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Torres del Paine
Land-Based Expeditions

Patagonia

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 Claudio Vidal, Cristofer de la Rivera and Rodrigo Tapia. Claudio is a native Chilean who is one of the leading field naturalists and ornithologists in South America. Claudio is among the pioneers of natural history travel to Patagonia, leading Patagonia travel tours for more than 13 years. Claudio has co-authored many books, including Birds of Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego & Antarctic Peninsula and Torres del Paine — Wildlife & Landscapes.

Optional Pre-Trip Extensions

Santiago Pre-Trip Extension

Daily Itinerary

Patagonia Tour Itinerary

  • Day
    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 two nights at the Hotel Diego de Almagro. (Day 2: D)

  • Day
    3

    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
    4-5

    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) y lengas (nothofagus pumilio) where condors can appear so close that you may hear the sound of their wings. Pass several lagoons as you walk to a cave where paintings are found. (B,L,D Daily)

  • Day
    6-7

    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
    8

    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
    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 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)

  • Day
    10

    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)

  • Day
    11

    Arrive U.S.

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

Optional Post-Trip Extensions

Chilean Fjords Extension

Things to Know

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

Included in the price of your trip are the following.

• Accommodations, excursions, meals and transportation as listed in the itinerary
• Services of a private IE Expedition Leader
• Arrival and departure transfers between the group hotel and airport no matter what day or time
• One soft drink or local beer per person per included lunch and dinner
• Bottled water on excursions, group transfers, at included lunches and dinners and in rooms daily
• All park and entrance fees
• All gratuities to group service staff except your IE Expedition Leader

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, Remote offers the highest standard in Patagonia accommodations.  The 22 spacious double rooms feature private bath, safe, air-conditioning, heating and hairdryer.

Hotel Lago Grey

Hotel Lago Grey

Nestled in one of the most beautiful zones of Torres del Paine National Park, Hotel Lago Grey enjoys a privileged view over the Glacier, floating icebergs and Grey Lake. The hotel features 30 comfortable rooms, large dining room, relaxing environment, great selection of Chilean wines and a professional outdoors team. All guest rooms have private bathroom, safe box and international direct dialing phone. The restaurant specializes in delicious dishes using typical Chilean ingredients, while the bar serves exclusive cocktails made with thousand-year-old ice brought from Grey Glacier.

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.

Hotel Cabaña del Lago

Hotel Cabaña del Lago

With 157 lake-view rooms, Hotel Cabaña del Lago is a landmark in Puerto Varas. Overlooking the banks of Lake Llanquihue and the city of Puerto Varas, the Mirador del Lago Restaurant offers a menu highlighting local ingredients mixed with international flavors. The covered terrace and bar offer a cozy environment and amazing views of Lake Llanquihue. Standard rooms feature sitting area, large windows for lake and volcano views, LCD with cable TV, Wi-Fi, mini-bar, safety deposit box and electronic door.

Hotel Galerias

Hotel Galerias

Hotel Galerías offers excellent services in a lovely historic setting of Santiago. It features an outdoor pool on the 6th floor, an extensive wine cellar and fine Chilean cuisine. The outdoor pool area features wooden decks, surrounded by tropical palm trees. Vichuquén Restaurant serves Chile's best wines and cuisine. The Make Make Bar offers a relaxed setting with pool views. Each room has heating, AC, safe, mini-bar Wi-Fi and cable TV.

patagonia voyage stella australis

Stella Australis

Stella Australis features 100 total cabins and can hold up to 210 passengers. With plenty of deck space, entertainment, and beautiful cabins, the Stella Australis allows each guest on the Patagonia cruise to have the best experience possible. The ship has a full gym while cabins have individual AC/heat, safe and en suite bathroom. Each morning enjoy a buffet breakfast. For lunch and dinner, choose from regional specialties complemented by Chilean and Argentinean wines. Best of all, you'll enjoy magnificent panoramic views as you dine. As a unique feature to guests, the Stella Australis offers lectures, slide shows, and other activities in the Yamana Lounge. The lounge features panoramic views, cozy furniture, a bar, and a small library stocked with reference materials on the region. The Sky Lounge also features full bar and spectacular panoramic views. However, some of the best views can be seen from the open outside promenade deck. For entertainment at sea, there is a game room on the third deck, complete with special card tables and other games.

Built: 2010

Cabins: 100 cabins - 177 sqft. with private facilities, low beds and panoramic windows

Decks: 5 decks

Lounges: 2 lounges and one dining room.

Physician onboard

Field Leaders

Chiloe guide Cristofer de la Rivera

Cristofer de la Rivera

Naturalist Guide

Cristofer was born in Santiago, but he grew up in the city of Punta Arenas. A veterinarian by training, he has always been strongly interested in nature and wildlife, participating in multiple research projects on birds and control of introduced species in the Magallanes region and a research project on minke whales in Iceland. This in-depth research helped Cristofer develop deep insight into environmental issues. Cristofer is passionate about bird watching and falconry. A nomadic spirit has led Cristofer from the Atacama Desert to Antarctica, and he spent many years guiding Patagonia cruises and landings at Cape Horn. , never leaving aside the Patagonia base camp.  Cristofer still resides in Punta Arenas and participates in wildlife research studies in Torres del Paine National Park.

Patagonia guide Claudio Vidal

Claudio Vidal

Expedition Leader

Patagonia Expedition Leader Claudio Vidal is a native Chilean who is one of the leading field naturalists and ornithologists in South America. Living in Punta Arenas on the Strait of Magellan has helped foster his interest in the pelagic birdlife and marine mammals of Patagonia. A birdwatcher since the age of twelve, Claudio has co-authored many books, including Birds of Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego & Antarctic Peninsula and Torres del Paine - Wildlife & Landscapes. He continues to develop resource books for Chile’s most important natural areas. Claudio has been leading birdwatching and natural history journeys in Chile for years, and has become a favorite of IE guests on our many past Patagonia expeditions.

International Expeditions Chiloe Naturalist Guide Rodrigo Tapia

Rodrigo Tapia

Naturalist Guide

Rodrigo became an avid birder by the age of 10, and has been observing, studying and learning about them for more than 30 years. This early passion led him into studying Biology at Universidad Católica de Valparaíso and Cornell Lab of Ornithology. He's traveled Chile from the northern Altiplano to Cape Horn while conducting ornithological research and guiding birding groups since 1989. Rodrigo traveled to Antarctica in 1991 as part of a research team conducting studies on Antarctic penguins, and later worked for eight seasons in the White Continent as an expedition leader, lecturer and zodiac driver on board a couple of vessels. These years of sailing across the Drake Passage, together with the experience gathered in pelagic birding off his hometown of Valparaíso in the Pacific coast of central Chile gave him hundreds of hours with albatrosses, petrels and other seabirds, a group of birds which has always captivated him. Rodrigo has been involved in children's environmental education projects, lectured about birds and birding, and worked to raise the profile of birdwatching as a sustainable economic activity.

Patricia Schultz

Patricia Schultz

Host

Special Host: October 30, 2017

Patricia Schultz is the author of the #1 New York Times bestsellers 1,000 Places to See Before You Die and 1,000 Places to See in the United States and Canada Before You Die. A veteran travel journalist with 30 years of experience, she has written for guides such as Frommer’s and Berlitz and periodicals including The Wall Street Journal and Travel Weekly, where she is a contributing editor. She also executive-produced a Travel Channel television show based on 1,000 Places to See Before You Die. Her home base is New York City.

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: $6,698 per person
Duration
11 Days, 10 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 the richest 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 an historic gaucho ranch
  • Get up close to Grey & Perito Moreno Glaciers