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.
Hike through Patagonia’s exceptionally scenic national parks: Torres del Paine in Chile and Los Glaciares in Argentina.
Trek to the base of Torres del Paine’s sheer granite walls, and surround yourself with twisting peaks in the French Valley.
Experience up close the power and magnificence of Grey and Perito Moreno Glaciers, two of the most impressive glaciers in the world.
Follow trails 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. Hotel Cabo de Hornos (D)
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 hike in the 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 7 miles hiking, 6 hours) Cabañas en los Cuernos (B,L,D)
Day 5 — Paso Los Cuernos
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 or Estancia Cerro Guido (B,L,D)
Day 6 — 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. (11 miles hiking, 8–10 hours) Hotel Las Torres or Estancia Cerro Guido (B,L,D)
Days 7 through 10 — El Chalten/Los Glaciares National Park
Cross the Argentine border en route to El Chalten where we'll spend the next three days exploring the iconic spots of Los Glaciares National Park. 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 7: 6-7 hours driving; Day 8: 11 miles hiking, 6-7 hours; Day 9: 14 miles hiking, 8-9 hours; Day 10: 11 miles hiking, 6-7 hours) Hotel Destino Sur (B,L,D)
Day 11 — La Leona Petrified Forest/ El Calafate
Today we’ll travel south across the steppe on our way to 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. We'll stop along the way for a hike and a picnic lunch in La Leona Petrified Forest, a surreal maze of ancient trunks and fossils. (5 miles hiking, 2 hours) Hotel Mirador del Lago (B,L,D)
Days 12 & 13 — El Calafate/ Perito Moreno Glacier
After breakfast, 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. The next morning, transfer to the airport for your flight home. (Day 12: 2-3 miles hiking, 1 hour) Hotel Mirador del Lago (B,L,D; B)
National Geographic Active Expeditions 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.
We will be hiking 3–10 hours per day (5–16 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 11 nights in hotels and small mountain inns and 1 night in a traditional refugio with shared bedrooms (by gender). Note that there are 2 nights with shared bathrooms while we are trekking in a remote part of the region.
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