Day 1: Arrive Patagonia. Welcome to Chilean Patagonia! The windswept plains of this southern region stretch on for miles, joining Chile’s rugged coastline and majestic mountain peaks into one of the world’s most awe-inspiring mountain environments, perched on the edges of the icy isthmus and fjords of the southern Pacific Ocean. Your trip starts in Punta Arenas where we’ll pick you up and head directly to Puerto Natales located near the edge of Torres Del Paine National Park. In order to get into the most spectacular places right away, we drive to Puerto Natales this afternoon. Accommodation: Character hotel, Puerto Natales (D)
Day 2: Sea kayak Eberhard Fjord. We’re straight into it today with an amazing sea kayaking trip on Eberhard Fjord. This area was colonised in the late 19th century by Captain Eberhard as a cattle raising region, and historical buildings and estancias (traditional Chilean farms) still dot the shoreline. After a full safety briefing, we’ll paddle out along the world’s most southern continental peninsula, enjoying views of the rolling farmland and snowy peaks that line the fjord before stopping at a local shearing house for lunch and a chat with the locals. After lunch we’ll head back to Puerto Bories, or if the weather allows we can paddle further along the coastline towards Puerto Natales. This region is known for its marine birdlife and native black neck swans, so we’ll keep our eyes peeled for them as we paddle back to shore. Accommodation: Family-run hostel, Puerto Natales (B,L,D)
Day 3: Start ‘W’ hike, Torres del Paine National Park. Today we’ll begin the legendary four-day ‘W’ hike, an amazing trek past sheer granite peaks, snow-clad mountains, glacial lakes and thick Magellanic forest. We’ll follow the Rio Acensio Valley as it winds its way up to the crown jewel of the national park – Torres del Paine itself – one of the most famous mountain landscapes in the world. As we reach the top of the boulder field near the end of our hike, we’ll come face to face with Cerro Grande – believed to be the tallest mountain in this range – rising 3,000 vertical feet and casting an immense reflection on the beautiful green alpine lake at its base. Tonight we’ll stay in a cosy refugio (mountain lodge) with beds and mattresses supplied. Accommodation: Refugio Chileno, Torres del Paine National Park (B,L,D)
Day 4: Hike to Los Cuernos, Torres del Paine National Park. It’s an easier hike today, as we contour around the northern shore of Lake Nordenskjold, a glacial lake in the heart of the national park. As we head around the lake, we’ll start to see glimpses of Los Cuernos – Spanish for ‘the Horns’ – three fantastically sculpted grey and white sedimentary peaks rising 800 vertical feet. The intense turquoise hue of the lake and starkness of the mountains make for spectacular photo opportunities. This evening we’ll stay in the shadow of the mountains in Los Cuernos Refugio. Accommodation: Refugio Los Cuernos, Torres del Paine (B,L,D)
Day 5: Hike French Valley, Torres del Paine National Park. We’ll rise with the sun this morning to begin our hike up French Valley for a closer look at Los Cuernos. This ravine is probably one of the most beautiful places you’ll ever see – over 4,000 feet deep with multiple glaciers cascading down its steep sides, creating a patchwork of ice and rock. The track steepens as we ascend a ridgeline to the upper French Valley past waterfalls and mountain tarns. At the top, we’ll have incredible views of a massive natural amphitheatre, filled with the awesome French Glacier, the Paine Massif and Cuernos granite towers. This afternoon after an unforgettable day’s hiking we’ll walk to comfortable Paine Grande lodge for our last evening on the track. Accommodation: Refugio Paine Grande, Torres Del Paine (B,L,D)
Day 6: Hike to Grey Lake, scenic boat ride to Grey Glacier. We’ll hike along Grey Lake to Grey Glacier, a 650 foot (200 m) high wall of ice that forms the northern end of the lake. This is one of the largest calving glaciers in the world, sending huge shards of ice – some as big as houses – plummeting into the lake’s murky depths. We’ll be met by a boat on the edge of the lake that will take us even closer to the glacier to explore the icebergs at its base. When we return from our boat trip, we’ll head back to Puerto Natales, where we started our hike four days ago, for a well earned rest and another tasty meal! Accommodation: Character hotel, Puerto Natales (B,L,D).
Day 7: Travel to El Calafate. Welcome to Argentina! Today we’ll head over the border to the home of Tango, Evita Peron and Maradona. We’ll journey north to El Calafate and Los Glaciares National Park, the greatest single remaining tract of wilderness in South America. It’s also one of the most diverse – in addition to the vast mountain ranges and glaciers, it’s home to forests of guindo, lenga (a type of beech tree) and ñirre scrub, as well as a multitude of lakes and rivers. We’ll arrive in El Calafate in the afternoon, so you’ll have the rest of the day to chill out on the shores of Lago Argentino, South America’s third largest lake, with a surface area of over 1600 square kms (617 square miles). You can relax and enjoy your surroundings, or you can head off on one of the many hikes in the area. A particular favourite of ours is the short walk to Laguna Nimes, a renowned bird sanctuary where geese, ducks and flamingos make their home. Accommodation: Glaciar Libertador, El Calafate (B,L,D)
Day 8: Visit Perito Moreno Glacier. If you thought the glaciers in Chile were amazing, today will take your breath away. We’ll get right up close to the base of Perito Moreno Glacier to watch blocks of ice crack off the glacier’s 180-foot-high terminal face and fall into the pastel-blue waters of Lago Argentino. This icefield is part of the world’s third largest reserve of fresh water and forms a natural dam to the opposite shore that separates the two halves of Lago Argentino. With no escape route, the water level on the southern side of the lake can rise by up to 90 feet above the level of the main lake. An option today, if you want to get really close to the glacier, is to strap on crampons, pick up an ice axe, and take to the ice! Led by specialist glacier guides, you’ll hike through the ice formations of the glacier, checking out its crevasses, seracs, tunnels and glacial lagoons. The constant movement of the glacier means every day is different, so your guides will cut a path in the ice and make sure you make the most of the conditions. No previous experience is required – just let your trip leader know when you arrive in El Calafate if you’re interested in ice hiking and they’ll be happy to organise it for you. (Ice hiking additional US$150 approx.). Accommodation: Glaciar Libertador, El Calafate (B,L,D)
Day 9: Travel to El Chalten, hike Mirador Laguna Torre. El Chalten is a charming and remote mountain village, known for its amazing hiking and mountaineering opportunities that quite literally begin on your doorstep. From the heart of this rapidly-growing outdoor enthusiast’s paradise, you can see the tips of Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre peaks, as well as the lovely Rio de las Vueltas winding its way past town. We’ll hike through Patagonian drylands and windswept boulder fields to Mirador Laguna Torre (Spanish for ‘Tower Lagoon Lookout’) for heart-stopping views up the Fitz Roy valley to Cerro Torre, a spectacular granite spire looming over a sprawling mass of ice. Today is a relatively relaxing day, in preparation for tomorrow’s big hike into the heart of Los Glaciares National Park! Accommodation: Posada del Barranco, El Chalten (B,L,D)
Day 10: Hike to Laguna de los Tres. We have a long day’s hike today, but the scenery is well worth the effort. A steady climb from El Chalten quickly rewards us with gorgeous birds-eye views of Rio de las Vueltas. Further on we’ll take a short side trip to Laguna Capri, a charming alpine lake, before continuing to Campamento Poincenot. From here we can look directly up to the towering Monte Fitz Roy. You’ll find it hard to imagine that the views of the brooding Fitz Roy massif could get any better, and many choose to wait here while keener hikers make the steep climb up to Laguna de Los Tres, at the very foot of the glacier itself. All of a sudden, if you’ve chosen to go on ahead, you’ll reach the crest and be greeted by stunning close-up views of Monte Fitz Roy looming a staggering 2000 metres above a glacial lake. Today is a real highlight and the views are amazing, no matter how far you get! Accommodation: Posada del Barranco, El Chalten (B,L,D)
Day 11: Hike Lomo del Pliegue Tumbado. Today’s hike will give us a new appreciation of how incredibly huge and beautiful the steep peaks of Southern Patagonia are. We’ll begin our hike on the Lomo del Pliegue trail bright and early, embarking on a 3000-foot hike to the top of the rounded Lomo (hill!), passing first through the quiet Patagonian beech forest before ascending onto the wide plateau where the views start to become seriously beautiful. Upon reaching the summit, we’ll be greeted by one of the most incredible sights you’re ever likely to see – the towering peak of the Cerro Fitz Roy rising straight up above the Torre Glacier and Laguna Torre. There’s no need for a zoom lense to capture the finer features of this site as we’re up as close as you can get! Later, we’ll descend the trail back down to El Chalten and head onwards to El Calafate where over dinner, we’ll celebrate one of the best hikes you can do anywhere in the world. Accommodation: Glaciar Libertador, El Calafate (B,L,D)
Day 12: Free time in El Calafate, Cycling Lago Argentino. This morning we’ll have the morning free to relax in El Calafate, with its cosmopolitan atmosphere, gorgeous sidewalk cafes and chocolate shops in their own log cabins in the middle of town! If you’d prefer, we’ll have the chance to take to our bikes today for a ride along the shores of Lago and explore more of El Calafate’s scenic back roads. Set behind Lago Argentino is a stunning background of rust-coloured mountains against an often cloudless sky. It’s cycling at its most sublime, but we’ll have to keep our eyes on the road at least some of the time! This afternoon we’ll head back across the border to Chile where we’ll spend the night in Puerto Natales. Accommodation: Character hotel, Puerto Natales (B,L,D)
Day 13: Hike Otway Sound penguin colony. After a short drive through the Patagonian wilderness, we’ll arrive at Otway Sound and hike to the penguin colony found at the edge of the Sound. The views of Tierra del Fuego provide a perfect backdrop as we watch the crudely – but not inappropriately – named “Jackass” Penguins congregate in their masses. These curious creatures migrate to Otway Sound every year to give birth and raise their young. Later we’ll continue our journey through this amazing landscape to Punta Arenas where we began our journey. Accommodation: Carpa Manzano, Punta Arenas (B,L,D)
Day 14: Depart for home. This is the last day of your Condor trip. You’ll go home with rosy cheeks after kayaking, biking and hiking your way around one of the most spectacular alpine regions on Earth. Your trip leader will arrange transport to the airport for you if you’re flying out today and if you’re staying on, we can help you arrange extra hotel accommodation. (B,L)
- Recommended Flights: You can fly into Punta Arenas on the first day of the trip. Punta Arenas is the main gateway town to Chilean Patagonia and major airline LAN flies into here. On the last day of your trip you can fly out at any time. If you want to arrive earlier or leave later, we’re happy to help out with extra hotel accommodation.
- Trip Start: If you arrive on the first day of the trip, a representative will meet you at the airport at 1.30 pm. If you’re already in Punta Arenas you’ll meet your trip leader and the rest of your group in town at 2 pm.
- Trip End: Your trip ends in Punta Arenas, Chile. You can fly out any time on the last day of the trip and we will drop you off at the airport or downtown before noon.
- Accommodation: During the 4-day/3-night Torres del Paine trek we’re in backcountry lodges with basic facilities; the rest of the time we stay in clean, comfortable, family-owned places in the heart of the action.
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South America Chile Argentina Outdoor: Land Rambler Hiking & Trekking Multi-activity