Day 1: Travel to Torres del Paine
Arrive around noon-1PM. in Punta Arenas with the earliest morning flight from Santiago. Drive to Cascada Ecocamp (345 km/ 216miles /5hrs) inside the famous Torres del Paine National Park. In summer time (Dec-Mar), the sun sets around 11PM giving us plenty of light to admire the landscape en route and the craggy mountains while entering the park. We will make short stops in the township of Puerto Natales, to take a look of the town (opportunity to leave luggage in our office in Puerto Natales that you will not need during the trek), and in the enormous Cueva del Milodon, a giant geological wander that once sheltered a prehistoric sloth. Overnight at Ecocamp in Las Torres (L,D).
Day 2: Grey Glacier-Pehoe
Early drive (1 hr. 30 min) to lake Grey's southern end where we'll take a boat across Lago Grey (40 min.) to the face of the Grey Glacier. After ample time to marvel at this calving glacier, and enjoy a picnic lunch, we will hike back about four hours to the Refuge (mountain hut) at Lago Pehoe. (Your clothes and personal belongs needed for this and the next night are transported separately to the Refuge in duffel bags that we will provide you on day 1).
If the weather conditions do not allow us to navigate the Grey Lake, we'll instead drive 45 minutes from the Ecocamp to Pudeto to board a catamaran to Pehoe. We'll then hike to the Grey Glacier and return in the late afternoon (about 6-7 hours hiking). Overnight at Refuge Pehoe (B,L,D).
Day 3: French Valley - Valle del Frances
Today the trekking will go over 8 kms/5 mi (2,5-3,5 hrs) up to Campamento Italiano and will continue with a round trip to Mirador del Frances (3 km/2 mi, 1,5-2,5 hrs), one of the most spectacular cirques in the Paine Range. The track between Camp Pehoe and Camp Italiano makes its way through undulating terrain of mixed grassland and light forest to meet river Frances and Camp Italiano.
From here we follow the wild river upstream until El Mirador (lookout point) facing Glaciar Frances that descend from Paine Grande (the highest summit in the Paine range) and with a magnificent broad view of the lakes below. A hiking option (2 hrs) to Mirador Britanico is also available from here. Once we are back at Camp Italiano we proceed walking (1hr) by the shore of lake Nordenskjold until reaching Refugio Los Cuernos for overnight. Duffel bags are carried in by porters from the Refuge at Pehoe (B,L,D).
Day 4: Paso Los Cuernos - The Horns
The 5-6 hours hike starts at Refugio Cuernos and ends at the Ecocamp. The name of the trail is taken from the fact that it passes under the horn-like Cuernos del Paine —peaks with beautiful black “horns” of slate atop gray granite.The journey ends at the Ecocamp in Las Torres for overnight. Duffel bags are carried in by porters from Los Cuernos (B,L,D).
Day 5 and 6: Torres del Paine and Laguna Azul
Our Patagonia trekking itinerary for the day is weather dependent. If the weather is good we will do an all day hike (20 km/12 mi, 8 hrs round-trip) to the foot of the impressive granite massif of El Paine where the towers rise majestically before us, and the glacial lake is visible below: one of the most scenic sights in the world! The famous Torres del Paine (2.900m/9.400ft) consist of three gigantic granite monoliths, remains of a great cirque that has been sheared away by the forces of glacial ice.
If the weather is poor, with no chances to view the Torres del Paine, we will trek instead (2-3 hours) in the beech forest at Laguna Azul and then trek (2-4hrs) across typical pampa (steppe) terrain where we will have the chance to scout the rich fauna of the park, including many guanacos and birds. Once back at the Ecocamp, a farewell dinner is honored with a typical Patagonian lamb barbecue; overnight at Ecocamp (B,L,D).
Day 7: Travel to El Calafate in Argentina
Leave early from Torres del Paine and drive onwards Cerro Castillo border crossing where we meet the regular bus to El Calafate in Argentina (287 kms/180 miles). Arriving in El Calafate we transfer to our hotel. Calafate is a small village set on the edge of Los Glaciares National Park amid dramatic scenery. At the evening (around 3PM) we take part in a guided excursion to the Perito Moreno glacier, a very active glacier on the south arm of Lago Argentino.
The Perito Moreno Glacier, a 60m-high relic of the Ice Age, creates a unique geographic event approximately every three or four years. As it advances, it pushes out across the surface of the lake, cutting the lake into two separate sections. As water pressure builds up on one side over the years, the glacier eventually explodes open with a torrent of water and a fury of calving icebergs. Although this spectacular event no longer occurs as cyclically as it did during the past 50 years, the Moreno Glacier is constantly moving, calving, crackling an incredible sight and sound at any time. Later we return to Calafate for overnight in the Hotel Libertador, Lar Aike or similar.
Day 8: Calafate to El Chalten and Fitzroy
Early breakfast and continue with the regular bus from Calafate to Chalten (220 kms/138 miles). We drive on isolated dirt roads across the pampas and along the northern end of Lago Viedma and reach the settlement of El Chalten, a tiny outpost beside Parque Nacional Los Glaciares and on foot of the impressive mount Fitzroy. Time permitting, we will do a walk by river Electrico along a side trail with some of the most beautiful Lenga forest of Patagonia. Overnight at Hosteria in Chalten. (B,L,D).
Day 9-10: Trekking in Parque Nacional Los Glaciares
We will have the next two and one half days to explore the park. We shall undertake two main treks into the nearby mountains. One trek will take us to the Fitzroy Base Camp (about 6-7 hours) and the other trek in the direction of Cerro Torre (6-7 hours), but this will depend on weather conditions at the time. Most of these treks are on well established trails so that shorter options are often available. While trekking in the park, the trails will take us to places such as Laguna Torre, the base camp of Cerro Torre climbs; Laguna Capri and Laguna Madre, Laguna de los Tres and directly to the front of Fitzroy and Piedras Blancas. The scale of the scenery, with its jagged peaks and glimpses of glaciers suspended between them makes these treks extremely rewarding. (B,L,D).
Day 11: Trekking & Travel: Fitzroy to Calafate
You are free this morning to relax at the hotel or trek on your own in the Fitzroy area. Lunch at the hotel. Around 5PM you are transferred to Chalten's bus terminal on time to board the regular bus back to Calafate. Overnight in Calafate at Hostal Libertador, Lar Aike or similar. (B,L).
Day 12: Calafate to Puerto Natales
We take the early morning regular bus to Puerto Natales (5 hours). Arrive around 1PM with enough time to visit the town. Overnight in hotel Aquaterra, Francis Drake or similar.
Day 13: Puerto Natales to Punta Arenas
Transfer from your hotel in Puerto Natales to the bus station and board the regular bus that will leave you at Punta Arenas' airport on time for your departure flight.
Also see tour packages in:
South America Chile Outdoor: Land Rambler Hiking & Trekking