Explore the best of Argentina's Patagonia on a guided tour with the flexibility of your own transportation. Encounter the Viedma and Perito Moreno Glaciers up close and hike through the Fitz Roy Range in Los Glaciares National Park. Walk through a petrified forest and learn about the geologic history of this breathtaking landscape on your own self-drive Patagonia tour.
Day 1 : Arrive El Calafate Day 2 : Perito Moreno Glacier Day 3 : La Leona Petrified Forest Day 4 : Trekking Fitz Roy Range Day 5 : Viedma Glacier Day 6 : Lago del Desierto, Return El Calafate Day 7 : Car Drop-Off, Return Home
Watch Perito Moreno Glacier calve into giant icebergs up close
View ground level dinosaur fossils in La Leona Petrified Forest
Hike the Patagonian landscape to stunning view
Walk on Viedma Glacier and view ice caves and overhangs
Arrive to El Calafate today. You are met and transfer privately to your hotel. From here you are free to pick up your rental car, or we can arrange for a drop off if staying at a centrally located hotel.
Today visit the stunning Perito Moreno Glacier. This huge advancing glacier is more than 3 miles wide at its front and over 20 stories high. This Glacier trek has a minimum age of 10 and a maximum age of 65. Alternate excursions are available for those under 10 or over 65 years of age.
Drive yourself the two hours on paved road through the National Park. Explore the multi-level balconies stretching in front of the glacier's face to get a close view of its tremendous size and witness the thunderous calving. You may arrange to book optional excursions this day (we recommend you do so in advance). Mini-trekking on the glacier may be arranged or a short ferry boat navigation on Lago Argentino to get a boat-side view of the 70m high spectacle. Entrance fees not included.
Today drive along the Provincial Road 11 and Route 40 along the banks of the Rio La Leona until you reach La Leona Hotel on your right. Stop here after your first 2 hours of driving at an established time to meet your guide for a tour of the petrified forest. La Leona Petrified Forest and Paleontologic Field are only 15 minutes from the Roadhouse and are a protected UNESCO site. Learn about recent archeological expedition discoveries and witness ground level dinosaur fossils, silent witnesses of a remote Patagonia once inhabited by these creatures. Bask in the eroded landscape and observe the giant petrified trees. Return to La Leona mid -afternoon and set back out on your drive to El Chalten.
Return along Route 40 to Provincial Route 23 towards El Chalten. Enjoy views of Cerro Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre sticking out amongst the other impressive mountains in the range for the remaining 3 hour drive. Arrive to El Chalten, now considered the national trekking capital near Rio de las Vueltas at the base of the Cerro Fitz Roy. Upon arrival, you will meet with your guide for a briefing about your hiking options for the next day.
Total Drive: 330km on paved road: 110km to La Leona, 220km to El Chalten.
Today enjoy a full day of trekking. Depending on weather conditions and your groups' preferences, select a full or half day hike on any number of trails in Los Glaciares National Park. Options can include the well-known hikes to Lago de los Tres, Laguna Torre, or a variety of other options. Regardless of the choice, you are sure to be rewarded with stunning mountain views and remote Patagonia terrain.
Drive this morning to Bahia Túnel for a full day of ice trekking to Viedma Glacier. Tunnel Bay is a harbor located nearby at the mouth of the Túnel River. Embark on a small ship on the Viedma Lake to see spectacular views of Mt. Fitz Roy, Cerro Huemul, and the Viedma Glacier. Pass icebergs as you get closer and see the amazing shades of blue revealing the various levels of ice compaction. Learn about glaciology, the Southern Patagonia Ice-Cap, and current movement and changes the environment is undergoing. Disembark the ship south of the glacier and hike briefly to its base. Walk over the lateral moraine to see and feel the glacier with your own hands. From very close you may be able to spot the various ice caves and overhangs created by the glacier's movement. This particular glacier is receding quickly, so the environment and conditions are ever-changing. For those who would like, you may strap on some provided crampons for a short trek on the glacier's surface. After lunch, take the boat back to Bahia Túnel and drive back to El Chalten late afternoon.
Drive north this morning of El Chalten to Lago del Desierto, or Desert Lake. Contrary to its name, this lake has silvery transparent water located in a beautiful fertile valley with forest and surrounding snow-capped mountains. Sail on a small boat to the northern coast of the lake to enjoy this pristine spot before making the drive back to El Calafate.
Total Drive: 38km to Desert Lake, 258km to El Calafate.
Day 7 Car Drop-Off, Return Home
Enjoy breakfast this morning before you drop the car off at the rental office or a centrally located hotel. You are transferred to the airport for your flight home, or extend your travels with visits to nearby Torres del Paine or Tierra del Fuego.
The trip might have been the absolute best of our lifetime (thus far). We particularly want to commend our guide Peter in the Guilin area-he was so incredibly attentive, energetic, enthusiastic-and absolutely dedicated to ensuring that our meals were 100% vegetarian.
When to Go
Good to ideal period to travel, and many people choose to visit at this time.
Chance for unpredictable weather but with fewer visitors.
Typically not offered during this period because of weather conditions.