Those on group flights will arrive early this morning and transfer to a centrally located hotel. This morning has been left free to relax, and in the afternoon there is a guided tour featuring the main sights of Buenos Aires (approx. 3 hours). Those on land-only arrangements should meet at the hotel in the morning.
An early flight this morning to El Calafate (not included in the price for land only bookings). We are met by our private transfer vehicle at the airport and set out on a drive across the barren plateau of Patagonia. Note that there will be the option to have excess luggage transferred separately to the hotel in Calafate and pick it up in a few days should you prefer not to bring everything with you on the trekking section of the trip in Chile. For most of the journey the road is in good condition, enabling us to cross into Chile and admire the stunning vistas before arriving at Torres del Paine National Park in the afternoon. Overnight in Refugio Las Torres.
Today we set forth on foot within the National Park and embark on a challenging full day trek. The first hour and a half walking is steep but rewarding with fantastic views of lake Nordenskjöld and Almirante Nieto Mountain (2,670m above sea level), with its hanging glacier until we reach Refugio El Chileno. Here you can choose to leave your backpacks and then pick it up upon our return down the same trail later in the day should you wish. We continue up the trail through a millenary Lenga forest until the base of 'the moraine' which involves a section of challenging ascent. Weather and underfoot conditions will of course determine the timings of our progression throughout the trek. Onwards and upwards we reach one of the most impressive highlights of the park - the 'base of the towers'. A lakeside viewpoint from where you will look upon Torre Sur (2,850m), Torre Central (2,800m), Torre Norte (2,600m) and Cerro Nido de Cóndor. We descend back down the valley, passing the Chileno refuge once more and then back down towards the shore of Lake Nordenskjold. We follow the edge of the lake on flatter and easier terrain until reaching 'Los Cuernos' (the horns), considered by many to be one of the most charming sites in the whole park, a perfect spot to rest in our refuge enjoying a hearty meal and a well earned drink. Trekking time: Approximately 10 hours. Distance: 20km. Overnight in Refugio Los Cuernos.
Another long day of trekking lies ahead as we venture into the French Valley! The first 2 hours involve some ascents and descents with views of Nordenskjöld Lake accompanying us until reaching 'Campamento Italiano'. Here we recommend leaving your backpack with the CONAF staff at the campsite in order to walk the next part of the trek with only a small day bag. The slight ascent lasts for about 1 and a half hours until French Glacier lookout, where you’ll be able to observe an impressive hanging glacier and listen out for the rumbling noises of small avalanches as great chunks of ice and snow fall off. The trail continues until 'Campamento Británico' and after about 20 minutes you will reach a spectacular lookout point 'Mirador Britanico', where you will be able to admire 'Paine Grande', 'Cerro Hoja', 'Cerro Máscara', 'Cerro Catedral', 'Cerro Aleta de Tiburón', and 'Cuerno Norte'. We return back down along the valley to 'Campamento Italiano', and continue our walk past the shore of Lake Skottsberg and into the Pehoé sector of the park. Arriving in the late afternoon to the inviting and idylic site of 'Paine Grande' Refuge. Spend the evening gazing upon the clear night skies or put your feet up in the on-site bar. Trekking time: Approximately 11 hours. Distance: 25km. Overnight in Refugio Paine Grande.
Today we will see the third and final of our 'W-Trek' highlights - the Grey Glacier.This is a round trip to a lookout over Lake Grey that will end back at Refugio Paine Grande, so again we can leave our bags and just carry the minimum amount with us. The trail goes along the western side of the Paine Massif with views to Lake Grey and various mountains. After about one and a half hours we will reach the lookout point and enjoy views of the Grey Glacier in the distance. We return by the same route back to Pehoé Lake from where we will take the Catamaran across the Lake to Pudeto sector. A bus will take us from here on the short drive to the park entry point at Laguna Amarga, and here we will board a regular bus to Calafate (approx. 4 hours). After driving through beautiful scenery on our way out of the park (keep an eye out of the window for pumas!) we cross the border once more into Argentina and arrive quite late into the town of Calafate at around 9pm. Trekking time: Approximately 4 hours. Distance: 8km. Overnight in Hosteria Hainen.
Today we visit the breathtaking Perito Moreno Glacier with a private guide. One of the most famous geological sights in the world, the Perito Moreno glacier is one of the few glaciers that are stable with seasonal fluctuations in the position of its snout. It calves into Lake Argentino and sometimes the terminus creates a natural dam and part of the lake becomes land locked. The water level rises until it suddenly breaks the ice dam and bursts. Every so often it is possible to see huge lumps of ice break off and fall into the lake to float away as icebergs. We'll have a picnic lunch overlooking the glacier and then depart for a drive northwards, passing Lake Viedma on our way to the town of El Chalten. Overnight in Hosteria La Aldea in El Chalten.
Today is a free day to relax and soak up the surroundings. Alternatively, those who wish to go on an optional glacier trek tour on Viedma Glacier can choose to do this, and our guide will help you to arrange it (cost of approximately USD 160, crampons are provided and no experience of ice walking is necessary). Overnight in Hosteria La Aldea in El Chalten.
This morning we start with a short 20 minute bus journey on the edge of Los Glaciares National Park to a start point from where we will commence our trekking in Fitz Roy region. We follow the trail leading to poincenot camp and then continue onwards to Laguna de los Tres, from here we will have fantastic views of the Fitz Roy Massif. After lunch we follow the steepest section of today's trail before decending to the camp site at Laguna Capri. Trekking time: Approximately 8 hours. Distance: 18km. Overnight camping at Laguna Capri (all camping gear provided throughout, including sleeping bags).
After breakfast we begin our day by descending into the beautiful valley containing the 'Madre e Hija' lagoons. Once we pass the two lakes, the trail descends for around 200 metres in the direction of Fitz Roy river and the trail runs into a fantastic lenga forest. Entering the Cerro Torre valley we change direction and head westwards towards Torre glacier and the location of our next campsite. Upon arrival we can stop for a rest amid the camp's peaceful setting before continuing on to Laguna Torre and returning to camp in time for sunset. Trekking time: Approximately 6 hours. Distance: 16km. Overnight camping Cerro Torre.
We begin the day with a short walk to Laguna Torre once more, but today our destination is the Maestri Viewpoint on the northern side of the lake, from where the legendary Italian climber Cesare Maestri would eye-up his climb of Cerro Torre in the 1950s. We will then make our way back to the camp and return to El Chalten for around mid-day. Once back in El Chaltén we take a bus to the remotely located 'Estancia El Condor' (approx. 5 hour drive) and have a packed lunch en route. Upon arrival the long summer days should permit a short exploration of the area and visit to Lago San Martin. Trekking time: Approximately 5 hours. Distance: 13km. Overnight at Estancia El Condor.
Today we'll follow the Condor River for around 3 hours, exploring deeper into secluded and sublime Patagonian landscapes full of colourful forests and rocky mountainsides. At the foot of Cerro Astillado, at a height of 759 metres above sea level, we'll reach the turquoise waters of Laguna Corazon. After a packed lunch on the shores of the lake we'll make our way back towards the estancia, enjoying spectacular panoramic views of Lago San Martin along the way. Trekking time: Approximately 8 hours. Distance: 16km. Overnight at Estancia El Condor.
After breakfast we will transfer by road back south to El Calafate airport in order to catch our internal flight. The driving time will be approximately 5/6 hours. Upon arrival in Buenos Aires there will be transfer to a centrally located hotel and the evening is free to reflect upon a wonderful trip and enjoy the final night together with group members.
Those on group flights will transfer to Buenos Aires Ezeiza airport for return flight to London.