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Patagonia’s pristine beauty is preserved in two exceptionally scenic national parks: the Torres del Paine in Chile and Argentina’s Los Glaciares. Set out to explore both on foot—from the black-tipped “horns” of Cuernos del Paine to the ice-clad pinnacles of Monte Fitz Roy. Hike along sapphire-colored lakes strewn with incandescent icebergs in Torres del Paine. In Los Glaciares, part of the third-largest ice cap in the world, walk among active glaciers and watch as they calve ice into alpine lakes. Spot wildlife from Andean condors to guanacos and eagles, and travel across the sweeping Patagonian steppe. Cap off your hiking adventure with a day in beautiful Buenos Aires.
Hike through Patagonia's exceptionally scenic national parks: Torres del Paine in Chile and Argentina's Los Glaciares.
Trek to the base of Torres del Paine's sheer granite walls, and surround yourself with twisting peaks in the French Valley.
Experience close-up the power and magnificence of Grey and Perito Moreno Glaciers, two of the most impressive in the world.
Hike to serene lakes at the foot of spectacular Cerro Torre and the Fitz Roy massif.
Itinerary - 13 Days
Day 1 — Punta Arenas, Chile
Arrive in Punta Arenas and meet your trip leader for the transfer to our hotel. Gather for a welcome dinner tonight.
Day 2 — Torres del Paine National Park
Cross the Patagonian plains to the quiet fishing town of Puerto Natales at the edge of Torres del Paine National Park. Set out on a short walk, across the valley from Cueva del Mylodon and Cueva del Medio, caves that have yielded important prehistoric finds. Tonight, travel to Lago de Grey and settle into our quaint hotel, ideally situated within Torres del Paine National Park. (1-2 miles hiking, 1–2 hours; 6–7 hours driving) Hotel Lago Grey (B,L,D)
Day 3 — Grey Glacier
Cross Lago de Grey by boat to the foot of the glacier. Our trail traces the lakeshore, offering spectacular views of the glacier and the dramatic Paine massif. Settle into our lodge, overlooking Lago Pehoé. (7–8 miles hiking, 4 hours) Refugio Paine Grande (B,L,D)
Day 4 — French Valley
Today we’ll have two hiking options in magnificent French Valley, a natural basin ringed by the black slate “horns” of the Cuernos del Paine. Walk beneath the glacier-covered slopes of Cerro Paine, the highest summit in the range, and take in panoramic vistas of this extraordinary sweep of mountains. We’ll stay in cabins tucked in beside a waterfall this evening. (14 miles hiking, 10 hours, or optional 7 miles hiking, 6 hours) Cabañas en los Cuernos (B,L,D)
Day 5 — Torres del Paine
Rise early for our all-day hike to the Torres del Paine, sheer walls of granite that thrust vertically into the sky. Our path cuts through beech forests and up to the barren slopes below the towers to one of the most magnificent viewpoints in the world. Before us, the towers rise majestically, and far below, the glacial lake shines a brilliant shade of blue. Upon arrival we’ll transfer to Estancia Cerro Guido. You’ll sleep in houses that are unique cultural heritage in Patagonia restored and redesigned to accommodate guests. (11 miles hiking, 8-10 hours plus 45 minutes transfer) Hotel Estancia Cerro Guido (B,L,D)
Day 6 — Laguna Verde
Day hikes among the ice-clad peaks and granite needles of the Torres del Paine (10,000')—5,000 feet of near-vertical granite rising from rolling grasslands and beautiful lakes. We plan to walk along a trail by Laguna Verde that sports native beech forest and wonderful views of the Paine massif, ultimately reaching one of the best lookouts of Lago Toro and the mountain range beyond. We will then do a short walk to see the Salto Grande waterfall, beautifully located in front of the Horns (Los Cuernos) of Paine. Hotel Estancia Cerro Guido (B,L,D)
Days 7 & 8 — El Calafate/ Perito Moreno Glacier
Depart Torres del Paine National Park and drive across the border into Argentina. Our destination is the town of El Calafate, the gateway to Los Glaciares National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site that is part of the third largest ice cap in the world after Antarctica and Greenland. Head to Perito Moreno, an active glacier on the southern arm of Lake Argentino. Watch the glacier calve great chunks of ice into the lake, then explore the area’s picturesque trails on a short hike. (Day 7: 7 hours driving including border crossing; Day 8: 2–3 miles hiking, 1 hour; 2-3 hours driving) Hotel Mirador del Lago (B,L,D)
Day 9 — La Leona Petrified Forest
After an early breakfast, we’ll travel north across the steppe, stopping along the way for a hike and a picnic lunch in La Leona Petrified Forest, a surreal maze of ancient trunks and fossils. Then trace the northern edge of Lago Viedma to the little town of El Chaltén. (5 miles hiking, 2 hours) Hotel Destino Sur (B,L,D)
Days 10 & 11 — Los Glaciares National Park
Explore this ice-laden park on a variety of hikes into the interior. Climb to pristine glacial lakes at the base of the park’s most famous sites, Monte Fitz Roy (11,073') and Cerro Torre (10,278'). Discover the Piedras Blancas glacier, or head to Piedra del Fraile, which looks out on the dramatic north face of Fitz Roy. (Day 10: 11 miles hiking, 6-7 hours; Day 11: 14 miles hiking, 8-9 hours; Day 12: 11 miles hiking, 6–7 hours)
Hotel Destino Sur (B,L,D daily)
Days 12 & 13 — Los Glaciares National Park/ El Calafate
On our final day, we’ll enjoy one last hike before returning to El Chaltén. Tonight, gather for a festive farewell dinner at a local restaurant. The next morning, transfer to the airport for your flight home. (Day 12: 11 miles hiking, 6–7 hours) Hotel Destino Sur (B,L,D; B)
National Geographic Adventures are unique, active itineraries for intrepid travelers that combine spectacular places, cultural interaction, and physical challenge. You'll explore fascinating, off-the-beaten-path places with top guides, and wherever possible, meet National Geographic experts in the field.
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Price is per person, double occupancy. For a single room, add $1,900. International airfare to Punta Arenas and return from El Calafate (2017 departures) and Buenos Aires (2016 departures) are not included in the adventure cost. For 2016, the group flight within Argentina is $400 (subject to change).
We will be hiking 3 to 10 hours per day (5 to 16 miles) on moderate to steep grades and at elevations ranging from 200 feet to a maximum of 3,000 feet. Most days have options for more, or less, hiking. During hikes, vehicle support is limited while in the National Parks.
Click here for a description of all activity levels.
What To Expect
We will stay 5 nights in mountain cabins, and 7 nights in lodges and hotels that combine comfort, ideal locations, and local charm.
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