Discover two very different sides of Chile – the big-city pusle of soulful Santiago and the adventure-fuelled atmosphere of lakeside Puerto Natales. Argentina’s Perito Moreno Glacier must be seen to be believed. This massive, blue-hued natural wonder is one of Patagonia’s real crown jewels. Trek past granite pillars, sparkling lakes and gushing waterfalls in Torres del Paine National Park on a four-day camping trip with all your meals taken care of. Finish in Buenos Aires, Argentina’s sensational and sultry capital. Stay on and explore its many corners at your leisure, from the star-studded Recoleta cemetery to the tucked-away milongas (tango halls)
Visit South America and travel to Patagonia – a fascinating region in the far south of Chile and Argentina, rich in natural beauty, dramatic vistas and cosmopolitan cities oozing with passion and culture. Feel the contrast as you trek the W Hike through the Patagonian wilderness and explore the urban metropolis of Santiago. From camping near the end of the earth and witnessing gargantuan glaciers to indulging in the modernity of Buenos Aires, this trip will reward those with a sense of adventure, an appreciation of nature and an interest in diversity.
Breakfast Included: 9 Lunches Included: 5 Dinner Included: 4
Bienvenidos! Welcome to Chile. You can arrive at any time on Day 1 as there are no activities planned until an important welcome meeting tonight at 6pm. Your leader will leave a note at the hotel reception telling you where and when this meeting will take place. Please ask a member of reception for this information. After the group meeting there is the option of joining the group for dinner.
If you arrive early, perhaps get out and explore Santiago. The city centre is quite compact and easy to get around; you can visit Plaza de Armas (Main Square) and its cathedral, “Palacio La Moneda” (government house), Santa Lucia hill. Alternatively, head out to the barrio Bella Vista (the serene 'Paris Quarter') and take a cable car up to Cerro San Cristobal. If the weather is fine, the latter will give you lovely views over the city and the Andes. Your hotel is centrally located and has a restaurant and bar. Rooms have air-conditioning and en-suite bathrooms.
Notes: If you need to hire a sleeping bag for your upcoming trek, let your leader know at tonight's welcome meeting.
Punta Arenas / Puerto Natales
Today is a travel day, so sit back and enjoy the scenery. You will leave the hotel early in the morning (departure time from the hotel can vary depending on the flight) Fly from Santiago to Punta Arenas (approximately 3–5 hours, depending on the flight connection). From there, take a local bus to Puerto Natales (3 hours, 227 km, nonstop, toilets on board). Seated on the shores of Señoret Channel, Puerto Natales is the gateway to Torres del Paine National Park and a great place to catch up with fellow hikers for a pre- or post-trek meal in one of the many quaint local restaurants.
Torres del Paine National Park/ Grey Glacier
Today we head deep into the mountains! The group will leave the hotel around 07:15am and take a taxi to the bus station. From here a local bus will take you to Torres del Paine National Park.
After approximately 2 hours (115km) the first stop will be “Laguna Amarga” (the check in point at the main entrance of the National Park) Here we make a quick stop to register into the National Park. Continue driving for another 40 minutes to the shores of Pehoe Lake. Here you will board a catamaran to cross this lake. The boat journey will take approximately 30 minutes before reaching “Paine Grande” our campsite for the next two nights.
As you enter the realm of Chilean Patagonia, you will most likely be greeted by a herd of guanacos. These beautiful camelid (strange animals) provide great photo opportunities (but don't get too close – they're likely to spit at you!). The park is also home to some others impressive mammal species like the Puma, the “Huemul” (local deer ), the red and the grey fox, and birds such as ñandu or choique (rhea), condors, woodpeckers, owls, hooks, sparrows, and the Chilean pink flamingo. The real star of the show, however, is the landscape – glaciers, mountains, forest, lakes and waterfalls.
After setting up camp in Paine Grande and enjoying some lunch, you'll hike to the first lookout point: Grey Glacier (approximately 4 to 5 hours, 12 km, Elevation: 290mts).
Torres del Paine National Park / French Valley
Today is a full day trek out to the stunning French Valley (approximately 8-9 hours, 24km, Elevation: 420mts).
Torres del Paine National Park / Las Torres
Travel from the west side of the National park to the East. Cross the Peohe Lake for the second time by catamaran then continue by local bus to Laguna Amarga. From here, take a mini bus to the next campsite “Las Torres. Afterwards there will be an optional hike to Los Cuernos Lookout trail (approximately 3.5-4 hours hours, 9.5km) return.
Torres del Paine National Park/ Mirador las Torres
Today is another long trekking day, to one of the most spectacular lookout points Mirador las Torres (approximately 8 to 9 hours, 18 kilometres, Elevation: 750mts).
Enjoy some breakfast and then board a private van for a long day of travel. Today you will cross the international border from Chile to Argentina. Head to El Calafate city (310km, approximately 5 to 6 hours). This is your gateway to the Glaciers National Park.
Being a major hub for adventurers headed for Francisco Pascacio Moreno (Perito Moreno), El Calafate has undergone a lot of development in recent decades, but retains plenty of charm.
Located on the shore of the “Argentino” lake, surrounded by the Andes range and right on the Patagonian “step”, this is a beautiful place to spend the next two nights.
In the evening, perhaps take the opportunity to try some world-famous Argentinean steak, maybe the local Patagonian spring lamb or the local trout. If you enjoy red wine, “Malbec” is the best Argentinean grape.
El Calafate/Perito Moreno Glacier
Travel by minivan (80 km, approximately 2.5 hours), witnessing some spectacular scenery within the Glaciers National Park. Once you arrive, spend some time walking on the boot walks watching the magnificence of Perito Moreno Glacier from the different angles. Three kilometres wide and 35 kilometres long, it's an incredibly massive icescape. This is one of the few glaciers in the world that is actually in balance rather than melting away. Watch and listen to the crack of the ice as it plunges into the waters below. Interestingly, massive ruptures occur to the glacier every several years as part of cyclical ice bridge formations. In the evening, return to El Calafate and relax for the evening.
Fly to Buenos Aires and enjoy a final night out. Depending on what time you arrive you may have some free time to explore this wonderful city. The main square of the city, Plaza de Mayo, is very close to your hotel; on the east side of the square you will find Casa Rosada, the pink presidential palace where Eva Peron appeared on the balcony in front of adoring fans in the 1940s. The traditional neighborhood of San Telmo is not to far from the hotel too.
If you have extra time in Buenos Aires there is a number of places that you could visit, such as: “La Boca Neighborhood”, The “Recoleta” cemetery, Palermo neighborhood, Puerto Madero, Teatro Colon (opera house), Café Tortoni (oldest coffee shop in South America). There is also Museo Evita, dedicated to the life (and gowns) of this famed figure. MALBA is an incredible art gallery showcasing a private collection, including works by Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, plus great temporary exhibits.
Notes: If everything goes to plan, you'll arrive in the early afternoon, but keep in mind that airline schedules in Argentina are known for changing without much notice. This means you could arrive in BA as late as 10 pm tonight
Your adventure ends after breakfast this morning. There are no further activities planned, and you are free to depart at any time.