Patagonian Explorer by Land

Buenos Aires, Santiago, Torres del Paine, Valparaiso
plus Iguazu Falls optional extension

This itinerary is for a past tour program.
Check out our current tour & cruise packages in South America.

Torres del Paine, Chile

Explore amazingly diverse and fascinating Patagonia, a magnificent "off-the-beaten-path" region spanning portions of Chile and Argentina, where you'll find soaring mountains, windy plains that stretch endlessly toward the distant horizon, lush forests filled with ancient flora and fauna, and pristine glaciers. It is an enchanted voyage filled with contrast and beauty, excitement and adventure, and one that you will never forget.

Patagonian Explorer by Land tour itinerary Begin in Buenos Aires, the beautiful and diverse capital city of Argentina, where a rich history and culture, world-class cuisine and spirited nightlife make this one of the world's most exciting destinations.

You'll also visit Santiago, Chile's charming capital city, where Spanish colonial buildings and old churches are juxtaposed against the spectacular, snowy peaks of the Andes Mountains.

Argentinean woman Enjoy the gorgeous vistas and wonderful views framed by the glaciers and the Andes Mountains as you travel by motor coach. You'll spend a night at a beautiful hotel in El Calafate, where you'll find plenty to do and see in the little town that supplies the many hikers and trekkers who start their journeys here. From here, you'll have a chance to get very close to one of a very few glaciers in the world that is advancing, the Perito Moreno. You'll then stay overnight at a beautiful lodge inside the Torres del Paine National Park, get close to the Serrano Glacier as you navigate a fjord by zodiac boat, and see the local wildlife, including a soaring condor if you're lucky, that roams this unspoiled place.

Want even more? Add a 3-night optional pre-tour extension to Iguazu Falls, one of the largest waterfalls in the world and very likely the most impressive.


Itinerary at a Glance

Patagonian Explorer by Land
Day Destination
+ Optional Iguazu Falls Pre-Tour Extension
1 Depart USA
2 Buenos Aires
3 Buenos Aires, Estancia Visit
4 Buenos Aires
5 Buenos Aires, El Calafate
6 El Calafate, Perito Moreno Glacier
7 El Calafate, Torres del Paine
8 Puerto Natales, Serrano
9 Puerto Natales, Punta Arenas, Santiago
10 Santiago
11 Valparaiso, depart Chile
12 Arrive USA

Detailed Itinerary

Avenida 9 de Julio & obelisk, Buenos Aires - © Secretary of Tourism
Avenida 9 de Julio & obelisk, Buenos Aires   © Argentina Secretariat of Tourism
Day 1: Depart USA. Your fascinating journey to South America begins as you depart from Miami this evening on your overnight flight to Buenos Aires.

Day 2: Buenos Aires. After arrival formalities, set out on a tour of the city and discover why Buenos Aires is so often referred to as "the Paris of the South."

Casa Rosada presidential palace Your exploration begins at the Plaza del Mayo, historic and political center of the city. Here is located the Casa Rosada, the presidential palace from which Juan and Eva Perón spoke to throngs of adoring Argentinians. Continue to the Obelisk landmark on the Avenue 9 de Julio, the widest avenue in the world.

La Boca District  Photo by Luis Argerich
La Boca District   Photo by Luis Argerich
Then to the crowded Florida Street, a true shopper's paradise. Pass through the colorful neighborhood of La Boca and the charming San Telmo area. Buenos Aires is a city of neighborhoods, each with its own distinctive flavor, but everywhere you go, the people are warm, welcoming and happy to see visitors.

Recoleta Cemetary, Buenos Aires Admire the French architecture in the exquisite Recoleta neighborhood, including the beautiful Cemetery of La Recoleta, where Evita Perón is buried. It is one of many ironies of this complex city that Evita, heroine of the poor, is buried in the city's most elegant (and expensive) section. Dazzler Tower San Martin

A group of gauchos Day 3: Buenos Aires and Estancia Visit. After breakfast this morning, travel outside the city for a full day excursion to the Argentine Pampas. Visit a traditional estancia (ranch), where you'll discover the life of the Argentine cowboys known as "gauchos." After a sumptuous barbecue lunch including delicious local wine, you'll enjoy a folkloric show with typical Argentine dance, song, and dress. Tonight, join your fellow travelers for dinner and an exciting performance of the tango, Argentina's passionate national dance. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.

A couple performs the tango  Photo by Toshi Hirasawa
A couple performs the tango   Photo by Toshi Hirasawa
Day 4: Buenos Aires. Enjoy a full day at leisure to explore the city on your own. Your tour guide will gladly make suggestions for independent exploration. We recommend that you take advantage of the early evening hours to stroll the colorful streets and shops around your hotel to scout the amazing bargains that will make shopping for souvenirs (and that gorgeous leather bag) a pleasure. Breakfast provided.

Day 5: Buenos Aires & El Calafate. After breakfast this morning, bid farewell to Buenos Aires as you transfer to the airport for your flight to El Calafate, gateway to the Argentine Patagonia. Enjoy the balance of the day at leisure to explore this picturesque Patagonian village on the southern border of the Lago Argentino.

Friendly Planet owners Peggy Goldman & Ilan Fink overlooking El Calafate, Argentina
Friendly Planet owners Peggy & Ilan overlooking El Calafate
Or, if you want to jumpstart your adventure, we recommend the optional Balcones de Calafate Excursion. This thrilling 4x4 adventure will take you through rugged, dramatic Patagonian landscapes.

Fitz Roy mountain From the highest point (3600 ft), you have unrivaled views of the emerald waters of the Lago Argentino and the monumental Fitz Roy Massif. On a clear day, you'll even be able to see the mountains of Torres Del Paine National Park. As you descend, witness a sudden and dramatic change in scenery when you find yourself surrounded by a desert, almost lunar, landscape. Esplendor Hotel Breakfast provided.

Perito Moreno Glacier - Photo by Luca Galuzzi
Perito Moreno Glacier   Photo by Luca Galuzzi

Friendly Planet travelers trekking at Perito Moreno Glacier
Friendly Planet travelers at Perito Moreno
Day 6: El Calafate & Perito Moreno Glacier. This morning, travel to the Glaciers National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to some of the Argentina's most spectacular areas, including the Perito Moreno Glacier, one of the planet's few advancing glaciers.

Pia Glacier, Patagonia You'll have the opportunity to experience this magnificent natural wonder from a variety of vantage points. Begin with views from the footbridges and then sail along the Lago Argentino for a close-up look at the glacier. The Perito Moreno glacier is formed by large blocks of ice that are in constant motion. Along the way, you'll hear the ice as it cracks, splits off from the glacier, and dramatically falls splashing into the water below.

Local Chilean wine After lunch inside the park, spend some time at leisure to explore the glacier on your own before returning to El Calafate. Take a stroll in the village before dinner and explore some of the well-equipped trekking and climbing shops, galleries and wonderful restaurants, where you'll enjoy endless varieties of grilled meats (parrilla) and great local wines. Breakfast & lunch provided.

The Horns of Paine and Lake Pehoe Day 7: El Calafate & Torres del Paine. Today's excursion brings you to Torres del Paine National Park. The "torres" (towers) or horns are three massive granite monoliths of the Paine Mountain range that reach elevations of 10,000 feet. The park teems with a spectacular variety of wildlife and scenery, so bring plenty of film or memory for your cameras to catch the endless breathtaking vistas.

Friendly Planet travelers horseback riding at Torres del Paine
Friendly Planet travelers riding at Torres del Paine
This evening, stay at the lovely Hosteria Lago Grey, a beautiful hotel inside the Torres del Paine National Park on the shores of the pristine Grey Lake, surrounded by forests of lenga and coigue hardwood trees. Hosteria Lago Grey or Hosteria Pehoe Breakfast & dinner provided.

Guanacos  Photo by Dr. Robert Nguyen
Guanacos   Photo by Dr. Robert Nguyen
Day 8: Puerto Natales & Serrano. This morning, set out in zodiac boats down the Serrano River. As you navigate the fjords, you'll see colonies of cormorants and sea lions, soaring condors, roaming herds of sheep, and the ubiquitous guanacos. Arrive at Puerto Toro for panoramic views of the Balmaceda and Serrano Glaciers. You'll be able to approach the Serrano Glacier after a short walk through the forest. After lunch, continue by river boat to Puerto Natales. CostAustralis Hotel Breakfast & dinner provided.

Day 9: Puerto Natales, Punta Arenas & Santiago. After breakfast this morning, transfer to the Punta Arenas airport for your flight to Santiago.

View of Santiago Arrive in Santiago, bustling capital of Chile, located between the Pacific Ocean and the majestic Andes Mountains. Your guide will escort you to your centrally located hotel where you'll meet up with your fellow passengers from the cruise tour to share stories and experiences of your Patagonian explorations. Crowne Plaza Hotel Breakfast provided.

Casa de la Moneda, Santiago Day 10: Santiago. This morning, enjoy an orientation tour that showcases both the colonial and modern highlights of the city. Begin at Santiago's famed Jockey Club and then proceed to Centro Civico and Plaza Constitución. See the Casa de la Moneda, one of Spanish America's most stunning examples of colonial architecture and the current seat of the Chilean government.

Plaza de Armas, Santiago  Photo by Peanno
Plaza de Armas, Santiago   Photo by Peanno
Continue to the the bustling Plaza de Armas, the heart of Santiago and home to the ornate baroque Cathedral Metropolitana, the magnificent Post Office building, the Natural History Museum, and the best place to view the dozens of lively street artists and mimes and busy "Santiaguinos" on their way to and from work. End your tour with a spectacular panoramic view of Santa Lucia Hill, site where Santiago was founded in 1541. Enjoy the afternoon at leisure to explore the city independently.

Tonight, enjoy dinner and a colorful folklore performance at Buenos Muchachos, a restaurant decorated in traditional Chilean farm style. Sample local wines and regional cuisine as you experience live music and dance from Chile’s northern and central regions and the Chiloe and Easter Island zones. Breakfast & dinner provided.

Valparaiso Historic Quarter on Cerro Alegre Hill

Day 11: Valparaiso. Today's excursion takes you to Valparaiso, a vibrant port city and UNESCO World Heritage site founded in 1536.

Calfulafquen Bar Restaurant & hillside tram, Valparaiso
Hillside tram, Valparaiso
Valparaiso brims with charming colorful neighborhoods nestled in the hills. More than a dozen cable cars that connect the port with other areas in the city. On today's tour, you'll have the opportunity to ride one of these hillside tramcars—the Ascensor Artilleria—to the Mirador Paseo 21 de Mayo, where you'll take in stunning panoramic views of the port. You'll also visit some of Valparaiso's most interesting sights, including the Plaza Victoria, the handicraft market, and the Muelle Prat, an excellent spot for viewing the bustling port activities. Continue to the lively Central Market before concluding your tour at the University of Valparaiso.

Later today, transfer to the airport for your return flight to the USA. Breakfast provided..

Day 12: Arrive USA. Your exciting South American adventure ends today as you arrive in the USA this morning.


Iguazu Falls Optional Pre-Tour Extension

Why not take advantage of your already-included international airfare to visit Iguazu Falls, one of the world's most spectacular natural wonders.

Iguazu Falls  © Brazilian Tourism Office
Iguazu Falls   © Brazilian Tourism Office

Day 1: Depart USA. Your fascinating journey begins as you depart from Miami this evening on your overnight flight to Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Day 2: Puerto Iguazú. After arrival in Buenos Aires, transfer to the national airport for your flight to the Argentinean side of Iguazu Falls. Check in at your deluxe hotel, the only one located within the Park.

Aerial view of Devil's Throat at Iguazu - Photo by Mario Robert Duran Ortiz
Aerial view of Devil's Throat at Iguazu   Photo by Mario Robert Duran Ortiz
Upon seeing Iguazu, Eleanor Roosevelt exclaimed "Poor Niagara!" You'll soon discover why this UNESCO World Heritage Site is considered one of the greatest natural wonders of the world! Straddling the border of Argentina and Brazil, the Falls consist of 275 inlets and cataracts that cascade down 250 feet, framed by multiple rainbows and mist that rises up to 500 feet in the air. Iguazu boasts the greatest average annual flow of any waterfall in the world.

An Iguazu Falls trail Take the remainder of the day to explore Iguazu on your own. There's plenty of well-marked trails through the rainforest around the Falls that afford multiple views of the roaring water and excellent picture-taking (be sure to protect your camera if it's not waterproof). Later, relax and cool off at your beautiful hotel pool. Sheraton Iguazú Hotel Breakfast provided.

Iguazu Falls rainbow  Photo by Dr. Robert Nguyen
Iguazu Falls rainbow   Photo by Dr. Robert Nguyen
Day 3: Iguazu Falls. This morning, you'll get a fantastic close-up view of the falls and their dazzling and awesome display of power. Travel through the rain forest to the most spectacular sight at Iguazu: Devil's Throat, a massive U-shaped cataract that measures 270' high, 490' wide and 2300' long. Spend the afternoon at leisure to explore further on your own. Or, take advantage of an optional nautical adventure along the Lower Iguazu River, sailing under the Falls. Later this afternoon, be sure to take time to stroll through the laid-back town of Puerto Iguazú. Breakfast provided.

Exploring the Falls by boat  Photo by Dr. Robert Nguyen
Exploring by boat   Photo by Dr. Robert Nguyen
Day 4: Depart Iguazu. Enjoy a morning at leisure to take advantage of the lovely resort activities at your hotel. This afternoon, transfer to the airport for your flight to Buenos Aires. You'll enjoy the rest of the day at leisure in Buenos Aires, before beginning the next leg of your tour tomorrow. Dazzler Tower San Martin Breakfast provided.

Space on the Iguazu Falls Extension is extremely limited and subject to availability.


Destination FAQs

For quick answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Argentina, click here.

For quick answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Chile, click here.

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Photos by Dr. Robert Nguyen
See this and other stunning photos shot by Dr. Robert Nguyen, a recent traveler on our Patagonia tour, at www.lightmagical.com.
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