Trolltunga, Norway

TN Sample - Patagonia Highlights Trip Note

Trip Overview

Rugged, snow-capped mountains stand imposingly amid the wild south of Argentina and Chile, fringed by huge icy lakes and windswept grasslands. In the distance shy guanacos roam and a few hardy gauchos tend their many sheep. We discover the sheer-sided peak of Mount Fitzroy and the immense Perito Moreno Glacier, where chunks of ice are often seen cracking into the water. Our journey culminates in Ushuaia - the most southerly city in the world. Renowned for world class trekking and outdoor activities, the raw natural beauty of Patagonia never fails to astound.

 

At A Glance

  • At a glance Travel by minibus, local coaches and 2 internal flights
  • 3 daywalks of up to 8 hours duration Selected upgraded departures
  • Group normally 6‐18, plus leader.
  • Min age 18 yrs 7 nights hotels. 3 nights hosterias and 2 nights refugios (mountain refuges)
  • All breakfasts, 2 lunches and 4 dinners included

 

 

Highlights

  • Torres del Paine National Park, including a hike to the base of the Towers of Paine
  • Amazing glaciers in Los Glaciares National Park with an optional boat trip at Moreno Glacier
  • The stunning granite peaks of Fitzroy Massif and Cerro Torre
  • Travel to the world's southernmost city ‐ Ushuaia The vast, wind‐blown expanses of the Patagonian Steppe

 

 

Is This Trip For You?

While this trip is graded Leisurely/Moderate, we recommend you have a reasonably good level of fitness to really enjoy the hiking opportunities available. All of these are non‐compulsory day walks and the longest is just over 20km in Torres del Paine National Park. Adverse weather conditions can make these day walks more challenging. We have two internal flights on this trip to reduce driving but there are still some long drives, some of which are done using public transport. The longest drive is when we cross the border from El Calafate to Torres del Paine and when travelling south from Cerro Sombrero to Ushuaia (this leg is done by private bus).

When using public transport, please be aware that the comfort and standards of driving may be lower than would be expected in Europe ‐ unfortunately this is something that we have limited control over. 

In terms of altitude ‐ the highest point reached on the tour is on day 9 on the walk to the Towers of Paine. The lookout point situated at 886 metres above sea level. This day walk can take up to 9/10 hours depending on weather conditions and speed of the group.

 

Since Patagonia is in the southern hemisphere, the seasons there are the opposite to those in Europe. Trips to Patagonia are therefore organized between October and April, to take advantage of the longer daylight hours and warmer temperatures. During these months the temperatures in Buenos Aires reach a maximum of 30ºC, El Calafate/Torres del Paine/Punta Arenas around 15ºC and in the extreme south, in Tierra del Fuego, 14ºC. These are the daytime maximums and the average figures are likely to be a little lower than this. The nights can go down as low as freezing but often remain around mid single figures.

The Patagonia summer tends to be dry although rain cannot be ruled out, particularly in the mountainous regions along the Chile/Argentine border. Patagonia is renowned for its wind and it is not unheard of to experience all four seasons in one day!

  • Day 1

     

    Depart London

    Depart London

  • Day 2

     

    Arrive Buenos Aires

    Those on the group flight will be met at the airport and transferred to our hotel in Buenos Aires. Those on land only arrangements should make their own way to the start hotel for mid-day (in order to join the rest of the group to go on the city tour). Our local leader will meet us today for a briefing and take us on a short walking tour of the city, discovering its wealth of history and culture. The evening is free for you to choose one of the many excellent restaurants, most serving the legendary Argentine steaks!

  • Day 3

     

    Fly to El Calafate; to El Chalten.

    This morning we fly from Buenos Aires to El Calafate and transfer to the small mountain town of El Chaltén. The town enjoys a beautiful location in Los Glaciares National Park with breathtaking views of Mount Fitzroy and the Southern Patagonian Ice Field.

    Meals included: Breakfast

  • Day 4

     

    Los Glaciares N.P.; daywalk to Cerro Fitzroy Base Camp.

    We set off amidst incredible mountains and valleys for a day walk. First we hike to Cerro Fitzroy Base Camp with amazing views of the striking massif ahead. In the afternoon we continue to the picturesque Laguna de los Tres, a glacial lake whose still waters reflect the three main peaks of the range. This is a full day of walking over fairly rough terrain, but with impressive, rugged scenery along the way.

    Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

  • Day 5

     

    Optional activities; to El Calafate.

    Today has been left free to enjoy an additional trek or an optional boat trip to another highlight of this area: the Viedma Glacier. In the late afternoon we take the public bus to El Calafate.

    Meals included: Breakfast

  • Day 6

     

    Visit Perito Moreno Glacier; optional boat trip.

    Today we visit the Perito Moreno Glacier. This immense jagged sheet of ice stretches over 3 miles across Lago Argentino and rises 200ft out if its cold waters. It is the fastest moving glacier on the planet and the eerie creaks and thunderous groans add a certain atmosphere of anticipation. Every so often an office block sized chunk of ice calves from its face into the water below before slowly floating down the lake as a giant iceberg. An optional boat trip gives an even greater appreciation of the immense scale of this wonder.

    Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

  • Day 7

     

    Free day in El Calafate.

    We will spend a second day here to allow exploration of the town's surroundings. It is possible to take a gentle walk along Lago Argentina to see birdlife (including flamingos), or a slightly more demanding hike for some fantastic views stretching over the Patagonian Steppe and towards the mountainous border with Chile. Alternatively you can join an optional excursion to a local Estancia or to Todo Glaciares - this navigation includes Upsala Glacier, Bahia Onelli (where pieces of glacier are floating in the water) and the Spegazzinni Glacier.

    Meals included: Breakfast

  • Day 8

     

    To Torres del Paine N.P.

    A long drive across the border into Chile today before we arrive in one of the world's most beautiful national parks, Torres del Paine (please note that due to local regulations we must change buses at the border). We may have time after we check-in for a short walk next to Laguna Amarga or Laguna Azul, which offer great panoramic views of the Paine Massif and the striking granite Horns of Paine.

    Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

  • Day 9

     

    Day walk to the Torres del Paine.

    Without a doubt, one of the biggest highlights of the park is to hike up to the base of the Towers of Paine. The walk itself is beautiful, trekking through forests and offering some fantastic views across the park. This is a reasonably difficult and long trek, and the last section is steep with rocky terrain, so you need a reasonably good level of fitness and confidence. The reward on reaching the small lake at the base of these sheer granite peaks however, makes the long walk well worthwhile. Note that adverse weather conditions can make this walk much harder - your group leader will give a briefing the night before and answer any questions you may have on the route.

    Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Day 10

     

    To Tierra del Fuego.

    Today we will see the main highlights of the park as we drive towards the Park Administration buildings at Rio Serrano. The granite horns are the most recognisable feature of the park and can be seen from various viewpoints. We will also stop close to Lake Nordenskjold and Lake Pehoe, as well as at the two waterfalls of Salto Grande and Salto Chico. Please note that weather conditions will affect the itinerary in the park. In the afternoon we have a fairly long transfert through dramatic scenery to Cerro Sombrero. This journey involves a short ferry crossing over the Magellan Straits. We advise you to take plenty of water and some snacks for the journey. In the evening we'll have dinner together at the hotel in the small town of Cerro Sombrero.

    Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

  • Day 11

     

    To Ushuaia, the end of the world!

    Tierra del Fuego (The Land of Fire) is named after the original inhabitants who used to light bonfires to ward off the winter chill. Crossing the island we'll have views of the most southerly part of the Andes before catching our first glimpses of Ushuaia at the end of the world! This is a long driving day but we use a private bus to make the journey more comfortable. We should arrive at our hotel mid-afternoon depending on weather conditions and traffic.

    Meals included: Breakfast

  • Day 12

     

    Walk in Tierra del Fuego N.P.; optional visit to penguin colony.

    We'll spend this morning in the stark wilderness of Tierra del Fuego National Park, walking amongst the varied terrain, flora and fauna. In the afternoon there is an optional boat ride along the Beagle Channel to see marine wildlife including penguins, sea lions and many species of water bird including a flightless duck! We are also afforded fantastic views of Ushuaia and its backdrop of often snow-capped peaks as we head out on the boat.

    For those wanting more adventure or not wishing to trek, an optional full-day 4WD excursion will be on offer which will take us deep into the wilds of Tierra del Fuego where any more conventional transport would fail to reach, including the remote Lakes Fagnano and Escondido (please note it is not possible to see penguins on this tour).

    Meals included: Breakfast

  • Day 13

     

    Fly to Buenos Aires.

    Depending upon the flight time, we may have some free time this morning in Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. There are great views from the hills leading up to the Martial Glacier and some small shops to pick up souvenirs. Ushuaia has just one museum, housed in the former prison, which is worth a visit. We fly back to Buenos Aires and usually arrive in time to visit one of the excellent tango shows in the old quarter of San Telmo (optional) and enjoy a last group meal together.

    Meals included: Breakfast

  • Day 14

     

    End Buenos Aires.

    Depending on the time of your flight home you may have another chance to see more of cosmopolitan Buenos Aires. After last night's tango show we might be tempted to learn a few steps, or watch it in the streets and plazas - particularly in the old quarter of San Telmo. A visit to the grave of Evita in the remarkable Recoleta Cemetery, said to be the most expensive real estate in the world, is possible. Those on group flights will leave today for the flight back to London.

    Meals included: Breakfast

  • Day 15

     

    Arrive London

    Arrive London.

Accommodation

This itinerary operates with both standard and upgraded accommodation:

For the standard departures, we use a good standard of hotels throughout the trip, and spend 2 nights in mountain refuges. The refuge in Torres del Paine is basic with up to 9 people to a dormitory style room (sheets are included in the cost, towels can be hired for US$2pppn). Dorms are mixed‐sex but bathrooms are single sex (with hot water and showers in an open plan style). In El Chalten we stay in a simple but clean lodge with en‐suite twin rooms. Laundry facilities are available in El Calafate and Ushuaia.

For the upgraded departures, this refers to the choice of accommodation for the two nights at Torres del Paine National Park. Instead of staying in the refugios we use a hotel on the edge of the national park.

Single Accommodation

We can arrange single rooms throughout the trip for a supplement (subject to availability) from £520. Note that no single supplement possible for the refugio nights in Torres del Paine on standard departures. On upgraded departures, supplement prices start at £895. Please ask your sales consultant for details.

Extra Accommodation 

Extra nights in the hotel in Buenos Aires can be arranged on request.

Extensions

Iguazu Falls Extension

The trip can also be extended by a couple of days to visit the magnificent falls of Iguazu (or Iguassu), which lie in the far north of the country on the border with Brazil. The extension is operated on a group basis, travelling with clients booked through other operators. Please contact us for prices. Flight prices will be quoted separately to the extension.

Day 13 (Day 14 Ex London) To Iguazu
We are transferred from the hotel to the domestic airport for the flight to Puerto Iguazu, arriving mid morning. We will be taken to the hotel and the rest of the day is free for you to explore the area. CH (B)

Day 14 Iguazu Falls
Half day tour included to Argentine side of the falls (entrance fees included) with the rest of the day free. CH (B)

Day 15 Return to Buenos Aires
Flight back to Buenos Aires; transfer to hotel. CH (B)

Day 16 End Buenos Aires
The extension ends after breakfast this morning with a transfer to the airport for international flight. CH (B)

Day 17 Arrive London.

* Single supplement is compulsory on the extension if you are travelling alone and we cannot match you with someone of the same sex. The extension is available for a minimum of two people. Please contact our Sales team for prices. Flight prices will vary depending upon time of booking.

Included: transfer airport to hotel in Buenos Aires and hotel to airport at Iguazu, two nights accommodation (inc. breakfast), entrance fees to Argentine National Parks.
Not included: flights, beverages, meals (allow US$17 ‐ $22 per meal), tips, airport taxes (US$8 at Iguazu)


Salta and the Northwest Extension

You may also wish to extend your time in Argentina by visiting the contrasting landscapes of the country's northwest Salta region.

Day 13 (Day 14 ex London) To Salta, afternoon is free to explore the city.

Day 14 (Day 15 ex London) Today we head south on beautiful mountain roads to the Los Cardones National Park (famous for the tall cactus that give the park its name) and then down through the Calchaquies Valley to the sleepy wine town of Cafayte. (B)

Day 15 (Day 16 of ex London) We follow route 68 traversing the Quebrada de las Conchas through the brightly coloured rocks eroded into stunning shapes. (B)

Day 16 (Day 17 ex London) We travel up into the Andes Mountains to San Antonia de los Cobres and then onto the town of Purmamarca. From the town you can see the famous Seven Colour Mountain. (B)

Day 17 (Day 18 ex London) Today we visit the Humanhuaca gorge before returning to Salta for the night. (B)

Day 18 (Day 19 ex London) We leave Salta today to fly back to Buenos Aires. (B)

Day 19 (Day 20 ex London) The extension ends today with a transfer to Buenos Aires airport for the flight home. (B)

Prices available on request. Flight prices will vary depending upon time of booking.

Food and Transport

Food

Hotel breakfasts are normally buffet‐style and are included. The accommodation in Torres del Paine will arrange packed lunches for days when we are trekking. There is a variety of good, quality food on offer in local restaurants and cafes usually for relatively low prices (although the refuge that we stay in for the standard itinerary in Torres del Paine is the exception as facilities here are limited). Vegetarians are catered for throughout the trip, but please ensure that you advise us before you travel so that we can make the necessary arrangements on your behalf.

Transport

We use a combination of internal flights, private minibuses (usually air conditioned) and sometimes local buses.

Tourism can be a real help to local communities, providing income, positive cultural exchanges and a financial incentive to protect their natural environment. Ours is a 'total approach' to responsible tourism, covering everything from the way we plan and operate our trips to the practices of Exodus as a company. We use several family owned lodges and hosterias during this trip which helps to keep money in the local community. At these properties locally sourced food is served wherever possible. Our guides enforce a strict 'Leave no Trace' policy in National Parks and the entrance fees are included for Los Glaciares, Torres del Paine and Tierra del Fuego National Parks which goes towards supporting conservation efforts in the area.

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