Arrive Argentina today and transfer independently to your comfortable hotel. Spend your free time exploring the amazing architecture of Buenos Aires, or simply relax after your long international flight. Optional tours today include walking city tour, cultural city tour, or a dinner tango show. Overnight.
Transfer this morning to the airport to board your flight to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world, a must-see Patagonia travel stop. With previous incarnations as a missionary outpost and, subsequently, a prison town, Ushuaia is now most well-known as the "Gateway to Antarctica." From its dramatic setting between the Beagle Channel and the rugged glaciated peaks rising from the landscape, opportunities for hiking and exploring abound. The afternoon is free to wander local museums or explore nearby trails.
This morning you cross the green central valley of Tierra del Fuego to reach Harberton Farm, a private ranch built by the first British missionaries to reach the area. After a short visit you'll board a zodiac and wind through the Beagle Channel to Gable Island, part of the Harberton estate. You'll enjoy a picnic lunch in an old, rustic shelter before embarking on a 3 hour hike around the island. Your path will lead to many amazing vantage points of the Beagle Channel, and if the weather cooperates you might even glimpse the distant town of Puerto Williams across the Chilean border. Returning to the zodiac, you resume your navigation to the penguin rookery on Martillo Island, home to Magellanic and Gentoo penguins. The location of the island makes it a birdwatcher's paradise; you'll be on the lookout for petrels, skuas, cormorants, seagulls, and albatross. You depart for Harberton and begin the return trip to Ushuaia.
Just north of Ushuaia is the Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego, Argentina's first coastal national park. The trail system of easy and undemanding paths makes this an ideal place to spend a relaxing day exploring Patagonia. You'll wander along the coastal path, undoubtedly the most beautiful in the park. The 3 ½ hour hike takes you through forests of both high and low deciduous beech, evergreen beech, winterbark, firebrush, and more. You'll finish the walk at Lake Roca in time for lunch. After eating your fill, you'll climb into inflatable canoes and begin the easy downstream paddle to the Ovando River. The crystal-clear water runs into Laguna Verde, one of the most picturesque, panoramic spots in the park. Your take-out point is Lapataia Bay, where you may see petrels, albatross, steamer ducks, and on occasion, penguins. You'll return to Ushuaia for dinner and a final night there.
Today you will fly to the lively town of El Calafate. You'll head to the working sheep ranch of El Galpon del Glaciar (formerly known as the "Estancia Alice"). The lodge is warm and welcoming with delicious homemade food, located just 15 minutes from downtown El Calafate. The homestead covers an area of Patagonian Steppe - a unique ecosystem of rivers, lakes and lagoons. While at the homestead visit the nature reserve and enjoy its many trails - over 40 species of migrating birds pass through here so keep turning your eyes skyward! The homestead is also a working ranch and you'll have the opportunity to tour the shearing sheds and watch the working sheepdogs in action. For those who want to explore by horseback this is also an option.
Today you drive into Parque Nacional Los Glaciares for views of the stunning Perito Moreno Glacier. This huge advancing glacier is more than 3 miles wide at its front and over 20 stories high. You'll take a boat across Lago Argentino and pass the massive front wall of blue ice, all the while watching for icebergs. After landing on a small beach you start hiking through the beech forest to the icepack of the glacier and have the opportunity to walk on the glacier with crampons (This Glacier trek has a minimum age of 12 and a maximum age of 65. Alternate excursions are available for those under 12 or over 65 years of age). You'll eat your lunch sitting on the lateral moraine of the glacier, where you can absorb the magnificence of the glacier's anatomy and listen to its thunderous concerto of groaning and cracking ice dropping into the lake below.
Catch your flight to Buenos Aires and connecting flights homeward, or with more time, cross into Chile to visit Torres del Paine, travel to the coast to the Peninsula Valdes, or head north to Iguazu Falls.
$600 single supplement