Welcome to El Calafate and the start of your amazing journey. Upon arrival at the airport you will be met and transferred to your hotel. The first day of your tour is simply an arrival day with no pre-organised activities. In order to allow time to relax and see some of the sights you may wish to add pre tour accommodation. On arrival please ask at the reception for information on when the pre departure meeting will be held.
Located on the southern shore of Lake Argentino. El Calafate is our base to visit the spectacular Perito Moreno glacier. With a height of around 60 metres and a front of five kilometres (three miles), covering some 250 square kilometres the glacier is an incredible sight and is one of the few glaciers in the world to be growing slightly, not decreasing in size as most glaciers do. Named after Argentine explorer Francisco Merino, the glacier is coloured in a variety of hues from blue to grey to white and continually creaks and cracks. Advancing at a speed of around two metres per day, it can put on a spectacular show when giant chunks of ice at the outermost edges crack under tremendous pressure, rupture and crash into the water – a process known as calving. You will have the chance to walk around some paths and terraces where you can get some great views of the glacier.
Overnight: El Calafate | Breakfast x 1
Today we travel to Puerto Natales and prepare for our time in Torres del Paine National Park. You can enjoy the quaint nature of this small town and shop for some last minute supplies.
Puerto Natales - Torres del Paine National Park. We now continue on to visit the majestic Torres del Paine National Park, named after three massive granite towers that rise out of the earth. Covering more than 180,000 hectares, the park boasts stunning scenery with snow covered mountain peaks, glaciers, beautiful lakes and valleys with a diverse variety of unusual flora and fauna. Some of the varied and amazing creatures you might spot include skunks, Andean condors, black-chested buzzard eagles, chilla foxes, culpeo foxes, guanacos (a relative of the llama), Chilean flamingos and rhea, a type of emu. Vividly coloured flowers, various evergreen plants and orchids may be seen. The best way to discover the national park is on foot and trekking here will take your breath away.
We have plenty of opportunity to trek the many trails in the park. Some of the walks are quite demanding, but there is a good range of options for all grades of walkers. Options include a full day trek with incredible views of the famous ‘towers’ (this walk can be demanding with the final section walking in scree, however it is well worth it), a full day trek and catamaran trip across Lago Pehoe for a full view of the Grey Glacier and a more sedate three hour scenic boat trip (dependant on boat availability). We stay in pre-erected tents in the park with all meals included (you need to bring your own sleeping bag, sleeping mats are provided). Camping in Torres del Paine is a great chance to explore pristine wilderness and enjoy the great outdoors.
Overnight: Torres del Paine | Breakfast x 3, Lunch x 3, Dinner x 3
Torres Del Paine National Park - Punta Arenas. Punta Arenas is Patagonia’s most important commercial centre and this duty free port was an early frontier town. Before the opening of the Panama Canal, the only way around South America was via the extreme southern tip of Chile and therefore Punta Arenas was a necessary stopping point in the Pacific-Atlantic shipping route. There is time to visit Zona Franca, the duty free district en route to Punta Arenas.
We also visit the nearby Magellanic penguin colony at Seno Otway (Otway Inlet), where around five thousand pairs of these strange, docile birds return annually to burrow, breed and raise their young, in their birthplace. You can watch the comic antics of these special penguins from special viewing platforms as they march back and forth between their burrows and the sea where they search for food. Each pair raises two chicks per season and takes turns looking after the young. Mating occurs in October and brooding over the eggs follows in November. From mid November to mid December the eggs hatch, then throughout January and February the newborns change their features and start to swim. From mid March to April the penguins head back to the southern coast of Brazil and the Atlantic Islands
Overnight: Punta Arenas | Breakfast x 2
Ushuaia is the most southern city in the world with a setting that's hard to beat, dramatically located between towering mountains and icy sea.
We visit the nearby Tierra del Fuego (Land of Fire) National Park, where the Pan American Highway ends 17,848 kilometres from its starting point in Alaska. The national park, which has often been compared with Alaska’s panhandle, covers 63,000 hectares of mountains, lakes, deep valleys, glaciers and rivers. You can trek along various trails through the beautiful beech forests, spotting wildlife along the way, including guanacos, foxes, beavers, condors and oyster catchers.
There are also some interesting museums in Ushuaia which reveal its interesting natural and colonial history, such as the Maritime Museum and Museum at the End of the World. At the Ushuaia tourist office you can have your passport stamped with an official End of the World stamp. Those interested in steam trains might like to go for a train ride on the Tren del Fin del Mundo or End of the World Train.
Overnight: Ushuaia | Breakfast x 2
Ushuaia. Your adventure of a lifetime comes to an end today. If you have a late flight or have lengthened your stay by adding post tour accommodation you will have more time to explore the sights.