Wild Patagonia

From Bariloche to El Calafate
  • Argentina
  • Chile
  • Patagonia
  • Walking and Active
  • Small Group Tours
View Similar Tours

Tour Description

Join us on our 18 day small group tour, Wild Patagonia.

Patagonia is rich with history through the eras; from legends of giants roaming a land of fire to the European explorers of Magellan and Drake finding passages to the surrounding seas. Then the humble gauchos (cowboys) who still drive thousands of head of sheep across the arid Patagonian steppe on horseback with the aid of their trusty sheep dogs.  Patagonia has a reputation of being rugged and hardy – climbers and hikers alike can attest to 4 seasons in one day with a strong wind thrown in for fun.  But with the tough you’ll find the tender; plants and flowers with beautiful colors and delicate leaves, condors and eagles who soar in the skies while armadillos, guanacos and puma roam the territories.

Perhaps the best part of Patagonia is the people you’ll meet.  The people who choose to embrace this remarkable region and hold true to their traditions, some of which have been passed down through many generations. You’ll cherish the knowledge and stories these locals will share with us as we pass through the region and try to get a taste of what it is like to live life in Patagonia.

Throughout this 18-day Wild Patagonia small group tour we will weave our way through several of Patagonia’s renowned regions including Bariloche, and the stunning turquoise waters of Argentina’s Lakes District. We journey by road and boat on the famous lakes crossing with vistas of forests and volcanoes. The island of Chiloe in Chile allows us to explore a mix of indigenous traditions and culture, sample the local cuisine and admire the local architecture from fascinating wooden churches to colourful houses on stilts. In Punta Arenas there is even a replica model of Charles Darwin's Beagle to explore. 

And...you simply cannot visit Patagonia without seeing Chile’s famous Torres del Paine National Park, with its jagged, multilayered peaks, or seeking out the impressive array of animals found within the park like guanaco, rhea and puma.  The same can be said for Argentina’s Los Glaciares National Park, a mecca for hikers and nature enthusiasts.  You can spend time hiking the trails in El Chalten, and take a day trip from El Calafate to explore the impressive Perito Moreno Glacier.

Join us for a Patagonian adventure!

Viva's Best Bits...

Opportunities to engage with the locals, learn about guacho life, spend time with a local Huilliche-Mapuche community, visit a family ranch for dinner with a local chef, and explore caves where the Tehuelche people once roamed.

"Great tour for those that love nature and the outdoors. Experience some of the best day hikes in South America including: Laguna Torre in El Chalten, and Las Torres in Torres del Paine National Park!" Tara, Team Viva

Each day is a new adventure, from hiking the forest and mountains, to photographing landscapes, looking out for condor and other wildlife, or over indulging in the local seafood, barbeque or Calafate ice cream!

Tour Itinerary

Day 1
Bariloche

Join our small group tour Wild Patagonia, in Bariloche, Argentina.

Bariloche is best accessed from Buenos Aires (ask us about our Buenos Aires extension package)

San Carlos de Bariloche lies on the southern shores of Lake Nahuel Haupi, a lake so big that even a few species of sea birds call it home. Bariloche has a rich history filled with European immigrants influencing the alpine style architecture that you’ll find throughout the region – as well as other elements of influence, like German artisanal beers or Swiss style chocolate making.

Once you have landed at the airport, we’ll drive into the city centre where we’ll explore the city on foot. We’ll stroll down Calle Mitre and learn about a handful of family businesses that have influenced trade in the region and are still going strong to this date. Did we mention chocolate? You’ll learn how and why the chocolate trade is imbedded in Bariloche’s culture, see the process of handmade chocolate from start to finish and absolutely get to taste some of this velvety chocolate goodness.

As we move through the streets mingling with the locals our guide will tell us about some legends of and myths you might hear about this region (think outlaws and outcasts) and most definitely outrageous and outlandish stories too – you can decide what you want to believe!!! Our walking tour with finish back at the Civic Centre and at this point you’ll have some free time to explore, before enjoying a group dinner later in the evening.

Meals included: Dinner

Overnight at PENINSULA PETIT HOTEL, standard room including breakfast

Day 2
Exploring the enchanted valley Bariloche

We drive north west of Bariloche city to an area that blends the arid Patagonian steppe with the Patagonian forests, filled with cypress and willow trees. Explore the Enchanted Valley, its rock formations and wind carved hills - with a little imagination perhaps you will see castles, cathedrals and even lions.

We head to a local Estancia where we’ll enjoy a short hike. Keep an eye on the sky to spot condors flying over head. Following our hike we’ll enjoy a traditional wood fire lunch. Soak up the local family atmosphere and get a chance to ask questions about what it is really like to live and work on an estancia.

Driving back to Bariloche, we’ll have plenty of chances to stop and take photos of the magnificent scenery that encompasses us from every direction you look. The late afternoon and evening will be at your leisure.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Overnight at PENINSULA PETIT HOTEL, standard room including breakfast

Day 3
Nahual Huapi National Park Bariloche

Today we explore some of the highlights and viewpoints found in the Nahuel Huapi National Park, including Cerro Campanario or Bell Hill. Ride the chairlifts to the top for fantastic views of the mountains and lakes.

We’ll follow the loop road stopping for photos before arriving at Gilbert Cerveceria, one of the only artisan micro-breweries still following traditional recipes. Take a tour, and taste their signature labels while enjoying the quaint atmosphere, with some free time for lunch.

Later, stroll past the Hidden Lake (Lago Escondido), through the Arrayan forest filled with cinnamon coloured bark trees, covered with purple berries (when in season). These berries taste delicious in jams, sweets and ice-cream flavours that you’ll find in the region.

Returning to Bariloche, pass the incredible Llao Llao hotel, the Panhuelo Port area and the charming wooden San Eduardo chapel.

This evening, visit the family estancia of Lucas Mallmann, an accomplished Argentine asado chef, nephew of famous chef Francis Mallmann. Lucas has a passion for cooking over the open flame, and combining ingredients in unique ways. As our night unfolds you will have the opportunity to participate, watch, and learn about Lucas’ craft, his close-knit family ties to cooking, and his childhood in the region. You’ll also discover his other passion, that for music and folklore – this is a truly special Argentine gastronomy experience to be had.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Overnight at PENINSULA PETIT HOTEL, standard room including breakfast

Day 4
Bariloche -Lakes Crossing Puerto Varas

From Bariloche, we will join the “Lakes Crossing” into Chile. Enjoy the colours of the lakes and sights from a boat, then travel by road up into the mountains where we cross the Andes at an altitude of 976m. We then cruise again, this time on Lake Todos Los Santos, one of Chile’s most beautiful lakes with spectacular views of Osorno Volcano and the Puntiagudo and Tronador mountain peaks, weather permitting. The final leg into Puerto Varas is majestic, with not one but two volcanoes looming in the skyline, the conical snowed capped Osorno Volcano and the more jaggered and eroded silhouette of Calbuco.

Arrive into the charming lakeside town of Puerto Varas in the early evening.

Meals included: Breakfast

Overnight at CABANAS DEL LAGO HOTEL, superior room including breakfast

Day 5
Huilliche Territory Puerto Varas

Today we head out on a truly unique adventure that will take you to some of the most unknown corners of the Lakes District, and also learn about the indigenous communities in this area.

Enjoy an easy hike of 1.5 hours through temperate rainforest looking for native flora and birds. Later, we drive to the area of Pargua, where you will have a meaningful experience with the local Huilliche community. The Huilliche (or Huilliche-Mapuche) are one of several groups that call the Lakes District their ancestral home, Huilliche meaning “southerners”. Spend time with the community, learning about their history, music, medicine and cuisine. We will enjoy a traditional lunch with fresh products from their local orchards.
Later, we will explore a little more of Puerto Varas, and we’ll take part in a classic Chilean “once” gastronomy experience.
"The Once" is the Chilean version of "tea time", influenced by British and German immigrants to the region. Typically enjoyed around 5pm, with sweet pies, scones, jams and cakes (or kuchens as they are known in German). Keeping with tradition, you can accompany these with a variety of tea infusions or choose to pair them with a strong cup of coffee.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch and Afternoon tea

Overnight at CABANAS DEL LAGO HOTEL, superior room including breakfast

Day 6
Chiloe Island

Departing Puerto Varas, take a ferry across Chacao Channel to Chiloe Island. Be sure to keep an eye out for sealions, pelicans and sea birds. Chiloe archipelago is known within Chile for its distinctive folklore, mythology, potatoes, cuisine and unique architecture.

Stop in Chacao, to visit its plaza and local crafts. Visit Ancud, the fortress city that was the last stronghold for Spanish royalist during Chile’s struggle for independence in the early 1800. We’ll visit San Antonio fort before driving further south within the heart of the island, seeing rural life. We will also visit the small coastal fishing community from where it is possible to visit the colonies of Humboldt and Magellan penguins between October and March each year.

We will continue to Dalcahue, to visit an interesting Palafito (slilt house) market. These colourful, wooden based buildings are constructed over the water with stilted legs to avoid the ebb and flow of the tide and allow for a spectacular sea view. We also take in the local markets and walk to the local World Heritage listed church, before heading to the famous Rilan Peninsula where we will stay for the night.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight at QUILQUICO HOTEL in a standard room

Day 7
Chiloe Island

Today we will follow the route of the naturalist Charles Darwin, when he visited Lakes Huillinco and Cucao. At the lake town of Huillinco you will be able to appreciate a cemetery of houses very characteristic of Chiloé. Visit the Chiloé National Park, including a tour of the Visitor Center, and a walk along the “El Tepual” path where you can see the typical Chiloé forest. Later enjoy the shores of the Pacific Ocean with a walk on the beach.

Explore city of Chonchi, known as the “City of Three Floors.” We will also take time today to appreciate the famous Palifitos of Castro, these colourful stilt houses built along the waters edge are an an eye-catching sight, whether at high tide when the colourful wooden houses are reflected in the water, or at low tide, when the metres-high stilts that act as a platform for the homes are exposed.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight at QUILQUICO HOTEL in a standard room

Day 8
Back to the mainland Puerto Varas

Our route today will explore more of the architecture; agricultural fields, wetlands and forests; artisans, shipyards and fishermen; that make Chiloé a unique and different place. For lunch you will experience the community concept of "minga” a word that embodies the heart of island life and means “an exchange of help for benefit,” . For our meal we might be lucky enough to sample Chiloé’s most typical and delicious dish , Curanto en Hoyo, prepared using ancestral traditions and cooking methods. Its name derives from the hot rocks used in its preparation, in which a variety of meats, shellfish, and potatoes are cooked over heated stones in an earthen pit.

After lunch we will cross to the "Island of the Navigating Souls", before following the coastal route between Quemchi and Chacao by ferry back to mainland where will will enjoy our last night in this beautiful region.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Overnight at CABANAS DEL LAGO HOTEL, superior room including breakfast

Day 9
Off to the Deep South Punta Arenas

Today we head to the airport in time for our flight south to the depths of Patagonia.

Flying into Punta Arenas allows us a birds eye view of the famous Magallen Straits. This historically important port town boomed during the late 1800s and early 1900s due to its strategic location on the sailing route for ships going from the east coast to the west coast of USA during the gold rush years. Many British and European immigrants made their fortunes with the introduction of sheep to the region. Starting with a humble 300 sheep brought in from the Islas Malvinas (Falkland Island) within in 20 years there were more than 2 million head of sheep.

There is plenty to explore in your free time, including a walk along the costenera of the famous Straits of Magellan. Feeling the heavy sea air and blustery wind all around, you can gaze out in the waters and try to imagine how Magellan and his crew might have felt finding this passage of water, but not knowing where it would lead them. You might also spot dolphins or penguins and definitely plenty of sea bird life along the way.

A short way out of town is the Noa Victoria museum. A local cartographer took on the personal challenge to build a life size replica of Magellan’s ship, paying homage to the explorer’s achievements. You will also find within the outdoor museum life sized replicas of the Ancud, (a Chilean schooner ship that sailed south through the southern fjords) and the James Caird, (the lifeboat used by Shackleton) and a replica of the Beagle, made famous by Charles Darwin. (A city tour with the Nao Victoria museum is included)

Within the centre of the Punta Arenas there are various museums and commemorative statues dedicated to various people who have influenced the development of the city and region.

**Please note depending on flight times our Punta Arenas tour may be done on the following morning**

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Overnight at CABO DEL HORNOS HOTEL, standard room with breakfast

Day 10
Torres del Paine National Park

Today we head towards Torres Del Paine, South America’s finest National Park and a hiker’s paradise. In this area are the colossal towers and horns of granite that have given the park worldwide fame. The park preserves numerous animals like guanacos, condors, ñandues (South American ostrich), foxes and the elusive puma.

We stay at Hotel Las Torres, with its fantastic location inside Torres del Paine National Park, strategically placed at the entrance to the world famous trekking circuits, the W and the O. Each day you will be able to choose between an active excursion such as hiking one of the many great trails inside the park, or a lighter option opting to enjoy the park on foot or by horse or vehicle. The choice is yours! Note: These activities are hosted by the experience local guides, and you may be joined by other lodge guests during your day activities. There may be a navigation on offer, weather dependent, additional charge.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Overnight at HOTEL LAS TORRES, standard all inclusive

Day 11-13
Torres del Paine National Park

Over the following days you will enjoy meals at our accommodation (or picnic lunches if out and about) and partake in your selected half day or full day activities that you have chosen locally.

Enjoy short hikes to see its attractions such as the Nordenskjöld, Salto Grande Waterfalls, Pehoe Lake, and Lake Grey. Or spend time riding with Patagonian cowboys and girls, or take a van to visit local sights. With luck you will also be able to wildlife such as guanacos, Darwin Rheas and condors who call the park their home. During your stay admire the mighty Towers of Paine and Horns of Paine mountains which dominate horizon. Experience the grandeur and beauty for yourself and see why this national park is considered the crowning jewel of Patagonia. For those that love hiking there are some wonderful full day hikes including the famous Las Torres Hike on offer.

Las Torres Hike (Difficult) *sample activity

Hiking to view the iconic Las Torres (the Towers) is a challenging yet immensely satisfying hike, a highlight for all confident trekkers. The Towers are the three massive granite columns that encircle the smaller Torres Glacier.

Starting from Estancia Cerro Paine we set off toward the valley crossing on an old suspension bridge over the Ascencio River. You will begin heading up a zigzag of marked slope and sparse vegetation for an hour or so along the side of one of the mountains. The path then then flattens out as you scale the side of the valley with a great river underneath you.

Arriving at the refugio Chileno you can buy snacks and rest for a while and use the facilities. Leaving the refugio you start climbing again for about 1 hour crossing rivers and passing through a beautiful forest until you reach the foot of the moraine. The final 45 minutes are quite challenging as you scramble up rough paths between boulders to the base of the towers from where you have a wonderful view of the 3 granite pillars, draped with glaciers and the majestic emerald lake that shines below.

After resting and having lunch in this extraordinary and unique place, we begin our return journey back down the mountain.

Full walk takes approximately 8 - 9 hours return including time for lunch and depending on your ability/physical strength. 20Kms (12,5 Miles) - Elevation Gain: +/- 680m - Hiking Time: 8-9 Hrs Level: Moderate – Advanced

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight at HOTEL LAS TORRES, standard all inclusive

Day 14
Torres del Paine El Calafate

Leaving early in the morning it is time to continue on with our adventure, as we head over the border.

We will enter into the Steppe, this is Argentina biggest desert and the 8th biggest desert in the world. The landscape varies with tablelands and massifs dissected by rivers, valleys and canyons. The soil is filled with rich minerals that paint the layered land with colours of red, pink orange and yellow.

As we drive across the plateau there are few small towns that pop up and will leave you wondering how people can live in this environment. In fact it is not uncommon for strong winds or even light snow to be present in this stretch of the drive if the region has a cold front coming through.

As we descend down from the plateau the electric blue waters of the Lake Argentina can be seen from far away. On a crystal clear day you can even make our the silhouette of Mt Fitzroy, Cerro Torre and the entire southern Andes mountain peaks on the horizon.

As we arrive into El Calafate you can feel the mix of and old farm frontier town with the a modern tourism centre that delivers one of the biggest attractions in the region; Perito Moreno glacier.

Tonight we enjoy dinner at a lovely Argentine steak house.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Overnight at LOS LIBERTADORES HOTEL, standard room including breakfast

Day 15
El Calafate

The Perito Moreno Glacier is one of the earth’s most dynamic and accessible ice fields. 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.

Visiting Perito Moreno glacier, we will have time to enjoy the glacier from a series of platforms and will then take a short boat trip along the south wall of the glacier. This is a wonderful way to get close to the glacier and appreciate its daunting size and power - a true highlight of Patagonia. If we are lucky we may witness huge chunks of ice breaking free crashing with a mighty roar into the water.

After this amazing encounter we will visit Estancia Nibepo Aike which retains the essence of the old Patagonian ranches. It covers over 12,000 hectares at the foot of the Patagonian Andes and is dedicated to the production of cattle and sheep. It is an ideal place to dip into authentic Patagonian life through farm demonstrations and participating in ranch activities as well as optional hikes or horse riding. Before returning to El Calafate, we enjoy a typical Patagonian barbeque.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Overnight at LOS LIBERTADORES HOTEL, standard room including breakfast

Day 16
El Calafate El Chalten

On our way to El Chalten today we will stop to discover some of the anthropology of the region, rediscovering the stories of the first expeditions and daring explorers that ventured into the unknown. We will explore the coast of the Argentino lake by jeep, to explore the lands and caves of the Tehuelche people. Discover caves where thousands of years ago the Tehuelche culture left its marks on the rocks in forms of rock paintings, which today we seek to interpret. Finally, the excursion culminates in another cave where lunch is served, a meal that will transport us to those times gone by.

In the afternoon we will arrive in El Chalten, a small town nestled quietly under the imposing peak of Chalten (Mount Fitzroy).

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Overnight at LUNAJUIM HOTEL, standard room including breakfast

Day 17
El Chalten

El Chalten is known as the hiking capital of Argentina, so today we lace up our boots and to enjoy a guided hike, our plan is to do the famous Laguna Torre trek. We enter the Fitzroy River Valley and continue upstream – heading for its source. Here we encounter the first viewpoint located at the gorge of the Fitzroy River called Casacada Margarita. On a clear day, this panoramic view displays Mt Fitzroy, Cerro Torre, Cerro Solo and the Adela range. We continue along an undulating trail until we reach the Cerro Torre viewpoint, another opportunity to take in the Adela range and other granite needles. Then we head down into a plateau section, through a southern beech tree forest and along a trail to the glacier Lagune at the base of Cerro Torre. Often, we will find icebergs floating in the lagoon. (approx 7-8 hour return).

Meals included: Breakfast, Boxed lunch

Overnight at LUNAJUIM HOTEL, standard room including breakfast

Day 18
El Chalten Depart from El Calafate airport

Today we depart El Chalten with wonderful memories, and a new respect of our wonderful planet courtesy of Patagonia.
Meals included: Breakfast

While it is our intention to adhere to the itinerary and hotels described above, there is a certain amount of flexibility built into the itinerary and on occasion it may be necessary, or desirable to make alterations.

If you would like to explore more ask us about our:
 El Chalten Hiking extension
 Ushuaia – the Most Southerly City in the World
 Antarctica

What’s Included

Accommodation
  • Included Copy 20 17 nights accommodation with ensuite
  • Included Copy 31 Willing to share rooms, or single supplement options
Food
  • Included Copy 20 Breakfast daily & meals as per the tour itinerary
Fees & Services
  • Included Copy 20 Fully guided by a professional English speaking guide (minimum of 6 people )
  • Included Copy 20 Flight from Puerto Montt to Punta Arenas
  • Included Copy 20 All sightseeing and tours mentioned in the itinerary.
  • Included Copy 7 Gratuities, Laundry, Drinks, International flights
Transportation
Land, Air, Ship, Train ...

Activities

  • Included Learn about local culture, visit a local Huilliche Mapuche community
  • Included Explore the sights of Bariloche, sample the local chocolates and craft beer
  • Included Journey from Bariloche to Puerto Varas via the lakes crossing
  • Included Enjoy a special Argentine gastronomy with a local chef
  • Included Spend time hiking in El Chalten
  • Included Be wowed by Perito Moreno Glacier including a boat trip up close
  • Included Chose how you spend your day hiking and exploring in Torres Del Paine National Park
  • Included Learn about life on Chiloe Island
Click here for dates & prices
Duration

18 days

Price from

$11,985 USD

Per person, sharing

Select Date