and transparencies of the ice. After lunch, you will head south and leave the Park at the Serrano Bridge. You will skirt Lake del Toro, then take the Milodón road on which one can stop to visit the Milodón cave, located 5 miles before the junction with Route 9. This natural monument consists of three caves and a 98-foot high and 655-foot deep rocky conglomerate called Silla del Diablo (“The Devil’s chair”). The scientific interest of the site is due to the excavation of bones, skin and hide of an extinct animal in 1875, the Milodón (Mylodon Darwin). This huge herbivore probably died out at the end of the Pleistocene era. Lunch: not included. You can have lunch at Hosteria Lago Grey. Distances: 88km from the lodge to Puerto Natales. Dinner and night: Altiplánico Patagonia Hotel (dinner: not included).
DAY 13: PUERTO NATALES / EL CALAFATE / BUENOS AIRES
Description: your departure time from Puerto Natales depends on the time of your flight. You will reach El Calafate airport through the border-post of either Cerro Castillo or Río Turbio. The flight to Buenos Aires is 3 hours long. You can enjoy the rest of the day by visiting Plaza de Mayo and walking to the Congress along Avenida de Mayo for example. Lunch and dinner: not included. Accommodation: 725 Continental Hotel or equivalent.
DAY 14: BUENOS AIRES / INTERNATIONAL FLIGHT
Description: before your departure, you can spend your last day either sightseeing in Buenos Aires or shopping (or both!). The leather goods and gaucho stores offer typical and original products. The city tour goes along the widest avenue in the world, Avenida 9 de Julio, and its 213-foot high obelisk and the Avenida de Mayo whose Galician influence can be seen in the architecture of its buildings. At Plaza de Mayo, you will find the Casa Rosada, the current Government headquarters. You will then discover the neighborhood of La Boca and its colorful houses made of materials recovered from ships, inspiration of poets and painters. The neighborhood of San Telmo is famous for its antique stores and tango bars. Recoleta with its numerous parks and squares is a very pleasant residential neighborhood in which to walk. Finally, you will visit Puerto Madero, the old city port that has recently been completely refurbished. It’s a must! Option:Flight over Buenos Aires in a private helicopter. Get an unforgettable panoramic view of Buenos Aires from 655 feet in the air. 30 to 45 minute-tour, 62 mile-circuit. Lunch: not included. Dinner and night: on the plane.