Adventures in Patagonia

Destination: Argentina and Chile

| Activities: Trekking, Hiking, Kayaking, Glacier Traverse

Patagonia is one of the most incredible, rugged, and sparsely populated places on earth. Shared by Argentina and Chile, it is known for its pristine wilderness, magnificent snow-capped peaks, dramatic granite spires, sparkling lakes, and immense glaciers. On this 13 day trip, we have picked out the places that will in your memory forever: the breathtaking mountain environs of Torres del Paine National Park in Chile and the stunning Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina. Maximum group size: 12. You must have a valid passport at time of registration and Travel Insurance is mandatory for this trip.

Highlights

  • Hiking to the fabled granite spires of Patagonia, including Fitz Roy, Cerro del Torre, and the Towers of Paine
  • Seeing the remains of the vast glaciers that carved out this land
  • Kayaking Lake Grey
  • Learning about the natural and human history of Patagonia
  • Gaining a firsthand experience of the scope, diversity, and majesty of this awe-inspiring area

Departures and Prices

February 27 to March 11, 2023
$6495.00 - FULL
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Inclusions

  • Experienced guides, including an AGC guide and local bilingual Argentinian guides
  • 12 nights lodging: 7 in hotels or inns, and 5 in mountain refugios
  • Meals and activities as detailed on the itinerary
  • All transportation from our hotel in Buenos Aires to the Punta Arenas airport at trip's end (Internal flights excluded)
  • Entrance fees to the National Parks

What's not included: International and domestic airfare (Once the group is confirmed, AGC will coordinate the purchase of domestic flights for participants), Buenos Aires airport to hotel transfer if you arrive early, travel from Punta Arenas after the trip if you extend your stay, alcoholic beverages, certain meals as specified in the itinerary, AGC guide gratuities, W Trek Local Guide gratuities, and mandatory travel insurance that covers emergency evacuation.

Trip Intro

This trip is designed for women in excellent physical condition who have hiking experience and want an active exploration of Patagonia. This trip is rated 5. While the level of activity varies each day, you should be able to hike up to 10 hours on trails with elevation gains of up to 4000 feet while carrying a daypack weighing about 15 pounds. We will not be hiking at high elevation but there is significant elevation gain and loss each day. Prior to beginning the trip, participants should be engaged in aerobic conditioning for at least 40-50 minutes 4-5 times a week. Adding some specific conditioning such as strength training, endurance training, and longer aerobic workouts will be necessary; hiking 3-6 hours once a week, starting at least 6 weeks before the trip, is also recommended. Rating: 1 2 3 4 [5] .

Hiking is the primary activity on this trip and definitely the best way to see both Los Glaciares and Torres del Paine. We also get to kayak on Lake Grey (no experience necessary). There will be plenty of time for exploring the small mountain towns we stay in, savoring typical Argentine/Chilean cuisine, experiencing varied Patagonian weather, and in general immerse ourselves in the natural history of the area.

We will spend 7 nights in double occupancy rooms with ensuite bathrooms in modern hotels and small inns (four single supplements available for hotel stays for an additional cost). While on the W trek, we will spend 5 nights in Torres del Paine in mountain "refugios" or hostels, which have dormitory-style sleeping with bunk beds. Beds will be assigned randomly so you may be in top bunk one night and a bottom bunk the next. The refugios provide sheets and blankets but it is recommended to bring your own sleeping bag liner for extra warmth and your own pack towel for use on the trek (the refugios do not provide towels).

Below is the proposed itinerary for the trip. As is true on any adventure travel trip, plans for any specific day may be modified due to weather considerations, unforeseen circumstances, new opportunities, and group interests.

DAY 1
Welcome to Argentina! Upon arrival at the international airport, you will be met by our local guide and transferred to our hotel in the heart of Buenos Aires. At 6:00 pm we'll meet in the hotel lobby for introductions before going to one of the city’s most important highlights: a dinner and spectacular Tango show! Buenos Aires is the birthplace of tango and we’ll see how a good dancer transmits the feeling of the music to their partner. Overnight Hotel Recoleta Grand or similar in Buenos Aires (D)
DAY 2
Today we’ll drive to the domestic airport for our 2.5 hour flight to El Calafate (cost of airfare is not included but we will coordinate buying the tickets for AGC participants). From there we drive across the Patagonian steppe to the mountain town of El Chalten, often called Argentina's Trekking Capital (driving time: 3 hours). Route 40 is famous for its expansive vistas and gorgeous scenery; on a clear day, we can see the Fitz Roy mountain range during our drive. We arrive in time to settle in and explore this charming mountain town. Tonight’s dinner is free for you to choose from any of the quaint and delicious nearby restaurants. Overnight Poincenot Hotel or similar in El Chalten (B, L)
DAY 3
Our first hike is to the lookout of Laguna de Los Tres - a turquoise lake named for the three glaciers that drain into it. The trail begins in a dense forest of lenga (southern beech) trees that protect us from the Continental Ice Field winds. We trek towards Fitz Roy massif, A UNESCO World Heritage Site, with breathtaking views of its iconic spires and peaks. Our trail then continues through forest and open areas to Rio Blanco, the base camp where climbers prepare to climb the 11,290-foot Fitz Roy summit. From here it is a steep but worthwhile 1,300 ft climb to Laguna de los Tres, a striking azure blue lake at the foot of the massif. From the lake we have close-up views of the vertical rock walls of Fitz Roy's east face, the impressive spire called Poincenot Needle, and the dramatic blue of Piedras Blancas glacier. Retracing our steps, we return to the town of El Chalten for a well deserved dinner and night's rest. Hiking: 12 miles, 3,100 feet elevation gain, 9-10 hours. Overnight Poincenot Hotel or similar in El Chalten (B, L)
DAY 4
We walk where the Andean condors fly today, hiking out on the only trail that ascends to a view point near El Chalten instead of dipping into a valley. We will hike toward Laguna Toro, crossing small streams and hiking through several distinct ecosystems. We will see arid hillsides scoured by the wind but still dotted with tiny wildflowers, reminders of how persistent and resilient nature’s smallest organisms are. Once on alpine terrain we may see remnants of marine fossils such as ammonites and belemnites up to 100 million years old! Gaining elevation steadily near the destination, be aware that it can snow here, even in the summertime. Our viewpoint at “Loma del Pliegue Tumbado” grants us an impressive and unconventional view of the Torre and Fitz Roy massifs. (Hiking: 13 miles, 2,400+ feet elevation gain, 7-8 hours) Overnight Poincenot Hotel or similar in El Chalten (B, L)
DAY 5
One of the classic treks of El Chalten is to the Cerro Torre Lagoon, wedged between the Adela mountain range, Torre and Grande glaciers, and the famous Cerro Torre. In comparison to our first two days, our hike today is easier with gentler hills. The path ascends as we stroll along the Fitz Roy river until it arrives at a viewpoint of the river canyon and the Margarita waterfall. We see a lot of evidence of the area’s glacial past as we cross terminal moraines and hike in an ancient glacial valley to a magnificent viewpoint of the area. With a little luck and clear skies, we will have a picnic lunch with a fantastic view! Time permitting, we will continue to Laguna Torre, where we can see a wide range of birds, including the Magellanic woodpecker. (There are numerous references to Magellan in this area with flora and fauna due to the first European to visit the area was Juan Ladrillero, a Spanish explorer who was looking for the Strait of Magellan's western passage in 1557.) At Laguna Torre it is common to see huge icebergs, ice which has fallen off the Torre glacier face. Here we can visit the Agostini campground that once served as a basecamp for climbers from all over the world. In the late afternoon we drive back to El Calafate.

Hiking: 12 miles, 1900 ft elevation gain, 7 hours. Overnight Kau Yatun Hotel or similar in El Chalten (B, L)
DAY 6
After a hearty breakfast we'll head to Glaciers National Park, which has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1981 and is home to 200 glaciers. Approximately half of this park is occupied by the Patagonian Ice Field, the largest ice field after Antarctica! Today we experience the Perito Moreno glacier, one of the world's few glaciers that is not receding. The stunning mass of tiny blue ice peaks at the terminus is even more awesome because of constant cracking sounds when pieces of ice break and crash into the water below. Most glaciers calve, or release ice, in deep water, but here the calving rates are higher than on other Patagonian glaciers. Lago Argentino, the lake where Perito Moreno ends, is shallower than the bodies of water at the ends of most glaciers so the icebergs don't melt as quickly, perhaps one reason why the glacier is still advancing. Hopefully we will get to see some calving in action! Weather permitting, we'll have our lunch overlooking the glacier along an expansive boardwalk and viewpoints, then take an hour-long boat ride on the lake for another close-up perspective. We return to El Calafate in the afternoon. Dinner is on your own again tonight, with choices from a number of great restaurants. Overnight Kau Yatun or similar. (B, L)
DAY 7
After an early breakfast, we pack up and leave for a scenic drive of about 6 hours through the spectacular landscape of the Patagonia steppes into Chile and Torres del Paine National Park (no visa required for US and Canadian Citizens). We'll see unique wildlife such as herds of guanacos (llama relatives) and lesser rheas (related to emus and ostrich). We'll also see the mountains that make the park famous: Paine Grande, the Horns, Admiral Nieto and the Towers. After we settle into our lodging at the base of the Towers magnificent rock spires, we'll take a walk to get familiar with the landscape. Overnight at Refugio Torres Central in Torres del Paine National Park. (B, L, D)
DAY 8
We start our Base Torres trek or by following the Ascencio River into the Ascencio Valley. We ascend for one hour before getting our first magnificent glimpses of unbelievable beech forests, glaciers and waterfalls. The path levels out for the next few miles before leading us up a large moraine to a lookout point, perfectly positioned for breathtaking photos. (During the trekking portion you will carry a large daypack full of your necessities and your extra luggage will be shuttled around to meet you after the W-trek.) We’ll return on the same path back to where our hearty dinner awaits us. Hiking: 8-10 hours. Overnight: Refugio Central (B, L, D)
DAY 9
We start our lodge-to-lodge trek today on the famous W Circuit, so named for the shape of the trails. With an early morning start and clear skies, we’ll see a magnificent dawn full of orange-pink hues. From the refugio we hike to Inge Lagoon, possibly seeing Andean condors and eagles on the way. Descriptions fall short of the incredible beauty of this trek and the views that need to be experienced in person! The trail follows around the base of Almirante Nieto Mountain, and crosses the Bader River to arrive at Refugio Los Cuernos for the night. Hiking: 7 miles, 6 hours (B, L, D)
DAY 10
Today’s journey begins with a 2 hour walk following an undulating path leading to the French River where we’ll have our first glimpses of the hanging glacier. Then we will ascend for one hour through a surreal Japanese garden landscape, crossing beech forests, to reach the French Valley viewpoint. The French Valley is considered by many to be the most beautiful part of the trek. It offers a dramatic view of sheer cliffs and unique rock formations. We will picnic in the naturally-formed amphitheater encircled by the park's most impressive formations: the Hoja (Blade), Mascara (Mask), Espada (Sword), Catedral (Cathedral), Aleta de Tiburón (Shark's Fin) and Fortaleza (Fortress), plus views of Paine Grande, the highest mountain in Torres del Paine at 2,884m (9,462ft). After coming back down the valley, we continue hiking across the steppe to our mountain lodge at Refugio Paine Grande. We retrace our steps to the entrance of the valley before continuing on to the southwest side of Paine Grande, the highest peak in the park. Here we cross through native Chilean forests of fire bush and evergreen beech to the shore of Lake Pehoe. Overnight: Paine Grande Refugio. Hike 8-9 hours (B, L, D)
DAY 11
We are at the last leg of the W, hiking today on rolling ups and downs above Lake Grey. The day begins with a winding narrow path to Laguna Negra, where we first see the South Patagonia Ice Field with its many unclimbed mountains. During our hike we’ll cross through forests and rivers, be on the lookout for spectacle and flying steamer ducks. After we settle into our lodge, we will kayak on Lake Grey past magnificent floating icebergs and the Grey Glacier, weather permitting. This excursion is part of your trip fee and all necessary equipment, including a life jacket, is provided. No kayaking experience is necessary and your local guide will teach you all you need to know. Some restrictions do apply to kayaking (Maximum age limit 65 and under, maximum weight limit is 220 pounds). Hiking 7 - 8 miles. Hiking: 4 hours. Kayaking: 2 hours. Overnight Refugio Grey (B, L, D)
DAY 12
Last hike today is a retracing of our path from yesterday to a boat launch near Refugio Paine Grande where we will catch a 40 minute boat ride across Lake Pehoe. On the shores of Lake Pehoe we may see grazing wild guanaco. From there we will drive 2 hours to Puerto Natales where we will get cleaned up and have our final celebration dinner. If you’re extending your stay in Puerto Natales, there are many interesting places to visit nearby, including the “Cueva del Milodon,” or Mylodon Cave, National Monument. Mylodons were giant ground sloths that weighed about 2,205 pounds and were about 10 feet long from snout to tail tip. Overnight Martin Gusinde Hotel or similar (B, L, D)
DAY 13
What an incredible trip! We leave early after breakfast for a 3 hour drive southeast to the Punta Arenas airport in the morning, another charming city, this time on the banks of the Straights of Magellan. Plan your flight for after 2 pm (If traveling straight home, you can connect through Santiago, Chile or Buenos Aires, Argentina). (B) If you’re feeling adventurous, take the 12-hour bus/boat trip crossing over the Magellan Straits to Ushuaia - the southernmost city in the world.

4.3

(7 reviews)
3.7 Food
4.4 Lodging
4.9 Safety
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3
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*These are the unfiltered reviews of women who have been on this trip in answer to the question "What made this trip special for you?". We take reviews very seriously and often tweak itineraries based on feedback. Please feel free to contact us about any questions you have.

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Ysela L.
2 months ago

The location. The ability to travel again after Covid. The different locations we were able to visit. The length of the trip. The group of women who went.

Carole J.
2 months ago

The small size of the group made it special and the beautiful nature of Argentina was exceptional.

Cynthia C.
2 months ago

Wen S.
4 years ago

Patricia D.
4 years ago

Lodging and transportation logistics went very well. Activities were as expected. Some details that I expected would have been known and shared were not. We did not need a sleeping liner or towel, we did not know about paying for the kayak trip until on the way to Chile, needing to bring extra food and a lock,was last minute.

Carmen M.
4 years ago

I saw mountains, granite towers, glaciers, glacier lakes, icebergs, condors, flamingoes, guanaco, birds, and truly jaw dropping scenery! A trip of a lifetime!! Memories were made...

Jan F.
4 years ago

The highlights of the trip were, of course, the hiking and the spectacular views. Both guides, Anne and Maria, were fabulous. They obviously worked well together. They managed various circumstances and problems very professionally and in a way that did not interfere with the experience of the group. They both insured our safety and enjoyment without being overbearing. Maria's knowledge of the trails and the flora and fauna made the hikes even more fulfilling. I also enjoyed the variety of the places at which we stayed. The women in the group were interesting and fun. We functioned well as a group and were supportive of each other.

  1. Where do we eat?

    Breakfasts will be in our hotels or at the Torres del Paine mountain hostels. Our lunches will be mostly boxed picnic lunches. Dinners will be in either restaurants or at the Torres del Paine mountain hostels.
  2. What dietary preferences or restrictions can you accommodate on this trip?

    Vegetarian options for this trip are available but may be more limited than you are used to. If you are concerned about having enough protein during your trip, plan to bring some plant-based protein sources such as nut butter, instant dried hummus, or high-protein energy bars. Because of the remoteness of this trip and the limited options at the mountain refuges while in Torres del Paine, gluten/dairy free or vegan diets are impossible to accommodate. While at the refugios: The packed lunch is typically a sandwich, fruit, chocolate and juice. Breakfast is typical Chilean style, bread, jam, juice. Dinner is chicken or beef with sides (The refugios can accommodate vegetarians)
  3. I will be coming by myself. Do I need to pay a single supplement?

    You only need to pay a single supplement if you want to guarantee you have your own room. Otherwise we’ll pair you up with someone and then switch roommates every time we switch lodging
  4. Do I need a visa?

    US and Canadian citizens do not need a visa to travel to Argentina/Chile.
  5. What about a passport?

    Your passport needs to have at least two pages available for stamps and needs to be valid for at least 6 months after you return
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