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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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
Experience required: Fit. No trekking experience required.
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
Grade of difficulty: Easy
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Drive to the Salto Grande area. Explore the area and waterfall on foot.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
UK and USA citizens do not require a visa to enter Argentina or Chile as a tourist.
Please ensure your passport has at least six months remaining validity.
On presentation of a valid UK or USA passport you will be granted a 90-day stay in either country. Please keep any tourist card you are given safe – you need this to leave the country.
Australians have to pay a reciprocity fee to enter Argentina, and this must be obtained before travelling to Argentine.
Australians entering Chile at Santiago International airport must also pay a reciprocity fee, paying cash on arrival.
All non-UK nationals should check with their nearest Chilean/Argentine consulates for the latest visa and fee information.
All requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed before departure.
We strongly suggest that everyone planning to travel to Patagonia visits their local doctor/travel clinic prior to departure for the latest vaccination information.
Good kit is vital for every trip.
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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:
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
Official name: Republic of Chile
Country population: 17,000,000
Capital city: Santiago (6 million)
Largest cities: Santiago, Concepcion, Valparaiso
Languages: Spanish (official)
Official currency: Chilean Peso
Major industries: Copper mining, agriculture, fish
Time zone: GMT-5 in winter (Mar-Sep) and GMT-4 in summer (Sep-Mar)
Official name: Argentine Republic Country
Capital city: Buenos Aires (11 million)
Largest cities: Buenos Aires, Cordoba, Rosario
Official currency: Argentine Peso
Major industries: Agriculture (Soy), motor vehicles, chemicals
Being at altitude, especially in the tropics, is usually a pleasure as it isn’t so hot, there are few insects and the air is clear.
However, when gaining altitude, air pressure drops and the amount of oxygen reaching the lungs is reduced. Although we build plenty of acclimatisation time into our itineraries, certain ill-effects are possible. Nevertheless, all of these can be minimised or prevented if care is taken.
On reaching heights above 2,500m (approx. 8,200 ft), especially when ascent has been straight from sea level, heart pounding, mild headache and shortness of breath are normal, especially on exertion.
Acute mountain sickness (AMS) is a syndrome known locally as soroche, whose symptoms can include of bad headache, dizziness and nausea).
To avoid AMS, you should:
Andean Trails can book all your international and domestic flights for this trip and for UK passengers; we have full ATOL bonding and can book flights with most airlines.
International flight prices are variable and usually can only be guaranteed at the time of booking. If you would like to upgrade to business or first class, or even arrive at an earlier date/depart at a later date we can also arrange this for you.
Typically, you fly to a country’s capital city and then overnight there or make a connecting flight (if available) to your next destination.
Please contact us for flight advice especially if you do make a connection on the same day. It is important to purchase a through ticket and not separate tickets for connections, so that you are covered for any delays. Passengers with separate tickets that are delayed run the risk of having to buy an entirely new ticket to continue their journeys.
Please note all airline schedules are subject to change and are out of our control.
Almost all flight tickets are now e-tickets. Any that are not will be handed to you on arrival in South America – this is most common for flights on smaller planes in Amazon areas such as Guyana/Bolivia.
The final travel instructions we send you some 2-3 weeks before departure will list the latest flight times, flight numbers etc as well as list your e-ticket numbers and booking reference code (6 characters i.e. GB75RK). This is what you will need to check in with.
How do I check in?
Depending on the airline, we can reserve some seats for you at the time of booking your international flights with us.
If we cannot reserve seats at the time of booking, you have to wait for online check in to open (usually 24-72 hours before departure).
To check in online you will need to go to the website of the airline you are travelling with, and have your e-ticket number/booking reference to hand. Click check in online, enter your details, and choose your seat.
Some flights will allocate seats at the check in desk at the airport and some may not allocate seats at all.
Help flying via the USA (ESTA form).
The United States (USA) has an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) which all travellers to and via the USA must complete BEFORE travel to/via its airports and shores.
More information can be found on their ESTA website.
Passengers who have not completed the form will be denied boarding.
Before you begin this application, make sure that you have a valid passport and credit card available.
This application will only accept the following credit cards: MasterCard, VISA, American Express, and Discover (JCB, Diners Club).
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.
Patagonia is a relatively safe region, but we still recommend that in large towns and cities you take certain precautions (see below).
Chile and Argentina are, overall, among the safest countries in South America.
However, in Buenos Aires and Santiago, muggings and opportunistic crime – although not common – do occur.
In Buenos Aires, ‘distraction muggings’ sometimes happen in quiet streets, in the daytime as well as at night.
We suggest that you take the following precautions:
Foreign currency in Patagonia
Take US dollars with you (preferably new notes or at least unmarked and undamaged notes) in smaller denominations of 10s, 20s and maybe some 50s. Do not take USD 100 bills as they are unlikely to be accepted.
Argentina: Currency & Money Exchange
Argentina’s monetary unit is the “Argentina Peso”.
Argentina has had several years of economic instability and with a previous government there were tight exchange controls.
These have now been relaxed so payments with debit and credit cards are widely accepted.
However, there may be controls on ATM withdrawals (possibly a max of AR 1,000 / GB 50 per day and you may well be charged substantially for each withdrawal). ATMs can also be unreliable and we have had several reports of “empty” cash machines. We suggest that you have enough cash to cover your needs, especially in more remote areas.
ATM debit/credit cards are now widely used in major restaurants, hotels and shops (with fees).
On arrival to Argentina , at the airport/border, exchange US dollars so that you have some local peso. Some businesses, particularly in tourist spots may accept payment in US dollars – ask first.
Exchange rate: USD 1 = 25 Argentine Peso (approx.), June 2018.
Peso banknotes: 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 pesos
Peso coins: 5, 10, 25, 50 centavos, 1 peso, 2 pesos
Chile: Currency & Money Exchange
Chile’s monetary unit is the “Chilean Peso”.
Most businesses (unless a tourist shop/restaurant) will only accept Chilean pesos. Note that the Peso comes in very high denominations (see below), so you’ll need to get used to very big numbers on bills that are not worth very much.
ATM debit/credit cards are widely used in major restaurants, hotels and shops (with fees). There are plenty of ATMS (hole-in-the-wall) cash machines throughout the country, however check with your bank to see if there is a daily maximum you may withdraw.
Exchange rate: USD 1 = 630 Chilean Peso (approx.), June 2018.
Peso banknotes: 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000 pesos
Peso coins: 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, 500 pesos
Don’t forget to read out tipping guides for Argentina and Chile.
Eating and drinking
Argentina and Chile both have fantastic culinary and wine reputations.
There are more and more top-end restaurants almost everywhere, and you can easily spend USD 100pp and more on meals.
Prices vary greatly, below is a rough guide to what you can expect to pay in Argentina and/or Chile.
Beer/soft drink: USD 4
Menu del dia: USD 10-15
Coffee: USD 2
Bottle of wine: From USD 15 upwards
Tourist style restaurant
Beer/soft drink: USD 5-7
Main dish: USD 20 upwards
Coffee: USD 3
Bottle of wine: From USD 20 upwards
Tipping is entirely voluntary and how much you give depends on how you feel about the service you have received.
This is a rough guideline:
220 volts (110v in some hotels), 50 Hz, in both Chile and Argentina.
Most cameras, phones and computers are dual or multi voltage and probably won’t need a convertor – please check before leaving.
Some items you may bring, such as hairdryers, may need a convertor. They may short if you use them without the correct convertor.
If you go on a cruise boat in Patagonia, most boats take the two pin, round-pronged Type C plug show below.
Argentina uses Type i (I) plugs, although some Type C plugs can be found in older buildings and bathrooms.
Type i (I) plug
Type C plug
Chile uses Type C as above and Type L plugs.
Type L plug
Internet in Patagonia
Most hotels, cafes, restaurants and airports offer free and generally good Wi-Fi. In some towns and cities, main plazas have free, public Wi-Fi.
Internet cafes are slowly disappearing, but most towns and cities will have some in the main centres.
Head to the state-owned Correos de Chile for postal services.
Correo Argentino is the national, state-run postal service.
Dialling codes in Argentina
To call Argentina from abroad, or using your mobile phone in Argentina, follow these steps.
Example number: Buenos Aires (0)11 1234-5678, you would dial:
Argentina mobiles start with the number 15. If using your mobile phone to call an Argentine mobile, follow these steps.
Example number: Buenos Aires mobile 15-8765-4321, you would dial:
Mobile phones in Argentina
If taking a mobile phone with you, check roaming rates with your operator before leaving – they can be very high.
A good way to avoid expensive charges is to bring own unlocked tri- or quad-band phone to Argentina and then buy an inexpensive SIM chip with a local number. These are available in many kiosks and locutorios and offer ability to make cheap calls as well as affordable data for the internet.
Dialling codes in Chile
The international code for Chile is +56.
Regions have dialling codes.
Not all smartphones will work in Chile, it’s best to check with your operator before you arrive. Roaming charges may be high – again, best to check.
Landlines in Chile
Chile’s landlines have 7 digits, apart from Santiago where they have 8 digits.
To call landline-landline in the same city, add the regional code and then the 7 or 8 digit number, e.g. Arica code is 58, to dial Arica-Arica, dial 58 – 1234567.
If calling landline to another regional landline/city, dial the area code (61=Puerto Natales) but eliminate the 0 e.g. dial 61 1234567.
If using your own mobile phone to call a landline, dial the country code, the regional/city code without the 0, and then the number, e.g. for Puerto Natales +56 61 1234567.
Mobiles in Chile
Mobiles have 8 digits.
If you are dialling a Chilean mobile from a Chilean landline, add 9 to the number, e.g. 9 1234-5678.
If using your own mobile phone to call a Chilean mobile, dial the country code, then a 9, then the 8 digit number e.g. +56 9 1234-5678.
If you wish call an Argentina mobile while you are in Chile, dial 9, then the area code without the 0, then the number (leaving out the 15 which most Argentine mobiles start with).
e.g. for Buenos Aires mobile 15 1234-5678
Dial: +54 9 11 1234-5678 (Buenos Aires code = 11).
Learning a few words of Spanish can really ingratiate you with the locals you’ll encounter, adding to the enjoyment of your holiday.
Below are some basics to get you started.
Good morning Buenos días
How are you? ¿Cómo estás?
Good afternoon Buenas tardes
Good bye Adiós
Most frequently asked questions (theirs):
Where are you (plural) from? ¿De dónde eres (son)?
What time is it? ¿Qué hora es?
Where have you come from? ¿De dónde vienes?
Give me (frequent, unwelcome question) Dáme / regálame
Most frequent questions (yours):
How much is it? ¿Cuánto vale?
What is this place called? ¿Cómo se llama este lugar?
What’s your name? ¿Cómo te llamas?
Do you have a map? ¿Tienes un mapa?
In the street / places:
Where can I find a currency exchange? ¿Dónde encuentro una casa de cambio?
Where is there a cash machine? ¿Dónde hay un cajero automatico?
Where is the underground/subway station? ¿Dónde esta la estacion de metro/subte(Buenos Aires)?
Where can I find a taxi? ¿Dónde puedo encontrar un taxi?
Where can I find a Supermarket? ¿Dónde puedo encontrar un supermercado?
Where is the hospital? ¿Dónde esta el hospital?
Where can I find a restaurant? ¿Dónde puedo encontrar un restaurante?
In the hotel:
What floor am I on? ¿En qué piso estoy?
Where are the elevators/lifts? ¿Dónde están los ascensores?
How do I access the Internet? ¿Cómo puedo acceder a Internet?
How do I call for room service? ¿Cómo llamo para el servicio de habitación?
How do I call down to the front desk? ¿Cómo llamo a la recepción?
In the restaurant:
A table for two/four please Una mesa para dos/cuatro, porfavor
I would like to drink… Me gustaria tomar….
May I see a menu? Puedo ver la carta/menu?
I would like to order.. Me gustaria pedir…
Can you bring me the check/bill please. Me trae la cuenta por favor
I need help. Necesito ayuda.
I have lost my passport. He perdido mi pasaporte.
Someone stole my money. Alguien robó mi dinero
I have been robbed. Me han robado
I need to call the police. Necesito llamar a la policía
I need to call the (country) Embassy Necesito llamar a la embajada de (country)
Andean Trails believes in Responsible Travel and actively supports several community projects.
Please see Our Advice and Our Ethos for more, and learn about the Projects We Support.
We operate the Inca Trail, our treks and tours with local firms.
We make sure that on our tours and Inca Trail we employ local staff, who are paid fair wages.
With the Inca Trail, We provide free life insurance to all of our porters. Tented accommodation and meals are provided for all trekking staff as well as foam mats, sleeping bags and rain ponchos. We have also provided the staff with trekking shoes. We ensure our porters carry a maximum of only 20kg. We offer them backpacks and they generally use back supports.
Clean burning fuel is used to cook the meals on the Inca Trail and porters carry gas stoves and butane bottles. We use biodegradable detergents when washing the cooking and eating utensils. If any part of our tour or trek is operated by another company, we try to ensure that high standards are maintained.
Our additional support helps the Huchuy Yachaq project which supports children and families in one of the poorest communities in the district of Cusco.
Responsible Tourism – Code of Conduct:
All our activities are governed by our respect for the environment and the people who live in it. We aim to make a positive impact both in the UK and in the Andean countries we work in (Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina).
We agree with the principals of sustainable development and specifically promote environmentally aware tourism in the Andean countries, in order to preserve the heritage of the people who live there and to help protect their environment.
In the UK we use recycled paper where possible, recycle what we can and attempt to keep waste to an absolute minimum.
Throughout South America we work together with local people, paying them a fair price, and putting money into the local economy. We do this by using local agents, local trek staff and experienced and qualified local mountain and cultural guides who have an in-depth knowledge of their own country. Our porters on the Inca Trail are fairly paid, carry a maximum load of 20kg and are supplied with tents and food. In other areas we use donkeys or horses to carry loads.
We use locally owned services such as hotels and restaurants, wherever possible. We buy fresh local produce for all of our treks from markets in each departure town. We use public transport whenever possible and feasible.
We have ongoing contact with the teams that we work with and also with local families in the areas we trek through, developing relationships with them and donating goods such as clothes and shoes to their communities, through appropriate local agencies. We also support local Peruvian charities, specifically NIÑOS in Cusco, and CARE in the Huaraz area, plus Huchuy Yachaq.
If you have any suitable (warm) clothes and shoes that you would like to donate to Peruvian children please take them with you and give them to your tour leader, who will ensure they go to a suitable organization.
When out on tour we encourage learning about the countries we travel in, the local culture of the teams we work with and the areas we pass through. Our guides hold informal talks with groups to inform about and discuss with them all aspects of local life. This helps understanding of the area and appreciation of the people who live there.
Our group sizes are kept to a maximum of 16 people, and we encourage smaller groups where possible. This minimises the negative impact we make on the local people, the wildlife and the environment, and increases the quality time spent in contact with the local people and environment.
When trekking we adhere to a responsible tourism code of practice and are also involved in ongoing training of our trek staff.
A full Health and Safety document will be sent to you at the time of booking and before you travel.
You can also read it on our website, or contact us for more information.
It is a condition of booking any of our holidays that you have comprehensive travel insurance to cover you for trip cancellation (by you), activities involved and destination. This cover should include repatriation costs, air ambulance and helicopter rescue.
We work with Travel Nomads, who offer insurance solutions to people in more than 140 countries across the world.
Should you decide not to purchase this insurance, you must provide us with details of your alternative insurance with or before your final payment.
Many of our tours travel through remote areas.
We believe our clients should be aware that the remoteness of some of our tours so very special could also cause certain problems.
Thus, whilst we endeavour to minimise the chances of anything unexpected happening, it has to be noted that no itinerary can or should be rigidly adhered to.
This is the very nature of adventure travel and we expect our clients to be prepared for delays and slight alterations in our programmed events.
Also, shared tours may include travellers from all over the world whose native language is not English.
What's a group trip?
Join a small group of like-minded travellers on a guided trip.
What's a tailor made trip?
We put together a bespoke tour to fit your requirements.
Prices From $2,100 / £1,680 per person
Capacity: 16 per person
Enquire about booking
Prices From $1,656 / £1,325 per person
Dates: From September 2019 to April 2021
Capacity: 48 per person
Prices From $2,376 / £1,901 per person
Prices From $2,850 / £2,280 per person
Dates: From October 2019 to May 2021
Capacity: 80 per person
Prices From $4,327 / £3,462 per person
Daily departures 01 Oct 2019 - 20 Apr 2020
Low Season: 01-25 Oct 2019 & 01 Apr-20 Apr 2020
From USD 4,327.00 per person in double room
High Season: 26 Oct 2019 - 31 Mar 2020
6 Oct 2018 -28 Feb 2019
From USD 4,617 per person in double room
Christmas and New year supplement at Hotel Las Torres from 22 Dec to 03 Jan: USD 270 per person per night
Single supplement applies
Enquire about booking
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The trip was truly brilliant. We were unbelievably lucky with the weather - when we needed good weather (e.g. when hiking up to three towers, andean crossing) we had it!
The EcoCamp exceeded all our expectations (I am assuming you have been there so I don't need to tell you about it!). Our guide was just great - very experienced, knowledgeable and fun. We had a full group of 12 and enjoyed everyone's company. We would both say that the trekking portion was truly awesome and very special - the highlight of our trip - not that the rest of it wasn't great.
Everything was as it was supposed to be - we were met/picked up according to the schedule.
The hotels were also great - we loved all the locations and the hotels themselves. At the last hotel in Buenos Aires (Legado Mitico) they were unbelievably fun and helpful. They let us stay in our room until 4pm among other things.
B Mucklow, USA, 2018
» Paine W Classic Trek
A. Fraser, UK, 2012
» Patagonia Self-guided Tour with W Trek
Which animal might you adopt?
#Galapagos #conservation twitter.com/galapagossip/statu…
14th June, 2020 6:21 pm
THE NORTH OF PERU The north of Peru is brimming with treasures and it is much less travelled than the southern hot spots of Cusco and Machu Picchu. Northern Peru travel never fails to surprise and impress, it is a fascinating part of this wonderful country well worth exploring. There is masses to see and do here so I would recommend a good amount of time. If you can I would dedicate a week as a minimum and ideally two weeks to a tour to the north of Peru. Have a read of “Our Travel Guide to Northern …
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