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Southern Explorer: El Chalten to Ushuaia

13 Days FROM USD 4,395

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Overview

Explore remote Southern Patagonia on this 13 Day adventure. Discover some of South Americas finest national parks including the Los Glaciers National Park, home to some of the worlds most stunning ice formations, Torres Del Paine National Park famous for its granite pillars, lakes and mountains & Tierra Del Fuego National Park, located in one of the most Southern regions of the world. This is tour of overwhelming natural beauty!

Please note this trip operates in reverse from Ushuaia to El Chalten on  23/11/2019, 26/01/2020, 20/03/2020. Contact us for more details.

Trip Code: LATSSECU

Travel Style: Small Group Tour

Location: Argentina, Chile

ITINERARY INSPIRATION

After arriving into El Calafate airport, you will be met at the airport and transferred to El Chalten, located in the stunning Parque Nacional Los
Glaciares. (Approximately 2.5hr drive including a short stop at a roadhouse.)

This tour is operated under our group travel brand, Viva Expeditions. Viva specialises in guided small group tours to Latin America.

Arrival in El Chalten

El Chaltén is a small mountain village that lies within the magnificent World Heritage Listed Parque Nacional Los Glaciares at the base of Cerro Torre and Cerro Fitz Roy mountains. ''Chaltén'' is a Tehuelche word that means “Smoking Mountain”, as they believed that Cerro Fitz Roy was a volcano, its summit enshrouded by clouds. Today El Chaltén is Argentina’s trekking capital. The towering granite spires and fissured glaciers of the Torre and Fitzroy groups offer some of the most stunning scenery and spectacular hiking and trekking in southern Patagonia. A network of world-class trails take you to viewpoints with breath-taking vistas including those of Cerro Torre and Cerro Fitzroy peaks. There are also tracks to Torre Glacier, Piedras Blancas Glacier, Laguna Capri, Laguna de los Tres, Chorillo del Salto and the remote Pasa del Viento (Windy Pass).

El Chalten

A full day hiking today, we meet our local guides and set off on one of the main hiking trails in the wonderful Los Glaciares National Park, (the Lago Torre* hike is our usual option). Enjoy spectacular scenery and obtain views of
the magical Cerro Torre or the wonderful Mount Fitzroy. Keep your eyes peeled to spot regional birds including woodpeckers, caracaras and condors.

*The Lago Torre trail takes us first to a wonderful view point with a picture postcard shot of almost the entire mountain range included Cerro Torre and Mount Fitzroy. From this point, we can also see the Margarita Waterfall and the Rio Fitzroy. Continuing up to a saddleback in the mountain we are gifted
with a view of the valley and can easily see the snow-capped Andes range.
Descending into the valley and through the high deciduous beech tree forest over we hike over an old moraine and finish at Lake Torre which is flanked by the Cerro Torre Glacier.

The complete Cerro Torre hike requires a moderate level of fitness and is a full day of hiking. We offer a shorter hiking plan that enables you to still see the stunning surrounding scenery but you would need to do the full extension to see the Cerro Torre Glacier.

El Chalten Trekking

Spend the morning exploring some of the other great walking trails El Chalten is famous for. Discover great views of the peaks of Cerro Torre and Mount Fitz Roy as well as spectacular rivers, lakes and forests, and if you lucky watch condors circling high above. There are many options available form short walk of less than an hour to longer half day hikes. In the mid-afternoon, we will continue by road to El Calafate. Enroute we will stop at a historic homestead saloon with some famous outlaw visitors.

El Chalten to El Calafate

The Perito Moreno Glacier is one of the earth’s most dynamic and accessible ice fields. Visiting this glacier, we can witness from a series of walkways huge chunks of ice breaking free from the face of the glacier and crashing with a
mighty roar into the water.

We set off from town and take the old, unpaved road with no rush and plenty of time for bird and animal spotting. Along the way, we learn about the guachos (cowboys) and life on the estancias before stopping at one of them for
a coffee. On our way to the glacier our expert local guide will explain the amazing phenomena that this glacier is famous for and why it is considered stable and not retreating like many other glaciers in the area. If lucky, a highlight is watching and hearing giant chunks of ice plummet into the waters of Lake Argentina.

After a few hours of free time to explore the walkways we transfer to the port and enjoy a one-hour boat ride that brings us 300m (1000ft) from the glacier’s wall. This is a wonderful way to get close to the glacier and appreciate its
daunting size and power. After this amazing encounter, we head back to El Calafate town.

El Calafate: Perito Moreno Glacier

Head back into Chile to Torres Del Paine, South Americas finest National Park and a trekker’s paradise. Declared a Reserve of the Biosphere by UNESCO in 1978 it is located amongst the mountain range of the Andes and the Patagonian steppe. In this zone, the colossal towers and horns of granite and rock that have given world-wide fame to it, with heights of up to 3,050 meters above the sea level. The park preserves fragile ecosystems, numerous animals like guanacos, condors, ñandues (South American ostrich), foxes and the elusive puma.
The 3 hikes we cover inside the park are:

(a) Greys Glacier Hike
(b) French Valley Hike
(c) Los Torres Hike

Instead of walking these continuously, carrying all your hiking gear like on the Big W (a 4 day hike), we break it into three separate walks, covering different sections of the park and hiking an average of 15km (9.5mi) to 20km (12mi) each day. The group is assisted by expert local trekking guides who share
information about the environment and guide you through the hiking trails.
If you are not hiking there are other activities available inside Torres Del Paine including fabulous horse riding or a boat trip to view the Grey Glacier.

El Calafate - Torres Del Paine

Grey Glacier is one of the principal tourist attractions located in Chile. As soon as you get to this place you will be breath taken with the lakes creamy blue colour dotted with icebergs floating and the Patagonia Icefield at the back.

Initially you will walk through a valley before climbing a steep incline, onto a ridge taking you first through a burnout forest and then into a green live forest. A little further along the trail brings you to an elevated view of the Grey Lake. You hike along an exposed ridge line
before reaching the Grey Glacier Lookout point. (Approx 2.5hrs)

If you are looking for a short hike this would be your turn around point, heading back the same way to the start of the trail. Continuing down another 2 hours further from this point you get to the main Refugio Grey Glacier view point which brings you a lot closer to this magnificent ice sheet. From here you have a magnificent view of the glacier across the water and usually the wonderful blue of the icebergs floating in the lake below. All viewpoints of the glacier are from a front on angle.

Full walk takes approximately 7 - 8 hours return including time for lunch and depending on your ability/physical strength.

Torres Del Paine - Greys Glacier Trek

The French Valley is the most beautiful valley in the Torres del Paine National Park. It is a steep hike and offers incredible its unique panoramic views of Los Cuernos del Paine, the French Glacier and Lakes Nordenskjold, Pehoé,
Scottsburg and Toro.

This walk starts at the same place as the Greys Glacier walk and between the hikes we stay overnight at the Paine Grande Refuge so you do not have to return across the lake to our hotel, effectively allowing you additional time to
complete the hikes. This is a very different walk to the Greys Glacier. Slightly longer for the shorter walk and at times the track can be rocky and steep. The entrance to the valley is Italiano Camp (7.5km/4.5mi) and is our short hike stopping point. For those who continue up into the valley to the French Lookout the trail becomes steep with loose gravel and boulders. With a 300m/1000ft elevation gain you have wonderful views of the valley as well as the
amazing view of mountains all around. You can sit, watch and hear ice crack and maybe even see a mini avalanche.

Full walk takes approximately 8 - 9 hours return including time for lunch and depending on your ability and physical strength.

Torres del Paine - French Valley Hike

Hiking to view the iconic Las Torres (the Towers) is a challenging yet immensely
satisfying hike, a highlight for all experienced trekkers. The Towers are the three massive granite columns that encircle the smaller Torres Glacier.

The Towers hike is by far the most strenuous of all the hikes. From the entrance, you have a 1.5km/1mi flat warm up to the start of the trailhead at Hosteria Las Torres. You start off climbing up the side of one of the mountains, all dirt paths and quite steep in gradient in areas. It then flattens out as you scale the side of the valley with a great river underneath you.

A short downhill section will bring you to the refugio Chileno. Here you can buy snacks and rest for a while and use the facilities. Although you can see the tips of the towers from the refugio, this hike is fully appreciated when you
are able to hike the full length. Once you leave the refugio you start climbing again for about 1 hour crossing rivers and passing through a beautiful forest. The final 45 minutes are quite challenging as you scramble up boulders to the
base of the towers.

*We offer a fantastic optional day for those unable to attempt the Towers. It involves heading to another section of the park, enjoying a shorter hike and visiting indigenous hand paintings while still having a view of the Towers.

Full walk takes approximately 8 - 9 hours return including time for lunch and depending on your ability/physical strength.

Torres del Paine - Las Torres Hike

Making our way out of the Torres Del Paine National Park we drive south to Punta Arenas. Tonight you will enjoy a meal prepared by a talented, local chef who takes local regional foods and gives you a taste of the variety of unusual tastes and flavours they have.

Torres Del Paine - Punta Arenas

Enjoy your morning exploring Punta Arenas, a place of historical riches; see the mansions and museums of the wealthy wool barons who lived the high life during the boom of the 1890s or take on the wind as you walk along the beautiful promenade by the water’s edge, before crossing the Straits of Magellan onto the island of Tierra del Fuego.

Punta Arenas - Cerro Sombrero

In the morning, we visit a King Penguin colony, they are usually only found on sub Antarctic islands, such as the remote and difficult to access South Georgia and Falkland Islands. Observing them here is a unique opportunity!

We cross into Argentina and pass Lago Fagnano before heading over the Garibaldi Pass (500m/1500ft) and into the southernmost city in the world of Ushuaia. Now a major tourist town it is a great base for hiking, winter sports
and starting point for many cruises to Antarctica.

Cerro Sombrero - Ushuaia

In the morning, you will embark the catamaran that will take you through the waters of Beagle Channel. Sailing along Ushuaia Bay you get an excellent panoramic view of the city framed by Andean mountains. Passing by Archipelago Bridges you’ll reach Birds Island, where you will be able to appreciate the vast variety of sea birds that live in the area: cormorants, skuas,
petrels, ducks, sea gulls, etc. Close to this place, you will see the Sea Lions and
a unique opportunity to watch at the same time sea lions of two distinct species. You will finally get to Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse, the iconic symbol of the beagle channel before returning to Ushuaia.

In the afternoon we visit Tierra Del Fuego National Park where you will be able to enjoy the wonderful natural environment with visits to Ensenada Bay, Alakush Visitors Centre including a small museum learn about the indigenous Yamana, see an old beaver dam and finish at Lapataia Bay, ”The End of the
Road” where the end of the famous Panamerican Highway is found more than
17000km/11000mi from where it begins.

Enjoy a special farewell dinner at one of Ushuaia’s great restaurants.

Ushuaia - Tierra del Fuego National Park

Depart Ushuaia with wonderful memories, and a new respect of our wonderful planet courtesy of Patagonia.

Ushuaia Departure
DOWNLOAD ITINERARY PDF

WHY TAILOR-MADE?

  • Personalise your itinerary
  • Access to great flight deals
  • Choose your accomodation
  • Tailored travel insurance options
  • Choose your preferred dates
  • Cater to your travel needs

Pricing & date

Southern Explorer: El Chalten to Ushuaia from USD 4,395
Departing Ending Duration
06 Dec 2019 18 Dec 2019 13
12 Jan 2020 24 Jan 2020 13
06 Mar 2020 18 Mar 2020 13
02 Apr 2020 14 Apr 2020 13
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Important Information

  • 11 nights’ accommodation in standard hotels; 1 night in a dorm hiking lodge (shared facilities)
    Transport in our custom built all-terrain expedition vehicles
    12 Breakfasts, 8 Lunches, 9 Dinners
    Service of an experienced western tour leader as well as local guides
    Experienced Driver/Mechanic
    All National Park Entrance fees

  • 25% single room supplement 

  • 25% deposit required to book 

    Guaranteed to operate with minimum 6 people 

    Maximum group size is 16 people 

     

  • Season and availability

Accommodation

We believe that appropriate accommodation should add to the authentic travel experience, as well as providing utmost enjoyment. For that reason our accommodation is scrutinised by our staff on the ground frequently, ensuring the properties adhere to our high standards. This key will help you understand the levels of accommodation available on this tour.

SPEAK TO A SPECIALIST

Talk to one of our Destination Specialists to plan your South American adventure and turn your dream into a reality. With exceptional knowledge and first hand experience, our consultants will assist in every way possible to make your journey the most memorable it can be, matching not only the itinerary, but the accommodation and activities to suit your style of travel and budget.

Sustainability

Chimu Adventures undertakes a number of sustainability measures within its operations including:

1) Only using local guides and office staff to both maximise local employment opportunities and minimise carbon footprints. Local guides also ensure you benefit from the intimate knowledge, passion and culture of the country you’re visiting.

2) Where possible, using locally owned and operated boutique hotels to maximise the return to the local community.

3) Chimu’s “Pass it on” programme has provided funding to hundreds of local community projects in Latin America. Our aim is to empower local communities, helping them to develop their own infrastructure for the future. Since 2006, we have been working with Kiva (a well-known Non-Governmental Organisation), providing hundreds of loans to local businesses all over South America.

4) In our pre tour information we provide a range of tips and advice on how to minimise your impact on both local environments and communities.

5) Chimu Adventures’ offices also take a number of sustainability measures including carbon offsets for company vehicles and most staff travel. Chimu Adventure’s internal processes are also structures to create a paperless office and to reduce waste. There are also internal programmes to help staff minimise their carbon footprint such as our staff bike purchase assistance plan which encourages office staff to commute to work via bicycle. Currently almost half of our office based staff commute to work via bicycle.