Argentina/Chile: Patagonia Trek & Buenos Aires

November 13 – 29, 2004

Trip Details

This adventure takes us to southern South America to explore two magnificent national parks along the spine of the Andes in Patagonia and to Buenos Aires. Our adventure begins in Buenos Aires, an elegant, cosmopolitan city with broad tree-lined avenues, plazas, parks, European style architecture, and referred to as the Paris of South America. On our city tour we visit the Plaza de Mayo the political and historic center of the city to see the city’s most impressive colonial buildings. We visit Le Boca, a lively Italian neighborhood with cobblestone streets and famous for the brightly colored wooden and corrugated iron houses; and San Telmo, a Bohemian artist neighborhood.

Next we fly southwest over fertile farmlands and the home of the gauchos for 1,300 miles to El Calafate, the gateway to Los Glaciers National Park in Argentina, and close to Torres del Paine National Park in Chile. We spend five days in two areas of Los Glaciers National Park and four days in Paine National Park exploring the natural wonders and observing the wildlife during day hikes from cozy lodges, and from campsites on two days.

Los Glaciers National Park, created in 1937, encompasses 1,600,000 acres of the rugged Andes Mountains and extends east into the flat pampas of Patagonia. Approximately 40% of the Park is covered by the Southern Continental Icecap from which huge glaciers wind down from the peaks of the high Andes to cascade into large pristine lakes creating icebergs. The Park has towering granite mountains, roaring rivers, lakes, extensive forests, grasslands and abundant wildlife. The park is characterized by two large lakes; Lago Viedma in the north and Lago Argentino in the south. The Lago Viedma area is dominated by the 11,073 foot granite spires and towers of Mount Fitz Roy and numerous other peaks. We hike for three days in this magnificent area before heading south to see the awesome Perito Moreno, Upsala, Spegazzini and Onelli glaciers around Lago Argentino.

Next we cross the border to visit Paine National Park in Chile, located adjacent to Los Glaciers National Park. This 600,000 acre park, created in 1959, and designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1978, is truly one of the most spectacular parks in the world. It is dominated by the stunning pink and white granite spires of the Towers of Paine which dramatically rise to a height of 10,280 feet. The park has majestic granite mountains, glaciers, large pristine lakes, raging rivers, deciduous and evergreen forests, grasslands, steppe and an abundance of wildlife including large herds of guanacos, a relative of the lama. There are also pumas, wildcats, foxes, deer, chinchillas, and many species of birds such as the rhea, condor, flamingo, black necked swans, and upland geese. A large number of the plants at the park are found no where else in the world. We trek through the inspiring wonder of the park for three days.

Next, we fly back to Buenos Aires for three days of fun and relaxation. We visit the botanical gardens and the Parque tres de Febnero, a 1,000 acre park in the pleasant Palermo neighborhood which is known for its many parks and mansions. In the Recoleta neighborhood, the most exclusive neighborhood with its French architecture, plaza, and tree-lined avenues, we visit the Recoleta Cemetery and the tomb of Eva Paron; shop in Calla Florida the main pedestrian thoroughfare and a shopper’s paradise; and see stunning collection of Latin American art at the Malba-Coleccior Constantini Museum. We have one day free to explore Buenos Aires on our own. Finally, we venture out of the city to gaucho country to visit a working ranch.

Buenos Aires has a vigorous gay scene mostly centered around Recoleta, Burrio Norte and Palermo areas. The city has a multitude of gay bars, restaurants, and discos. We will have the opportunity to visit gay venues.


Day 1. Saturday (11/13) Depart U.S.A.
Late night flight to Buenos Aires.

Day 2. Sunday (11/14) Arrive Buenos Aires
Early morning arrival in Buenos Aires. Once you clear customs and immigration you will be met and transferred to the Hotel Wilton, located in the Recoleta neighborhood, the most exclusive area of city and close to museums, restaurants and the gay venues. After check-in you will have the remainder of the day to relax or explore on your own before our welcome dinner at Cabona Las Lilas, one of the best steak houses in Buenos Aires, and located on the Puerto Madero riverfront, a scenic area with an active nightlife. (D)

serif;”>Day 3. Monday (11/15) Buenos Aires – City Tour
Our tour begins in the Plaza de Mayo, a beautiful area with palm trees and fountains, and surrounded by the city’s most impressive colonial buildings including Cabildo, Cathedral Metropolitana and Piramide de Mayo. Every Thursday at 3:30 p.m. Argentine mothers march silently around the Piramide de Mayo to protest the disappearance of their children at the hands of paramilitary gangs. The Italianesque presidential palace Casa Rosada, faces the Plaza de Mayo. Eva Peron addressed the adoring masses from the balcony of the palace.

We drive down the Avenido de Mayo a beautiful boulevard which links the Casa Rosado to the Congreso Nacional, the national congress building, located in the Plaza Congresco. We also see the numerous other beautiful tree-lined avenues including the Avenido 9 de Julio, the widest street in the world. We see the Obelisco, a 67.5 meters tall structure erected in 1936 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the city. We stop for coffee the 150 year old Café Tortoni, a landmark and then continue to Calle Florida, the main pedestrian thoroughfare and a shopper’s paradise.

Nest, we visit the La Boca, an exuberant Italian neighborhood riddled with pizzerias, cafes and art galleries. We walk down the Caminito, a pedestrian walkway that is both an outdoor museum and marketplace. Surrounding the cobblestone streets are shabby metal houses painted in bright colors.

Next we visit San Telmo, the Bohemian quarter of the city, characterized by elegant old 19th century mansions and cobblestone streets. We visit the Plaza Dorrigo, the oldest square in the city, and an area for nightlife, tango shows and antique markets. We see the palm-lined Parque Lezama, where Mendoza founded the city in 1536, San Pedro Telmo Church, Palacio Ezeiza, San Francisco Church and Convent and the unique and quaint Defensa Street. (BLD)

Day 4. Tuesday (11/16) Travel to El Calafate & El Chalten
We take an early morning flight to El Calafate in Southern Patagonia. Upon arrival we will travel with our local guide by private van heading north for about 4 hours across gravel steppe roads to El Chalten, a small and cozy tourist village near the north end of Los Glaciers National Park, which provides services to trekkers and mountaineers. We lodge at the Hosteria El Pilar located about nine miles outside of town in a scenic area with good access to the Park. (BLD)

Day 5. Wednesday (11/17) Hosteria El Pilar – Mt. Fitz Roy – Laguna Capri
From Hostería el Pilar we begin our trek on a trail that goes through a wood of “lengas” (a Southern Patagonia tree) that takes us in 90 minutes to a spot with a panoramic view of Piedras Blancas Glacier. In one hour more we arrive at Río Blanco at the base of Mount Fitz Roy, and from there we ascending one hour to Laguna de Los Tres, a panoramic point with views of Mount Fitz Roy and Laguna Sucia. At the laguna we have lunch, relax and enjoy the views. After lunch we continue, descending 45 minutes to our campsite at the beautiful Laguna Capri. (BLD)


Day 6. Thursday (11/18) Laguna Capri – Laguna Torre – El Chalten

After breakfast we continue hiking along Lagunas Madre e Hija descending to Río Fitz Roy, where we ascend its valley to Laguna Torre and Mount Torre and admire the glacier. After visiting the glacier we continue our hike to El Chalten. We lodge at Hostería El Puma. (BLD)


Day 7. Friday (11/19) Glacier Viedma – El Chalten

Early in the morning we depart from Bahía Tunel, a little harbor 15 km north of El Chalten, towards Glacier Viedma. We take the modern boat HUEMUL (55 passengers), sailing south and have views of Mount Fitz Roy and Huemul. When we reach the Cape, we turn west and suddenly see the spectacular Glacier Viedma, and after sailing 25 minutes more we arrive at the peninsula in front of the glacier. From the natural harbor, we take a short walk for an informative talk with an experienced guide. Next we will visit the ice caves, something that is difficult to do in other big glaciers. We put on crampons and begin our two hour trek on the glacier. After the glacier trek we have lunch in this magic landscape. We then will sail back to Bahia Tunel Harbor, passing in front of the 52 meter high glacier, enjoying its deep blue ice. We return to the Hosteria El Puma and then depart for El Calafate to the comfortable Hosteria Sierra Nevada. (BLD)


Day 8. Saturday (11/20) – Perito Moreno Glacier
We visit the southern part of the Park, characterized by Perito Moreno Glacier, which flows 30 kilometers through the rugged Andes to Lago Argentino. Where the glacier reaches the lake, it is about five kilometers wide and has a 60 meter high wall of blue ice. Throughout the day, huge blocks of ice, weighing many tons, break away from the glacier and crash into the cold lake, creating a thunderous sound, a huge wave and icebergs. We observe the glacier up close from land and by boat from the Lago Argentino. We lodge at Hostería Sierra Nevada. (BLD)

Day 9. Sunday (11/21) Estancia La Cristina – Upsala Glacier
We sail on Lago Argentino from Bandera Harbor (45 km from Calafate) to view the Upsala, Spegazzini and Onelli glaciers. Also we will visit the Estancia La Cristina where we have a typical roasted lamb lunch (“cordero patagónico asado”), visit El Cañón de los Fósiles and view the Upsala Glacier from a high point. We lodge at Hostería Sierra Nevada. (BLD)

Days 10, 11, 12 & 13. Monday-Thursday (11/22-11/25) Torres del Paine National Park
On day 10 we travel south from El Calafate to Torres del Paine National Park and check in at the Hosteria Mirador del Payne. During the afternoon we will take a short hike around Lago Nordenksjold and have spectacular views of Torres del Paine. (BLD)

On day 11 we hike through the Ascencio Valley to the Torres del Paine. We walk towards the Ascension River and cross it on a suspension bridge. We continue hiking along the river and go over a low pass into the Ascencio Valley, then through beech forests to the talus-covered slopes below the towers. Then it’s a 30-minute hike up the rough talus and boulders to a viewpoint where the towers rise majestically before us, and the glacial lake is visible below. This is truly one of the most scenic sights in the world! We lodge at Hosteria Mirador del Payne. (BLD)

On day 12 we cross Lago Pehoe to hike in the French Valley, one of the most spectacular cirques in the Paine Range. During this hike into the southern cirque, we walk below the glaciers that descend from Paine Grande (the highest summit in the Paine range), and below the enormous granite sweep of the horn-like Cuernos del Paine – peaks with beautiful black “horns” of slate atop gray granite. Tonight we camp in the Refuge Pehoe area. (BLD)

On day 13 our hiking itinerary for the day is weather dependent. If the weather is good, we will take a boat across Lago Grey to the face of the Grey Glacier. After ample time to marvel at the calving glacier, and enjoy a picnic lunch, we will hike back to the Hosteria Mirador del Payne. Lodging at Hosteria Mirador del Payne. (BLD)


Day 14. Friday (11/26) Back to El Calafate & Buenos Aires
We travel by private van to the El Calafate Airport for our return flight to Buenos Aires. We will lodge at the Hotel Wilton in scenic Recoleta neighborhood. (BL)

Day 15. Saturday (11/27) Buenos Aires
Today we visit the Recoleta, the city’s most exclusive neighborhood. It is distinctly European with French architecture and tree-lined avenues, fashionable restaurants, cafes, boutiques and art galleries. We tour the Recoleta Cemetery with its enormous expansive mausoleums competing for grandeur and visit Eva Peron’s tomb, one of the few non-aristocrats buried here. Next, we head to Palermo to Parque Tres de Febrero, a 1,000 acre paradise of trees, walkways and trails. We relax and enjoy the park. Next we visit the Botanical Gardens. Finally, we go to the Malba-Coleccion Constantini to see the most impressive collection of Latin American art anywhere. Dinner at Senor Tango for great food and the best tango performance in Buenos Aires. (BLD)

Day 16. Sunday (11/28) Buenos Aires
Day free to explore the city. (BD)

Day 17. Monday (11/29) Gaucho Ranch / Return to U.S.A.
Today, we travel by private van northwest across the pampas to San Antonio de Areco, a colonial town founded in the early 18th century, and a center of the gaucho culture. We visit the Museo Gauchesco Ricardo Guiraldes, and shop for handicrafts in the town. The locals are friendly and many men still wear the traditional gaucho berets. Next, we visit the Estancia La Portena, an active ranch to see gauchos at work and explore the ranch on horseback. After the tour we head to the airport for our return flight to the U.S.A. (BL)

* (B) – Breakfast; (L) – Lunch; (D) – Dinner


4-6 travelers – $3,250 per person/double occupancy; 7-9 travelers $3,150 per person/double occupancy; 10 or more $3,000 per person/double occupancy. Single supplement $595.

Cost Includes: All lodging, airport transfers, all meals except where noted, American tour director, English speaking local guides and all land transportation in South America.

Cost Does Not Include:
International airfare, flights within Argentina (Buenos Aires – El Calafate) estimated at $324 roundtrip, travel insurance, alcoholic beverages, telephone calls, excess baggage fees, gratuities to local guides, entrance to gay clubs.


This trip is rated low to moderate in terms of difficulty. We spend two nights in tents and have hikes of a moderate difficulty on eight days. When hiking, we carry only a day pack with personal gear.


If you would like additional information, e-mail us at, or call us locally at 303-449-0990 or toll free at 1-877-440-0990. Our office hours are 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Mountain Time) Monday through Friday.

You may also download our registration form, and mail it in to us.

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