Meet your transfer at El Calafate airport and continue on to the hotel. Overnight in this pleasant little town on the shores of Lago Argentino. Argentina is the second giant of South America, with a landscape nearly as varied as its people. Modern and sophisticated, cosmopolitan Argentina has much more in common with Europe than with the rest of its neighbours. But if Buenos Aires is the heart of the country, Patagonia and the southern Pampas in Santa Cruz Province are its soul. This is the very region we explore, trekking within Glacier National Park for the grand rewards of the trail. Hikes are moderate, with clearly marked and well-maintained trails, though there are some more challenging sections. Parque Nacional Los Glaciares has some of the most spectacular natural sights you will see in your lifetime.
Take a full day excursion into Glacier National Park, declared a Natural World Heritage Site by UNESCO. During the hike, visit the main vista point for an awesome panoramic view of this glacial colossus and the continental ice shelf. The southern continental ice field, the second largest on the planet (after Greenland's) is the source of all the area's glaciers, including Moreno, Onelli, Viedma and Upsala. A spectacular drive west towards the lofty peaks reveals the dynamic Moreno Glacier. Moreno Glacier moves down from this massive river of frozen water, huge chunks of ice constantly crashing into the lake waters below. Very dynamic, Moreno is one of the very few advancing glaciers left in the world. It is simply enormous: 1 km (half a mile) wide and 60m (196 ft) high.Keep an eye out for condors, rheas, eagles or flamingos en route, but the real star of the day is stunning Moreno Glacier, at the southern terminus of Glacier National Park. Sliding down from atop the southern continental ice field, Moreno's 60m (197 ft) wall of ice sporadically chokes off the narrow Canal de los Tempanos (Channel of Ice Bergs), creating a natural ice dam, which eventually explodes in a dynamic display of force. A 1 hour boat ride is also included which allows for close-up views of the approaching front wall of the glacier. Return to El Calafate for the night.
Drive to El Chaltén, a village at the foot of Mount FitzRoy; the village takes its name from the indigenous name for the peak. Travel along the Argentino & Viedma Lakes, with views of the FitzRoy Massif and surrounding mountains as we approach El Chaltén. Keep your eyes peeled for sightings of some of the unusual wildlife of the region, including lesser rheas and guanacos. The town of El Chaltén, with its laid-back atmosphere, is located in the north end of Glacier Park. Hikers and climbers from around the globe congregate here, waiting for good weather to undertake the challenges presented by nature.
The scenery around El Chaltén is spectacular and the best way to enjoy it is by hiking through it. Today's hike recommendation is a full day (grade: moderate) to Rio Blanco Base Camp and Laguna de los Tres vantage point for an absolutely stunning view, weather permitting, of the complete FitzRoy Massif. Mt. Guillaumet, St. Exupery, Mermoz, Juarez and other mountains form the jagged group. The majority of the hike is of moderate difficulty, however the last 45 minutes to an hour of walking is difficult but the view is worth it and is one of the highlights of the Patagonia trip. Total hiking time: 7 to 9 hours (25km).
Today is free to enjoy all the Patagonia has to offer. There are innumerable trails throughout the park to choose from if you are still feeling energetic or a boat trip on Lake Viedma with a close-up view of Viedma Glacier is a more relaxing way to take in the scenery. For those looking for something a little bit more extreme it is possible to arrange ice hiking and ice climbing. You will be provided with a guide, cramp-ons and an experience that you will never forget. Our recommend optional hike for those interested in this option is through the Cerro Torre Valley (Los Glaciares National Park. Grade: easy to moderate) to Torre Lake and Glacier for a close view, weather permitting, of the awesome spires that make up Cerro Torre (10,178 ft) and it's neighbours. A treacherous cap of ice known to climbers as “the mushroom” tops this slender needle of granite. Stop by the lake for some relaxation upon your return. Total approximate hiking time: 6-7 hours (13 miles).
Drive back to El Calafate and transfer to the airport. It is important to note that you will arrive back into El Calafate around noon on this day. Please do not book your flight out of El Calafate before 3pm