• Monte Fitzroy as seen from Pampa de las Carretas, Patagonia, Argentina
  • The face of the Perito Moreno Glacier west of El Calafate, Patagonia, Argentina
  • The summit of Cerro Torre peeking through the clouds, Patagonia, Argentina
  • View from the foot of Laguna Torre, Patagonia, Argentina
  • Hikers on the Loma del Pliegue Tumbado, Patagonia, Argentina

Best Hikes in Patagonia

Los Glaciares & Torres del Paine National Parks

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Patagonia Slide Show

Discover the best mountain hikes in Argentine and Chilean Patagonia! Thrill to the majesty of the iconic spires of Monte Fitzroy, Cerro Torre and the Torres del Paine as they pierce the wind-scrubbed skies above the Patagonian icecap. We’ve assembled a series of hikes that deliver “mountain and view” experiences so you can thrill to some of the planet’s most exciting mountain landscapes! Evenings spent in comfortable inns and “hosterias” add a touch of comfort to your experiences in these wild lands at the end of the earth! The Patagonian Andes are a hiker’s nirvana and “a must” for anyone who loves hiking in the mountains.

The turquoise waters of Lago Argentino backed by the snow-capped peaks of the Patagonian Andes.

Day 1
Overnight in El Calafate
Dinner included
Arrive in El Calafate, an old wool trading station on the southern shore of the enormous Lago Argentino. Upon arrival in El Calafate, travel to your centrally-located hotel in El Calafate town. This evening, gather for a welcome dinner to kick off your adventure in Patagonia!

The Perito Moreno Glacier in Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina.

Day 2
Overnight in El Chalten
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included
Spend the morning hiking the boardwalked trails at the snout of the magnificent Glaciar Perito Moreno (Perito Moreno Glacier), a twenty-mile-long river of ice draining the Southern Patagonian Icefield (Hielo Sur). The Perito Moreno Glacier empties perpendicularly into a narrow, fjord-like arm of Lago Argentino called the Brazo Rico (or the Canal de los Tempanos). The glacier’s three mile wide terminal face is composed of walls of fractured blue ice that rise almost two hundred feet from the surface of the lake. Because the Perito Moreno Glacier enters the Brazo Rico at a right angle, it is able, periodically, to surge across this narrow arm of the lake sealing off the upper portion of the Brazo Rico from the main body of the lake. The waters in the blocked-off arm can backup against the dam of ice to a level one hundred feet above that of the main part of the lake. When the glacier is no longer able to hold back the weight of the impounded waters, the ice dam collapses in a magnificent spectacle that occurs every several years. Later, travel by vehicle to the Fitzroy Sector of Los Glaciares National Park. Spend the evening in a comfortable lodge in the village of El Chalten whose unpaved back streets lend it the air of a frontier town.

The Perito Moreno Glacier descends from the southern Patagonian icecap.

El Chalten, Argentina.

Cerro Torre (right) and the Cordon Adela (left) as seen from the trail to Laguna Torre.

Day 3
Overnight in El Chalten
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included
Hike along the Cerro Torre trail following the course of the Rio Fitzroy into the heart of Los Glaciares National Park. The trail passes through open scrublands and scattered stands of lenga and ñirre, both varieties of the southern beech (Nothofagus sp) before arriving at the “Cerro Torre Lookout” from where you’ll enjoy a impressive view of the slender granite spire of the Cerro Torre. If you desire, you can continue further to reach the shores of the glacial lake called Laguna Torre. The view of ice-encrusted Cerro Torre rising above the Glaciar Torre and the waters of the lake is stunning. Continue along the top of the glacial moraine that impounds Laguna Torre for even more close-up views of Cerro Torre and the icefalls that descend the serrated mountain wall known as the Cordón Adela. Return to El Chalten for the evening.

The view from Laguna Torre.

View of the Piedras Blancas Glacier descending from the Fitzroy massif.

Day 4
Overnight in El Chalten
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included
Today, enjoy a hike to lovely Laguna Capri. The view of Monte Fitzroy rising above the serene waters of Laguna Capri is outstanding, and a Patagonian classic! A number of hillocks surrounding the lake offer other vantage points. For a longer and more strenuous outing, hike along the Rio Blanco enjoying the sights (and sounds) of the Piedras Blancas Glacier spilling into its namesake lake. From near the Campamento Poincenot, a steep trail ascends to the Laguna de los Tres. You may well feel that the view of the Fitzroy massif from the shores of this emerald-colored lake is alone “worth the journey” to Patagonia! After enjoying the views, continue on the trail and return to El Chalten via the Laguna Capri. Be sure to watch for the striking, red-headed Magellanic woodpecker along the trail.

Monte Fitzroy from Laguna de los Tres.

Cerro Torre (left) and Monte Fitzroy (right) from the Pampa de las Carretas.

Day 5
Overnight in El Chalten
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included
Hike to the Loma del Pliegue Tumbado, a broad ridge south of the Rio Fitzroy. The views from atop the Loma del Pliegue Tumbado are frequently considered some of the finest in the region! This hike will take you through a variety of environments including Patagonian steppe, lenga forests and the marshlands known as mallín. From the open ridgetop, the 360 degree views can be overwhelming! You’ll be surrounded by a panorama of soaring peaks, glacier-filled valleys, immense turquoise lakes and the vast Patagonian steppe stretching away to the east. If you prefer, you can enjoy a shorter version of the hike to the Pampa de las Carretas where you’ll enjoy wide-open views of Monte Fitzroy and its surrounding entourage of peaks. Overnight at a lodge in El Chalten.

Hiking on the Pampa de las Carretas near El Chalten.

View from Pliegue Tumbado: Cerro Solo (left); Cerro Torre (center); Monte Fitzroy (right); Laguna Torre (foreground).

A parting shot of the Fitzroy massif as you head across the steppes to Chile.

Day 6
Overnight in Torres del Paine National Park
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included
Begin your day with an early departure from El Chalten, and travel by vehicle across the vast Patagonian steppes en route to Chile. Cross the Argentine-Chile frontier and continue to the Torres del Paine National Park, a showcase of Chilean Patagonia’s scenic and wildlife splendor! Overnight in a comfortable lodge set on the shores of Lago Grey.

Guanacos in Torres del Paine National Park, Chile.

A splendid view of Torres del Paine National Park from windswept Mirador Ferrier.

Day 7
Overnight in Torres del Paine National Park
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included
Hike along the south shore of Lago Grey where luminous blue icebergs calved from the snout of the Grey Glacier often beach themselves in the shallows. A short loop around a rocky islet offers wonderful (and windy) views down the length of Lago Grey. For a longer, more challenging hike, you can ascend steeply to the Mirador Ferrier (Ferrier Viewpoint) on the slopes of Monte Ferrier. From this less frequented viewpoint, a wonderful panorama of lakes and mountains is spread out before you.

Icebergs grounded near the south shore of Lago Grey, Torres del Paine National Park.

Paine Grande and the French Glacier from Mirador Frances.

View of Lago Pehoe from the Mirador Frances, French Valley, Torres del Paine National Park.

Day 8
Overnight in Torres del Paine National Park
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included
Travel by vehicle to the Pudeto dock on Lago Pehoe, and journey by boat across the lake to its western end. Views of the peaks lining the east side of the French Valley (including the peaks of Espada and Hoja) greet you as you begin today’s hikes. Heading north and east, a trail leads past the rock-rimmed Laguna Skottsberg which is usually buffeted by strong winds. Small waterspouts are sometimes seen scurrying across the surface of this lake. The trail enters lush southern beech woodlands before crossing the swinging bridge at Campamento Italiano. Just beyond, an open area on a glacial moraine offers clear views of the French Glacier hanging on the the sheer walls of the glacier-draped peak of Paine Grande. Hardy hikers can continue up-valley to the Mirador Frances which offers closer views of the French Glacier as well as expansive views over turquoise Lago Pehoe. Retrace your steps to the boat dock, ferry across the lake, and travel to your accommodations at Las Torres, built on the site of the old Estancia Cerro Paine (ranch) beneath the towering bulk of the mountain known as Cerro Almirante Nieto.

Paine Grande (left) and the Cuernos del Paine (right) rise above Lago Pehoe.

The unbridled majesty of Chile’s Torres del Paine. From left to right: Torre Agostini, Torre Central, Torre Monzino.

Day 9
Overnight in Torres del Paine National Park
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included
From the door of the lodge, depart on a hike to the renowned Torres del Paine Lookout (Mirador Las Torres). This is unquestionably the most spectacular hike in the national park. Ascend the narrow valley of the Rio Ascencio framed by the peaks of Cerro Paine and Cerro Almirante Nieto to reach the Refugio Chileno, the turn-around point for the shorter hiking option. The tops of the Torre Central and the Torre Monzino are visible from the refuge. For a longer hike, continue up the Ascencio Valley passing through heath meadows and dwarf lenga forests before reaching the Campamento Torres (used by climbers as a base camp). From this point, the trail steepens as it threads its way between boulders and groves of stunted southern beeches to reach the Torres del Paine Lookout. Enjoy the stupendous and “never-to-be-forgotten” view of the Torres del Paine, three massive granite towers that ring a glacier-carved, lake-filled cirque. The tallest tower, the Torre de Agostini (or Torre Sur), rises to a height of 9,350 feet. Retrace your steps to the starting point.

An Andean condor graces the sky above Torres del Paine.

Hiking near the Mirador los Condores, Torres del Paine National Park.

Cerro Almirante Nieto (left) and the Torres del Paine (right) reflected in Laguna Amarga, Chile.

Day 10
Overnight in Punta Arenas
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included
Depart Torres del Paine National Park this morning traveling south by vehicle to the colorful city of Punta Arenas on the shores of the Strait of Magellan. En route to Punta Arenas, make a stop to visit the penguin reserve on Otway Sound. (Please note that the penguin reserve is sometimes closed to visitors for wildlife management reasons.) Upon arrival in the port city of Punta Arenas, settle into your hotel and enjoy a farewell dinner this evening.

Magellanic penguins (Spheniscus magellanicus) on the shores of Seno Otway near Punta Arenas, Chile.

The Plaza de Armas, Buenos Aires.

Seeing Buenos Aires

Please note that because this trip officially starts in El Calafate, Argentina, an overview tour of Buenos Aires, Argentina’s capital, is not included as part of this trip. If you wish to experience Argentina’s vibrant and delightful capital, we suggest you plan to arrive in Buenos Aires two days before the start of the trip. Some Buenos Aires highlights include a visit to the cemetery of La Recoleta (where Eva Peron is buried) and a visit to the lively San Telmo barrio (“neighborhood”) full of antique shops, cafes and tango clubs. You might also want to consider a trip across the Rio de la Plata by fast boat to visit the lovely town of Colonia del Sacramento (a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site) in the neighboring country of Uruguay. We can make suggestions for hotels in Buenos Aires and can assist you with booking overnight accommodations in Buenos Aires, if you require.

Printable version of trip itinerary

Patagonia Slide Show

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Photos on this page are by John Osaki except as otherwise credited.

Trip Dates
March 2-11, 2017
Feb 26 – Mar 7, 2018

Price (2017)
(2018 price TBA)
$5,595 (6-11 participants); $5,395 (12-16 participants)

Single supplement
$1,205. Single accommodations are subject to availability and may be limited.

Meeting Point
El Calafate, Argentina (airport code FTE). Plan your arrival in El Calafate for no later than 5:00 PM on March 2.

Departure Point
Punta Arenas, Chile (airport code PUQ).

Accommodations
Ten nights in small hotels/inns; all rooms with private bath. Ten breakfasts, nine lunches, and ten dinners are included.

Other Information
Airfare (international and domestic flights in Argentina and Chile) is not included in the trip price. You should purchase an “open-jaw” (also called “multi-city”) ticket from the U.S. to Buenos Aires, returning to the U.S. from Santiago, Chile. In addition, you will need to purchase a flight from Buenos Aires to El Calafate, Argentina (FTE) and a flight from Punta Arenas (PUQ) to Santiago, Chile (SCL). Most flights to El Calafate depart from the Buenos Aires domestic airport (airport code AEP) rather than the Buenos Aires international airport (airport code EZE) where most international flights arrive. Only a limited number of flights to El Calafate depart from the international airport. Transfers between the two Buenos Aires airports are easily arranged through Taxi Ezeiza. Please plan your arrival in El Calafate, Argentina for no later than 5:00 PM on March 2 as dinner on this evening is included in the trip price. Please plan your departure from Punta Arenas, Chile for March 12. Flights from Punta Arenas connect with U.S.-bound flights in Santiago, Chile. Please note that airport transfers are not included in the trip price, but we will be happy to arrange these for you, if you desire.

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Trips for the adventurous hiker since 1996

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