November 13 – 29, 2004
| 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.
Day 2. Sunday (11/14) Arrive Buenos Aires
serif;”>Day 3. Monday (11/15) Buenos Aires – City Tour
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
Day 5. Wednesday (11/17) Hosteria El Pilar – Mt. Fitz Roy – Laguna Capri
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
Day 9. Sunday (11/21) Estancia La Cristina – Upsala Glacier
Days 10, 11, 12 & 13. Monday-Thursday (11/22-11/25) Torres del Paine National Park
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
Day 15. Saturday (11/27) Buenos Aires
Day 16. Sunday (11/28) Buenos Aires
Day 17. Monday (11/29) Gaucho Ranch / Return to U.S.A.
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.
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.
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