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Day by Day Itinerary

Small Groups: Never more than 16-24 travelers—guaranteed!

Travel to Patagonia to explore some of the most dramatic and unspoiled landscapes on Earth. On OAT’s southernmost adventure in the Americas, you’ll witness precipitous Andean peaks and a rugged seacoast as you travel through southern Argentina and Chile.

On land, discover the icy splendor of Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina and encounter llama-like guanacos and majestic condors in Chile's Torres del Paine National Park. Then cruise for four nights aboard an expedition ship through the Chilean fjords and the Strait of Magellan to Tierra del Fuego, the mystical “Land of Fire." You'll step ashore at fabled Cape Horn, where the Pacific and Atlantic oceans meet, as you follow in the footsteps of Ferdinand Magellan and Sir Francis Drake on this spellbinding journey.

Buenos Aires Ushuaia Reverse Direction Expand All

    Fly overnight from the U.S. today.

  • You’ll touch down in the Argentinean capital this morning, where your OAT Trip Leader or an OAT representative will meet you and assist with the transfer to your hotel.

    In the afternoon, take part in a guided orientation walk, giving you the lay of the land in your Buenos Aires neighborhood. Later this afternoon, you’ll meet your Trip Leader and travel companions, including those who've taken the pre-trip extension to Santiago & Easter Island, for a Welcome Briefing. You’ll learn some more details of what’s to come on our trip. Then enjoy a short tango lesson that introduces us to the dance whose passion and grace exemplify the spirit of Argentinean culture.

    Afterwards we’ll enjoy a Welcome Dinner at a local restaurant.

  • After breakfast, we set off on a tour of Buenos Aires, an elegant mixture of Spanish Colonial architecture and several traditional European styles.

    We’ll visit Avenida de Mayo, which runs into Plaza de Mayo, where many buildings important to Argentine history are centered. See the Casa Rosada (Government House), the Metropolitan Cathedral, and the Cabildo, the first City Hall built during Spanish rule.

    Then visit La Boca, Buenos Aires’s first merchant and fishing port. We’ll have time to visit the famous Caminito, an outdoor museum and art show where painters offer their tango pictures, or stroll along the renovated waterfront promenade. Our tour passes by the beautiful Colon Theater. Built in 1908, this is one of the world’s most famous opera houses, and international stars vie to perform here as they do at Milan’s La Scala and Vienna’s State Opera House. We’ll also visit the Recoleta District with its elegant homes, fashionable restaurants and shops, and famous cemetery where Eva Peron is buried.

    This afternoon is free for you to relax or make your own discoveries. The most memorable part of your visit to Buenos Aires may well be this evening's Home-Hosted Dinner. Take a seat at the table of an Argentine family, share their meal, chat, learn about each other, and make new friends. Prepare yourself for an evening seasoned with good conversation and fellowship.

  • After an early breakfast we travel to Patagonia on a flight to Calafate, a boomtown near Argentina’s border with Chile.

    For 65 million years, the land here has been raised by chaotic volcanic eruptions and carved by massive glaciers, creating a series of jagged islands, interconnected fjords and channels, and mountainside glacial lakes. The area is named for the indigenous calafate bush—locals say eating its berries will ensure your return to this mystical region.

    Our flight to Calafate is approximately five hours, and we should arrive around noon. After transferring to our hotel, join your Trip Leader for an orientation walk around this small city. You’ll have the rest of the afternoon and evening to explore at leisure.

    Dinner tonight is on your own.

  • Today we enjoy a full-day excursion to Los Glaciares National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Created in 1937, Los Glaciares is the second-largest national park in Argentina, and comprises more than 1,700 square miles and nearly 50 large glaciers. These glaciers are fed by a giant icecap (the largest continental ice extension after Antarctica) that begins in the Andes and occupies well over a third of the park’s total area.

    As we’ll discover during our visit, the glaciers here are unique. Unlike other glaciers, which typically formed at least 2,500 meters (roughly 8,200 feet) above sea level, the icy marvels at Los Glaciares form much lower, around 1,500 meters (or nearly 5,000 feet). The lower points of origin are a boon to visitors, as they offer unique access—both visually and physically—to glaciers. We’ll have a boxed lunch during our full-day excursion in the park.

    Our small group will understand just how important this difference is when we encounter Perito Moreno Glacier, a pristine marvel towering nearly 200 feet above Lake Argentino. It is named after Francisco Moreno, a 19th-century Argentine explorer who helped resolve his country’s border dispute with neighboring Chile. The constant, cyclical movement of Perito Moreno’s ice mass often forces the glacier to "calve." This means that smaller chunks of ice fracture and break off from the glacier—a "birthing" of icebergs that’s usually accompanied by thunderous noises. It’s quite a spectacle, and can occur at any time, so we’ll keep our fingers crossed that we’ll be lucky enough to witness an iceberg calve.

    However, ice isn’t the only thing we’ll see today. Just east of the ice fields are areas of southern beech forest and windswept Patagonian steppes. As we journey overland to and from Perito Moreno, we’ll pass through scenic forests filled with nires, lengas, and cherry trees.

    We return to our hotel in Calafate late this afternoon. Dinner tonight is on your own.

  • Behold the views of Torres Del Paine

    After breakfast in Calafate, we continue our travel in Patagonia with a ride by motorcoach into Chile, a journey lasting approximately eight hours. We stop for an included lunch en route.

    We make several other stops along the way to learn about the landscapes and natural features of Patagonia. Our destination is Torres del Paine, whose national park was declared a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1978 and is renowned as one of the most remote, beautiful, and unspoiled places in the world. The landscape is rich and diverse in dramatic geological formations, which combine in several distinct ecosystems, from the wind-bent grasses of the plains to the sheer, frozen cliffs of the Andes.

    After crossing the border into Chile, we’ll arrive at the park in the afternoon and enjoy a guided tour. The park comprises about 935 square miles and is part of the Paine Massif, granite mountains that emerge suddenly from the plains of the Patagonian steppes and are capped by crumbly sedimentary rock that used to lie on the valley floor. This granite intrusion—one of the most recognizable mountain profiles in the world—was formed about twelve million years ago, making the Paine Massif quite young geologically. Sedimentary rock and magma collided violently and were thrust high into the air. After the Ice Age, when the ice fields covering the base of the massif began to melt, water and wind carved the rock into huge towers of varying shapes, at heights up to 9,000 feet. Some of these are covered in permanent ice. At our level, the crushed rock and sediment colors the lakes in the park from a milky gray to yellows and greens and the dramatic blue caused by blue algae.

    The glaciers of the park are in quick retreat—up to 56 feet a year for the last 90 years, creating a remarkable study of soil creation and plant development from bare rock to thick forest. The flora of the park ranges from grassland to southern beech forests. Many parts of the park were too remote for the cattle and sheep ranchers, and so they exist today in a pristine state. More than 40 mammals make their home in the park, including the guanaco, puma, and Patagonian gray fox. Some of the world's rarest bird species—the Andean condor, the crested cara cara, and the black vulture among them—are found here as well.

    From the park we proceed to check in to our hotel, where we enjoy dinner this evening.

  • Discover diverse wildlife in Chile

    We’ll spend a second day exploring the myriad wonders of Torres del Paine, hiking along its scenic trails and keeping our eyes peeled for indigenous fauna such as the guanaco, a cousin of the camel, the ostrich-like ñandú, and condors winging overhead. We have an included boxed lunch, then set off toward Puerto Natales, with a stop to view the striking mountain peak of Cerro Castillo along the way. We’ll check in to our hotel in Puerto Natales and enjoy an included dinner this evening.

  • Explore Chilean Fjords and Tierra del Fuego on a small ship cruise tour

    After breakfast, we continue our travel in Patagonia with a visit to an estancia (sheep ranch), where we’ll remain to enjoy an included lunch. Then, we drive into Punta Arenas, a bustling port overlooking the Straits of Magellan.

    We’ll take an orientation walk and have some free time for exploring on our own. Then, we’ll head to the pier to board the Via Australis or Stella Australis our home for the next four nights as we cruise the legendary waters of the Strait of Magellan around Tierra del Fuego.

    Over the next four nights, we’ll explore the channels and fjords that border the Tierra del Fuego archipelago, the mystical “Land of Fire” ... sail through the Strait of Magellan and Beagle Channel, named for Charles Darwin's ship, which sailed through its waters in 1834 ... and encounter ancient glaciers on part of the Darwin mountain range. Our maritime cruising begins this evening, as our ship departs Punta Arenas and sails eastward through the Strait of Magellan toward Ainsworth Bay.

    Tonight, we gather together with our ship’s captain and crew, our Trip Leader, and our fellow travelers for a Welcome Dinner. During our cruise, all meals are included while we're onboard ship.

    Please note: During your cruise, all shore landings take place weather permitting. This is especially true at Cape Horn, notorious for seas that are among the roughest in the world, which may prevent any possibility of landing.

  • Witness the massive scale of elepahant seals while touring Ainsworth Bay

    As dawn breaks this morning, we enter the Almirantazgo Inlet and sail into Ainsworth Bay, mooring near the 120-foot-high Marinelli Glacier.

    During a shore excursion (weather permitting) we hope to observe a colony of elephant seals and walk along quiet trails through a Magellanic forest teeming with evergreens and deciduous trees. We continue cruising to Tucker Islet, where (from October to March) we may catch sight of Magellanic penguins, distinguishable by the wide black stripes under their chins and inverted horseshoe shapes on their stomachs.

    Please note: On some January-February 2015 departures, instead of visiting Ainsworth Bay and Tucker Islet on this day, we'll cruise around Carlos III Island in the Strait of Magellan to observe humpback whales.

  • Explore Pia Glacier and Glacier Alley in Patagonia

    We’ll navigate the main part of the Beagle Channel today as we sail toward the Pia Glacier. Weather permitting, we’ll step ashore here and survey the glacier from its originating point in the Darwin mountain range to where it meets the sea.

    The play of light, reflection, and shadow against the glacial ice, which is of varying density and moisture content, creates a profound palette of subtle hues. After returning to the ship, we’ll sail along the Beagle Channel’s northwestern arm and through majestic Glacier Alley.

    Though the movement of ice in this region appears to be “glacially slow” to our eyes, this dynamic environment is actually in constant flux, all the more so in recent years due to the effects of global warming. A 2003 study led by researchers at the U.S. Jet Propulsion Laboratory found that the Patagonia glaciers of Chile and Argentina are melting so rapidly that they are making a significant contribution to the rise of the sea level. They determined that ice has been lost at a rate equal to a .04-millimeter rise in ocean water each year between 1975 and 2000. The team combined data from the ground study of 63 of the largest Patagonia ice fields and data from a 2000 space shuttle mission. In addition to a general increase in melting, the team found accelerated ice loss—about .1 millimeter per year—between 1995 and 2000.

    Researchers believe that a number of factors have combined to change the environment here: a rise in air temperature, a decrease in precipitation, and the unique nature of the Patagonia ice fields, which are dominated by “calving” glaciers. Calving glaciers spawn icebergs directly into the ocean and have different dynamics than the glaciers that end on land and melt at their front ends. Calving glaciers, researchers said, are more sensitive to climate change once they are pushed out of their delicate equilibrium, making this region the fastest area of glacial retreat on Earth.

  • See Cape Horn National Park

    Today we sail through the Beagle and Murray channels as we make our way to Cape Horn, a rocky promontory rising nearly 1,400 feet above the water.

    Weather permitting, we'll go ashore on the island and visit Cape Horn National Park, where we'll survey the seascape where the Atlantic and Pacific oceans meet.

    In the afternoon, we'll disembark in historic Wulaia Bay, once the site of the region's largest native settlements. Here we'll learn about the Yamana or Yaghan people that used to live around the Beagle Channel. This area is also renowned for the vastness of its vegetation and beauty of its landscapes—which may explain why Charles Darwin chose it as a landing point during his famous voyage of the Beagle. We'll stroll through a forest with ferns and other native vegetation to a scenic point.

  • See the world’s southernmost city of Ushuaia

    This morning, we bid farewell to our captain and crew as our cruise ends in Ushuaia, the “City at the End of the World.” Ushuaia is a former penal colony whose name is a Yamana word for “bay that stretches into the sunset.” Today, it’s a small but busy port with a frontier atmosphere. The snowcapped Andes rise on one side of town, while the Beagle Channel extends from the other.

    When we arrive, we'll tour Ushuaia and meet a veteran of the 1982 war between Argentina and Great Britain over the disputed islands called the Malvinas by Argentineans and the Falklands by the British. We’ll then visit a local home to share a snack with residents and discuss what life is like at "the end of the world." We check in to our hotel, then in the afternoon visit Ushuaia's Prison Museum, which has exhibits on the area’s early penal colonies. Dinner is on your own this evening.

  • Discover the Tango in Buenos Aires

    After breakfast, we’ll transfer to the airport for our flight to Buenos Aires. You’ll have some free time in Buenos Aires after we arrive.

    This evening we’ll share our memories of South America during a Farewell Dinner at a local restaurant. Afterwards, if you like, you can join our optional excursion to a tango show. We’ll see performances by dancers who show how the dramatic tango should be done.

    • Meals included:
    Explore Parana Delta riverways on a boat ride

    After breakfast, we spend this morning touring the area where the Parana River empties into the Rio de la Plata on its way into the Atlantic, forming a huge delta. This exotic landscape is just half an hour from the city but seems a million miles away. Traditional houses on stilts (pilotes) are surrounded by lush subtropical vegetation and built on islands that are separated by a twisting maze of waterways. Enjoy a relaxing boat ride in this scenic area, which is one of Latin America’s unique environments.

    We return to Buenos Aires, where lunch is on your own and you have the afternoon free to savor the sights and sounds of Buenos Aires for one last time. Early this evening, transfer to the airport to board your overnight flight home. If you’re taking the optional post-trip extension to Iguassu Falls & Buenos Aires, you’ll remain in Buenos Aires tonight, with dinner on your own.

Ushuaia Buenos Aires Reverse Direction Expand All

    Fly overnight from the U.S. today.

  • You’ll touch down in the Argentinean capital today. An OAT representative will meet you and assist with the transfer to your hotel.

    In the afternoon, take part in a guided orientation walk, giving you the lay of the land in your Buenos Aires neighborhood. Later this afternoon, you’ll meet your Trip Leader and travel companions, including those who've taken the pre-trip extension to Santiago & Easter Island, for a Welcome Briefing. You’ll learn some more details of what’s to come on our trip. Then enjoy a short tango lesson that introduces us to the dance whose passion and grace exemplify the spirit of Argentinean culture. Afterwards, we’ll enjoy a Welcome Dinner at a local restaurant.

  • Discover La Boca District in Buenos Aires

    After breakfast, we set off on a tour of Buenos Aires, an elegant mixture of Spanish Colonial architecture and several traditional European styles. We’ll visit Avenida de Mayo, which runs into Plaza de Mayo, where many buildings important to Argentine history are centered. We'll see the Casa Rosada (Government House), the Metropolitan Cathedral, and the Cabildo, the first City Hall built during Spanish rule. Then we visit La Boca, Buenos Aires’s first merchant and fishing port. We’ll have time to visit the famous Caminito, an outdoor museum and art show where painters offer their tango pictures, or stroll along the renovated waterfront promenade. Our tour passes by the beautiful Colon Theater. Built in 1908, this is one of the world’s most famous opera houses, and international stars vie to perform here as they do at Milan’s La Scala and Vienna’s State Opera House. We’ll also visit the Recoleta District with its elegant homes, fashionable restaurants and shops, and famous cemetery where Eva Peron is buried.

    This afternoon is free for you to relax or make your own discoveries. This evening we’ll regroup for a Home-Hosted Dinner. Take a seat at the table of an Argentinean family, share their meal, and learn about each other.

  • See the world’s southernmost city of Ushuaia

    After breakfast we travel to Patagonia on a flight to Ushuaia, the “City at the End of the World.” Ushuaia is a former penal colony whose name is a Yamana Indian word for “bay that stretches into the sunset.” Today, it’s a small but busy port with a frontier atmosphere. The snowcapped Andes rise on one side of town, while the Beagle Channel extends from the other.

    We arrive at our hotel late this afternoon, where we enjoy a brief introduction to Patagonia. Dinner is on your own this evening.

  • After breakfast, we’ll visit Ushuaia's Prison Museum, which has exhibits on the area’s early penal colonies. We'll tour Ushuaia, and then we’ll be guests in a local home to share a snack with our hosts and discuss what life is like at "the end of the world." While we're in Ushuaia, we'll also meet a veteran of the 1982 war between Argentina and Great Britain over the disputed islands called the Malvinas by Argentineans and the Falklands by the British.

    Cruise the Beagle Channel while touring Argentina

    Early this evening, we transfer to the pier to embark the M/V Via Australis, our home for the next four nights, as we cruise to Cape Horn at the tip of the South American continent … explore the channels and fjords that border the Tierra del Fuego archipelago, the mystical “Land of Fire” ... sail through the Strait of Magellan and Beagle Channel, named for Charles Darwin's ship, which sailed through its waters in 1834 ... and encounter ancient glaciers on part of the Darwin mountain range. Tonight, we gather together with our ship’s captain and crew, our Trip Leader, and our fellow travelers for our first dinner aboard ship. During our cruise, all meals are included.

    Please note: During your cruise, all shore landings take place weather permitting. This is especially true at Cape Horn, notorious for seas that are among the roughest in the world, which may prevent any possibility of landing.

  • See Cape Horn National Park

    Today we continue our travel in Patagonia as we cruise through the Beagle and Murray channels on our way to Cape Horn, a rocky promontory rising nearly 1,400 feet above the water. Weather permitting, we'll go ashore on the island and visit Cape Horn National Park, where we'll survey the seascape where the Atlantic and Pacific oceans meet.

    In the afternoon, we'll disembark in historic Wulaia Bay, once the site of the region's largest native settlements. Here we'll learn about the Yamana or Yaghan people that used to live around the Beagle Channel. This area is also renowned for its distinctive vegetation and the beauty of its landscapes—which may explain why Charles Darwin chose it as a landing point during his famous voyage on the Beagle. We'll stroll through a forest of native vegetation to a scenic lookout point.

  • Explore Pia Glacier and Glacier Alley in Patagonia

    We’ll navigate the main part of the Beagle Channel today as we sail toward the Pia Glacier. Weather permitting, we’ll step ashore here and survey the glacier from its originating point in the Darwin mountain range to where it meets the sea. The play of light, reflection, and shadow against the glacial ice, which is of varying density and moisture content, creates a profound palette of subtle hues. After returning to the ship, we’ll sail along the Beagle Channel’s northwestern arm and through majestic Glacier Alley.

    Though the movement of ice in this region appears to be “"glacially slow” to our eyes, this dynamic environment is actually in constant flux, all the more so in recent years due to the effects of global warming. A 2003 study led by researchers at the U.S. Jet Propulsion Laboratory found that the Patagonia glaciers of Chile and Argentina are melting so rapidly that they are making a significant contribution to the rise of the sea level. They determined that ice has been lost at a rate equal to a .04-millimeter rise in ocean water each year between 1975 and 2000. The team combined data from the ground study of 63 of the largest Patagonia ice fields and data from a 2000 space shuttle mission. In addition to a general increase in melting, the team found accelerated ice loss—about .1 millimeter per year—between 1995 and 2000. Researchers believe that a number of factors have combined to change the environment here: a rise in air temperature, a decrease in precipitation, and the unique nature of the Patagonia ice fields, which are dominated by “calving” glaciers. Calving glaciers spawn icebergs directly into the ocean and have different dynamics than the glaciers that end on land and melt at their front ends. Calving glaciers, researchers said, are more sensitive to climate change once they are pushed out of their delicate equilibrium, making this region the fastest area of glacial retreat on Earth.

  • Explore Chilean Fjords and Tierra del Fuego on a small ship cruise tour

    Today, we continue our travel in Patagonia as we cruise into Chico Sound, where we are able to view the intensely blue Piloto Glacier from the water aboard our Zodiac rafts (weather permitting). Continuing to Agostini Sound in the heart of the Darwin Cordillera, we are surrounded by a landscape of mountains graced with glaciers flowing all the way to the sea. Here we discover Águila Glacier, fronted by smooth beach and ringed by Magellanic forest.

  • Enjoy the view of Punta Arenas with the Strait of Magellan in the distance

    Very early this morning, we will view Magdalena Island, the home of an immense colony of more than 120,000 Magellanic Penguins. We arrive this morning in Punta Arenas, a bustling port overlooking the Straits of Magellan, where we disembark.

    Then, we head inland for a visit to a Patagonian estancia (sheep ranch), where we’ll remain to enjoy an included lunch. This afternoon, we drive into the port city of Puerto Natales on the Señoret Channel in the shadow of the Andes. Dinner at our hotel is included this evening.

  • Discover diverse wildlife in Torres del Paine

    After breakfast, we check out of our hotel to begin our journey toward the mighty Torres del Paine, with a stop to view the striking mountain peak of Cerro Castillo along the way. Torres del Paine, whose national park was declared a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1978, is renowned as one of the most remote, beautiful, and unspoiled places in the world. The landscape is rich and diverse in dramatic geological formations, which combine in several distinct ecosystems, from the wind-bent grasses of the plains to the sheer, frozen cliffs of the Andes.

    We’ll arrive at the park in the afternoon and enjoy a hike on the shore of Lago Grey. The park comprises about 935 square miles and is part of the Paine Massif, granite mountains that emerge suddenly from the plains of the Patagonian steppes and are capped by crumbly sedimentary rock that used to lie on the valley floor. This granite intrusion-one of the most recognizable mountain profiles in the world-was formed about twelve million years ago, making the Paine Massif quite young geologically. Sedimentary rock and magma collided violently and were thrust high into the air. After the Ice Age, when the ice fields covering the base of the massif began to melt, water and wind carved the rock into huge towers of varying shapes, at heights up to 9,000 feet. Some of these are covered in permanent ice. At our level, the crushed rock and sediment colors the lakes in the park from a milky gray to yellows and greens and the dramatic blue caused by blue algae.

    The glaciers of the park are in quick retreat-up to 56 feet a year for the last 90 years, creating a remarkable study of soil creation and plant development from bare rock to thick forest. The flora of the park ranges from grassland to southern beech forests. Many parts of the park were too remote for the cattle and sheep ranchers, and so they exist today in a pristine state. More than 40 mammals make their home in the park, including the guanaco, puma, and Patagonian gray fox. Some of the world's rarest bird species—the Andean condor, the crested cara cara, and the black vulture among them—are found here as well.

    From the park we proceed to check in to our hotel, where we enjoy dinner this evening.

  • Behold the views of Torres Del Paine

    We’ll spend a second day exploring the myriad wonders of Torres del Paine, hiking along its scenic trails to the Salto Grande waterfall and keeping our eyes peeled for indigenous fauna such as the guanaco, a cousin of the camel, the ostrich-like ñandú, and condors winging overhead. Later this morning, we set off for Argentina, with a boxed lunch included en route.

    This afternoon, we arrive at El Calafate in Argentinean Patagonia. For 65 million years, the land here has been raised by volcanic eruptions and carved by massive glaciers, shaping a mountainous landscape dotted with glacial lakes. The area is named for the indigenous calafate bush—locals say eating its berries will ensure your return to this mystical region. Dinner is on your own this evening.

  • Discover Perito Moreno Glacier in Los Glaciares National Park

    Today we enjoy a full-day excursion to Los Glaciares National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Created in 1937, Los Glaciares is the second-largest national park in Argentina, and comprises more than 1,700 square miles and nearly 50 large glaciers. These glaciers are fed by a giant icecap (the largest continental ice sheet after Antarctica) that begins in the Andes and occupies well over a third of the park’s total area. As we’ll discover during our visit, the glaciers here are unique. Unlike other glaciers, which typically form at about 8,200 feet above sea level, the icy marvels at Los Glaciares form lower, around  5,000 feet. The lower points of origin are a boon to visitors, as they offer unique access—both visually and physically—to glaciers. We’ll have a boxed lunch during our full-day excursion in the park.

    Our small group will visit the park's highlight, the Perito Moreno Glacier, a pristine marvel towering nearly 200 feet above Lake Argentino. It is named after Francisco Moreno, a 19th-century Argentine explorer who helped resolve his country’s border dispute with neighboring Chile. The constant, cyclical movement of Perito Moreno’s ice mass often forces the glacier to "calve." This means that smaller chunks of ice fracture and break off from the glacier—a "birthing" of icebergs that’s usually accompanied by thunderous noises. It’s quite a spectacle, and can occur at any time, so we’ll keep our fingers crossed that we’ll be lucky enough to witness an iceberg calve.

    However, ice isn’t the only thing we’ll see today. Just east of the ice fields are areas of southern beech forest and wind-swept Patagonian steppes. As we journey overland to and from Perito Moreno, we’ll pass through scenic forests. We return to our hotel in El Calafate late this afternoon. Dinner tonight is on your own.

  • Discover the Tango in Buenos Aires

    After breakfast, we’ll transfer to the airport for our flight to Buenos Aires. This evening we’ll share our memories of South America during a Farewell Dinner at a local restaurant. Afterwards, if you like, you can join our optional excursion to a tango show. We’ll see performances by dancers who show how the dramatic tango should be done.

    • Meals included:
    Explore Parana Delta riverways on a boat ride

    After breakfast, we spend this morning touring the area where the Parana River empties into the Rio de la Plata on its way into the Atlantic, forming a huge delta. This exotic landscape is just half an hour from the city but seems a million miles away. Traditional houses on stilts (pilotes) are surrounded by lush subtropical vegetation and built on islands that are separated by a twisting maze of waterways. Enjoy a relaxing boat ride in this scenic area, which is one of Latin America’s most unique environments.

    We return to Buenos Aires, where lunch is on your own and you have the afternoon free to savor the sights and sounds of Buenos Aires for one last time. Early this evening, transfer to the airport to board your overnight flight home. If you’re taking the optional post-trip extension to Iguassu Falls & Buenos Aires, you’ll remain in Buenos Aires tonight; dinner is on your own.

Extensions

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Weather & Regional

Before you travel, we encourage you to learn about the region of the world you'll discover on this trip. From weather and currency information to details on population, geography, and local history, you'll find a comprehensive introduction to your destinations below. 
Visit our “What to Know” page to find information about the level of activity to expect, vaccination information resources, and visa requirements specific to this vacation.

What to Know

For more detailed information about this trip, download our Travel Handbook below. This document covers a wide range of information on specific areas of your trip, from passport, visa, and medical requirements; to the currencies of the countries you’ll visit and the types of electrical outlets you’ll encounter. This handbook is written expressly for this itinerary. For your convenience, we've highlighted our travelers' most common areas of interest on this page.

Download the Travel Handbook

What to Expect

Pacing

  • 5 locations and 4 nights onboard ship in 13 days
  • Three 1-night stays; 2 internal flights; one pre-dawn departure; some early mornings
  • Several long overland drives, including 1 transfer (up to 12 hours) crossing the border between Argentina and Chile

Physical requirements

  • Not appropriate for travelers using wheelchairs, walkers, or other mobility aids
  • You must be able to walk 3 miles unassisted on rough terrain and participate in 6-8 hours of physical activities each day
  • This trip takes you to remote places with no medical facilities nearby

Climate  

  • Daytime temperatures range from 50-60°F in the Andes and Patagonia and daily highs in the 80s in Buenos Aires
  • Rain or high winds are possible at any time in the Andes and Patagonia

Terrain

  • Bumpy, gravelly, and icy roads; rugged paths over rocks, hard sand, and icy surfaces. We hike through uneven terrain and high winds on 5 treks of about 2 hours each
  • Agility and balance are required for embarking small motor dinghies

Transportation

  • Travel by 126- or 210-passenger small ship shared with other travelers. We’ll also board Zodiac rafts for excursions during our cruise.
  • Three 6-12 hour drives, 2 internal flights of about 3-6 hours each, 3 bus rides of 10-14 hours each

Accommodations & Facilities

  • 4 nights aboard a small ship with full hotel amenities; centrally located hotels on land
  • All accommodations feature private baths

 

Travel Documents

Passport

Your passport should meet these requirements for this itinerary:

  • It should be valid for at least 6 months after your scheduled return to the U.S.
  • It should have the recommended number of blank pages (refer to the handbook for details).
  • The blank pages must be labeled “Visas” at the top. Pages labeled “Amendments and Endorsements” are not acceptable.

Visas

U.S. citizens will need a visa (or visas) for this trip. In addition, there may be other entry requirements that also need to be met. For your convenience, we’ve included a quick reference list, organized by country:

  • Argentina: No visa required. Note: Argentina charges a reciprocity (entry) fee.
  • Chile (main trip/optional Easter Island extension): No visa required. Note: Chile charges a reciprocity (entry) fee.
  • Brazil (optional Iguassu Falls extension): Visa required. (Necessary to visit the Brazilian side of the falls.)

Travelers who are booked on this adventure will be sent a complete Visa Packet— with instructions, applications, and a list of visa fees—approximately 100 days prior to their departure. (Because many countries limit the validity of their visa from the date it is issued, or have a specific time window for when you can apply, we do not recommend applying too early.)

If you are not a U.S. citizen, do not travel with a U.S. passport, or will be traveling independently before/after this trip, then your entry requirements may be different. Please check with the appropriate embassy or a visa servicing company. To contact our recommended visa servicing company, PVS International, call toll-free at 1-800-556-9990.

Vaccinations Information

For a detailed and up-to-date list of vaccinations that are recommended for this trip, please visit the CDC’s “Traveler’s Health” website. You can also refer to the handbook for details.

Before Your Trip

Before you leave on your adventure, there are at least four health-related things you should do. Please check the handbook for specifics, but for now, here’s the short list:

Step 1: Check with the CDC for their recommendations for the countries you’ll be visiting.
Step 2: Have a medical checkup with your doctor.
Step 3: Pick up any necessary medications, both prescription and over-the-counter.
Step 4: Have a dental and/or eye checkup. (Recommended, but less important than steps 1-3.)

What to Bring

In an effort to help you bring less, we have included checklists within the handbook, which have been compiled from suggestions by Trip Leaders and former travelers. The lists are only jumping-off points—they offer recommendations based on experience, but not requirements. You might also want to refer to the climate charts in the handbook or online weather forecasts before you pack. Refer to the handbook for details.

Insider Tips

Accommodations

Main Trip

  • Via Australis or Stella Australis

    The 230-foot Via Australis and the 292-foot Stella Australis are expedition ships designed for cruising Patagonia. Onboard, our group of 24 OAT travelers will mingle with other adventurers (Via Australis holds 126 passengers, while Stella Australis holds 210) while absorbing the panoramas afforded by the viewing deck. We'll enjoy regional cuisine and wines, plus complimentary drinks. Our cabins feature low beds, a safe, private bath with shower, and large panoramic windows.

Main Trip

  • Amerian Buenos Aires Park Hotel

    Buenos Aires, Argentina | Rating: Superior First Class

    The 152-room Amerian Buenos Aires Park Hotel is just steps away from Florida Street and Plaza San Martin, offering easy access to Argentina’s capital. An inviting atrium lobby greets you, and its rooms are accented with wood, marble, and granite touches. Hotel amenities include a gym, sauna, bar, and laundry service.

  • Hotel Kosten Aike

    El Calafate, Argentina

    During our Wilderness Beyond adventure, we spend two nights at the 80-room Hotel Kosten Aike, which is conveniently located in the center of El Calafate, a small village at the edge of the Patagonian plateau and the foot of the Andes Cordillera. Hotel amenities include Internet access, a gym and spa, restaurant, wine bar, and fireside lounge. Your room features a television, minibar, hair dryer and safe.

  • Hotel Lago Grey

    Torres del Paine, Chile

    The Hotel Lago Grey is a 60-room Patagonian lodge on the western side of Torres del Paine National Park with views of the Grey Glacier. Each room features a private bath, direct-dial telephone, and safe.

  • Hotel CostAustralis

    Puerto Natales, Chile

    In the coastal city of Puerto Natales, Chile, we stay for one night at the 110-room Hotel CostAustralis, which is located at the water’s edge on the Señoret Channel with views to the Andes Mountains. Each room features cable TV, direct-dial telephone, safe, wireless Internet access, and private bath. Hotel facilities include a bar with Patagonian decor and panoramic views and an on-site restaurant.
  • Cilene del Faro Hotel

    Ushuaia, Argentina

    We'll spend a night in Ushuaia at the Cilene del Faro Hotel, conveniently located on the waterfront next to the Maritime Museum. Relax inside at the Glass Bar—a former lighthouse converted into a cocktail lounge with panoramic views of the Andes, the Beagle Channel, and the city. The hotel has 48 rooms, each equipped with a safe, high-speed Internet access, kitchenette, and private bath.

Extensions

  • Iorana Hotel

    Easter Island, Chile

    The Iorana Hotel is located in the southwest corner of Easter Island near the town of Hanga Roa. Hotel facilities include a bar and dining room, lounge, tennis court, shop, and two swimming pools. The hotel’s 52 air-conditioned rooms each include direct-dial phone, safe, minibar, hair dryer, and private bath with shower.
  • Amerian Buenos Aires Park Hotel

    Buenos Aires, Argentina | Rating: Superior First Class

    The 152-room Amerian Buenos Aires Park Hotel is just steps away from Florida Street and Plaza San Martin, offering easy access to Argentina’s capital. An inviting atrium lobby greets you, and its rooms are accented with wood, marble, and granite touches. Hotel amenities include a gym, sauna, bar, and laundry service.

  • Amerian Portal del Iguassu

    Puerto Iguassu, Argentina

    This modern-style hotel sits amid the lush vegetation of the Iguassu Falls area, and boasts a spectacular view of the junction of the Parana and Iguazu rivers. Take a dip in either an indoor or outdoor pool, relax in the hot tub, or enjoy a cocktail at either of the hotel's two bars and restaurants that offer both local specialties and international cuisine. Each of the 102 rooms is comfortably furnished and features a private bath.

Flight Information

Flight Options to Personalize Your Trip

You can choose to stay longer before or after your trip on your own, or combine two adventures to maximize your value. Here are more ways to create the OAT adventure that’s right for you:

  • Extend your adventure and lower your per day cost with our optional pre- and post-trip extensions
  • Choose our standard air routing, or work with us to select the airline and routing you prefer
  • Make your own international flight arrangements directly with the airline, applying frequent flyer miles if available
  • International airport transfers to and from your hotel, including meet and greet service, are available for purchase
  • Stay overnight in a connecting city before or after your trip
  • Request to arrive a few days early to get a fresh start on your adventure
  • Choose to “break away” before or after your trip, spending additional days or weeks on your own
  • Combine your choice of OAT adventures to maximize your value
  • Upgrade to business or premium economy class
  • Extend your Land Tour-only Travel Protection Plan coverage and protect the air arrangements you make on your own—including your frequent traveler miles

The air options listed above will involve an additional fee of $100 per person for confirmed requests (as well as incremental airfare costs based on your specific choice).

Or, when you make your reservation, you can choose our standard air routing, for which approximate travel times are shown below.

Standard Air Routing

w/out standard air $4495
w/ standard air $5595

Solo Traveler Stories

Why Travel Solo on The Wilderness Beyond: Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego & the Chilean Fjords

We're proud to offer the best value for solo travelers in the industry, guaranteed, with FREE Single Supplements on your base trip and all extensions. Travel with the leader in solo-friendly travel on The Wilderness Beyondand save up to $1975 per person versus the competition.

Our small group size and expert, resident Trip Leaders help solo travelers make personal connections and ensure peace of mind. Here are some thoughts from solo travelers about why this adventure was right for them.

“I had not taken an OAT trip since 2005, because I love traveling independently. When I checked into doing a Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego trip on my own, I quickly realized that the logistics would be rather daunting, especially since I no longer rent a car in foreign countries. Having been on six OAT trips before, choosing a tour company was easy, and I was not disappointed … Alex, our fun-loving guide, made us a family from the start. Having a tango demonstration followed by a lesson at the first group meeting, was a great ice-breaker. Alex not only has a great sense of humor, he has a lot of excellent information and incredible insight into the cultures of the countries visited.”

Lisolette Anderggen, 7-time traveler
Maple Valley, Washington

Unexpected Encounters in Patagonia

Richard Richmond, 12-time traveler and solo traveler, Winchester, Massachusetts

My abiding interest in travel began in the third grade. My teacher, Mrs. Ireland, was teaching a unit on Central Africa when we first learned of elephants, monkeys, and gorillas. It was then that I decided I would go there one day. After a 60-year wait, I arrived in Africa for the first time in 1999, returning again in 2008 and 2010, each time with OAT.

Until recently, I’ve always traveled with my wife, Nancy. We’ve been to such wonderful places as Tanzania, Egypt, China, Machu Picchu and the Galápagos, and Scandinavia. Although Nancy really enjoyed all of these trips, she decided last year that she wasn’t able to take the long flights anymore—but she encouraged me to continue exploring the world as an OAT solo traveler.

Traveling solo could seem lonesome—especially for those, like me, who are close with family and friends at home. But I’ve never felt that way when traveling among fellow OAT travelers because I’ve always been welcomed into the group and been rewarded by the camaraderie that quickly develops—which was exactly the case during my recent The Wilderness Beyond: Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego & the Chilean Fjords Small Ship Adventure.

I’d never been to southernmost South America, and it was a destination still on my must-see list. It offered the rare opportunity to see Cape Horn. I’m also very interested in wildlife, and was attracted by an opportunity to see and photograph the penguins, condors, guanacos, and other unusual wildlife.

Buenos Aires was mild, of course—but temperatures further south became rather brisk, and the wind was always very strong. We hiked through snow showers in Tierra del Fuego, but had no rain, and the seas around Cape Horn were no problem at all for anyone in our group. We were able to land via twelve-person Zodiac boat on Cape Horn Island, and at Ainsworth Bay, Tucker Islet, Pia Fjord, and Wulaia Bay. I’ll never forget looking around at the smiling faces of everyone in the group as we departed by Zodiac together for a hike up the side of the Pia Glacier in Tierra del Fuego, Chile.

During our two weeks together, I shared good conversations with everyone in the group. I found one of my fellow travelers—Dr. Russ Gardner of Madison, Wisconsin—especially interesting because he traveled not with a camera, but with pens and a sketchpad. His work proved to be unique and every bit as telling of our adventure as any of his fellow travelers’ photos.

Throughout the course of my Patagonia adventure, I saw towering granite monoliths in Torres del Paine National Park, glaciers in Tierra del Fuego, and regional wildlife everywhere. But for me, the Rio Verde Estancia—a sheep ranch—was a new and fascinating experience. The estancia dormitory was rough, but comfortable. Lamb was roasted on an open fireplace in the dining hall. In a shearing shed, we watched as a sheep shearer relieved a sheep of its heavy winter coat of wool, which was soon to become part of a 250-kilogram bale of wool bound for China. During our one-hour hike around a tiny portion of the vast estate, we saw a soaring Andean Condor, a large flock of Black-faced Ibises with nesting chicks, fox dens, free range horses, a newborn lamb not yet able to stand in the wind, and working Border Collies with their very energetic, untrained puppies. These are the moments I’ll cherish.

I’ve been grateful for the fine company of fellow travelers on my recent OAT trips. I always meet such interesting and considerate people—and people I’d never otherwise have the opportunity to meet if I didn’t travel. It’s this part of the adventure—the people one meets along the way—that truly make my OAT adventures so special. But it’s not over yet, I’ll soon be off to Bhutan and India with OAT, outward bound once again with high expectations!

Photos From Our Travelers

On location in South America

Here’s how OAT travelers have captured moments of discovery, beauty, friendship, and fun on previous departures of our The Wilderness Beyond: Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego & the Chilean Fjords adventure. We hope these will evoke special travel memories and inspire you to submit your own favorite OAT trip photos.

  Los Cuernos in Torres del Paine National Park  

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina encompasses vast icefields and 47 major glaciers, which feed two large lakes. John Youker captured his wife, Barbara, admiring the spectacle of ice, mountains, and water. The 20-time travelers are from South Glens Falls, New York.

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How to submit your photos:

Please submit individual photos in jpeg format to: OATtravelerphotos@oattravel.com.

Please be sure to include the name of your OAT adventure, along with the travel dates. Tell us where you took the photo and, if you’d like, tell us why. And don’t forget to include your name and contact information.

Please note: By submitting a photo, you (i) represent and warrant that the photo is your original work created solely by yourself and does not infringe the intellectual property rights of any party; (ii) grant to Grand Circle LLC and its affiliates a worldwide, royalty-free, perpetual, transferable, irrevocable, non-exclusive and fully sublicensable right and license to use, in any and all related media whether now known or hereafter devised, in perpetuity, anywhere in the world, with the right to make any and all commercial or other uses thereof, including without limitation, reproducing, editing, modifying, adapting, publishing, displaying publicly, creating derivative works from, incorporating into other works or modifying the photo and (iii) hereby release and discharge Grand Circle LLC and its affiliates, officers and employees from and against any and all claims, liabilities, costs, damages and expenses of any kind arising out of or relating to the use by Grand Circle LLC of any photo submitted.

Private Departures—New for 2015

Now you can reserve a Private Departure of The Wilderness Beyond: Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego & the Chilean Fjords for your exclusive group of as few as 4 travelers. Enjoy a truly special adventure—starting from only $5000 per person.

On your private departure, you can …

  • Travel in an exclusive group of friends or family members
  • Bring along several generations of your own family
  • Tailor the pacing of activities
  • Work with your Trip Leader to create unique experiences and special memories

"We wanted to take a family trip and called OAT to see if we could arrange a private departure. We has a great adventure—one that was extra special as it was just with family. We had all the lodges to ourselves and great guides. Everything ran like clockwork. I couldn't think of one thing to make the trip better."

P. Smilsky
11-time traveler
Eastham, MA

Group Size Additional Cost
4-6 $9500 per person
7-9 $5000 per person

For more details, call our Group Sales Team
1-800-353-6262 and select Option #3.
Your representative can also tell you about the benefits of reserving a group of 10 or more.

This program is available on new reservations in 2015 only, and cannot be combined with any offers, including our Vacation Ambassador Referral program. The additional cost of a Private Departure is per person, on top of the departure price and varies by trip. Private Departures do not include any changes or additions to our standard itineraries. Age restrictions may apply to some itineraries and must be at least 13 years old to travel with Overseas Adventure Travel. Ask your Group Sales Team for details. Additional taxes and fees will apply. Standard Terms & Conditions apply. Every effort has been made to present this information accurately. We reserve the right to correct errors.

Landscapes and Wildlife of Patagonia

South America’s natural wonderland



On the pampas (grassy plains) beneath the mountains, a distinctive array of wildlife roams Patagonia’s vast wilderness.

A good place to begin exploring Patagonia is El Calafate, Argentina, which is named for the calafate bush that produces a tasty local berry. This frontier town is the gateway to Los Glacieres National Park—the home of Argentina’s largest glacier, Perito Moreno. The town embraces a group of shallow lagoons on the south side of Lago Argentino, where hundreds of pink flamingoes congregate with black-necked swans, various duck species, and the occasional cara-cara, and where horses lazily graze.

But the town’s principal attraction is its proximity to the truly monumental splendor of the Perito Moreno Glacier. Not far from town, a catwalk in the national park leads you to a narrow inlet directly across from the glacier’s base, and then some 600 steps—mercifully punctuated by flat stretches and several lookout points—bring you up along its face.

Here you might wait to catch a glimpse of calving, the process whereby glaciers shed large chunks of ice. The glacier often makes scraping and popping sounds just before calving, and when a large block splits off, the noise is as loud as a thunderclap, and the impact sends a wave a quarter mile across the lake at its base. The 200-foot face of the glacier is pockmarked by blue crevices, ranging in color from a faint aqua to a rich, deep cobalt.

Torres del Paine National Park

Across the border in Chilean Patagonia lie more remarkable landscapes. The rugged peaks of Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park are visible as you approach them from 50 miles away: Las Torres (the Towers), Los Cuernos (the Horns), and La Fortaleza (The Fortress). They loom in an ominous cluster, with their summits often shrouded in dark angry tumults of cloud. On the pampas (grassy plains) beneath the mountains, a distinctive array of wildlife roams Patagonia’s vast wilderness.

Most evident are guanacos, the southernmost member of the Andean camelid family that includes llamas and alpacas. It is particularly common to see guanacos in Chile, where they are not hunted. Among other animals, red and grey foxes can be seen now and again, stalking or pouncing. Condors soar above, and austral parakeets flit about in patches of forest. Groups of rhea (a flightless bird similar to the ostrich, locally called ñandú) sometimes streak across the plains.

The Chilean fjords

If you look at a detailed map of Chile, you’ll see that its lower third consists of an archipelago encompassing the Strait of Magellan, part of the large island of Tierra del Fuego, and the group of islands where Cape Horn is located. Tucked into this geographic jigsaw puzzle are numerous islands and many remote, mountain-walled inlets, many with glaciers descending to the sea from the mountainous interior.

Magellanic penguins frequent this vast archipelago, notably on Tucker Islet, where they nest in a colony of thousands of birds between October and March. Imperial and rock cormorants are among many other seabirds that live here.

Marine mammals also inhabit these rugged seascapes, from sea lions hauling out on pristine shores to dusky dolphins that sometimes follow passenger ships. And you might see grey fur seals leaping out of the water near Cape Horn, or spot whales passing by during their seasonal migrations.