|Destinasjoner :||Argentina - Chile|
|Aktivitets nivå :||Blandede aktiviter - Kultur & Tema reiser (standard) - Villmarks opplevelser|
Those on the group flight will be met at the airport and transferred to our hotel in Buenos Aires. Those on land only arrangements should make their own way to the start hotel for mid-day (in order to join the rest of the group to go on the city tour). Our local leader will meet us today for a briefing and take us on a short walking tour of the city, discovering its wealth of history and culture. The evening is free for you to choose one of the many excellent restaurants, most serving the legendary Argentine steaks!
This morning we fly from Buenos Aires to El Calafate and transfer to the small mountain town of El Chalten. The town enjoys a beautiful location in Los Glaciares National Park with breathtaking views of Mount Fitzroy and the Southern Patagonian Ice Field.
We set off amidst incredible mountains and valleys for a day walk. First we have a short 30 minute transfer to El Pilar, from where we hike to Cerro Fitzroy Base Camp with amazing views of the striking massif ahead. In the afternoon we continue to the picturesque Laguna de los Tres, a glacial lake whose still waters reflect the three main peaks of the range. This is a full day of walking over fairly rough terrain, but with impressive, rugged scenery along the way. We will have packed lunches to take on the walk.
Today has been left free to enjoy an additional trek or an optional boat trip to another highlight of this area: the Viedma Glacier. In the late afternoon we transfer to El Calafate and check into our hotel overlooking Lago Argentino.
Today we visit the Perito Moreno Glacier. This immense jagged sheet of ice stretches over 3 miles across Lago Argentino and rises 200ft out if its cold waters. It is the fastest moving glacier on the planet and the eerie creaks and thunderous groans add a certain atmosphere of anticipation. Every so often an office block sized chunk of ice calves from its face into the water below before slowly floating down the lake as a giant iceberg. An optional boat trip gives an even greater appreciation of the immense scale of this wonder and a hike on the glistening surface is truly unforgettable.
We will spend a second day here to allow exploration of the town's surroundings. It is possible to take a gentle walk along Lago Argentina to see birdlife (including flamingos), or you may wish to book an optional extra walk with a local guide for a slightly more demanding hike with some fantastic views stretching over the Patagonian Steppe and towards the mountainous border with Chile. Alternatively you can join an optional excursion to a local Estancia.
A long drive across the border into Chile today before we arrive in one of the world's most beautiful national parks, Torres del Paine (please note that due to local regulations we must change buses at the border). We may have time after we check-in for a short walk next to Laguna Amarga or Laguna Azul, which offer great panoramic views of the Paine Massif and the striking granite Horns of Paine. Accommodation tonight is in shared dormitories in a mountain refugio.
Without a doubt, one of the biggest highlights of the park is to hike up to the base of the Towers of Paine. The walk itself is beautiful, trekking through forests and offering some fantastic views across the park. This is a reasonably difficult and long trek, and the last section is steep with rocky terrain, so you need a reasonably good level of fitness and confidence. The reward on reaching the small lake at the base of these sheer granite peaks however, makes the long walk well worthwhile. Note that adverse weather conditions can make this walk much harder - your group leader will give a briefing the night before and answer any questions you may have on the route. Accommodation tonight is in shared dormitories in a mountain refugio.
Today we will see the main highlights of the park as we drive towards the Park Administration buildings at Rio Serrano. The granite horns are the most recognisable feature of the park and can be seen from various viewpoints. We will also stop close to Lake Nordenskjold and Lake Pehoe, as well as at the two waterfalls of Salto Grande and Salto Chico. Please note that weather conditions will affect the itinerary in the park. In the afternoon we have a fairly long transfert through dramatic scenery to Cerro Sombrero. This journey involves a short ferry crossing over the Magellan Straits. We advise you to take plenty of water and some snacks for the journey. In the evening we'll have dinner together at the hotel in the small town of Cerro Sombrero.
Tierra del Fuego (The Land of Fire) is named after the original inhabitants who used to light bonfires to ward off the winter chill. Crossing the island we'll have views of the most southerly part of the Andes before catching our first glimpses of Ushuaia at the end of the world! This is a long driving day but we use a private bus to make the journey more comfortable. We should arrive at our hotel mid-afternoon depending on weather conditions and traffic.
We'll spend this morning in the stark wilderness of Tierra del Fuego National Park, walking amongst the varied terrain, flora and fauna. In the afternoon there is an optional boat ride along the Beagle Channel to see marine wildlife including penguins, sea lions and many species of water bird including a flightless duck! We are also afforded fantastic views of Ushuaia and its backdrop of often snow-capped peaks as we head out on the boat. For those wanting more adventure or not wishing to trek, an optional full-day 4WD excursion will be on offer which will take us deep into the wilds of Tierra del Fuego where any more conventional transport would fail to reach, including the remote Lakes Fagnano and Escondido (please note it is not possible to see penguins on this tour).
We have some free time this morning in Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. There are great views from the hills leading up to the Martial Glacier and some small shops to pick up souvenirs. Ushuaia has just one museum, housed in the former prison, which is worth a visit. This afternoon we fly back to Buenos Aires and should arrive in time to visit one of the excellent tango shows in the old quarter of San Telmo (optional) and enjoy a last group meal together.
Depending on the time of your flight home you may have another chance to see more of cosmopolitan Buenos Aires. After last night's tango show we might be tempted to learn a few steps, or watch it in the streets and plazas - particularly in the old quarter of San Telmo. A visit to the grave of Evita in the remarkable Recoleta Cemetery, said to be the most expensive real estate in the world, may be possible. Those on group flights will leave today for the flight back to London (arriving tomorrow).
Standard departures: 7 nights hotels, 3 nights hosterias, and 2 nights refugios (mountain refuges)
Travel by internal flights
Private minibuses and local coaches used
3 day walks of up to approx. 8 hours duration
All breakfasts, 2 lunches and 4 dinners included. Hotel breakfasts are normally buffet-style and are included. The accommodation in Torres del Paine will arrange packed lunches for days when we are trekking. There is a variety of good, quality food on offer in local restaurants and cafes usually for relatively low prices (although the refuge that we stay in for the standard itinerary in Torres del Paine is the exception as facilities here are limited). Vegetarians are catered for throughout the trip, but please ensure that you advise us before you travel so that we can make the necessary arrangements on your behalf.
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