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adventure travel trip to patagonia torres del paine Argentina
  • Dec 27-Jan 5, 2015
  • Duration 10 days
    Group Size 6-12
    Land Cost $5,290 Details
    Single Supplement $1,480
    Lodging 3 stars
    Grade III
    Best Time

    Patagonia: Peaks, Plateaus & Glaciers

    Active Exploration of Southernmost Chile and Argentina

    Day 1      Arrive El Calafate, Argentina

    Your international flight will arrive this morning in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where you will connect to a domestic flight that takes you down to El Calafate, in Argentinean Patagonia.

    Your guide will meet you at the El Calafate airport and bring you to your hotel. This evening, the group will gather for a briefing about the adventures to come during the trip ahead, followed by a welcome dinner.

    Meals: Dinner
    Lodging: Hotel Kosten Aike or Similar
    Day 2      Drive to Torres del Paine, Chile

    After breakfast, embark on a scenic drive through the Argentinean pampas and into Chile, finally arriving at Torres del Paine National Park, the ultimate Patagonian destination. Admire the steppe and snow-peaked horizon during your drive across Patagonia, and keep an eye out for guanacos, rheas, Patagonian hares, foxes, and condors. Arrive in time for lunch at the EcoCamp, and spend the rest of the day exploring your base for the next four nights.

    Spot snow-spattered peaks and guanaco during your drive across Patagonia
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging: EcoCamp
    Day 3      Western Lakes & Grey Glacier

    Drive across the park this morning, admiring the views of Paine Grande with its snowy peaks and Los Cuernos with its black granite horn-like spires. Walk along the shores of stunning Lake Pehoe and see the furious Salto Grande waterfalls where the water from Lake Nordenskjold cascades down into Pehoe. The walk continues over the gentle Nordenskjold trail to a lookout point that will remind you why you traveled all the way here. Later, back at Lake Pehoe, go south by vehicle to a beach along the shores of glacial Lake Grey. Here, enjoy a picnic lunch by the lake before embarking on a boat ride across the icy waters to the towering blue walls of Grey Glacier. After this up-close encounter with a glacier, there won't be a way for the day to get any better, so you'll drive back to the EcoCamp.

    Wander the western lakes, nestled among black peaks
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging: EcoCamp
    Day 4      Lake Pehoe & French Valley

    After breakfast, start the day driving toward Pudeto dock, located on the shores of Lake Pehoe. Board the catamaran that will take you to the northwestern edge of the lake, where you will begin the challenging trek to Valle del Frances (French Valley) along a steep trail that goes into the very heart of the Paine Massif. The hike leads to the hanging bridge over the French River, located at the foot of the southeastern face of the Massif, where the view is breathtaking. Then, continue to the upper section of the valley to admire the valley's entire group of geological formations: Hoja (Blade), Máscara (Mask), Espada (Sword), Catedral (Cathedral), Aleta de Tiburón (Shark’s Fin) and the magnificent Fortaleza (Fortress). Picnic among the geologic oddities and rest for a while, or, if the group isn't into taking breaks, pursue an optional trek to Mirador Britanico. Then, descend through rippling terrain of grassland and scattered forest until reaching the Refugio Paine Grande, located on the peaceful shores of Lake Pehoe. From here the catamaran takes you back to Pudeto and you're driven back to EcoCamp, where you can collapse into your bed.

    Hike along Lake Pehoe, then ascend through the French Valley
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging: EcoCamp
    Day 5      Towers Base Trek

    The first half of the trip has been based in Torres del Paine National Park, and today we focus on the towers from which the park gets its name. Set out from the EcoCamp on foot this morning toward Hostería Las Torres and join the uphill path to Ascencio Valley on the Towers' eastern face. Mountain overlooks, beech forests, and small rivers line the scenic walk toward the valley. The biggest challenge of today's hike will be climbing the steep moraine, a mass of boulders that leads the way to one of the world's most famous views of the Towers. The famous Torres del Paine (2,900 m/ 9,400 ft) consist of three gigantic granite monoliths, the remains of a great sphere sheared away by the unrelenting forces of glacial ice. After an uphill slog, the Towers eventually come into full view, rising majestically before us, with the glacial lake visible below. Is there any better place in the world to have lunch? After feasting on the view and your picnic, backtrack along the same trail through Ascencio Valley and return to EcoCamp for a memorable New Year's Eve celebration.

    These famous towers give Torres del Paine National Park its name
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging: EcoCamp
    Day 6      Return to El Chalten, Argentina

    After breakfast, board the van that will take you back to Argentina and the great sights of the other side of Patagonia. Stop in El Calafate for lunch and then continue along the iconic Route 40 to El Chalten. This tiny town is the youngest town in Argentina and the starting point for some of the greatest hikes east of the Andes. Explore your surroundings or relax this evening in the local brewery.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging: Hostería El Puma or Similar
    Day 7      Mount Fitz Roy

    Today trek to Laguna Los Tres, with a great view of Mount Fitz Roy, the landmark of Los Glaciares National Park. A big breakfast and lots of enthusiasm will be needed to carry you through this tough but exhilarating day. Begin heading toward the silent Laguna Capri and rounding its northern corner. Then follow the Fitz Roy Trail up to Rio Blanco, passing Poicenot, a mountaineering camp. Finally, a short, steep trail leads to Laguna de Los Tres where you will find one of the park’s most marvelous natural scenes – the turquoise blue of the Lagoon, framed by Fitz Roy’s spires and glaciers. You’ll probably experience a Torres del Paine flashback! It's a perfect place for a picnic and a chance to soak up the scenery. When everyone’s ready, hike back to Laguna Capri and continue along the trail back to El Chalten.

    The iconic silhouette of Mount Fitz Roy stands as a timeless landmark
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging: Hostería El Puma or Similar
    Day 8      Perito Moreno Glacier

    After breakfast, gather your luggage and begin the drive back to El Calafate, stopping en route for an excursion to Perito Moreno Glacier, one of the most well-known landmarks in Patagonia. Revel in multiple perspectives on the glacier's face as you meander the well-positioned walkways that allow you the perfect vantage point to watch, and hear, giant chunks of ice plummet into the waters of Lago Argentino. Your guide will answer questions about the glacier and the park. You will also have the opportunity for a short nautical safari to observe this magnificent glacier up close. After the thrilling encounter with Perito Moreno, drive to Estancia Nibepo Aike, the traditional ranch where you will spend the next two nights.

    Perito Moreno Glacier
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging: Estancia Nibepo Aike
    Day 9      Estancia Nibepo Aike

    Choose among several options today, designed to give you a taste of life on a rural estancia. Options may include sheap shearing, milking cows, herding livestock, horse-handling. Or, opt for a day hike to explore the terrain around the ranch. 

    On this final night with the group, recollect the high points of the trip over drinks and a delicious final dinner together.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging: Estancia Nibepo Aike
    Day 10      Onward

    Say "adios" to Patagonia today, and transfer to the Calafate airport after breakfast for your flight north.  Connect to your homebound flight this evening, or consider extending in Buenos Aires, one of South America's most charming, vibrant, colorful cities. 

    Time here would offer a chance to visit the center of government at Plaza de Mayo and Casa Rosada, explore the historic, lively neighborhoods of La Boca and San Telmo, and along gorgeous, and wander tree-lined boulevards in a city that locals will tell you pretends to be European rather than Latin American. You will also enjoy the many cafés that line the streets, discover the more modern, funky neighborhoods of Recoleta and Palermo, and explore the artisan markets that seem to stand at every intersection on weekends. And, before you leave, a classic tango show is a must.

    The colors of La Boca are the most vibrant in all of Buenos Aires.
    Meals: Breakfast

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