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The Patagonian Adventure Starts
Located on the blustery tip of the Magallanes region in Chilean Patagonia, the historic port city of Punta Arenas will be the starting point for our Patagonian adventure. After being fetched from your Punta Arenas hotel or the Punta Arenas airport (PUQ), kick back and relax for a drive with our private transfer service to EcoCamp Patagonia, located roughly 5 hours away in scenic Torres del Paine National Park. You can also start your trip in El Calafate on the Argentine side of the border (see our weekly transfer board for EcoCamp's pick up & drop off schedule).
During the drive to EcoCamp, we’ll pass through sprawling fields of native flora and fauna, perfect for watching from the car windows. We’ll make a quick stop in Puerto Natales, the town nearest to the park, which is located on the shores of “Last Hope Sound”. After setting off again, we’ll take a detour to visit the Cueva de Milodon (Cave of the Milodon). It was here that the remains of a giant ground sloth were first discovered in the 1890s, and the event and location has been immortalized in Bruce Chatwin’s famous travelogue “In Patagonia”.’ We’ll have the chance to walk around the massive cave, and get to see a made-to-scale model of the sloth, showing just how colossal the creature was in real life.
After entering Torres del Paine and getting your first glimpses of the famous Torres, we’ll arrive at EcoCamp Patagonia. Nestled on a hilltop in the heart of the park, here we’ll spend the night in a cozy Suite dome with a view of the Torres, able to relax and enjoy fine dining and possibly a drink in the Bar Dome before the first day of adventures.
Trek to Base of the Torres
After a filling breakfast in the Community Domes, we’ll set off toward Hosteria Las Torres down the road to take the uphill path to Ascencio Valley to start the climb to the base of the Torres, one of the most popular treks in the entire park.
The path climbs through beech forests and past small rivers and other scenic sights, stopping to rest when the group needs it. Before the final payoff of seeing the Torres, we’ll need to tackle a steep moraine of jumbled rocks and boulders. The going can be tough but the view is more the worth it. Standing at the edge of a glacial lake with the three massive granite spires towering overhead is both a humbling and exhilarating experience. After stopping for lunch and to savor the view (and take plenty of photos), the group will backtrack the way we came to return to EcoCamp for dinner.
Western Lakes and Grey Glacier
After breakfast, the day starts with a drive across the park, offering great opportunities to admire the views of Paine Grande and the iconic Los Cuernos peaks with their horn-like spires of black granite. We’ll park to take a quick walk to the gushing majesty of the Salto Grande waterfalls in front of the Paine Massif, where the aquamarine waters of Lake Nordenskjold cascade down into Lake Pehoe. We’ll follow the trail a bit further to a perfect lookout spot to admire the view and take pictures, before getting back in the car near Lake Pehoe to drive to the shores of glacial Lake Grey. Here, after a filling box lunch, we’ll board the boat that will ferry us through the cold waters, past floating sculptures of deep-blue ice, all the way to the massive front wall of Grey Glacier. The boat will spend some time going along the front so we can see different viewpoints, before returning us to land and then back to EcoCamp via car.
*During shoulder season (October and April) the boat trip to Grey Glacier may be canceled as the boat requires a minimum of 8 passengers to sail, which might not be reached in some cases. If this is the case we will plan an alternative excursion in the Park.
Crossing the Border to Argentine Patagonia
After breakfast, it’s time to bid farewell to EcoCamp and start the drive out of Torres del Paine to Argentine Patagonia. At the Cerro Castillo border crossing, we’ll pass through immigration and then continue on for lunch in the small, quaint town of El Calafate surrounded by the dramatic landscapes of Argentine Patagonia. We then head onward to Chalten, yet another tiny outpost located close to the mighty Mount Fitz Roy, where we’ll spend the night in a four star hotel before the next day’s outing.
Get ready for a thrilling full-day trek along the Cerro Torre trail to the stunning Laguna Torre, with the iconic outline of Mount Fitz Roy at the far end.
Setting out after breakfast, the path will take us east through virgin beech forests. At the gushing torrents of the Fitzroy River, we continue on to Base Camp de Agostini. From there, it’s not far through increasingly more spectacular mountainous scenery until we reach our goal: Laguna Torre. The scene is captivating: Mount Fitz Roy, Cerro Torre, and the Adela mountain range frame the lake which is dotted with icebergs of all shapes, sizes, and shades of blue. We’ll follow along the shore of the lake to different viewpoints to soak up as much of the view as possible, take pictures, and eat lunch. Then we backtrack to Chalten for dinner and a good night’s rest.
Mount Fitz Roy
Another hikes awaits today, this time along the beautiful Rio Blanco. The trip starts with the drive to the head of the trail, located roughly eleven miles north of Chalten, where we’ll follow the trail to the Piedras Blancas Glacier, a hanging glacier descending from the base of Mount Fitz Roy.
Here, we’ll take a chance to enjoy the view during lunch, and then forge onward to a viewpoint that offers incomparable vistas of the majestic Mount Fitz Roy and its surroundings. Then we follow the trail past Laguna Capri and end up back in Chalten for dinner and sleep.
Perito Moreno Glacier
Today is the day for one of the greatest highlights of the trip: the epic Perito Moreno Glacier! If Mount Fitz Roy is the king of Argentine Patagonia, then the Perito Moreno is its queen, and today we get the honor of gazing upon her magnificence.
Finishing up after breakfast, we drive back to Calafate through the rolling pampas, arriving around noon to leave our luggage at the hotel and head out to the glacier.
First, we’ll go the lesser-known north face, away from the crowds, to take in its grandeur in peace and quiet. The gigantic glacier, with its gradients of blue and jagged edges, is one of the best places to see calving, so hopefully we’ll get the chance to see some chunks fall off the front wall into the glacial Lake Argentino below. Next, we take a short walk to the footbridges, admiring the scenery along the way, before embarking on a short boat ride up close to the front of the glacier.
After this day of icy thrills, we return to Calafate for a final night of delicious food at the local folklore show to learn more about the culture of the region.
Sadly, it’s time for this trip full of invigorating exercise and unforgettable sights to draw to a close so we can return to reality. After breakfast, relax in the private transfer to the local airport for your departure flight.
(Please note: if you are taking the optional extension to finish the trip in Punta Arenas, then a early private transfer will take you to Puerto Natales where you will have the chance to have lunch (not included) and continue onwards to Punta Arenas, where you’ll spend the night in a hotel. The next day, after breakfast, a private transfer will take you to the airport for your flight.)
Dates & Rates
Trips start at $4549 in shoulder season.
- Accommodation: 3 nights at EcoCamp’s Suite Domes, 3 nights at Hotel Los Cerros in standard room and 1 night at Hotel Kau Yatun in superior room.
- All ground semi-private transport in Chile and private services in Argentina as indicated in the itinerary, always in comfortable minivans.
- English speaking guide for all excursions. Guide ratio 1:12. Max group size: 16 people.
- All national park fees and Cueva del Milodon ticket.
- Boat crossing ticket over Grey Lake and/or Pehoe Lake.
- Nautical Safari to Perito Moreno Glacier.
- All meals starting from lunch on day 1 to breakfast on final day.
What's Not Included:
- Flight tickets.
- Insurance. (It is mandatory you purchase appropriate insurance for this trip.)
- Voluntary tipping of guides and staff.
- Drinks or snacks not served with meals at EcoCamp or in Argentina
- Items of personal nature.
Your booking is based on Chilean pesos (CLP), but you pay in US$ (USD), using the exchange rate valid on the day of payment which will be shown on your invoice. This exchange rate may vary between the date you pay your deposit and the date you pay your outstanding balance, but rest assured this is the best way to keep our prices competitive and ensure the best rate for you!
Please Note: The weather in Patagonia can be difficult to deal with at times. We reserve the right to change the order of the days in any itinerary at the discretion of the trip guide and based on operational considerations. The trip guide can modify, change or eliminate part of the itinerary based on safety/weather considerations.
FAQ & More
What is the weather like?
The vast unbroken stretch of ocean to the west and south of the South American continent leaves the Patagonian Andes very exposed to winds that circle the Antarctic landmass. Also, the strong marine influence and the effect of the Southern Patagonian Ice field make the weather hard to predict. In spring or early summer, fine weather may change almost without warning, bringing rain and even snow. Even in summer (December to March), you should come prepared to find strong cold winds (up to 80mph) and rainfall. The summer’s average temperature is 11ºC/52ºF.
How fit do I need to be for this trip?
This trip demands a moderate level of physical activity. We take as many stops as necessary depending on the rhythm of the group. Travellers doing the active excursions will find them sufficiently energetic. To enjoy these more active treks it is essential to be in shape before arriving. All trails visited in the programs are under 1,000 m / 3,000 ft high so passengers don’t need to worry about altitude.
What do I need to pack?
A complete packing list will be provided upon booking your trip.
What are the accommodations like in EcoCamp?
For this tour we will use the Suite Domes at EcoCamp. These geodesic domes are roughly 300 sq ft in size and offer comfortable double or twin beds, modern low-emission wood stove, private bathroom with gas heater and state of the art composting toilet. Fall asleep each night gazing at the starlit skies through the dome windows and enjoy stunning views of Torres from the comforts of your very own private terrace. There are 10 Suite Domes located within EcoCamp. In addition to your private Suite Dome, EcoCamp has 3 Community Domes where you can relax with other guests, enjoy your meals, or grab an evening cocktail!
Suite Domes Include:
Spacious 28m² / 300ft² area
Open terrace to read, relax and admire the view
Enclosed porch to hang wet clothing
Comfortable King-size or twin beds
Low-emission wood stove
Propane heater in bathroom
Private fully-equipped bathroom
State of the art composting toilet
What are the community domes like?
The Community Domes are the center of EcoCamp’s social activity and will also serve as the meeting place each day prior to your departure from camp. EcoCamp offers 3 community domes housing the bar, library, dining room, and lounging. These common spaces are available for use throughout your stay and connected to your sleeping quarters by raised wooden walkways.
What sustainable efforts can I expect to see at EcoCamp?
• Solar & hydro energy providing 100% of EcoCamp’s electricity
• Policy of carbon reduction & CO2 offsetting
• Low impact design with minimal excavation & terrain disruption
• High tech composting devices in all bathrooms
• Efficient dome design to provide thermal insulation & wind protection
• Raised wooden walkways not disturbing flora & fauna
• Ecologically verified suppliers
• Careful recycling and reusing of materials
• Policy of carbon reduction & CO2 offsetting
• Buying and supplying locally
What are the accommodations like in Argentina?
You will be staying in 4/5* hotels in El Chalten and El Calafate.
3 nights at Hotel Los Cerros in a standard room
1 night at Hotel Kau Yatun in a superior room.
How do I get to Punta Arenas?
You will want to book a flight to Presidente Carlos Ibáñez International Airport (PUQ), the airport serving the city of Punta Arenas in southern Chile in the Patagonia region of South America. LATAM Airlines and American Airlines are the two biggest Airlines offering flights to Punta Arenas.
Once you arrive at Punta Arenas Airport, we will pick you up for the scenic transfer to EcoCamp
Can you help with booking my International Flights?
Unfortunately, we are not authorized to book air travel for our guests. We would be happy to recommend you to a trusted flight broker that we work with on many of our international tours.
What are meals like and are they all included?
We consider quality cuisine to be an integral part to a successful trip! At EcoCamp we put great effort into developing and offering a menu of fresh healthy meals using locally sourced ingredients. The menu has been designed fusing Chilean, Altiplanic, Patagonian, and international foods. Typical meals might include: Chilean pot roast, lamb stew with provencal potatoes, seafood lasagna with prawns, spider crab and octopus, pumpkin ravioli, beef tenderloin or Gnocchi with a Bolognese sauce.
We will start each day with a hearty breakfast buffet, providing you with plenty of fuel for our busy outings! Following breakfast you will be directed to a different buffet table to select the contents for your boxed lunch. Lunch ingredients are changed each day to offer a fresh variety throughout the trip. Each evening will start with cocktails and appetizers, followed by a 3 course meal.
All of the meals are served in the Community Domes family style, allowing you to meet and interact with other guests visiting EcoCamp.
In Argentina all meals are included but no wine or beer is included.
Can you accommodate special dietary requests?
We are happy to accommodate vegetarians, gluten free and other special diets. Advance notice is most helpful and important due to the remote nature of camp. In addition, a daily vegetarian option will be provided on the menu. Similarly on excursions in Argentina we can arrange for special boxed lunches as long as we are aware in advance.
How physically demanding is this trip?
This trip demands a moderate level of physical activity. We take as many stops as necessary depending on the rhythm of the group. Travelers doing the active excursions will find them sufficiently energetic. To enjoy these more active treks it is essential to be in shape before arriving. All trails visited in the programs are under 1,000 m / 3,000 ft high so passengers don’t need to worry about altitude.
What if unpredictable weather affects my trip?
Our tours are purposely planned to avoid the times of year that weather can be less favorable. That being said, weather can often be unpredictable and fast changing in Patagonia. Your trip leader will be constantly monitoring the weather and will make any needed adjustments to your itinerary. We always have back up activities planned in the event that weather precludes us from doing the planned activity; however the best way to manage the unpredictable weather of Patagonia is to travel with a flexible attitude and open mindset!
Who will my guides be?
Your guides will be Patagonian (Chilean and Argentine) locals with an intimate knowledge of and experience in this pristine region. Many of our guides are recent graduates of Ecotourism programs and have extensive experience hiking and wildlife watching throughout Chile. They love to share their local culture and landscape with our guests.
Are private tours an option?
Absolutely! We would be happy to help you organize a private departure for groups of 2 or more people. Please contact us for additional details and rates.
What time should I arrive to Punta Arenas? When should I plan to depart from Calafate?
The trip starts during the morning in Punta Arenas or Puerto Natales. The trip finishes at Calafate Airport at noon or later depending on the group flight schedule. For domestic flights, you have to be at the airport 1 hour before the flight leaves.