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.
Arrive in Punta Arenas and meet your trip leader for the transfer to our hotel. Gather for a welcome dinner tonight.
Hotel Cabo de Hornos (D)
Cross the Patagonian plains to the quiet fishing town of Puerto Natales at the edge of Torres del Paine National Park. Set out on our first hike, across the valley from Cueva del Mylodon and Cueva del Medio, caves that have yielded important prehistoric finds, including fossils of the legendary mylodon. Tonight, travel to Lago de Grey, a pristine lake fed by Grey Glacier and often scattered with luminous icebergs, and settle into our quaint hotel ideally located within Torres del Paine National Park. (4 miles hiking, 3-4 hours)
Hotel Lago Grey (B,L,D)
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. Continue to our state-of-the-art hiking lodge, set on the edge of Lago Pehoé. (7-8 miles hiking, 4 hours)
Lodge Paine Grande (B,L,D)
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 cozy cabins tucked in beside a waterfall this evening. (14 miles hiking, 8-10 hours, or optional 7 miles hiking, 4-6 hours)
Cabañas en los Cuernos (B,L,D)
Follow the Paso Los Cuernos trail along the north shore of Lago Nordenskjöld, hiking at a relaxed pace between the soaring Cuernos del Paine massif and the sapphire lake. Continue to the base of the Torres mountains and check into our hotel. (7 miles hiking, 4-5 hours)
Hotel Las Torres (B,L,D)
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. (12 miles hiking, 8-10 hours)
Hotel Las Torres (B,L,D)
Today, we depart Torres del Paine National Park and drive across the border into Argentina. Cross the vast steppe, keeping your eye out for rheas and flamingos, and Andean condors in flight. Our destination is the town of El Calafate, the gateway to Los Glaciares National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Quijote Hotel (B,L,D)
Los Glaciares National Park 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 and, weather permitting, take a walk amid ice peaks on the glacier itself. Other hiking options are also available.
Quijote Hotel (B,L,D)
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, 3 hours)
Cabañas Fitz Roy (B,L,D)
Spend three full days exploring 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. 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. (Day 10: 15 miles hiking, 8-10 hours; Day 11: 13 miles hiking, 8 hours; Day 12: 13 miles hiking, 6-7 hours)
Destino Sur Hotel (B,L,D daily)
Drive back to El Calafate to catch our flight to Buenos Aires. Enjoy some free time to see the sights of Buenos Aires before transferring to the airport for your flight home.
Loi Suites (Day 13: B,L,D; Day 14: 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.
Price is per person, double occupancy. For a single room, add $1,700 in 2013 and $1,800 in 2014. Airfare is not included. Economy air from Miami to Punta Arenas, Chile, and return from Buenos Aires, Argentina, is estimated from $980. Internal group air from El Calafate to Buenos Aires is estimated at $400 (subject to change).
GROUP SIZE: 10–16
See special terms and conditions for this adventure.
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. We will stay 5 nights in cozy mountain cabins, and 8 nights in lodges and hotels that combine comfort, ideal locations, and local charm.
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