Southern Explorer

From El Chalten to Ushuaia OR From Ushuaia to El Chalten
  • Argentina
  • Chile
  • Patagonia
  • Expedition
  • Walking and Active
  • Group
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Tour Description

Explore remote southern Patagonia on this 13-day adventure.  This small group tour is fantastic for photography, wildlife, hiking and getting off the beaten track with only 16 travellers.

Discover some of South Americas finest national parks including the Los Glaciares National Park, where we listen and watch ice calving from Perito Moreno Glacier and hike to get fantastic views of Cerro Torre Mt Fitzroy from El Chalten. Torres Del Paine National Park, famous for its granite pillars, lakes and mountains offers outstanding hikes: Las Torres, French Valley and Greys Glacier.  While Tierra Del Fuego National Park, located in one of the most southern regions of the world take offer beautiful scenery at the end of the world.  This is a tour of overwhelming natural beauty!

 

Viva's Best Bits...

"One magical day after the next - the landscapes, wildlife and hikes in Patagonia are really some of my favourite in the world, this place is so easy to fall in love with" Tara, Team Viva

Hike the most stunning landscapes of Torres Del Paine National Park and Los Glaciares National Park - Las Torres, Grey Glacier, French Valley, Lago Torre!

Visit incredible Perito Moreno Glacier - the sounds and sounds are spectacular

Tour Itinerary

Day 1
El Chalten

After arriving into El Calafate airport, you will be met at the airport and transferred to El Chalten, located in the stunning Parque Nacional Los Glaciares.

El Chaltén is a small mountain village that lies within the magnificent World Heritage Listed Parque Nacional Los Glaciares at the base of Cerro Torre and Cerro Fitz Roy mountains.

Meals: (D)

Overnight at Hotel Lunajuim

Day 2
El Chalten

A full day hiking today, we meet our local guides and set off on one of the main hiking trails in the wonderful Los Glaciares National Park, (the Lago Torre* hike is our usual option). Enjoy spectacular scenery and obtain views of the magical Cerro Torre or the wonderful Mount FitzRoy. Keep your eyes peeled to spot regional birds including woodpeckers, caracaras and condors.

*The Lago Torre trail takes us first to a wonderful view point with a picture postcard shot of almost the entire mountain range included Cerro Torre and Mount FitzRoy. From this point, we can also see the Margarita Waterfall and the Rio Fitzroy. Continuing up to a saddleback in the mountain we are gifted with a view of the valley and can easily see the snow-capped Andes range. Descending into the valley and through the high deciduous beech tree forest we hike over an old moraine and finish at Lake Torre which is flanked by the Cerro Torre Glacier.

The complete Cerro Torre hike requires a moderate level of fitness and is a full day of hiking. We offer a shorter hiking plan that enables you to still see the stunning surrounding scenery but you would need to do the full extension to see the Cerro Torre Glacier.

Meals: (B), (L)

Overnight at Hotel Lunajuim

Day 3
El Chalten El Calafate

Spend the morning exploring some of the other great walking trails El Chalten is famous for. This morning we hike up to Laguna Capri, this is the first 6kms (12kms return) of the Laguna de los Tres trail. It is a continuously ascending trail to the laguna but our local guides will maintain a comfortable pace to enable you to enjoy and stop for photos and information. We will navigate our way around the loop of lookout points giving you a spectacular view of the Mount FitzRoy range. You will also be able to see the Piedras Blancas glacier and taken in the flora and fauna of the park. We return back to El Chalten town and regroup back at our hotel.
In the mid-afternoon, we will continue by road to El Calafate. Enroute we will stop at a
historic homestead saloon with some famous outlaw visitors.

We continue through the steppe before seeing the beautiful Lake Argentina, the biggest freshwater lake in Argentina. We arrive into El Calafate, our base to visit the impressive Perito Moreno glacier.

Meals: (B), (L), (D)

Overnight at Hotel Del Glaciar

Day 4
El Calafate

The Perito Moreno Glacier is one of the earth’s most dynamic and accessible ice fields. Visiting this glacier, we can witness from a series of walkways huge chunks of ice breaking free from the face of the glacier and crashing with a mighty roar into the water.

We set off from town and take the old, unpaved road with no rush and plenty of time for bird and animal spotting. Along the way, we learn about the guachos (cowboys) and life on the estancias before stopping at one of them for a coffee. On our way to the glacier our expert local guide will explain the amazing phenomena that this glacier is famous for and why it is considered stable and not retreating like many other glaciers in the area. If lucky, a highlight is watching and hearing giant chunks of ice plummet into the waters of Lake Argentina.

After a few hours of free time to explore the walkways we transfer to the port and enjoy a one-hour boat ride that brings us 300m (1000ft) from the glacier’s wall. This is a wonderful way to get close to the glacier and appreciate its daunting size and power. After this amazing encounter, we head back to El Calafate town.

Meals: (B), (L)

Overnight at Hotel Del Glaciar

Day 5
El Calafate Torres Del Paine

Head back into Chile to Torres Del Paine, South Americas finest National Park and a trekker’s paradise. Declared a Reserve of the Biosphere by UNESCO in 1978 it is located amongst the mountain range of the Andes and the Patagonian steppe. In this zone, the colossal towers and horns of granite and rock that have given world-wide fame to it, with heights of up to 3,050 meters above the sea level. The park preserves fragile ecosystems, numerous animals like guanacos, condors, ñandues (South American ostrich), foxes and the elusive puma.

The 3 famous hikes we cover inside the park, these are:
(a) Los Torres Hike
(b) French Valley Hike
(c) Greys Glacier Hike

Instead of walking these continuously, carrying all your hiking gear like on the Big W (a 4 day hike), we break it into three separate walks, covering different sections of the park and hiking an average of 15km (9.5mi) to 20km (12mi) each day. The group is assisted by expert local trekking guides who share information about the environment and guide you through the hiking trails.

If you are not hiking there are other activities available inside Torres Del Paine including tours be vehicle, boat and on horse-back. However, please note these activities are subject to availability and minimum numbers and will incur an additional cost. Please note activities are weather dependent. Please ask about our Torres Light Add-On.

Meals: (B), (L), (D)

Accommodation: Hotel Rio Serrano or similar

Day 6
Torres Del Paine

Las Torres Hike (Difficult)
Hiking to view the iconic Las Torres (the Towers) is a challenging yet immensely satisfying hike, a highlight for all experienced trekkers. The Towers are the three massive granite columns that encircle the smaller Torres Glacier.
The Towers hike is by far the most strenuous of all the hikes. From the entrance, you have a 1.5km/1mi flat warm up to the start of the trailhead at Hosteria Las Torres. You start off climbing up the side of one of the mountains, all dirt paths and quite steep in gradient in areas. It then flattens out as you scale the side of the valley with a great river underneath you.

A short downhill section will bring you to the refugio Chileno. Here you can buy snacks and rest for a while and use the facilities. Although you can see the tips of the towers from the refugio, this hike is fully appreciated when you are able to hike the full length. Once you leave the refugio you start climbing again for about 1 hour crossing rivers and passing through a beautiful forest. The final 45 minutes are quite challenging as you scramble up boulders to the base of the towers.

Full walk takes approximately 8 - 9 hours return including time for lunch and depending on your ability/physical strength.

*We offer a fantastic optional day for those unable to attempt the Towers. It involves heading to another section of the park, enjoying a shorter hike and visiting indigenous hand paintings while still having a view of the Towers.

Meals: (B), (L), (D)

Accommodation: Hotel Rio Serrano or similar

Day 7
Torres del Paine

French Valley Hike (Moderate – Difficult)

The French Valley is the most beautiful valley in the Torres del Paine National Park. It is a steep hike and offers incredible its unique panoramic views of Los Cuernos del Paine, the French Glacier and Lakes Nordenskjold, Pehoé, Scottsburg and Toro.
This walk starts at the same place as the Greys Glacier walk and between the hikes we stay overnight at the Paine Grande Refuge so you do not have to return across the lake to our hotel, effectively allowing you additional time to complete the hikes (please note you will take an overnight bag with you (provided) and your main luggage will be stored for you) This is a very different walk to the Greys Glacier. Slightly longer for the shorter walk and at times the track can be rocky and steep. The entrance to the valley is Italiano Camp (7.5km/4.5mi) and is our short hike stopping point. For those who continue up into the valley to the French Lookout the trail becomes steep with loose gravel and boulders. With a 300m/1000ft elevation gain you have wonderful views of the valley as well as the amazing view of mountains all around. You can sit, watch and hear ice crack and maybe even see a mini avalanche.
Full walk takes approximately 8 - 9 hours return including time for lunch and depending on your ability and physical strength.

Meals: (B), (L), (D)

Accommodation: Lodge Paine Grande

Day 8
Torres del Paine Puerto Natales

Greys Glacier trek (Easy – moderate)
Grey Glacier is one of the principal tourist attractions located in Chile. As soon as you get to this place you will be breath taken with the lakes creamy blue colour dotted with icebergs floating and the Patagonia Icefield at the back.
Initially you will walk through a valley before climbing a steep incline, onto a ridge taking you first through a burnout forest and then into a green live forest.
A little further along the trail brings you to an elevated view of Grey Lake. You hike along an exposed ridge line before reaching the Grey Glacier Lookout point. (Approx 2.5hrs)
If you are looking for a short hike this would be your turn around point, heading back the same way to the start of the trail. Continuing down another 2 hours further from this point you get to the main Refugio Grey Glacier view point which brings you a lot closer to this magnificent ice sheet. From here you have a magnificent view of the glacier across the water and usually the wonderful blue of the icebergs floating in the lake below. All viewpoints of the glacier are from a front on angle.
Full walk takes approximately 7 - 8 hours return including time for lunch and depending on your ability/physical strength.

At the conclusion of your full day trekking we will head to our hotel in Puerto Natales.

Meals: (B), (L)

Accommodation: Hotel Costaustralis or similar

Day 9
Puerto Natales Punta Arenas

After a leisurely morning we will head off to Punta Arenas, located on the edge of the Straights of Magallen. Tonight you will enjoy a meal prepared by a talented, local chef who takes local regional foods and gives you a taste of the variety of unusual tastes and flavours they have.

Meals: (B), (D)

Overnight at Hotel Plaza

Day 10
Punta Arenas Cerro Sombrero

Enjoy your morning exploring Punta Arenas, a place of historical riches; see the mansions and museums of the wealthy wool barons who lived the high life during the boom of the 1890s or take on the wind as you walk along the beautiful promenade by the water’s edge, before crossing the Straits of Magellan onto the island of Tierra del Fuego.

Meals: (B), (D)

Overnight at Hosteria Tunkelen

Day 11
Cerro Sombrero Ushuaia

In the morning, we visit a King Penguin colony, they are usually only found on sub Antarctic islands, such as the remote and difficult to access South Georgia and Falkland Islands. Observing them here is a unique opportunity!

We cross into Argentina and pass Lago Fagnano before heading over the Garibaldi Pass (500m/1500ft) and into the southernmost city in the world of Ushuaia. Now a major tourist town it is a great base for hiking, winter sports and starting point for many cruises to Antarctica.

Meals: (B), (L)

Accommodation: Hotel Tierra del Fuego or similar

Day 12
Ushuaia

In the morning, you will embark the catamaran that will take you through the waters of Beagle Channel. Sailing along Ushuaia Bay you get an excellent panoramic view of the city framed by Andean mountains. Passing by Archipelago Bridges you’ll reach Birds Island, where you will be able to appreciate the vast variety of sea birds that live in the area: cormorants, skuas, petrels, ducks, sea gulls, etc. Close to this place, you will see the Sea Lions and a unique opportunity to watch at the same time sea lions of two distinct species. You will finally get to Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse, the iconic symbol of the beagle channel before returning to Ushuaia.

After some free time to grab some lunch, in the afternoon we visit Tierra Del Fuego National Park where you will be able to enjoy the wonderful natural environment with visits to Ensenada Bay, Alakush Visitors Centre including a small museum learn about the indigenous Yamana, see an old beaver dam and finish at Lapataia Bay, ”The End of the Road” where the end of the famous Panamerican Highway is found more than 17000km/11000mi from where it begins.

Enjoy a special farewell dinner at one of Ushuaia’s great restaurants.

Meals: (B), (D)

Accommodation: Hotel Tierra del Fuego or similar

Day 13
Depart Ushuaia

Depart Ushuaia with wonderful memories, and a new respect of our wonderful planet courtesy of Patagonia.

You may depart any time after breakfast today.

Meals: (B)

Day 1
Ushuaia

Your tour begins with a bang in Ushuaia, the most southerly city in the world. Enjoy dinner with your tour leader and group this evening.

Meals: (D)

Accommodation: Hotel Tierra del Fuego or similar

Day 2
Ushuaia

In the morning, you will embark the catamaran that will take you through the waters of Beagle Channel. Sailing along Ushuaia Bay you get an excellent panoramic view of the city framed by Andean mountains. Passing by Archipelago Bridges you’ll reach Birds Island, where you will be able to appreciate the vast variety of sea birds that live in the area: cormorants, skuas, petrels, ducks, sea gulls, etc. Close to this place, you will see the Sea Lions and a unique opportunity to watch at the same time sea lions of two distinct species. You will finally get to Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse, the iconic symbol of the beagle channel before returning to Ushuaia.

In the afternoon we visit Tierra Del Fuego National Park where you will be able to enjoy the wonderful natural environment with visits to Ensenada Bay, Alakush Visitors Centre including a small museum, learn about the indigenous Yamana, see an old beaver dam and finish at Lapataia Bay, ”The End of the Road” where the end of the famous Pan American Highway is found more than 17000km/11000mi from where it begins

Meals: Breakfast (B),

Accommodation: Hotel Tierra del Fuego or similar

Day 3
Ushuaia Cerro Sombrero

Our first big drive day sees us head over the Garibaldi Pass (500m/1500ft) and leave the mountains behind us. We pass the massive Lago Fagnano, the heart of the island and cross the border into Chile.

After lunch, we visit a King Penguin colony. King Penguins are usually only found on sub Antarctic islands, such as the remote and difficult to access South Georgia and the Falkland Islands. Observing them in Tierra del Fuego, therefore, is a unique opportunity! We continue onto the tiny town of Cerro Sombrero surrounded by the steppe.

Meals: (B), (L), (D)

Overnight at Hosteria Tunkelen

Day 4
Cerro Sombrero Punta Arenas

Crossing the Straits of Magellan, we arrive into Punta Arenas, a place of historical riches; see the mansions and museums of the wealthy wool barons who lived the high life during the boom of the 1890s or take on the wind as you walk along the beautiful promenade by the water’s edge. You have the afternoon at leisure to explore the city.

Tonight, you will enjoy a meal prepared by a talented, local chef who takes local regional foods and gives you a taste of the variety of unusual tastes and flavours they have.

Meals: (B), (D)

Overnight at Hotel Plaza

Day 5
Punta Arenas Torres Del Paine

Today we head to South Americas finest National Park, stopping before in the seaside town of Puerto Natales for lunch and supplies. Puerto Natales sitting right on the Ultima Esperanza, the Last Hope Sound and is a major gateway to the fjords of Chile.

Torres Del Paine, South Americas finest National Park and a trekker’s paradise. Declared a Reserve of the Biosphere by UNESCO in 1978 it is located amongst the mountain range of the Andes and the Patagonian steppe. In this zone, the colossal towers and horns of granite and rock that have given world-wide fame to it, with heights of up to 3,050 meters above the sea level. The park preserves fragile ecosystems, numerous animals like guanacos, condors, ñandues (South American ostrich), foxes and the elusive puma.

The 3 most famous treks inside the park are:
(a) Greys Glacier Hike
(b) French Valley Hike
(c) Los Torres Hike
Instead of walking these continuously, carrying all your hiking gear like on the Big W (a 4-day hike), we break it into three separate walks, covering different sections of the park and hiking an average of 15km (9.5mi) to 20km (12mi) each day. The group is assisted by expert local trekking guides who share information about the environment and guide you through the hiking trails.

If you are not hiking there are other activities available inside Torres Del Paine including tours be vehicle, boat and on horse-back. However, please note these activities are subject to availability and minimum numbers and will incur an additional cost. Weather plays a big part in whether these activities will be on offer. Please ask about our Torres Light Add-On.
Meals: (B), (D)

Accommodation: Hotel Rio Serrano or similar

Day 6
Torres Del Paine

Las Torres Hike (Difficult)
Hiking to view the iconic Las Torres (the Towers) is a challenging yet immensely satisfying hike, a highlight for all experienced trekkers. The Towers are the three massive granite columns that encircle the smaller Torres Glacier.
The Towers hike is by far the most strenuous of all the hikes. From the entrance, you have a 1.5km/1mi flat warm up to the start of the trailhead at Hosteria Las Torres. You start off climbing up the side of one of the mountains, all dirt paths and quite steep in gradient in areas. It then flattens out as you scale the side of the valley with a great river underneath you.

A short downhill section will bring you to the refugio Chileno. Here you can buy snacks and rest for a while and use the facilities. Although you can see the tips of the towers from the refugio, this hike is fully appreciated when you are able to hike the full length. Once you leave the refugio you start climbing again for about 1 hour crossing rivers and passing through a beautiful forest. The final 45 minutes are quite challenging as you scramble up boulders to the base of the towers.

*We offer a fantastic optional day for those unable to attempt the Towers. It involves heading to another section of the park, enjoying a shorter hike and visiting indigenous hand paintings while still having a view of the Towers.
Full walk takes approximately 8 - 9 hours return including time for lunch and depending on your ability/physical strength.

Meals: (B), (L), (D)

Accommodation: Hotel Rio Serrano or similar

Day 7
Torres Del Paine

French Valley Hike (Moderate – Difficult)
The French Valley is the most beautiful valley in the Torres del Paine National Park. It is a steep hike and offers incredible its unique panoramic views of Los Cuernos del Paine, the French Glacier and Lakes Nordenskjold, Pehoé, Scottsburg and Toro.

This walk starts at the same place as the Greys Glacier walk and between the hikes we stay overnight at the Paine Grande Refuge so you do not have to return across the lake to our hotel, effectively allowing you additional time to complete the hikes. (please note you will take an overnight bag with you (provided) and your main luggage will be stored for you) This is a very different walk to the Greys Glacier.

Slightly longer for the shorter walk and at times the track can be rocky and steep. The entrance to the valley is Italiano Camp (7.5km/4.5mi) and is our short hike stopping point. For those who continue up into the valley to the French Lookout the trail becomes steep with loose gravel and boulders. With a 300m/1000ft elevation gain you have wonderful views of the valley as well as the amazing view of mountains all around. You can sit, watch and hear ice crack and maybe even see a mini avalanche.

Full walk takes approximately 8 - 9 hours return including time for lunch and depending on your ability and physical strength.

Meals: (B), (L), (D)

Accommodation: Lodge Paine Grande

Day 8
Torres del Paine Puerto Natales

Greys Glacier trek (Easy – moderate)
Grey Glacier is one of the principal tourist attractions located in Chile. As soon as you get to this place you will be breath taken with the lakes creamy blue colour dotted with icebergs floating and the Patagonia Icefield at the back.
Initially you will walk through a valley before climbing a steep incline, onto a ridge taking you first through a burnout forest and then into a green live forest.
A little further along the trail brings you to an elevated view of Grey Lake. You hike along an exposed ridge line before reaching the Grey Glacier Lookout point. (Approx 2.5hrs)

If you are looking for a short hike this would be your turn around point, heading back the same way to the start of the trail. Continuing down another 2 hours further from this point you get to the main Refugio Grey Glacier view point which brings you a lot closer to this magnificent ice sheet. From here you have a magnificent view of the glacier across the water and usually the wonderful blue of the icebergs floating in the lake below. All viewpoints of the glacier are from a front on angle.

Full walk takes approximately 7 - 8 hours return including time for lunch and depending on your ability/physical strength.

At the conclusion of your full day trekking we will head to our hotel in Puerto Natales.

Meals: (B), (L)

Accommodation: Hotel Costaustralis or similar

Day 9
Puerto Natales El Calafate

Leaving this remarkable region, we cross at a remote border post into Argentina. We continue through the steppe before seeing the beautiful Lake Argentina, the biggest freshwater lake in Argentina. We arrive into El Calafate, our base to visit the impressive Perito Moreno glacier.

Meals: (B), (L), (D)

Overnight at Hotel Del Glaciar

Day 10
El Calafate

The Perito Moreno Glacier is one of the earth’s most dynamic and accessible ice fields. Visiting this glacier, we can witness from a series of walkways huge chunks of ice breaking free from the face of the glacier and crashing with a mighty roar into the water.

We leave early to have the area for just ourselves to enjoy, with no rush and plenty of time for bird and animal spotting, every time you want to stop for pictures you'll be able to. Along the way, we will learn about the guachos (cowboys) and life on the estancias before stopping at one of them for a coffee. On our way to the glacier our expert local guide will explain the
amazing phenomena that this glacier is famous for and why it is considered stable and not retreating like many other glaciers in the area. If lucky, a highlight is watching and hearing giant chunks of ice plummet into the waters of Lake Argentina. After a few hours of free time to explore the walkways we transfer to the port and enjoy a one hour boat ride that brings us 300m (1000ft) from the glacier’s wall. This is a wonderful way to get close to the glacier and appreciate its daunting size and power. After this amazing encounter, we head back to El Calafate town.

Meals: (B), (L)

Overnight at Hotel Del Glaciar .

Day 11
El Calafate El Chalten

Today drive around the beautiful Lake Argentina to El Chalten. Enroute we will stop at a historic homestead saloon with some famous outlaw visitors.

We will arrive to El Chalten, a small town nestled quietly under the imposing peak of Chalten (also known as Mount Fitzroy, named after the captain of the Beagle, who navigated Darwin’s Expedition of the area in 1834).

In the afternoon explore some of the great walking trails El Chalten is famous for. Discover great views of the peaks of Cerro Torre and Mount Fitz Roy as well as spectacular rivers, lakes and forests, and if you are lucky watch condors circling high above. There are many options available form short walk of less than an hour to longer half day hikes.

Meals: (B), (L), (D)

Overnight at Hotel Lunajuim

Day 12
El Chalten

A full day hiking in the wonderful Los Glaciares National Park, (*Lago Torre hike is our preferred option). Enjoy spectacular scenery and obtain views of the magical Cerro Torre or the wonderful Mount Fitzroy. Keep your eyes peeled to spot regional birds including woodpeckers, caracaras and condors.

*The Lago Torre trail takes us first to a wonderful view point with a picture postcard shot of almost the entire mountain range included Cerro Torre and Mount Fitzroy. From this point, we can also see the Margarita Waterfall and the Rio Fitzroy. Continuing up to a saddleback in the mountain we are gifted with a view of the valley and can easily see the snow-capped Andes range. Descending into the valley and through the high deciduous beech tree forest over we hike over an old moraine and finish at Lake Torre which is flanked by the Cerro Torre Glacier.

The complete Cerro Torre hike requires a moderate level of fitness and is a full day of hiking. We offer a shorter hiking plan that enables you to still see the stunning surrounding scenery but you would need to do the full extension to see the Cerro Torre Glacier.

Meals: (B), (L)

Overnight at Hotel Lunajuim

Day 13
Depart El Chalten

Depart El Chalten with wonderful memories, and a new respect of our wonderful planet courtesy of Patagonia.

Your tour ends after breakfast, with a shared transfer from El Chalten to El Calafate Airport.

Meals: (B)

What’s Included

Accommodation
  • Included Copy 20 11 nights accommodation in standard hotels and guesthouses
  • Included Copy 20 1 night in a hiking lodge with shared bunk beds
Food
  • Included Copy 20 12 Breakfasts
  • Included Copy 20 8 Lunches
  • Included Copy 20 8 Dinners
Fees & Services
  • Included Copy 20 Fully escorted in South America in our custom built all-terrain expedition vehicles
  • Included Copy 20 Service of an experienced tour leader as well as local guides
  • Included Copy 20 Experienced Driver/Mechanic
  • Included Copy 20 All National Park Entrance fees
  • Included Copy 31 Small group tour, max 16 passengers
Transportation
Expedition Vehicle

Activities

  • Included Hiking in El Chalten
  • Included Perito Moreno Glacier day trip including a boat trip close to the Glacier
  • Included Day Hikes and Excursions in Torres Del Paine National Park
  • Included Useless Bay King Penguin Colony Tierra Del Fuego
  • Included Crossing the Straights of Magellan
  • Included Beagle Channel Boat trip Ushuaia
  • Included Tour of Tierra del Fuego National Park - Ushuaia
  • Included Sample local Patagonia cuisine in Punta Arenas
Click here for dates & prices
Duration

13 days

Price from

$6,425 USD

Per person, twin share

Select Date