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Covering some 400,000 square miles—more than two and a half times the size of California—the sparsely-populated landscape of Argentina’s Southern Patagonia is unlike any other place on Earth. Vast, remote, and at times, unforgiving, it’s a place that has captured the imaginations of everyone from explorers and scientists, to ranchers and visitors from around the globe.
Hike in some of the most scenic areas to turquoise-hued Argentino and Viedma Lakes, in the shadow of the Mount Fitz Roy massif, and in Los Glaciers National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which contains dozens of glaciers and miles of pristine lengas forest. Time in the vibrant capital of Buenos Aires bookends days spent on country walks and mountain hikes, and at night, we retreat to luxurious hotels and lodges for restorative evenings and delicious, regional wine and cuisine. In short, this trip is a chance to gain a more in-depth and inspired understanding of this far-flung yet incomparable corner of the world.
Arrival in Buenos Aires
Welcome to Buenos Aires! Upon arrival in Argentina's capital, you'll be met by a Boundless Journeys representative at the airport and transferred to your elegant, downtown hotel in Buenos Aires' Palermo Hollywood neighborhood.
Founded by Spanish explorers in the 16th century, the capital—whose name translates to "City of our Lady Saint Mary of the Fair Winds"—was an important New World trading center for more than two centuries. In 1816, following what is known as the May Revolution and several years of conflict, Argentina earned its independence from Spain. Despite two later efforts by French and Anglo-French forces to blockade the city into submission, Buenos Aires maintained its independence and its reputation as Argentina's most liberal, free-trading, and European-influenced city continues to this day.
This afternoon, you may have time on your own to explore Buenos Aires and the revived Palermo neighborhood, containing the city's planetarium, Japanese and Botanical gardens. There are shopping opportunities at nearby artisan markets and antique stores, and also the chance to enjoy your first taste of Argentinean beef served on an open parrilla barbecue.
After a welcome meeting, we'll enjoy dinner together at a favorite local restaurant.
Casa Sur Palermo HotelBuenos Aires, Argentina
Conveniently located near art galleries, shops, and restaurants in Buenos Aires’ vibrant Palermo Hollywood neighborhood, this sophisticated property features 61 contemporary rooms, a pool, and sprawling rooftop terrace.
Buenos Aires and Tango Show
This morning we will enjoy a city tour of Argentina's capital of Buenos Aires, focusing on the city's cosmopolitan northern district. We will learn about Porteno's lifestyle, vibrant culture and music, and visit monuments on our way to Plaza de Mayo, taking a moment to admire significant buildlings such as the Casa Rosada or the Congress. Experience the European flair that has given the city its fame strolling around eclectic neighborhoods; from antique San Telmo and colorful working class La Boca. We end in the chic, aristocratic Recoleta area, famous for its Beaux-Arts architecture and its 19th-century cemetery, which contains the grave of famed Argentinean First Lady, Eva Perón ("Evita").
This evening, we'll kick off our journey ahead with one of Argentina's most emblematic cultural highlights: a captivating tango show at Gala Tango.
Buenos Aires to El Calafate
After breakfast, we'll transfer to the airport for our three-hour flight to El Calafate in southern Patagonia. Located on the Patagonia steppe at the edge of the ice field, El Calafate is named for an endemic berry that, once eaten, guarantees a visitor's return to Patagonia — and for good reason. A surreal landscape comprised of stark grasslands, dramatic peaks, and sparkling turquoise lakes — including the country's biggest, Lago Argentino — El Calafate feels like a world all its own. The town is also the gateway to the region's main attraction, the Perito Moreno Glacier, one of the few glaciers on the planet that is still advancing.
Upon arrival this afternoon, we'll enjoy lunch at a local cafe, followed by a walk down to the Laguna Nimez Nature Reserve, home to a variety of 80 species of birds, both Patagonian residents and migrators, including the flamingo and swan. We'll then visit Chacra Las Moras, near the great Argentino Lake, a farm growing reginonal fruits, where we'll learn about the art of cultivation in the Patagonian climate.
We'll settle into our lovely hotel on the shore of the lake to freshen up in time before dinner. For dinner this evening, we head to one of our guide's favorite restaurants for regional dishes served inside a cozy, wood-paneled dining room.
Hotel XelenaEl Calafate, Argentina
Located on the shores of Argentino Lake and immersed in a unique natural environment, Xelena Hotel & Suites is an idyllic experience. Enjoy rooms with striking views of Lago Argentino, and a spa with infinity pool, sauna and jacuzzi.
Los Glaciares National Park
Today's itinerary features a full day of exploration in Los Glaciares National Park. Deemed a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1981, the park and its famous Perito Moreno Glacier offer some of the most awe-inspiring landscapes in Argentina, and our journey today takes in the very best of the region.
Our route begins with a 31-mile drive through Santa Cruz's vast farmland, dotted by estancias, or ranches, and provides a glimpse into the rural heart of southern Patagonia. We drive to Roca Lake and on to Estancia Nibepo Aike, one of the region's sheep-ranching pioneers. There, we enjoy a short hike on the property before delving into a traditional Patagonian lunch comprised of family recipes and ingredients harvested from the gardens.
We continue to the nearby port, where a short boat ride brings us to the starting point for our walk along Playa de las Monedas, or Coins Beach. Our short hike winds through a forest of beautiful Andean lengas trees, culminating with breathtaking views of the Perito Moreno Glacier.
We return to our boat and continue closer to the south face of the Perito Moreno Glacier, where we may witness calving in real-time! As an active glacier, portions of the ice 'calve,' or break-off, frequently, providing the opportunity to witness this rare, natural phenomenon. We'll then visit a impressive network of glacier catwalks inside the National Park, where our guide will further describe the various faces and marvels of the massive amount of ice we observe.
We return to our inviting hotel to relax before our dinner of Argentinean fare and local wines at another favorite El Calafate restaurant.
El Calafate to El Chaltén
Our destination today is El Chaltén, located three hours north of El Calafate and known as the trekking capital of Argentina. Winding through the unique desert scenery along the famous Route 40 highway, the road skirts the La Léona River, an important connecting point between the region's two major lakes: Lake Argentino and Lake Viedma. Along the way, we stop at the La Leona Road House, made famous by turn-of-the-century outlaws, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, who visited after robbing the Londres and Tarapaca's Bank in Rio Gallegos, and remained hidden in the area for almost a month.
Situated at the foot of the Fitz Roy Mountain, El Chaltén is surrounded by glaciers, lakes, rivers, and forest. Despite increased tourism in recent years, it remains a hidden gem of the south. The town is the staging point for most excursions in the region, ours included. Our hike takes in the wild beauty of the borderlands and towering peaks between Argentina and Chile in Los Glaciares National Park.
Beginning in El Chaltén's downtown area, our trail leads west through the Fitz Roy River Valley, toward Grande Glacier and the snowcapped Cerro Torre (the highest peak in the ice fields), and through the Andean-Patagonian forest. The isolation of this unique, 45-million-year-old woodland is what makes it known as a "green island," offering a rare mix of endemic flora and fauna unseen anywhere else.
Tonight, we return to relax before setting out to a favorite local restaurant for dinner.
Destino SurEl Chaltén, Argentina
Destino Sur Hotel is located five hundred meters from Los Glaciares National Park. Offering a tasteful decor of stonework and post and beam style, this hotel offers one of the best experiences in the small town of El Chalten. All Alpine-style rooms offer mountain views and the spa offers massage service and more.
Hiking to Laguna de los Tres
It's time to lace up our hiking boots! After an early breakfast, we prepare for a full day out on the trails with a transfer to El Pilar to begin the De los Tres (Mount Fitz Roy) Lagoon Trek.
This classic route takes in some of the most scenic portions of the Fitz Roy region and, though strenuous at points, is a true highlight of our trip and well worth the effort. Our hike begins gradually, eventually incorporating some significant uphill climbs. Starting in virgin lengas forest, we have an early payoff at Piedras Blancas with views of the glacier and surrounding lagoon. We continue on to the Poincenot Base Camp, a starting point for various treks within the Fitz Roy range, and proceed to the aquamarine De los Tres Lagoon. Here, we have one of a kind photo opportunities of the jagged Fitz Roy peaks, emerging from the ice in the distance.
We return via a different path that passes the Capri Lagoon. Back in El Chaltén, we have time to toast our adventure over a well-earned, ice-cold beer. Tonight, you are free to enjoy dinner on your own at one of the many local restaurants, or if your legs need a rest, Destino Sur's restaurant is a fine choice.
El Chaltén to Estancia Helsingfors
El Chaltén tToday, we have a four-hour transfer—circumnavigating Lake Videma—to the family-owned Estancia Helsingfors, our base for the next two nights. In 1907, the estancia was founded by Alfred Ramström, a Finnish immigrant escaping the Russian regime in his native land. Ramström bred and sold horses to pay for this scenic stretch of ranchland in what is today Los Glaciares National Park, naming it "Helsingfors," which means Helsinki in Swedish.
We arrive at the ranch in time for a special treat: a traditional Argentinean asado barbecue. Consisting of beef, sausages, and other meats prepared outside over an open fire, asado is typically served alongside local red wine and salads. After lunch, we enjoy a hike along Lago Viedma to Windy Point, amidst the surrounding mountains and sparkling glacier-fed lake.
Estancia HelsingforsEl Calafaté, Argentina
Comprised of nine, elegantly-appointed, en-suite guestrooms, this early 20th-century estancia lodge and gourmet restaurant boasts an unmatched location inside Los Glaciares National Park overlooking Lake Videma, Mount Fitz Roy, and the Andes beyond.
Estancia Helsingfors to Blue Lagoon
We continue our exploration of Los Glaciares National Park and Estancia Helsingfors, this time with a visit to one of the region's most dramatic locations, the Blue Lagoon.
Our full-day hike (a horseback option is available) will depart from our hotel, following the gradually-ascending Alfredo Valley, whose river provides power for the local area, including Helsingfors Lodge. We continue our trek through this surreal landscape, skirting the side of Huemul Hill, and making a final, steady climb culminating with views of the Blue Lagoon. Here, the pool's sapphire hues contrast dramatically with the dark shadows of the surrounding mountains and the whiteness of the glacier, providing ample payoff for our efforts today on the trail. The descent back to the lodge offers incomparable expansive views over the lake of this one-of-a-kind property.
We enjoy yet another delectable dinner this evening at the lodge.
Return to El Calafate
We bid farewell to Estancia Helsingfors and set off back to El Calafate. After lunch at a local cafe, we visit the renowned Glaciarium Ice Museum, a glacier interpretation center. Founded in 2011, the Glaciarium's impressive exterior was designed by architect, Pablo Güiraldes, to replicate the face of a glacier. Inside, the museum's three exhibition halls contain dioramas, 3D documentaries, and other multimedia displays that provide in-depth information about southern Patagonia's rare, natural phenomena with an eye toward environmental preservation.
You are free to continue a leisurely exploration of El Calafate independently before our farewell dinner this evening. We raise a glass of local Malbec to our adventure and the unforgettable moments shared in this magical land.
Enjoy a leasuirely morning before transferring to the El Calafate airport in time for your departing flight to either Buenos Aires or elsewhere depending upon your post-tour plans.
Please note that this is a typical itinerary, and actual activities may vary due to weather conditions, local events, and to allow serendipity to play a hand in your experience. Accommodations are as outlined in the itinerary, although we reserve the right to change these or the order visited should the need arise.
Feb 1-10, 2024
Mar 7-16, 2024
Dec 5-14, 2024
Take over a date for your group!
See "Make It Private" on Dates & Prices tab.
From $7,495 Per Person
$530 Per Person
Buenos Aires-El Calafate-Buenos Aires
First two reserved: $745
See single supplement policy below.
Buenos Aires-El Calafate 1-way $320
Land Cost is $7,795 per person; Single Supplement from $795.
MAKE IT PRIVATE
9+ Guests: $7,495 per person (Dec. '23/Feb-Mar '24); $7,795 per person (Dec. '24)
5 to 8 Guests: $7,995 per person (Dec. '23/Feb-Mar '24); $8,295 per person (Dec. '24)
Make it Private price is based on Land Cost only, and a guarantee of the specified number of guests in double occupancy. For groups smaller than the numbers shown, or those requiring single occupancy, we reserve the right to adjust the per person price. Additionally, some trips have minimum group sizes. Please call 1-800-941-8010 for details.
PRICING BASED ON CURRENT RATE OF EXCHANGE
In order to keep our trip price as low as possible, we have based it on the current rate of exchange. If there were to be a significant change in the value of the Argentine Peso, we may be forced to raise or able to lower our trip cost; if so, your final invoice, sent 90 days prior to your departure, will reflect the difference.
SINGLE SUPPLEMENT: Accommodations are based on double occupancy. A single supplement is paid by participants who specifically request single accommodations, subject to availability.
Single Supplement for Scheduled Group Departures. If you reserve at least 120 days prior to departure, you may be eligible for a reduced or free single supplement. This is generally limited to the first one or two solo travelers to reserve, and the reduction is outlined in the pricing for each trip. Free or reduced single supplements are not combinable with other offers or promotions.
If you are traveling alone and wish to share accommodations, we will try to match you with a roommate of the same gender. If you reserve at least 120 days ahead and request a roommate but one is not available, you will receive a $500 reduction from the standard single supplement (unless otherwise noted in the detailed itinerary for your specific trip).
Single Supplement for Custom Tours. Custom Tour prices are generally based on two or more participants; therefore, single supplements for “solo” Custom Tours will vary and are available upon request.
Boundless Journeys' trips are designed for energetic and flexible individuals who like to be active and have a spirit of adventure and a positive attitude. Argentina: Patagonia Hiking Journey is rated 3+, moderate to strenuous, on a scale of 1-5 (with 5 being the most strenuous). Southern Patagonia's towering peaks, seemingly limitless ranchlands, and colorful lakes, lagoons, and ice fields offer low to moderate elevations ranging from about 650' to nearly 2,300'. Our walks and hikes range from 2 to 9 hours (up to 12.5 miles), on everything from paved city streets and well-trod forest paths to more rugged mountain trails.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Most Convenient Airport:Ministro Pistarini International Airport (airport code: EZE)
Meeting Time and Place: Your guide(s) will meet you on the first day at the airport upon your arrival.
Departure Time and Place: Your guide(s) will provide drop-offs at the airport after breakfast.
Argentina is a large country (nearly 2,300 miles long) and its climate varies greatly from region to region. Buenos Aires has a subtropical climate, and summers are generally hot and humid. The low/high temperatures range from 65-85 degrees Fahrenheit, with the potential for heat waves in the low 100s. The warmest months are January, February, and December. March and November are warm-to-hot in the afternoons, while nights and mornings are mild.
In the southern towns of El Calafate and El Chaltén, the weather can be summed up in one word — unpredictable — but strong, relentless winds are one constant of life in Patagonia. The climate here is semi-arid, but frequent, light precipitation during the day is common, particularly in the mountains around El Chaltén. Weather here changes quickly, with frosts and light snow showers possible even in the summer months. Temperatures at this time of year are cool, ranging from 45-65 degrees Fahrenheit from December to March.
Please come prepared to walk in rain or shine, packing a range of warm, waterproof layers of clothing, even if the weather appears fine. We will do daily activities as planned, unless weather conditions make it dangerous to do so. You may obtain more detailed weather information at www. weatherbase.com.
Summertime (December through February) typically offers the best weather. Even then, be advised that the Patagonian wind is prevalent, and temperatures rarely rise higher than 70 degrees. At the beginning of fall in March, there will be fewer visitors and the landscape will begin to change colors.
Like the country itself, Argentinean cuisine is reflective of its melting pot of cultures. European traditions — primarily Spanish and Italian — are frequently combined with indigenous influences, both in cooking techniques and the use of local ingredients. Throughout Argentina, food is culturally important, and social gatherings typically occur around a meal, especially Sunday afternoon 'family dinners.'
If there is one universal feature of Argentinean cuisine, it's beef (or carne) — in fact, the country has the highest consumption of red meat in the world. Typically, in the north, cuts of steak and ribs are prepared on the traditional asado barbecue, while in Patagonia, lamb and goat are more common. Sometimes, an entire animal is cooked on an open fire in a technique known as asado a la estaca. In both cases, asado meats are typically served along with vegetable sides and a chimichurri sauce of fresh herbs, garlic, and vinegar.
On most menus, you are also likely to find milanesas, or thin cuts of breaded and fried meats, various sausages (like chorizo) and sweet breads, and empanada pastries filled with everything from beef to cheese and sweet corn. Italian transplants, such as pizza and pasta, are also common, while salads and vegetables such as squash, eggplant, tomatoes, lettuce, and onions are typically served as side dishes. For dessert, the nationally-beloved dulce de leche (a caramel-like spread made from heated, sweetened milk) is used to flavor cakes, toasted bread, ice cream, and more.
Vegetarians can be accommodated with advance notice, though choices tend to be more limited.
With a Boundless Journeys guide, your experience is that of friend and local adventurer. We believe strongly in working with local guides, experts in the areas to which we travel, and they hold the keys to unlocking the hidden delights of your chosen destination. Although you will never know they are at work—the mark of a truly great leader—our guides make magical things happen and add a dimension to your trip that you could not experience on your own. Over the years we have forged bonds with some of the best guides in the world, and we typically work with a small team of guides in each region. You will be informed of the guide for your trip one month prior to your departure.
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