Best of Patagonia

23 Nights / 24 Days

Day 1    Fri    Temuco

Arrive Temuco.  On arrival transfer to our comfortable hosteria in Pucon, a small city located right next to Lake Villarrica and at the foot of the spectacular Mt Villarrica and in the vicinity of three parks and a large ski resort.

Day 2    Sat    Pucon (B,D) 

See the natural beauties surrounding Pucón on the excursion to the Caburgua eyes, some magnificent natural pits in the core of the Valdivian Rainforest.  Impressive views of Mt Villarrica overlooking the lake.  We also visit the Saltos del Mariman park for a hike and after relax in the thermal hot pools.

This evening enjoy a welcome to Chile dinner!  

Day 3    Sun    Pucon – Puerto Varas (B) 

We travel south by bus through rolling farm country to Puerto Varas(City of Roses) in the Chilean Lakes District  - the setting of this small town on the lake is picture postcard stuff, sparkling lake with snowy cone shaped mountain as a backdrop.

Time to explore the town this afternoon and a hike around the lake.

Day 4    Mon    Puerto Varas (B)

Departure from hotel in Puerto Varas to Puerto Montt, and then to  Chiloé Island; rich in traditions and myths, and famous for the locals’ warmth and hospitality.  Sailing through the Chacao Channel to Ancud, famous for its market.  Afterwards, visit to the Regional Museum to learn more about the history of the island, and then visit to Fort San Antonio, where the Spanish retreat from American territory was signed.  Later, a hike up the Huaihuén Hill, which offers a spectacular view from the top.

Arrival to Dalcahue, visiting the traditional handicraft fair with wool and wood products.

Castro is famous for its picturesque houses on stilts called palafitos.  Visit to the Crafts Fair of Castro, where the articles made of wool, wood, and stone are sold.  Return to the hotel in Puerto Varas

Day 5    Tues    Andes Crossing - Puerto Varas- Bariloche (B)

Even more magnificent scenery as you travel across via a series of bus, boat combinations literally through the Andes.  This is a full day of the most spectacular scenery you have ever encountered.  Spectacular views of the Orsorno volcano.

Finally, you will arrive at San Carlos de Bariloche; the Switzerland of the Americas - a fabulous situation on the banks of Lake Nahuel Huapi surrounded by stunning snow-capped Andean peaks.

Day 6    Wed    Bariloche (B)

The day to explore – enjoy spectacular scenery and panoramic views from the Campanario chair lift and Cerro Otto Gondola.  How much stunning scenery can you handle?  Have those cameras ready!  Sample the local chocolate and ice-cream - it's delicious !

Day 7    Thurs    Bariloche (B)

We take a local bus to La Angostura

Villa La Angostura seems to come right out of a fairy tale, gnomes and goblins included.  In the heart of the mountain range, surrounded by ancient forests, rivers and lakes.  Located in the Province of Neuquén, just 76 kilometers away from San Carlos de Bariloche, this small mountain village is  on the shores of Lake Nahuel Huapi.  Enjoy a scenic walk around the town and return to Bariloche

For those keen to hike, enjoy another walk at dusk above the town

Day 8    Fri    Bariloche - Calafate - El Chalten (B)

Fly south to el Calafate a small town on the Lago Argentina, gateway to Glaciares National Park, Argentina 

Drive to the other side of Lago Argentino to the small town of El Chalten – gateway to the Fitzroy National Park.  Plenty of fabulous scenery – maybe spot an armadillo

Day 9    Sat    El Chalten (B)

We have two whole days to explore.  Long or short walk options amidst the stunning scenery of Fitzroy National Park are included or relax in the peace and tranquillity of this lovely mountain town.

Day 10    Sun    El Chalten (B)

Second day of exploring El Chalten.

Day 11    Mon    El Chalten - El Calafate (B)

We return by bus to Calafate, time to explore the town this afternoon.

Day 12   Tues    Full Day Tour to Perito Moreno Glacier (B)

Full day tour to this amazing feat of nature – surely one of the natural wonders of the world!!!

THIS IS AWESOME!!  The Moreno Glacier is one of the earth's few advancing glaciers.  This 60-80 metre high, 4km long river of ice periodically dams the Brazo Rico of Lago Argentino.  Towers of ice fall and break into icebergs!  Awesome!!!!

Day 13    Wed    El Calafate (B)

Day at leisure to relax or enjoy a choice of options:

The unforgettable trip to  the massive Upsala Glacier.  

Enjoy a short hike to Lake Roca.  

Explore the region by 4WD.

Day 14    Thurs    Calafate – Torres del Paine National Park (B,L,D)

Today we cross by bus from Calafate Argentina and reenter Chile and enter the spectacular Torres del Paine National Park.

You have heard about it – now see for yourself!

Superb views of the famous Andean cordillera and lakes.  Stop at Milodins Cave, declared a national monument.

You will be surprised at the wildlife in this area, Andean condors, flamingos, guanacos (llama family) wandering across the road, foxes, and many Canadian geese. 

Stay 3 nights in the park and enjoy the peacefulness and scenery.  Our accommodation is in the eco sustainable  Eco Camp’s Domes.  Yet another stunning day.

Day 15    Fri    Trek Towers Base or Laguna Azul Trail (B,L,D)

Choose from the easier Laguna Trail or the more difficult Towers Base trek.  Time for a great breakfast and lots of enthusiasm!

Either

Full day Visit to Laguna Azul sector, walk to the lookout point through Lenga forests, continue to the Fauna Trail to watch the Park’s local flora and fauna closely.

Depart EcoCamp: 09:00 hrs, arrive back: 18hrs approx.

Approximate total walking time on the different lake trails: 3,5 hours.Distance: 5 km / 3 miles

Or

Our goal is to complete the most famous trekking trail in Torres del Paine NP.  We walk from the camp site towards Hostería Las Torres and connect with the winding uphill path to Ascencio Valley – the valley which supports the eastern face of the Towers’ base.  Dry mountain spots, beech forests and small rivers are passed along the scenic walk into the valley.  It’s not a difficult walk, but energy should nevertheless be saved for the final challenge: the moraine.  This mass of boulders is the last guardian before our face to face meeting with the uplifting Torres del Paine.  The moraine is sufficiently steep to consider doing it slowly and with an adequate amount of precaution.  After a considerable effort, the Towers come into full view, rising majestically before us with the glacial lake visible below.  This is one of the most breathtaking sights of the world!  The famous Torres del Paine (2, 900 m / 9, 400 ft) consist of three gigantic granite monoliths, the remains of a great cirque sheared away by the forces of glacial ice.  Is there any better place on this planet to have lunch?  Of course!  But since we are in Patagonia, at the feet of the mighty Torres del Paine, we will enjoy life, the view, and a bite to eat! Once everyone is ready, we backtrack along the same trail through Ascencio Valley, and return to the EcoCamp.

Approximate walking time: 8 hrs round trip.  Distance: 21 km /13 miles round trip.

Day 16    Sat    Mirador Condor Hike or  French Valley Hike (B,L,D) 

Choose from the easier Mirador Condor hike or the more difficult French Valley Hike.

Either

Walk to Mirador Condor

Easy walk reaching an excellent lookout point having as main scenery the southern face of Paine Massif and vast areas, where Chileans condors and other local birds use to fly.

Depart EcoCamp: 09:00 hrs, arrive back: 13 hrs approx.

Approximate walking time: 2 to 3hrs round trip

Distance: 4 km /2.5 miles round trip.

Or

Navigation on Lake Pehoe and Hike along French Valley

Boat across the Pehoe Lake and trek up the French Valley in the middle of the Paine Massif.

Depart EcoCamp: 08:00hrs, arrive back: 19hrs approx.

Boat across Pehoe Lake: 30min each way.

Approximate walking time: 6hrs round trip.

Distance: 11km / 7 miles round trip.

Day 17    Sun    Torres – Puerto Natales (B) 

Early transfer to embark on zodiacs and sail down the Serrano river.  Connect with the catamaran and sail the Ultima Esperanza fjord to see the Balmaceda & Serrano Glaciers passing large glaciers, remote estancias, cascading waterfalls, a huge cormorant rookery, sea lion rookery and with luck we'll spot a condor or two.

Continue on to arrive in the pretty town of Puerto Natales (population 18000) late afternoon

Day 18    Mon    Puerto Natales - Punta Arenas (B) 

Today take a bus through this rugged, mountainous area, geographically remote from the rest of the country.  Through the wilderness this 4 hour bus ride through magnificent scenery to Punta Arenas, situated on the Magellan Strait. 

This is the liveliest and most interesting city in this far corner of the world, featuring many mansions and other imposing buildings dating back to the wool boom of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.   As the best and largest port for thousands of miles this port attracts ships from the burgeoning South Atlantic fish industry as well as Antarctic research vessels and tourist ships. 

Day 19    Tues    Punta Arenas (B)

Morning excursion by boat will take you to Isla Marta and Magdalena, in the famous Magellan Strait, a unique opportunity to watch sea-lions, a superb penguin colony and many other species.

Afternoon the opportunity to explore Punta Arenas.

Day 20    Wed    Punta Arenas - Ushuaia (B)

Today you will travel by local bus even further south – to Ushuaia – the world’s most southern town, which is a supply port for the Antarctic.

Day 21    Thurs    Ushuaia – Beagle Channel / Penguin Colony (B)

This morning we take an amazing boat trip down the famous Beagle Channel, passing comorant colonies & Martillo Island to watch the magellanic penguins, to visit the Harberton Estancia  – this is as close as most of us will get to the Antarctic!

On our return, great views of Fagnano & Escondido lakes.

Day 22    Fri    Ushuaia – Tierra del Fuego National Park (B)

A wonderful walk through the National Park this morning, followed by a memorable zodiac trip on the Beagel Channel to Isla Redonda.

Return to Ushuaia on Route 3 - the end of the World.

Day 23    Sat    Ushuaia – Buenos Aires (B,D) 

Time to explore around Ushuaia, with optional visit to the Penitentiary Museum and perhaps also the Fin del Mundo Museum (end of the world).  Get your passport stamped!

For those joining the End of the World Australis cruise you will stay overnight in Ushuaia and join the ship on Sun Day 24 .

This afternoon we fly from Ushuaia to Buenos Aires.

Tonight a farewell to Argentina dinner and Tango show

Day 24    Sun    Depart Buenos Aires

Day at leisure.  On Sundays its delightful to just wander around the San Telmo Square and Antique Markets, Tango dancers in the streets – trily a wonderful atmosphere!

Transfer to the airport for your onward flight.

 

Dates & Prices:

Departures:   2014:  21 Mar, 31 Oct

                         2015:  20 Mar, 30 Oct

Prices USD$ Per Person

                                                                                Double / Twin                  Single Supplement

2014

21 Mar                                                                          $8815                                 $1595

31 Oct                                                                           $9430                                 $1595

 

2015

20 Mar                                                                          $9430                                 $1595

30 Oct                                                                                        TO BE ADVISED

 

All flights are with economy scheduled airlines, Lan Chile, Lan Argentina & Aerolineas Argentinas.

All flights are booked by South America Journeys and all LAN  flights are eligible for Qantas Frequent Flyer Points.

 

Optional - Extension to the spectacular Iguacu Falls - USD$861 per person

Included

1 extra night in Buenos Aires , 2 nights Puerto Iguacu with breakfast, transfers and flights to/from Iguacu, full day sightseeing on Argentine side of the Iguacu Falls, half day to Brazil side of falls.

Inclusions:

All economy flights on scheduled airlines as per itinerary

All accommodation twin share with private bathroom (except Torres NP share facilities)

All breakfasts, 3 lunches, 5 dinners

All transport costs, taxis, buses, trains, etc

All transfers to/from airport, bus stations

All entrance fees and sightseeing as per itinerary

All entrance fees into National Parks as per itinerary

Services of professional local English speaking guides

Services of professional Tour Manager

Pre-Departure Information Booklet, plus complimentary map and phrase book

Exclusions:

International flights to Santiago & back from Buenos Aires **

Travel Insurance – mandatory for travel to South America

Medical costs – make sure your tetanus is up to date – No Malarials required

See your Pre-Departure Booklet for suggested precautions

Food – (for lunches & dinners on days where not included, allow $35 USD per day)

Visas – no visas required for this spectacular journey

Tips & gratuities to local guides allow US$125

A note about the Ecocamp Domes in Torres del Paine National Park

Patagonia EcoCamp design was inspired on the traditional Kawesqar hut resembling an igloo and a dome at the same time. The instinctive engineering ability of the Kawesqar can be easily understood these days. The semi-hemispherical structure of the EcoCamp domes is formed by a number of isosceles triangles that provides uniform distribution of the stress caused by severe wind loads. Wind speed in Patagonia often surpasses 160-180km per hour which makes traditional straight and flat walls extremely vulnerable if the structure is meant to be light. Other significant aspect is that rounded bodies minimize the external surface in contact with the cold environment allowing less exchange of temperature with the warm interiors. Finally, semi-hemisphere gave Kawesqars the maximum internal space in relation to the surface they had to cover with valuable and sometimes scarce animal skins.

These domes in Torres del Paine have vitrified wooden floors and are 2m/6.5ft high with a diameter of 4m/12ft, allowing plenty of space for sleeping comfortably.

They are resistant to the strongest Patagonian winds, rains, and snow and come equipped with two single beds, fleece sheets, blankets, and feather quilts.

There are round windows in the ceiling to observe the stars of Patagonia before falling asleep.

There are comfortable and well illuminated shared toilets, divided for male and female. Both have showers with hot water, w.c., hand wash, special furniture and warm details that will make you feel at home. Each shower is located inside a closed space where you  can dry yourself   with privacy. Additionally since the  facilities are powered with solar panels generators, there is no electric capacity to plug devices such as hair dryers, electric shavers, etc.You can view the domes on line - http://ecocamp.travel/en/staying/?ref=standar

Should you prefer to have a more luxurious Dome with your own bathroom a supplement of US$450 per person applies .