Patagonia Tour Itinerary

Days 1 & 2

U.S. / Punta Arenas

Fly independently to Punta Arenas. Enjoy great views of the mountains as you soar over the Southern Patagonia Ice Field. The rest of your day in Punta Arenas is at leisure. Spend tonight at the Hotel Diego de Almagro. (Meals Aloft)

Day 3

Punta Arenas / Porvenir

To begin our Patagonia tour, travel by ferry to Porvenir in Tierra del Fuego. While crossing the legendary Straits of Magellan, observe black-browed albatrosses, Southern giant petrels, Cape and white-chinned petrels, sooty shearwaters and Magellanic diving-petrels. Other seabirds we may spot include Chilean skua, kelp and dolphin gulls, and South American terns. IE’s naturalist guides may also be able to point out the common South American sea lion or playful pods of Peale’s dolphin in the waters. Drive along the shores of Bahia Inutil — “Useless Bay” —seeing an array of wildlife including guanaco, Southern grey fox, upland goose and Chilean flamingo. Arrive at the private Parque Pinguino Rey, where we visit the world’s most accessible colony of king penguins. Taking advantage of excellent feeding conditions, king penguins began breeding here in 2011, and IE guests enjoy exclusive opportunities to observe and photograph the penguins. Spend tonight at Hosteria Yendegaia. (B,L,D)

patagonia tour, king penguins

 

Day 4

Porvenir / Punta Arenas / Torres del Paine National Park

Fly to Punta Arenas and set out for Torres del Paine. Stop en route at the Otway Magellanic penguin rookery, learning about Patagonia’s most common penguin species. Your Patagonia tour guide will discuss the breeding and feeding patterns of this endemic penguin. As we walk the paths around the Otway Sound, birding enthusiasts will want to watch for local songbirds, including Austral canastero, grass wren, long-tailed meadowlark, Chilean flamingo and a selection of southern ducks. Stop at Estancia Cerro Negro, a private gaucho farm, to enjoy a traditional asado al palo barbecue lunch. It’s a great chance to learn about the way of life of people who have lived in Patagonia for generations. The hardy people of Patagonia have etched out a life centered around the farms and pampas of this solitary region. Learn how our host Gerardo and other gauchos have fared for generations in the unforgiving landscape, still tending to sheep and cattle, and chasing off the occasional puma. Our afternoon will also include an opportunity to watch Gerardo’s dogs demonstrate their herding abilities. As our small-group nears the coastal town of Puerto Natales, enjoy vistas of the Last Hope Fjord, where black-necked swans are often found feeding along the shore. Spend the next two nights at Hotel Lago Grey. (B,L,D)

patagonia tour torres del paine

 

Day 5

Torres del Paine: Lago Grey / Grey Glacier

Torres del Paine National Park encompasses almost 600,000 acres of arid Patagonian steppe, pre-Andean shrubbery, Andean desert and deciduous forests. Enjoy a magnificent view of sunrise over the “Cuernos del Paine” (the Paine Horns). These rugged peaks, formed out of granite and sedimentary rock, were named “Paine,” which means blue, by native Patagonian Indians presumable because of the peaks’ stark blue coloration when observed from a distance. Join our naturalist guide walking through the Nothofagus forest, where we scan for Magellanic woodpecker, Chilean flickers, Austral parakeets, Andean deep, foxes and unique flora. We take a ship along the 15-mile long lake, formed by the retreat of the glacier and surrounded by mountains including Paine Grande — at 10,006 feet the park’s highest point. Grey Lake is full of icebergs calved from the Grey Glacier, the final tongue of the 300 mile long Southern Patagonia Ice Field and one of the 48 main basins of this ice field. Often, we see great icebergs floating in the lake and caught along the shores after calving from Grey Glacier. After exploring, enjoy drinks served with 20,000-year-old ice! In the afternoon, walk to a beech forest and the Ice Beach, where the icebergs from the glacier end their journey. (B,L,D)

patagonia tour guanacos

 

Day 6

Torres del Paine: Salto Grande / Salto Chico

Continue exploring the alkaline ponds and reed-fringed lagoons located of the eastern part of the park. There are approximately 120 species of birds in the park, and in this area we are likely to observe chimango caracara, thorn-railed rayadito, Austral pygmy owl, Austral parakeet and more with the help of binoculars and a spotting scope. While dominated by the imposing Paine Massif, a surprising variety of more than 400 plant species dot the Patagonian steppe, forest and Andean desert found in Torres del Paine National Park. Each day of our Patagonia expedition itinerary brings new opportunities to be charmed by the Lady’s slipper, Chilean fire bush, Magellanic raspberry or yellow ground orchid that grow in the Austral summer, and to examine the lichens and mosses that spread like a blanket across Torres del Paine. Spend two nights at the charming Hosteria las Torres. (B,L,D).

patagonia travel lady slipper

 

Day 7

Torres del Paine

Sunrise paints the park’s renowned granite towers red — a great start to a day of nature hikes in this secluded area of Torres del Paine. The granite towers soar up to 9,350 feet. With the right lighting, the mountain base turns in orange colors and the scene become very dramatic with peculiar lenticular clouds moving fast over the peaks. Spend the morning hiking around breathtaking Blue Lake for a spectacular view of the Towers. We may find torrent ducks swimming in the rapids, or Chilean flamingos and grebes on the lakes. From the eastern corner of Sarmiento Lake, enjoy commanding views of the park and its impressive peaks. As we explore, watch for herds of guanaco, most southerly camelid, the curious-looking lesser rhea and soaring Andean condors. This afternoon on our Patagonia expedition itinerary is at leisure at Hosteria Las Torres so that you may hike the many trails or even treat yourself to the spa. (B,L,D)

patagonia tour group  

 

Day 8

Torres del Paine / El Calafate

After breakfast and one last sunrise visit to the Paine towers, our Patagonia tour continues to El Calafate on the shores of Lago Argentino. Our accommodation for the next two nights is Hotel de Campo Kau Yatún, which forms part of the huge ranch Estancia 25 de Mayo. The afternoon is at leisure to explore this picturesque town. Don't forget to taste the berries of Calafate bushes (Berberis microphylla) after which the town was named! (B,L)

patagonia tour perito moreno glacier

 

Day 9

Los Glaciares National Park: Perito Moreno Glacier

Spend the last full-day of your Patagonia tour discovering the wonders of Los Glaciares National Park. Designated as a park in 1937 and declared an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981, this spectacular park’s three major features are its majestic mountains, immense lakes and of course, the glaciers themselves. The most celebrated of these is the famed Perito Moreno Glacier. This breathtaking cathedral of ice is still advancing, with a three-mile wall plunging into the Channel of Icebergs. Earlier in 2012, a huge chunk of the glacier calved from Perito Moreno, collapsing into the sea. The area is astonishing, with Magellanic forests and orchids growing so close they seem to touch the face of the glacier. Led by our expert naturalist, search Andean condor and buff-necked ibis while you listen to is massive glacier crack and calve giant icebergs into the lake.The wind-swept steppes, temperate forests and emerald lakes of Los Glaciares are also home to Magellanic woodpecker, Magellanic plover and other birdlife of the subantarctic woodlands. (B,L,D)

patagonia travel andean condor

 

Day 10

El Calafate / En Route

Our small-group adventure ends in El Calafate after a tasty breakfast. Fly independently to Buenos Aires and connect with flights home. You may also choose to join our exciting Chilean Fjords extension in Ushuaia. (B, Meals Aloft)

Day 11

Arrive U.S.

Arrive in the U.S. and connect with your flights home. (Meals Aloft)