Torres del Paine

Patagonia

Land-Based Expeditions
Torres del Paine

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Patagonia

Patagonia typifies the very definition of wilderness: massive, granite horns thrust from the darkness of Earth’s crust to be painted by the sun; fields of prehistoric ice and unhurried glaciers; and species-filled forests and lakes that enchant all those who visit this distant land. Shining as the crown jewel in this glittering realm is Torres del Paine National Park, internationally renowned as one of the most beautiful, unspoiled and remote places on the planet.   

Spot Intriguing Wildlife

A wildlife-enthusiast’s dream journey, IE’s Patagonia tour puts you in prime position to discover guanacos, foxes and maybe even pumas! Plus, our expert naturalist guide will help you find intriguing birdlife – Andean condors, Magellanic penguins, Austral parakeets and torrent ducks. 

Travel to Patagonia on an In-Depth Expedition

IE’s exclusive, custom-crafted Patagonia tour brings you the most in-depth and personal exploration of Torres del Paine. Exploring glaciers by ship and by foot and daily hiking excursions are the perfect opportunities to spot wildlife, study the vibrant wildflowers and capture extraordinary photographs of the stunning Paine Horns.

Explore With Patagonia Tour Pioneers

Your days are spent with expert Patagonia travel guides like natives Cristofer de la Rivera and Rodrigo Tapia, two of the area's leading field naturalists and ornithologists. Both men have extensive research and guiding experience.

Daily Itinerary

Patagonia Tour Itinerary

  • Day
    1

    Punta Arenas

    Arrive 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 two nights at the Hotel Diego de Almagro. (D)

  • Day
    2

    Porvenir / Parque Pinguino Rey / Punta Arenas

    To begin our Patagonia tour, fly to Porvenir in Tierra del Fuego. 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” —watching for 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 opportunities to observe and photograph the penguins. Fly back to Punta Arenas late this afternoon. (B,L,D)

    King Penguins in Patagonia
  • Day
    3-4

    Magdalena Island / Puerto Natales

    Take a boat to Magdalena Island to visit the famous Magellanic penguin rookery. Your Expedition Leader will be on hand to talk about their ecology. By noon we will visit 'Estancia Cerro Negro', a typical working sheep-farming station, where we will see of a shearing and sheep dog demonstration and a delicious Patagonian-style barbecue. Depart for the picturesque coastal town of Puerto Natales, where there are gorgeous vistas of the fjord 'Ultima Esperanza' (the 'Last Hope'). Spend two nights at Hotel Remota. From here venture out to Mylodon Cave Nature Reserve, an outstanding natural formation that sheltered a large number of long-gone Pleistocene mammal species, including the Giant Ground-Sloth or Mylodon, about 12,000 years ago. At Cerro Benitez you go up through the forest of ñirres (nothofagus antarctica) and lengas (nothofagus pumilio) where condors can appear so close that you may hear the sound of their wings. (B,L,D Daily)

  • Day
    5-6

    Torres del Paine

    Sunrise paints the park's granite towers red — a great start to days of nature hikes in this secluded area. Hike through the Nothofagus forest, watching for fox, Magellanic woodpecker, Chilean flicker and Austral parakeet. Cruise along Grey Lake before exploring the area on foot. Grey Glacier is one of the nearly 50 outlet glaciers originating from the massive Southern Patagonian Ice Field. Continue exploring the alkaline pons and reed-fringed lagoons. As we explore, watch for herds of guanaco, lesser rhea and soaring Andean condor. Spend two nights at Hotel Lago Grey. (B,L,D Daily)

    Cuernos del Paine
  • Day
    7

    El Calafate

    Travel across the mountains to El Calafate today. At the eastern corner of Sarmiento Lake, we will reach a location that commands the most incredible views of the towering peaks of Las Torres. As we travel you’ll watch for herds of guanaco, the curious-looking lesser rhea and impressive Andean condors soaring along the road. By noontime we will drive to Cerro Castillo, located along the border and from here you’ll continue to the picturesque town of El Calafate in time for check in and dinner at Hotel Kau Yatun.  (B,L,D)

  • Day
    8

    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 for Andean condor and buff-necked ibis while you listen to this 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)

    Patagonia photos los glaciares national park
  • Day
    9

    El Calafate / En Route

    Our small-group adventure ends in El Calafate after a tasty breakfast. Depart on independent flights home. You may also choose to join our exciting Chilean Fjords extension in Ushuaia or other extensions to complete your experience. (B, Meals Aloft)

Things to Know

What is included in the price of IE's Patagonia expedition?

Intra-tour airfare

Accommodations on group dates

Excursions, activities, and meals as listed in the itinerary

Services of experienced English-speaking guides

Arrival and departure transfers between the group hotel and airport regardless of day or time

Selected beverages included with lunch and dinner

Potable water

Medical expense coverage and emergency evacuation insurance

What is the level of activity for IE's Patagonia?

A trip to Patagonia requires good health and mobility. Time is scheduled for rest but your itinerary has a moderate pace, involving activities and transportation from place to place to ensure you have maximized opportunity to interact with the wildlife and local culture. Consult your physician if you are in doubt about your ability to enjoy this adventure.

Visiting Parque Pinguino Rey involves very little walking, over even ground.  Magdalena Island is not large but you have to be careful not to step into penguin nests, which are burrows in the ground.  Walking here is not difficult. Estancia Cerro Negro is also easy walking. The rest of your excursions involve a good deal of walking and standing, with nowhere but the ground to sit.  You should expect to walk unassisted and stand for up to three hours, twice a day. Terrain can be flat to rocky and involve hiking uphill and downhill in places.  Rain and wind can make the ground muddy and slick. 

Travel in Patagonia is by road, which is normally in very good condition from Punta Arenas to the entrance to Torres del Paine National Park.  From there the road can get rougher, depending on the recent weather and road works. Each of the drives from place to place on your itinerary are about ten hours, including the scheduled excursions and meals along the way, leaving anywhere from four to six hours of actual driving.  The flights between Punta Arenas and Porvenir are 15 minutes each.

What is the weather like in Patagonia?

Our expeditions are in the summer at the southernmost tip of South America. Average air temperatures range from 50-70 degrees. Wind chill temps can dip to 20s when on boat excursions to glaciers due to water, glaciers and wind.  Skies will range from sunny and clear to overcast with rain.  Wind gusts up to 40-75 mph are common.

Is IE's Patagonia a "birding" trip?

This is not a birding-only trip. Our expedition is designed to provide opportunities to view as many types of wildlife as possible, from amphibians and reptiles to mammals and insects.  However, birds are ubiquitous and prolific, as well as beautiful and interesting, in the places you will be visiting.  As such, birds are a highlight and you can expect to enjoy seeing as many species as possible while still enjoying the other wildlife the region has to offer.

Are you able to customize a trip to Chile and/or Argentina to feature destinations and activities of my choice?

Yes! If our group itinerary does not suit your desires please contact our Custom Department where a specialist can craft the kind of experience that will make your adventure the trip of a lifetime.

Accommodations

Hotel Diego de Almagro

Hotel Diego de Almagro Punta Arenas

Each room at the Hotel Diego de Almagro features free Wi-Fi, air conditioning, cable TV and a telephone. Diego do Almagro’s restaurant offers traditional Chilean and international cuisine. While here, Patagonia tour guests can also relax in the hotel's pool, sauna and Jacuzzi.

Remota Lodge, Puerto Natales, Chile

Hotel Remota

From the fine Peruvian cotton to the private collection of pre-Hispanic decor and fantastic staff, Remota offers the highest standard in Patagonia accommodations.  The 22 spacious double rooms feature private bath, safe, air-conditioning, heating and hairdryer.

Hotel Kau Yatun, El Calafate, Argentina

Hotel Kau Yatun

Experience the best of Patagonian charm at Hotel Kau Yatun, which dates back to the first families that settled El Calafate. The hotel has 40 spacious, comfortable rooms overlooking the estancia and combines the style of a traditional Patagonian home with the comforts and amenities of a four-star hotel. All rooms feature private bathroom and are equipped with king size beds, WiFi, hair-dryers and heating with individual control.

Field Leaders

Amazon expedition leader Guillermo

Guillermo Knell

Amazon Cruise Expedition Leader

Amazon Expedition Leader Guillermo Knell is a trained biologist with a Master’s Degree in Ecotourism who has a wealth of experience in sustainable tourism development and project management. As the International Programs Field Manager for The Field Museum of Chicago, Guillermo conducted biological inventories, field research and coordinated field logistics in his native Peru as well as in Cuba. While working with Development Center of the Amazonian Native People, Guillermo evaluated natural and cultural activities for potential tourism development, and worked with native communities from Machiguengas, Urarinas, Iquitos and Piros ethnic groups on sustainable development projects. Guillermo has more than 20 years of extensive experience working as a naturalist guide across the Peruvian Amazon and in the Andes, plus was heavily involved in showcasing the various environments and indigenous people of Peru in documentaries for Discovery Channel and the BBC.

Dennis Osorio

Dennis Osorio

Amazon Cruise Expedition Leader

An avid birder, Dennis Osorio holds a master degree in hotel and tourism management with a concentration in Sustainable Tourism. After completing guide training in South Africa, his passion for travel and wildlife led him back home to Peru to seek a position in the Amazon, and in IE he found the perfect match to his commitment to conservation and the environment. Dennis is a guarantee of success to any expedition in the Amazon.

A Note About Field Staff

This is just a selection of the Expedition Leaders and Naturalists who may lead your ecotour.  A particular departure may be escorted by any one of them.  If you would like to find out which leaders are scheduled to lead each departure, please contact our office.

Wildlife

Puma

From: $8,898 per person
Duration
9 Days, 8 Nights
Departs From
Punta Arenas, Chile
Guest Capacity
18 Guests
Trip Type
Land
Travel Style

Trip Highlights

  • Walk among two species of penguins with a rare encounter at king penguin colony & visit to a bustling Magellanic penguin colony on Magdalena Island
  • Explore a rich array of wildlife & scenery on excursions including hiking, boating & penguin watching
  • Enjoy insight from Patagonia's premier naturalist Expedition Leaders
  • Survey Patagonia's culture & cuisine with a traditional lunch at a working sheep farm
  • Get up close to Grey & Perito Moreno Glaciers