Enjoy our luxury Patagonia trekking and wildlife tour, staying at the best hotels and spas.

Explore or relax by day, then sleep in the cosiest of the choice hotels in Argentina’s Fitzroy national park and Chile’s Paine national park.

You can be as active or indulgent as you choose as you visit the highlights of Patagonia.

We include a private tour to the magnificent Perito Moreno glacier, so you can enjoy this wonder in your own time.

The itinerary is completely flexible and can be tailored to your exact needs.

 

More on Patagonia luxury trekking and wildlife  tour

Your Chalten base is Los Cerros hotel, from which you can explore Fitzroy National Park, sup delightful Argentine wines and enjoy fine food.

There are walks, sailings, ice-climbing or simply the views to enjoy.

In Chile it’s the Hotel Las Torres which awaits you, this family-run hotel sitting at the gates to Paine’s most famous attraction – the dramatic Torres del Paine.

Every evening here you choose from a menu of half day or full day viewing, trekking or horse riding activities for the coming day.

Our package also entitles you to discounts at the spas, as well as all drinks at the bar and full board.

Totally flexible, our suggested itinerary is just that and we can offer alternative hotels, room types and lengths of trip so that you can enjoy Patagonia as you wish.



Trip Highlights

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  • Active or relaxed - we can build the luxury tour for you.

  • Enjoy the best of Patagonia while staying in the choicest accommodation.

  • Explore Argentina's Fitzroy and Los Glaciares National park.

  • Spas and treatments while discovering Torres del Paine National Park.

We had a fantastic trip.

All the land arrangements fell nicely into place.

We can’t fault the overall organization, so thank you to you and the Andean Trails team for putting our holiday together for us. We had a great time.

J. Lavery, Luxury Patagonia Tour

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Full Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Calafate, private transfer in to hotel

We meet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel in El Calafate.

El Calafate is a small town of some four thousand inhabitants. It was, for several decades, a tiny staging post for the wagons transporting wool between remote estancias (sheep stations) and the coast.

El Calafate lies on the shore of the vast, turquoise lake Argentino and is today a gateway to the natural wonders of the Los Glaciares national park.

Day 2: Shared transfer to the hotel in  El Chalten. Hotel Chalten Suites.  (B)

You will be picked up at the hotel at around 7 am for a shared shuttle to your hotel in El Chalten. This service may pick up and drop off passengers at other hotels. Maximum capacity for the vehicle is 19 people and you should be arriving to your hotel in El Chalten at around 10 am. There is the option to upgrade to a private transfer.

 

Chalten Suites  is a new hotel in a prime location in the center of Chalten. It has 14 comfortable guest rooms. The standard (32 square meters) rooms come with King Size or Twin bedded rooms, LCD TV with DirecTv, underfloor heating, Wi-Fi, minibar, safety deposit box, hairdryer.

Day 3: Private guided trek Laguna de Los Tres with box lunch. Hotel Chalten Suites.  (B,L)

Private guided trek to Laguna de los Tres, starting from Hostería El Pilar. Box lunch included.

 

You will be picked up at your hotel by your guide and transferred to the trail head at El Pilar. The 17km journey has great views of the Río de Las Vueltas Valley.

 

The trek starts with a walk through a dense forest of lengas with views along quite a flat path with gentle climbs. The first viewpoint, Piedras Blancas glacier is reached and  a bit later we leave the forest and end up in a clearing where we can admire in all their splendour the peaks of “S”, Saint Exupéry, Poincenot, Fitz Roy, Mermoz and Guillaumet.

 

Continue walking to the Poincenot camp ground located in a lenga forest  and onwards to the campground Río Blanco which is the base camp for climbers .

 

From here there is an hour’s climb rising 400m to Laguna de los Tres. Here  we are rewarded by the majestic views of Fitz Roy, the glacier de los Tres and its lagoon.

 

Stop for a rest, lunch and then start the descent and walk back to El Chaltén.

 

This trail will take us past varying landscape, crystal clear streams and by Laguna Capri – a favourite spot for photographers. After visiting the lagoon we drop down into the valley where El Chaltén is located.

 

Length: 8/9 hours

Grade of difficulty: Moderate

Experience required: Fit. No trekking experience required

Day 4: Private guided trek Loma de Pliegue Tumbado with box lunch. Hotel Chalten Suites.  (B,L)

Private guided trek to Loma del Pliegue Tumbado.  Box lunch included.

 

Leave El Chaltén on the trail that heads towards Laguna Toro.  Ascend for over an hour, crossing some streams and passing through  ñires and lenga woods and you will reach an exposed area with a picture postcard view of Mount Fitz Roy, Torre and Huemul.

 

From here  continue the hike across the pampas and then we pass through various parts of the woods in which we will be able to hear a variety of birds, inviting us to discover and identify various species of birds that live here. On leaving the forest (about 1000 masl) we start to walk across an alpine terrain, where delicate flowers growing in such an arid area won’t fail to surprise us. It can snow up here, even in the summer!

 

In this section it is quite possible to find the remains of marine fossils such as ammonites and belemnites which are about 100 million years old.

 

In this last section we can also experience the Patagonian wind, which is just as much part of the trek! We finally arrive at the viewpoint – nearly at 1500 masl. This spot offers an unconventional and unique view of the Torre and Fitz Roy massifs. After enjoying lunch with an unforgettable vista we return to El Chaltén

 

Length: 7/8 hours

Grade of difficulty: Moderate

Experience required: Fit. No trekking experience required.

Day 5: Private guided trek Laguna Torre with box lunch. Evening shared transfer to the hotel inn El Calafate. Hotel Kosten Aike. (B,L)

 

Private  guided trek to Laguna Torre. Box lunch included.

 

Set off from El Chaltén along the Laguna Torre footpath. There is a short climb and then you enter a  small ñire wood where the path will start to gain height and straighten up alongside the Fitz Roy River. Finally you will arrive to a viewpoint of the river canyon and the Margarita waterfall.

 

From here you can see the valley of the Fitz Roy River with the river meandering along looked over  by Mount Solo, the Adela range and the impressive Mount Torre.

 

Walk for about an hour and then you will arrive at the Mount Torre viewpoint.  With good conditions you will have impressive views of Mount Torre, the Adela range and glaciers. Stop for a short break.

 

This is followed by a 2 hour walk through lenga forest, crossing old glacial moraines and wet plains. Keep an eye out for the bird life here and with luck you might spot a Magellanic woodpecker.

 

We then arrive to Laguna Torre which is the source of the River Fitz Roy. Here you should be able to see ice floes  which have broken off the Torre glacier face.

 

The Fitzroy River next to Laguna Torre can be crossed by a Tyrolean rope. Climbers use it to access Torre glacier and also to get to the base of the mountain they plan to climb.

 

Time for lunch at the lake and then set off back to Chalten along the way you came.

 

Approx 1800, evening shared shuttle to the hotel in El Calafate

 

Length: 7/8 hours

Grade of difficulty: Easy

Experience required: Fit. No trekking experience required.

Day 6: Small group tour to Estancia Nibepo Aike with Patagonian Lunch and navigation to Perito Moreno Glacier.  Hotel Kosten Aike. (B,L)

After breakfast we depart in a small shared group tour heading west for the hour long drive to the Estancia Nibepo Aike.

 

The Estancia was founded in the early 20th century by a Croatian immigrant Santiago Peso. From the beginning they reared sheep and some cattle. The Estancia is still owned by his descendants.

 

Explore the estancia and experience traditions such as sheep shearing. After the visit you will be treated to a Patagonian Barbecue lunch.

 

After lunch, board a boat to sail a stretch of water known as “Brazo Rico” to reach “de Las Monedas”  beach.

 

Disembark and walk through a lenga forest to a look-out point where you will be rewarded by your first sighting of the Perito Moreno Glacier.

 

Return to the boat and continue sailing with magnificent views of the glacial wall and opportunities to witness it calving.

 

Disembark at Bajo de las Sombras and transfer to the main complex where you will find the 4 Km network of walkways infront of the glacier.

 

Time to explore the walkways before the transfer back to the hotel in El Calafate.

 

Day 7: Transfer from El Calafate to Hotel Las Torres (B,L,D)

For those starting in El Calafate transfer from your hotel around 07.00 to the Chilean border at Cerro Castillo.

At the border you have the opportunity to exchange money. Change of vehicle and transfer to the hotel. Arrive around 12.30. Lunch and the option of a half day excursion.

For those starting in Punta Arenas there are daily pick ups at your hotel in the city at 09.00 or 15.00 and from the airport at 09.30 and 15.30.

From Punta Arenas we drive northweards with a stop after 180km/112 miles at the Estancia Cerro Negro. We will gain an insight to the histroy of the estancia as well as enjoy a barbecue lunch or patagonian high tea. After, we continue driving to the Torres del Paine National Park. We arrive to the hotel at 16.00 or 2.130 depending on our pick up time.

On arrival to the hotel we will check in and settle into our rooms.

Dinner and the chance to choose our following days activities from a menu of half day and full day excursions.

Days 8, 9 & 10: Choice of excursion, Hotel Las Torres (3 x B,L,D)

After a hearty breakfast we will set off on our chosen excursion.

Those with a full day excursion will be provided with box lunches whilst those doing two half day excursions will lunch at the hotel.

Day 11: Transfer to El Calafate, Punta Arenas or Puerto Natales (B,L)

For those heading to Punta Arenas there is a choice of two transfers: 08.30 arriving Punta Arenas 13.30 with a box lunch included or 14.00 arriving 19.00. Those taking the later transfer will have time to do a half day excursion in the morning.

Those heading to El Calafate will depart at 09.00, changing vehicle at the border and arriving at the hotel in El Calafate at 14.30.


Prices From $4,327 / £3,462 per person

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What's Included?

Argentina: Hotels, transfers and meals as listed (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner), public buses, entry fee to National Parks, Perito Moreno private trip

Chile: Transfer to and/or from Punta Arenas, Puerto Natales, El Calafate. Park entrance fee, all meals, all excursions and navigations, open bar, accommodation in superior room, bilingual guides, wi-fi, discount on spa services.

What's Not Included?

Argentina: Flights, meals, day trips (extra cost), alcoholic or soft drinks, tips, insurance, phone calls.

Chile: Flights, services not mentioned in the itinerary, premium wines and spirits, laundry, tips and phone calls, insurance.

 


Accommodation

In El Calafate, we offer a choice of 3-4* hotels with private bathroom. The above costs are based on a superior room at the Kosten Aike Hotel. We can look at other hotel options if you prefer.

In Chalten we use Chalten Suites which is a new hotel in a prime location in the center of Chalten. It has 14 comfortable guest rooms. The standard (32 square meters) rooms come with King Size or Twin bedded rooms, LCD TV with DirecTv, underfloor heating, Wi-Fi, minibar, safety deposit box, hairdryer.

Hotel Las Torres

There are three types of room available at Hotel Las Torres.

Suites: Our suites are the largest rooms (38m2 / 410ft2) in the hotel and include a mini bar, a small living and jacuzzi where you can relax enjoying the beautiful view of the Paine Massif.

Ciprés rooms: Newly renovated, spacious (22m2 / 237ft2), warm, with excellent insulation and large windows to enjoy the scenery. Each one has been decorated with different and special elements of the area, such as looms and ethnic masks with furniture made by artisans from Patagonia.

Canelo rooms: These rooms (20m2 / 215ft2) are very warm, pleasant and offer comfortable space mixing simple elements that evoke the history and culture of Patagonia.

Tour Staff

Expert local guides for all activities – trekking, horse-riding, wildlife watching, boat trips etc.

Hotel Las Torres has a fleet of sturdy vehicles with experienced drivers for getting you around the park. Families are welcome and well catered for.

There are family friendly activities and specialist guides available for family activities.


Meals

Almost all dietary requirements can be catered for – please get in touch for more.

Breakfasts at hotels will include hot teas, drinks, yoghurts, fruits, cereals and buffet style service.

In El Calafate and Chalten there are international and local restaurants to suit almost all tastes, albeit Chalten has less choice then El Calafate.

 

Hotel Los Cerros

The hotel’s restaurant, called Resto, offers sweet delicatessens and as the sun goes down, plus exclusive Patagonian haute cuisine meals and beverages at night.

 

Hotel Las Torres

Breakfast and dinner are served buffet style in the restaurant. Wine is served with meals.
There is a bar open all day for drinks, snack, and light meals too.

The hotel has its own organic garden and is able to produce fresh vegetables and fruit for the restaurant.

There are two eateries to choose from at the hotel, for lunch and dinner.

 

Restaurant Coirón

One of the real pleasures when staying with us at Hotel Las Torres is dining in the restaurant.
Restaurant Coirón specialises in the “flavours of the end of the world” – a unique blend of modern, creative culinary methods and traditional regional dishes from Chilean Patagonia.

As much as possible, chefs use fresh locally sourced products from the estancias and organic garden, ingredients that literally go straight from the farm and ranch onto your plate. Lunch and dinner are a la cart.

Huge, glass windows surround the restaurant at Hotel Las Torres on all sides, making it easy to watch the happy habits of endemic birds and mammals that live just a few feet away from your table.

 

Bar Pionero

Bar Pionero is the social hub of Hotel Las Torres where guests trade tales about their adventures that day. Comfortable sofas, huge windows and the best regional cocktails are on offer.

Try a Calafate Sour, made from the fruit of the endemic Calafate bush, or order a Pisco Sour Pioneer, with a sprig of mint from Hotel Torres del Paine’s organic garden. The “Costumbres” or the ”Aborigen” – winner of the national tournament “Capel Puro Talento” in 2014 – are just two further options on offer as the night draws in on your Patagonia vacations.

There is also a homemade craft beer “Pionera”, brewed in a little cabin just outside Bar Pionero.

Furthermore, don’t forget about the standard selection of regional and national wines, liqueurs and premium spirits. The bar alsos provide a range of sandwiches, snacks, salads, coffees and cakes.

Activity Level

A wide range of activities are available, so there is something to suit everyone, from one hour to 8-hour trips, as well as leisurely wildlife and sightseeing tours.

There is no high altitude to worry about in this area of Patagonia.

Enquire about booking

Practical Information

Excursion ideas

Activites in the Chaltén area – a selection

There are a series of walks – short and long – sailings and photographic trips available at the hotel (at extra cost). Below are a selection.

 

Lago del Desierto and Rió de las Vueltas

Difficulty: low (navigation), intermediate (hike), start 08.30, finish 17.00.

Lago del Desierto navigation: From the South Point (Punta Sur) to the North Point (Punta Norte) of the lake, with the possibility of walking up to the Centinela Viewpoint, or enjoying the view of the Lago del Desierto and the Cerro Fitz Roy. After two hours we return to the South Point. (vavigation is subject to weather conditions).

Huemul Glacier hike: Approximately two hours through a thick forest of lenga and beech trees, reaching several viewpoints on the way, from where we can admire the Lago del Desierto, the Laguna Huemul and glacier and the Cerro Fitz Roy massif.

Later, we continue towards an adventure camp in the forest, where we take lunch. In the afternoon and until tea time you can enjoy your free time, or take short walks around the area.

 

Viedma Light

Description: Departure from the hotel to Puerto Bahía Túnel. This excursion takes you on a cruise across the Viedma Lake, passing beside icebergs, which have calved off the front of the Viedma Glacier. The boat will stop at a safe distance from the glacier, continuing to sail down its entire front, allowing spectacular views of the high wall of ice.

The excursion provides a totally different perspective of the glacier and it is a unique opportunity for a photographic safari. From 14.00-16.00.

 

Viedma trek – viedma ice

Difficulty: medium – high. Minimum age: 12. Not advisable for pregnant women or people with heart, respiratory or mobility disorders. From 07.45 to 16.45.

Description: Departure from Puerto Bahía Túnel. We will sail through Lago Viedma to the rocky promontory near the glacier. At this point, we can choose between:

Viedma Trek: Walking on the rocks with unique sights of the glacier and its caverns.Viedma Ice Trek: Putting on crampons and walking on the largest glacier of “Los Glaciares National Park”, plus visiting ice caverns.

 

Full Day Walks

Torre Lagoon

Difficulty: Medium

Duration: 7 hours

Description: Hike along the Río Fitz Roy valley to reach the Laguna Torre at the end of the valley. Get as close as non-climbers can get to the mystical Cerro Torre. You will also visit the base camp where climbers wait for the good weather to attempt the climb.

Distance to cover: 22km/13 miles

Elevation: 250m/820ft

 

Pliegue Tumbado

Difficulty: Medium

Duration: 7 hours

Description: Walk through the little village and pass the Ranger Station where the Visitors Centre is located. Pliegue Tumbado is a ridge and a summit that offers views of both Cerro Torre and Mount Fitzroy. It is also a lesser visited area of the park and it is well worth the effort of the climb.

Distance to cover: 24km/14 miles

Elevation: 1,000m/3,281ft

 

Rio Blanco

Difficulty: Medium

Duration: 8 hours

Description: Short drive to Hostería El Pilar next to Río Blanco 11 miles north of El Chaltén. The trail follows Río Blanco, pass Piedras Blancas glacier and up to Rio Blanco base camp. Piedras Blancas glacier is a hanging glacier that descends from the base of Fitzroy. Lunch stop will be in the vicinity of Río Blanco or Poicenot base camp. To return to town the group will follow the trail and pass Laguna Capri and enjoy even more views of Mount Fitzroy.

Distance: 18km / 11 miles

Elevation: 400m/1,312ft

 

 

Hotel Las Torres

Each night before the excursion, the guides will offer at least 5 different alternatives for the next day’s menu. These are selected according to the following day’s weather conditions and guest’s physical abilities.

 

Full Paine

This is the best way to get to know the National Park by visiting its most famous attractions by vehicle and on foot. After lunch we will take you to Lago Grey where you will have the option to take a walk around the lake shore or take the navigation and get close up to the Grey Glaciar.

Duration 7-10 hours. Easy.

 

Las Torres Sendero del Ascencio

Trek to the base of the Towers. Head off from the hotel up the Ascencio Valley, walking through lenga (southern beech) forests and getting up close to the Towers of Paine. If you like horses you can take the option to horseback ride to Refugio Chileno, which is located half way. Then you will continue on foot to the base of the Towers.

Duration 6-8 hours. Difficult.

 

Los Cuernos

Leaving the hotel skirting the south side of Mount Almirante Nieto with spectacular views. You will also get to see Lake Nordenskjöld on the way to the Cuernos Lodge.

Duration 6-8 hours. Moderate.

 

Huella del Puma

Leaving the hotel you will circle the west side of Cerro Paine reaching the top of the hill. Great views of the park, its lakes, the Nothofagus forest and impressive rock formations. The top is at an altitude of 1,509m/4,951ft.

Duration 8 hours. Difficult.

 

Enchanted Valley

One of the best ways to enjoy the sights of Patagonia is by horse. Ride in Cerro Paine Ranch, with forests, streams, and an open prairie of more than 2 km where you will have the possibility to gallop.

Duration 6-8 hours. Moderate.

 

French Valley

Drive to Pudeto. Cross Lake Pehoe by boat. After a 30 minute navigation start the trek towards the French Valley, which is surrounded by lakes, rivers and streams, and a wonderful view of the Paine massif.

Duration 12 hours. Moderate.

 

Mirador Grey

Drive to Pudeto. Cross Lake Pehoe by boat. After a 30 minute navigation start the trek towards the Grey Glacier View Point. You will walk through rocky areas, evergreen and deciduous forests. You will finally be able to get a wonderful view of the Grey Glacier and the lake.

Duration 10-12 hours. Moderate.

 

Sendero de los Lagos

You will arrive to the Lazo Ranch, where you will walk into Nothofagus forests surrounded by lagoons and streams. When you arrive to El Toro Lake you will have an extraordinary 360° view.This is a privileged area to observe flora and fauna.

Duration 7-8 hours. Moderate.

 

Cerro Paine Half Day

Set off from the hotel bordering Cerro Paine’s western face. Climb through a forest of beech and finishing at the gazebo D ‘Agostini, from where you will get a great view of the Torres del Paine.

Duration 3-4 hours. Difficult.

 

Patagón

This excursion is designed for those who would like to learn about the Aonikenk culture (the Tehuelches). You will visit places and valleys where these indigenous people used to live. This excursion is also a good option for bird watching, especially scavengers.

Duration 4 hours. Easy.

 

Nordenskjöld Lake

You will cross rivers and go down sandy rock dunes. You will have the possibility to practice and learn about horses. Enjoy the flora, wild life, and beautiful views of the Nordenskjöld Lake and Almirante Nieto Mount.

Duration 3 hours. Moderate.

 

Salto Grande

Drive to the Salto Grande area. Explore the area and waterfall on foot.

Duration 4 hours. Easy.

 

Lenga Forest

Head north from the Hotel along the south side of the Paine Hill to the Lenga forest. Here you have a chance to see Magellanic woodpeckers, Chilean flickers and a wide range of birds that are related to the park’s forest. You will get to a great viewpoint of the Laguna Azul.

Duration 3 hours. Easy.

 

Sarmiento Lake

You will explore landscapes of pre Andean shrubs, and see the contrasts of the Patagonian colours with a majestic mountain backdrop. You will end at Lago Sarmiento, with its impressive calcium rock formations that show a unique view of the park.

Duration 3-4 hours. Moderate.

 

Blue Lagoon

This is a great excursion for the observation of Flora and Fauna. You will see great views of the Towers of Paine and the enormous landscapes that brought great part of the explorers into the area. You will visit Laguna Amarga and discover the different organisms that live there.

Duration 3-4 hours. Easy.

 

Horseback ride per hour

This excursion is designed for guests who want to experience horseback riding; previous experience is not required. Guides and gauchos will teach the basics of horseback riding.

Per hour. Easy.

Introduction to Patagonia

For most people, Patagonia evokes a vast, windblown plateau, jagged mountains and the life of the gauchos.

The steppe that occupies much of southern South America is only one aspect of a magical region, jam-packed with amazing and contrasting landscapes.

Patagonia (latitudes 40°-55°, approximately) embraces a vast portion of southern Chile and Argentina, from the Rio Colorado in the north, to Tierra del Fuego in the south.

For convenience, we have divided the region into three zones: the Lakes District of northern Patagonian, central Patagonia and southern Patagonia.

Geography of Patagonia

Southern Patagonia (latitudes 49° to 55°), encompassing the southern Andes of Chile and Argentina plus Tierra del Fuego, has an altogether more vertical aspect than the rest of Patagonia.

As the continent tapers towards its southern point, the Andes take on new characteristics and offer some truly impressive panoramas.

Much of southern Patagonia is characterized by virgin landscapes where man’s hand has either not been present or, because of the scale of the landscapes, goes almost unnoticed. To the west of the semi-arid Patagonian plateau, mile-high granite spires – e.g. Cerro Torre and Fitzroy in Argentina and the Torres and Cuernos del Paine in Chile – rise abruptly from the Andean foothills, while vast blue glaciers, fringed by southern beech forest, gouge out thevalleys below.

At the heart of these magnificent landscapes lies the South Patagonian Ice Field, an utterly remote icy wilderness spanning hundreds of kilometers, whose glaciers – including the Perito Moreno and Upsala – are tens of kilometres long by severalkilometers wide.

Also characteristic of the southern Patagonian Andes are its turquoise, iceberg-filled lakes. To the west lies the southern portion of the Chilean Archipelago, comprising snow-capped islands and fjords.

Across the Magellan Straits from mainland Patagonia lies Tierra del Fuego which, like the rest of Patagonia, is divided between Argentina and Chile.

The north and east of Tierra del Fuego is flat, but flanking the Beagle Channel in the south, the tail end of the Andes provide very dramatic mountain scenery.

 

The Lake District (latitudes 40° to 45°) or the Araucania, is a region of dramatic conical volcanoes, evergreen, high-canopy forests and, of course, lakes.

It straddles the Chile-Argentine border, and also takes in Chiloe island, in the extreme north of the Chilean Archipelago. This region stretches from Temuco in the north to Chiloe in the south.

 

Central Patagonia (latitudes 45 to 49) is one of South America’s best-kept secrets. The vast wilderness area can be divided in two:

  • The dry band of Andean foothills and wind-blown plateau lying on the Argentine side of the Andes. This remote area is traversed north to south by a gravel highway known as the Ruta Cuarenta (Highway 40).
  • The Chilean portion to the west of the Andean watershed, often referred to as the Careterra Austral (after the little-used gravel highway that crosses it from north to south).

This huge region, embracing the sparsely-inhabited southern Araucaria and Aisén Region, features temperate rainforests, snow-peaks (often extinct volcanoes), lakes and, to the west, the Chilean Archipelago: a labyrinth of fjords and mountain-islands. This, the Chilean portion of central Patagonia, boasts the northernmost of Patagonia’s many giant, sea-level glaciers.

The San Raphael Glacier, probably this region’s most famous landmark, is an immense hanging glacier whose seracs calve into an iceberg-filled lagoon.

 

Find out more about Patagonia with our blog about its wildlife.

Weather

Patagonia, the very southern tip of South America, has a four-seasons-in-one day climate.

Summer (Nov-March) see temperatures reach up to 20°C, when glorious light pours over the region for up to 18 hours. This is the best time to visit, nevertheless, spring and summer is also when the central and southern Patagonian regions sometimes get buffeted by strong, westerly winds.

Summer days in national parks can also bring sunny, windless conditions, and you may well find yourself hiking in shorts and t-shirt. Afternoons can be warm with lots of sunshine. (Note: Patagonian UV rays are very strong).

It is usually cool and windy all year round but seldom does the temperature fall below freezing point. Some days start with snow and end in balmy sunshine. It is always interesting, and can range from 10°C-20°C in the summer, although the wind can make it feel chilly.

Even in summer (Dec-Mar) you should come prepared to find cold, strong winds (up to 130 km/hr) and rainfalls. The summer’s average temperature is 11ºC/52ºF (24ºC max, 2ºC min). It has been known to snow in camps in summer!

In general, the further south you go, the cooler it gets and the further west you go – towards the Andes and Pacific coast – the wetter and less predictable the weather is. The further east – towards and across the Patagonian plateau – the drier and more stable.

Winter (May-Sept) visits to these southern areas are possible, but many hotels close and not all trips are possible. Daylight hours can be very short and temperatures typically range from -2°C in the winter.

The lack of visitors can greatly improve chances of seeing wildlife in parks such as Paine. Winds tend to die down.

 

 

On the South Patagonian Ice Field (average height, 1,500 metres), the appearance of lenticular clouds – signifying changing conditions – can translate into extreme winds (up to 150 kmh) and heavy snowfall. Here, summer pre-dawn temperatures commonly reach -20°C, with wind chill lowering temperatures even more. However, on sunny, windless summer days, you might get away with wearing just a couple of thin layers.

In Peninsula Valdes, it does not rain much in the region on an annual basis, summers are usually mild, and the temperature sometimes gets very hot (touching 30ºC) and then eases off in the evening. The area does get very windy at times, especially on the peninsula, and warm and water/windproof clothing is recommended.

If you head to Ushuaia, due to its extreme southern location, temperatures may remain chilly during summer (Oct-March) the use of plenty of warm layers of clothing. Winter and Antarctic visits will require extreme clothing.

Kit list

Good kit is vital for every trip.

Book with Andean Trails and get 15% off Páramo’s fantastic ethical and high performance outdoor gear.

 

Overview

When planning for the varied climatic conditions encountered in Paine, layering is the most practical and versatile clothing system.  It’s worth remembering that our clothing keeps us warm by retaining and isolating the heat we ourselves create.

To best maintain body heat, several layers of lightweight, warm and quick-drying clothing are far more efficient than one or two thick layers. Layers should have the following qualities:

 

  1. Breathability (able to wick away the humidity produced by sweat):
  2. Isolation (able to keep in the warm air our body produces); and
  3. Impermeability (able to impede the passing of wind and water).

 

First (base) layer: This layer wicks the sweat away from our skin, thus helping keep the body dry and warm. To this end, synthetic fabrics such as polypropylene should be used.

Mid layers: These isolating layers should also be synthetic (e.g. the known polar linings such as polartec or windblock, which are light and insulate twice as well as wool). Very important layers for retaining body heat.

Outer layer / shell: Finally, the vital layer which protects us from climatic adversities. A breathable, wind-proof and waterproof anorak, such as Goretex.

Give plenty of thought to kit selection, and try to keep weight down.

We also carry an extensive first aid kit & oxygen on all trips, but these are generally for emergencies only.

 

Below is a more detailed kit list.

 

Detailed kit list

  • 2 pairs synthetic inner socks (e.g. polypropylene, thermastat, coolmax) and 2 pairs thick loop-stitch/wool socks for cold.
  • Trekking boots – should be well broken-in, waterproof and provide good ankle support.
  • Trainers/sandals for city-wear, evenings at lower camps & river crossings.
  • Base layer leggings (1 pair).
  • Thick fleece leggings (or salopettes) (1 pair).
  • Goretex-type over-trousers (or salopettes) (1 pair).
  • Gaiters (optional).
  • Trekking trousers (2 pairs).
  • Shorts – wear sparingly in early stages at altitude, as sun burns.
  • Thermal base layer shirts (2).
  • Microfleece mid-layer shirt (1).
  • Shirt/t-shirt 1 or 2 for lower altitudes. Long-sleeved, collared shirt protects against sun
  • Fleece jacket or similar (1).
  • Warm jacket (down or synthetic). For camp and upper slopes.
  • Waterproof Goretex-type jacket.
  • Broad-brimmed sunhat, essential.
  • Warm hat, fleece or wool. (N.B. Up to 30% of body heat can be lost through the head).
  • Sunglasses with UV filter.
  • Scarf for cold.
  • Bandanna – to protect neck from strong sun.
  • Light inner gloves.
  • Swimming suit of hotel has a pool.
  • Warm gloves, e.g. fleece, and outer waterproof gloves or mittens (1 pair)
  • Mittens allow you to keep the fingers together, and better conserve heat (though they also make it difficult to perform certain tasks).
  • Daypack (at least 30 litres). Comfortable and with waterproof lining or cover.
  • Large rucksack or suitcase.
  • Pair of telescopic trekking poles (optional).
  • Water bottle (2 litres approx.) & purification tablets.
  • Personal first-aid kit to include: painkillers, plasters (band-aids), moleskin, anti-biotic cream, general antibiotics (ask your GP), after-bite (tiger balm), anti-diarrhoea tablets, throat lozenges, re-hydration salts & personal medication.
  • Insect repellent.
  • Towel & wash-kit.
  • Wet Wipes/antiseptic hand-wash cream.
  • Toilet paper (1)
  • Sunscreen (factor 30+) and lip salve.
  • Head-lamp (plus spare bulb and batteries).
  • Penknife.
  • Travel alarm clock.
  • Plastic bags – ‘Zip-loc’ & tough bin liners.
  • Camera and film / memory cards (take at least twice the amount you think you will need!).
  • Book, e-book, mp3 player/ipod or other for free time.
  • Binoculars.
  • Spanish/English phrasebook.
  • Extra snacks i.e. cereal bars or favourite chocolate bars.

 

 

Miscellaneous others

  • Money belt.
  • Passport.
  • U.S. dollars cash, mixed-denomination notes, undamaged and unmarked.
  • ATM cash/credit card.
  • Any inoculation certificates.
  • Personal & medical insurance certificates.
  • Presents e.g. Postcards from home.
  • Comfortable clothes for travel, smart clothes for night life.

ATOL holiday protection

Andean Trails has two decades of experience of dealing with South America holidays.

We pay a fee to the CAA for every licensable passenger we book since we hold an Air Travel Organiser’s Licence granted by the Civil Aviation Authority. In the unlikely event of our insolvency, the CAA will ensure that you are not stranded abroad and will arrange to refund any money you have paid to us for an advance booking.

We also offer ATOL (Civil Aviation Authority) protected holidays to give our customers peace of mind when booking and travelling.

When you buy an ATOL protected air holiday package from Andean Trails Ltd you will receive a Confirmation Invoice from us confirming your arrangements and your protection under our Air Travel Organiser’s Licence number 6275.

You can read more about ATOL, who is covered and what protections you have if not ATOL-covered, on our ATOL page.

 

What is ATOL?

The CAA’s ATOL scheme offers protection to your money and your holiday if you book with us. Not everybody is covered (see ‘Who is covered?’ for more), as you must purchase an ‘air package holiday’ with Andean Trails to be protected.

And  ‘air package holiday’ is defined as including a flight and some ground services (hotel, transfer, trek etc). This is also known as an ‘ATOL-protected holiday’.

 

Who is covered?

To be covered by ATOL, you must book a flight and some ground services with us and be from the UK. If you are from the UK and only book ground services and no flights, you are not covered by ATOL (see below for more on how non-ATOL clients are covered).

If you are outside the UK and buy flights with us, you will be ATOL protected IF any of the flights booked with Andean Trails touches/stops in the UK at any point during your holiday package booked with us.

If you buy your flights elsewhere, please check with that agent if you are ATOL protected. Be careful with online flight purchases and make sure you know what protection you have, if any, before paying for flights.

Not all holiday or travel services offered and sold by us will be protected by the ATOL scheme. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking.

For land only holidays not involving any air travel, in accordance with “The Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992”, all UK passengers booking with Andean Trails Ltd. are fully protected for the initial deposit and subsequently the balance of all money paid to us, arising from cancellation or curtailment of travel arrangements due to the insolvency of Andean Trails.

 

I’m not ATOL covered, what protection do I have?

If you are not ATOL covered, any payments you make to us go to a Trust account.

We can only access this money once your tour has been completed, meaning that if anything happens to Andean Trails Limited while you are on holiday, then your money is secure and you can either complete the trip or be able to make it home.

If you pay for your holiday with a credit card, some offer payment protection – please check with your cardholder.

You also should have cancellation protection written into your insurance (which we recommend you have at the time of booking) in case you need to cancel.

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