Day 1: Hotel Glaciares, Puerto Natales, Chile. Arrive into Santiago's international airport where you will take an internal flight (approx. 4 hours) down to Punta Arenas on the Magellan Strait. There you will be met at the airport for your transfer up to Puerto Natales on the Last Hope Sound (roughly 3 hours), where you will have the rest of the afternoon free after a long day of traveling.
Day 2: Refugio Paine Grande, Torres del Paine National Park, Chile. Morning pick-up at the hostel for your 2-hour transfer into Torres del Paine National Park, designated a Unesco World Biosphere Reserve in 1978, being the home to at least 25 species of mammals, including guanacos, pumas and foxes, as well as more than 115 species of birds. You will see various lakes (Sarmiento, Nordenskjold, Pehoé), the famous North and South Towers and the more photographed Paine “Cuernos”, or Horns. At Pudeto, you will take a 30-minute catamaran across lake Pehoe to the Lodge Paine Grande for your first night in the park. Rest of the afternoon free to enjoy the clean air and majestic surroundings.
Day 3: Refugio Grey, Torres del Paine National Park, Chile. Today will be an easy day of hiking, as you begin your trek by taking the western section of the "W", up the Grey Trail, along the lake to a lookout of the Grey Glacier. Your destination for the night is the Refugio Grey, between the Grey Glacier and Paine Grande, the tallest peak in the park at 3,050 meters, or 10,000 feet.
Day 4: Refugio Paine Grande, Torres del Paine National Park, Chile. Since today you will return to the Lodge Paine Grande, you will have time in the morning to hike farther up the Grey Trail at least to the Las Guardas Camp, 1.5 hours away, which is right on the edge of the Grey Glacier. Then you can take your time returning to the lodge, having your box lunch on the way.
Day 5: Refugio Los Cuernos, Torres del Paine National Park, Chile. Today will probably be your longest day of hiking in Torres del Paine, requiring an earlier start. You will head east, and then north along the shore of the Skottsberg lake, around Paine Grande and up into the Frenchman's Valley beginning at the Italian Camp. From here up to the British Camp is roughly 2.5 hours, and time allowing you can continue up to a lookout for a wonderful view of the valley. Then you will return down Frenchman's Valley heading east along the Lake Nordenskjold to the Refugio Los Cuernos for the night.
Day 6: Refugio Chileno, Torres del Paine National Park, Chile. This morning after breakfast you will continue east along the Los Cuernos Pass Trail, right at the base of the famous Cuernos, or Horns. You will begin the eastern section of the "W" by heading north at the Inge Lagoon and up to the Refugio Chileno for a hot shower and a good meal.
Day 7: Refugio Torre Central, Torres del Paine National Park, Chile. Today you will experience the last section of the "W" by hiking up the Ascencio Valley and along the river of the same name, heading west around the Torres, or Towers to the Las Torres Base Camp by the lagoon, yielding the best views of the Towers in the park. After enjoying the silence and the magnificent granite massifs, you will return to the Refugio Torre Central, close to the Hosteria Las Torres, for your last night in the park.
Day 8: Hosteria Meulen, El Calafate, Argentina. After breakfast you will have a transfer to the town of Cerro Castillo on the border with Argentina where you will take the bus into the Pampa and on into El Calafate for your next two nights. You have the rest of the afternoon free to walk through this fast-growing tourist town, with its great bookstores and local handcraft shops.
Day 9: Hosteria Meulen, El Calafate, Argentina. Today you will have a full day excursion to the Perito Moreno Glacier, one of the most active glaciers on the planet, and one of the few which is not regressing. The glacier grows up to 2 meters per day in the middle sections, with large pieces calving off he faces of the glacier almost constantly. You will take a catamaran up close to the glacier and have an ice-trekking excursion allowing you experience the glacier in a way most don't. Late afternoon you will return to El Calafate for the night.
Day 10: Hosteria Infinito Sur, El Chalten, Argentina. Today you will take a transfer of roughly 2 hours around the easter edge of the Argentine Lake, then along the nearly identical Viedma Lake to the town of El Chalten, known as the trekking capital of Argentina, right at the base of Mount Fitz Roy, Cerro Torre and numerous other spires and massifs. El Chalten is a backpackers haven, and growing even faster than El Calafate, and is the staging point for various trekking and climbing excursions. Rest of the afternoon free to explore the town.
Day 11: Hosteria Infinito Sur, El Chalten, Argentina. Today you will begin early, taking a full day guided excursion of hiking and ice-trekking up to the Torre Lagoon and Torre Glacier. The hike is long, but well worth the effort. Late in the afternoon you will return to El Chalten tired, but probably with a huge smile on your face!
Day 12: Hosteria Infinito Sur, El Chalten, Argentina. You have today free to relax or take another hike in the area. You don't need a guide for these, and the trails are well marked. We recommend taking the trail from the north of town to the "Laguna de los Tres", named after the first three explorers to reach the area. The trail passes by the Capri Lagoon, and will give you great views (weather permitting!) of Fitz Roy and Poincenot.
Day 13: Hotel Las Luces, Buenos Aires, Argentina. This morning you will take the transfer back to El Calafate for your flight to Buenos Aires, the "Paris of South America". This is definitely a walking city, with wonderful restaurants, shops, kiosks, etc. on nearly every street.
Day 14: Hotel Las Luces, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Free day in Buenos Aires.
Day 15: Home. This morning you will have a transfer to the international airport in Buenos Aires for your flight home, or to continue your vacation.
Recommended Packing List:
- Trekking backpack (60 L)
- Sleeping bag (for -15° C)
- Waterproof windbreaker
- Trekking shoes
- Tennis/Walking shoes
- Wool hat
- Extra socks (cotton)
- Trekking pants
- Goretex pants
- Polar jacket
- Flashlight w/batteries
- Lip protector
- Swiss knife
- Telescoping hiking sticks
- Personal first-aid kit
- - Canteen/water vessel
- Camera (w/extra memory!).
- Departures: Daily (October through April)
- Tour In/Out: Santiago, Chile/Buenos Aires, Argentina
- Airfare:Internal airfare included: Santiago - Punta Arenas/El Calafate - Buenos Aires
- Meals: All breakfasts, plus all meals inside Torres del Paine and 2 box lunches (Calafate and El Chalten)
- Accommodation: 3-star hotels, Refugios in Torres del Paine
- Difficulty: Medium (hiking, trekking and ice-trekking).
Also see tour packages in:
South America Chile Argentina Outdoor: Land Rambler Hiking & Trekking National Parks