Your adventure into Patagonia starts right from the beginning!! You will be picked up either from your hotel in Punta Arenas or from the Airport in the morning and off we go driving through this incredible awe inspiring landscape to our first destination - Eco Camp Patagonia which is the world’s first geodesic dome hotel, located in the world famous Torres Del Paine National Park. Puerto Natales, a small, lively town on the shores of “Seno de Ultima Esperanza” will be our first big stop for the day. Here we can stretch our legs for a little bit before enjoying a hearty local lunch to fill us up for the remainder of the journey. Our second stop will be at Cueva de Milodon, situated along the flanks of Cerro Benitez. Cueva de Milodon is a series of 3 massive caves discovered in the 1890’s and where the remains of a giant ground sloth were found. There is that famous saying - “It is not the destination but the journey that is important” and nothing could be more true of your car journeys through Patagonia. You have 360 degree view of magnificence and you really do feel like you have ventured to the ends of the earth. This day ends with our arrival and overnight stay at EcoCamp Patagonia, nestled in the heart of Torres del Paine National Park and affording us a prime view of the majestic Torres. This unique EcoCamp with its dome shaped homes allows us to have completely unspoilt, remote, incredible views of the Andes, the longest continental mountain chain on Earth.
It is not every day that you wake up in search of the elusive Puma. The Puma, also known as a cougar or mountain lion is the second largest wild cat in the Americas after the Jaguar. It is an extremely adaptable cat hence its ability to live in such tough terrain as Patagonia. To begin this exploration you will be picked up from the EcoCamp early in the morning to make your way to the observation area. Here you will search for the pumas in their resting and transit areas as your guide explains puma behavior as well as other intriguing facts about the local fauna you’ll encounter. Imagine the majesty of being surrounded by such high thrilling peaks whilst watching for and learning about an elusive cat that makes these “hills” their home. Awe inspiring and humbling are certainly words that come to mind. The day ends with a delicious dinner back at the EcoCamp and some more stargazing from your Dome Home!
After an early morning breakfast at the EcoCamp, you will head off at 7:30 am to the Serrano area which is in the western sector of the park arriving at around 9:00 am at the Serrano Base. From here, you will board another vehicle that will take you to your final destination which is the Pingo River. Upon arrival you will listen to a 20-minute safety talk where you will learn all your need to about making the most out of your kayaking experience. Once that is complete the time has come - it’s time to get in the water! Once you and your kayaks are in the water, we will move gently with the river’s current towards the Grey Lake Peninsula to see the glacier’s impressive icebergs. After spending some time here soaking up the moment, you will continue down the Grey River for approximately the next 3 hours. Once you reach Puente Grey, you will stop to eat your boxed lunch before continuing downstream to the confluence of the Grey and Serrano rivers. Around 20 minutes later you will return to where your adventure started, at Villa Serrano, after enjoying an amazing day on the water. Once you are all settled you will take the van returning back to the EcoCamp for your evening aperitif and dinner before retiring to another night under the stars.
One of the best ways to immerse yourself in the spectacular scenery of Patagonia is to ride through it on horseback. Like the Gaucho’s of yesteryears, you can ride through this land surveying all before you. After a hearty breakfast at EcoCamp, we begin our day around 09:30 am with an induction talk which will last approximately 1 hour giving you all the theory necessary before your practical experience of safely riding horseback in Patagonia. After your talk you will mount your trusty Steed and head out on your 13 km journey. You will start by making your way around the immense Lake Nordenskjold. The Lake was named after a Swedish man who ‘discovered’ it in the beginning of the 20th Century. During this ride you will also be mesmerized by the heart-achingly beautiful views of Mount Almirante Nieto and Cerro Paine, all the while passing over the ice-cold waters of Patagonian rivers. Keep your eyes peeled, whilst your hands steady the reigns, for the local flora and fauna who call this land their home, including foxes, condors, and dense groupings of lenga forests. Once you reach the beach you will pick up the pace a bit before stopping at 13.00hrs for lunch along the Paine River. After a short rest you will continue taking in the sights and sounds of the area before heading back to EcoCamp around 15:00 to rest, relax and rejuvenate before your evening cocktail and dinner.
After a tasty and filling breakfast at EcoCamp this morning you will head to the famous Cerro Paine, a nearby mountain characterized by its two imposing peaks. You will hike along the mountain for approximately a half an hour, which allows you to warm up while admiring the view of the surrounding pampas (fertile plains). The challenge begins as you start climbing the eastern part of Cerro Paine. You will cross the lenga forest enjoying the song of the local birds and making a few stops along the way to observe the immense Almirante Nieto Mountain and its glacier on your left side. With any luck, you will follow the tracks of the puma as the towers come into full view. Sounds like a good spot for lunch, doesn’t it? Once eaten and food has settled you will be ready to start the steepest part of the hike where you will leave the forest and hike on the rock. As you climb up, you can admire the spectacular panoramic view of the immense pampas and the mountains in the distance, mountains like the Balmaceda mountain. You will walk upward for about an hour up to 1500m/4920ft to reach the eastern peak of Cerro Paine, which offers an unforgettable lookout of the towers and the Ascencio Valley. After recouping, snapping pics and taking in one of the most striking views of the entire national park, you can begin backtracking along the same trail all the way to EcoCamp and your well earned rest and relaxation.
After enjoying breakfast, you bid farewell to the EcoCamp and its majestic surroundings and you board the van and start driving to the Cerro Castillo international border crossing. Once we complete the immigration process you will enter Argentina and continue on to Calafate, a small-town set on the edge of Los Glaciares National Park, amid more dramatic scenery and natural beauty. We enjoy lunch here before heading to our next destination. When everyone is ready you will board another van that’ll take you on a spectacular 3-hour drive to Chalten. The drive is on isolated roads across the pampas and along the northern end of Lago Viedma. Chalten is a tiny outpost beside the Glacier National Park at the foot of impressive Mount Fitz Roy. It really does feel like you have driven to the ends of the earth when you arrive in this most charming of outposts sitting at the bottom of the incredible views of Mount Fitzroy. Once you arrive at your hotel you will have some time for a well-deserved rest.
Following breakfast, you will begin today's adventure. Today’s hike is along the Rio Blanco. You will drive to El Pilar, 11 miles north of El Chalten, and follow the Rio Blanco Trail to Piedras Blancas Glacier, a hanging glacier descending from the base of Mount Fitz Roy. This is the perfect spot to enjoy a picnic, marvelling at the glacier in all its splendor before continuing up the Rio Blanco Trail to reach one of the best views of Mount Fitz Roy - the landmark in Los Glaciares NP. You will then descend via another path heading past Laguna Capri, and ending back in El Chalten where you will enjoy a delicious dinner after freshening up.
Today you will do a full day hike along the Cerro Torre Trail to Laguna Torre, a stunning mountain lake with majestic Mount Torre in the background. After filling up with energy over breakfast you will walk eastwards following the trail through beech forests until we reach the Fitz Roy River. From there you continue until you reach Base Camp de Agostini from where you will do a short hike to Laguna Torre, with Cerro Torre and the Adela range to the West. Icebergs can be seen peacefully floating on Laguna Torre as the wind pushes them to the coast. You will stop at different points to take in the magnificent views and enjoy a picnic lunch. Back at the hotel we gather our luggage and begin the drive back to Calafate by private transfer, following the same road filled with Argentinean pampas that welcomed us. You will arrive in Calafate after an approximate 3-hour drive and will be driven directly to your hotel to check in.
Unlike typical tours which go straight to the regular panoramic views, we go first to the glacier’s less-frequented north face to marvel at its splendor. We’ll observe, and hear, giant chunks of ice plummet into the waters of Lake Argentino. This is known as calving. Our guide will answer questions you may or most certainly will have about the glacier and the park. You can then continue to the footbridges and take a break, enjoying the surroundings at your own leisure. You will also have the opportunity to do a short nautical safari to observe this magnificent glacier from up close. That is definitely a sight to behold. Once you have completed your exploration of the Glacier you will drive back to El Calafate for your final night in Patagonia.
Today you complete this memorable trip through Patagonia. Adios Patagonia! Until the next time! After completing your breakfast, a transfer will take you to the airport and/or you are free to continue traveling on your own.