Arrive Trelew, today a group transfer is provided from Trelew airport to our hotel in Puerto Madryn. On the way we'll visit Punta Tombo Reserve, the largest Magellan penguin colony on the continent. During the journey of 180 km, learn more about the peculiarities of Magellanic penguins and enrich your perception of the Patagonian landscape along with explanations about the animal and plant species, as well as Patagonian geography. After arriving at Punta Tombo, we will walk through the trails around the nests of the more than five hundred thousand Magellanic penguins that gather each year in the colony. A tour around the reserve allows you to appreciate at a distance of less than a meter, the funny walk of these sea birds. You can also see many other species of seabirds that nest in the colony; gulls, petrels, Antarctic pigeons, skuas, steam ducks, plovers, cormorants, and terns, among others, or any of the dolphin that occasionally come close to the bay in search of fish. It's important to remember, that in this natural reserve where the animals live freely in their habit, no shouting, touching or feeding is permitted. We will continue toward the city of Trelew, the most active center of the valley of the Chubut River. There you can visit the most attractive points of the city: the former train station, the central square and the old chapel. Completing the tour, we return to the city of Puerto Madryn and the hotel.
Overnight Puerto Madryn.
Today we spend a full day visiting the Valdez Peninsula which due to its geography, flora and fauna, and features that turn it into a paradise of nature has been recently declared Mankind's Heritage. Departing from Puerto Madryn youhead towards Puerto Pirámide, passing through the Carlos Ameghino Isthmus, a privileged place where you can see both the New and San José gulfs simultaneously. In Puerto Pirámides you have a brief tour around the only inhabited center of the peninsula before continuing towards Caleta Valdés, a strange geological formation that runs parallel to the coast. This is a unique area not only for its geography but also for its fauna - in Punta Cantor Reserve (situated at the mouth of this inlet) you'll find 3000 kg sea elephants laying on the beach who can dive down to 1000 meters. From the inlet you will also enjoy the most imposing sights of the Mar Argentino. You then continue towards Punta Delgada Lighthouse, a historical monument of nature, before heading back to Puerto Madryn. On the way back you'll get to experience the Salinas Grande y Chica (Grand and Small salt pits) with depressions of 35 meters below sea level. Here you'll learn about how they extract the salt from the salt pits and will also get to see wild animals such us; maras (Patagonian hare), guanacos, foxes and skunks.
Overnight Puerto Madryn.
This morning we drive to the airport in Trelew for our flight to Ushuaia. On arrival to Ushuaia you'll be transferred to your hotel where you'll be based for the next few nights. Ushuaia, at 55 degrees south of the equator, is the most southerly town in Argentina. Its steep streets overlook the green water of the Beagle Channel, named for the ship in which Darwin sailed in 1832, on Captain Fitzroy's second expedition. The afternoon is at leisure.
This morning we take a cruise along the famous Beagle Channel (named after Charles Darwin's famous vessel) visiting the Isla de pajaros - a haven for many southern ocean and coastal birds. We also get a chance to see some of the famed lobo marino (the southern sea-lion). Today we'll also take a 60 kilometre drive from Ushuaia to the famous Harberton Estancia. In an area originally settled by Welsh farmers this classic estancia (ranch) is beautifully set on a rise above the channel. It is really a living museum and a chance for us to see life on a classic southern ranch.
Today we have the opportunity of undertaking a half day trek, in the well known walking area, of the Tierra Del Fuego National park which is set on the bay to the west of Ushuaia. This gives us a chance to walk among the hills and beech forests of the 'end of the earth'. We'll have a picnic lunch before heading back to Ushuaia where the late afternoon is free perhaps to visit the Museo Territorial Fin del Mundo. Overnight Ushuaia.
This morning you'll transfer to the airport for your flight to El Calafate. On arrival to Calafate you'll be transferred to your hotel for the next two night's accommodation. This township, founded in 1927, is best known as the 'national capital of the glaciers' and is the gateway to the Patagonian Los Glaciares National Park including the famous Perito Moreno Glacier. The afternoon is at leisure to explore the town or walk down to Lake Argentino to watch the waterbirds.
Today we head towards the Andes, to the edge of the icecap, for a full day tour of the impressive Perito Moreno Glacier that advances across Lago Argentino. This day tour is on a shared service basis with other travellers. We spend several hours wandering the many paths that offer different vantage points of this calving glacier. The glacier is 4 km wide and 70 m high and descends to the surface of the lake, almost cutting the lake in two. Occasionally massive pieces break off and fall into the lake becoming icebergs and creating huge waves in the process. The groans and creaks of the active glacier precede dramatic falls of ice from its face. We return late afternoon to our hotel in Calafate.
This morning we depart Calafate for the drive across Patagonia and the arid Argentine pampas to El Chalten (approx 4 hours). The village of El Chalten is in the heart of Los Glaciares National Park and it's from here that we make our day trips. The afternoon is at leisure before we enjoy dinner together this evening.
Overnight El Chalten.
Over the next two days we include day walks to the base camp of Fitzroy and Cerro Torre. Mount Fitzroy is found at the northern end of the park and is part of a range of bizarre peaks including the needle like rock pinnacle of Cerro Torre. For a climber it looks to be one of the most unclimbed peaks in the world - in fact it was only scaled for the first time in 1974. To the south runs a great chain of massive glaciers that basically follow the line of the Chile/Argentina border. The dramatic rock spires beckon and our days here will be a highlight of the itinerary. The beautiful valleys hold crystal clear streams and are home to a multitude of bird life. During the short summer the beech trees and the flowers bloom profusely and we are here at the best time to enjoy it.
Overnight El Chalten.
Today we leave El Chalten and drive across the pampas to Puerto Natales. Set on the shores of Seno Última Esperanza, this city is the gateway to the famous Torres del Paine National Park. The afternoon is at leisure and this evening you may like to sample king crab by the waters edge in one of the seafood restaurants.
Overnight Puerto Natales.
This morning we leave Puerto Natales and journey towards Torres del Paine National Park and its fabulous scenery. We board a boat and travel down the fjord, pausing at the Balmaceda Glacier en-route. We then change onto zodiacs and continue along the Serrano River before reaching Torres del Paine.
Overnight in Torres del Paine.
Over the next few days we plan to view the highlights of the park on foot. The trekking level will depend on the group's level of fitness, bearing in mind that many of the highlights of this park, including the base of the towers, require a 6-7 hour walk (round trip). There are other walks we can choose which are easier and provide excellent views of the park, however as with any trek, the fitter you are the more you will enjoy the day. The whole experience of trekking in Patagonia will spoil you – the scenery is really awe-inspiring. Blue glacial and ice-berg strewn lakes combine with dramatic granite peaks and snow covered mountains which lead to the Patagonian ice-cap.
The next two nights are spent in Torres del Paine.
This morning we leave Paine National Park and drive south to Punta Arenas. We stop for lunch along the way before reaching the airport where we take a flight to Puerto Montt. The flight should ideally depart after midday. On arrival to Puerto Montt we are transferred to Petrohue. Petrohue is located on the shores of Todos los Santos, a deep crystaline emerald lake with the stunning backdrop of snowcapped Volcano Osorno. Tonight we enjoy an evening meal together in our lodgings.
Today we will enjoy a full day boat journey from Petrohue in Chile to the shores of Bariloche in Argentina. Departing from the Petrohué Pier we board the ferry for the crossing of Todos los Santos Lake. During the navigation you can enjoy the magnificent view of the volcans Osorno, Puntiagudo and Tronador. After disembarking in Peulla you'll take a short drive before you will again embark another ferry for your crossing of Lake Nahuel Huapi. On arrival to the lakeside town of Bariloche you'll be transferred to your hotel. This delightful Swiss style town is famous for its chocolate and its stunning views over Lake Nahuel Huapi.
Note: All passengers with accommodation in San Carlos de Bariloche must pay an Eco Tax that will be used for the conservation, protection and improvement of tourist attractions in the city. This tax is collected by your Bariloche hotel at check-in. The amount is USD$2-4 per person per night.
Today we drive to Mount Tronador known as 'Pampa Linda' where we then begin a day walk through forests and rocky terrain, crossing streams and getting amazing views of Mount Tronador and its glaciers with waterfalls. This area is of outstanding beauty – many people compare it to the European Alps. We return in the late afternoon to Bariloche to give us some free time to explore this lovely town and perhaps sample some of the huge ranges of chocolates available here.
After breakfast there will be a group transfer to the airport for your flight to Buenos Aires. Trip concludes on arrival to Buenos Aires.