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The Leader in Small Groups on the Road Less Traveled Never more than 10-16 travelers—guaranteed!

2016 The Wilderness Beyond: Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego & the Chilean Fjords

15 Days from only $6995 including international airfare

Buenos Aires • Torres del Paine • Beagle Channel • Glacier Alley • Cape Horn • Chilean Fjords & Tierra del Fuego Cruise • Ushuaia

Trip Experience

Watch condors soar above the Andes, kiss a guanaco, and follow Magellan through Tierra del Fuego.  

Trip Itinerary

Taker a closer look at what you'll encounter on your journey through Patagonia and the Chilean Fjords.

Trip Leader

Meet Chilean Trip Leader Carlos Segura, whose Italian heritage and sense of family fuels his passion for travel and discovery.

Trip Leader

Hear Jorge Duran talk about growing up in a small mining village in Chile.

Trip Extension: Santiago & Easter Island

On this trip extension, immerse yourself in the daily lives and traditions of the Rapa Nui of Easter Island.

Trip Extension: Iguassu Falls

On this extension, hear the roar of South America's largest waterfalls and explore its lush jungle.

Courtesy Tucker English
Carretera Austral, Patagonia, Chile

Fly high above Patagonia's Carretera Austral and get a bird's eye view of the majestic natural landscape.

Courtesy BBC.com Travel
How One Man Changed Tango Forever

Tango—the music of Buenos Aires—was transformed into the passionate genre we know today by one man.

Courtesy BBC.com Travel
In Chile, A Search for Remnants of Revolt

Track down 1970s Chilean propaganda art and discover a bit about Chile’s communist past along the way.

Courtesy Regina Fraser, Pat Johnson and Kathy Monk
Buenos Aires – European Charm with a Latin Beat

Feel the pulse of the city as you experience the culture and cuisine of Buenos Aires.

Courtesy Jason Spafford
South America: The Beautiful Ride

Discover the diverse landscapes from desert to glacier, in a serene virtual tour of Chile.

Courtesy Ivan Arias Riviera
Santiago Center

Soar high above Santiago to get a bird's eye view of this South American city.

Courtesy CNN
Food and Fun in Buenos Aires

Uncover some of Buenos Aires' favorite cafes, taverns, and restaurants from expatriates who now call the city home.

Courtesy Ian Sciacaluga
Great Historic Sites: Easter Island

Uncover the mysteries of the iconic Moai statues of Easter Island on our pre-trip extension.

Courtesy Lisa Dupenois and Ian Cross
Bazaar: Buenos Aires

Explore the many sides of Buenos Aires, from its luxurious shops to its bustling, colorful barrios.

New Year, New Stories

Take a look at the films that inspire filmmaker David Conover—and preview the stories that await this year.

Climate Change & Travel

Travel with David Conover to see how people—from street protesters to Heads of State—respond to a changing climate and ocean.

Produced for CuriosityStream
Big Picture Earth Trailer

David Conover's newest television series takes us from Stonehenge to Petra, from Iceland to the Oracle at Delphi ... and beyond.

Sharing Travel Moments

Hear why visual storytelling helps to build a conversation about the world from filmmaker David Conover.

Travel Protection Plan

Learn about the benefits of O.A.T.'s plan—and how you can protect your entire trip investment.

Solo Traveler Experience

Meet a solo traveler who shares her reasons for exploring the world with Overseas Adventure Travel.

The O.A.T. Experience

See what you can expect when you travel in your small group on the road less traveled with O.A.T.

FROM
$6995
15 DAYS
$467/DAY
including international airfare
14 DAYS FROM $5895 Small Ship Adventure Only
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Itinerary Overview

Travel to Patagonia to explore some of the most dramatic and unspoiled landscapes on Earth. On O.A.T.’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. You'll also 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.

Day-to-Day Itinerary

  • 3 nights from only $1145

    It’s easy to add thundering Iguassu Falls—twice as wide as Niagara Falls—to your explorations of South America’s natural wonders. On this extension, we’ll visit the Argentinean and Brazilian sides of this array of 275 separate cascades. We’ll also spend a day discovering the Parana River Delta near Buenos Aires.

    View Extension Itinerary
Buenos Aires Ushuaia Expand All
  • Fly overnight from the U.S. today.

  • How One Man Changed Tango Forever

    Tango—the music of Buenos Aires—was transformed into the passionate genre we know today by one man.

    You'll touch down in the Argentinean capital this morning. Your O.A.T. Trip Leader or an O.A.T. representative will meet you and assist with the transfer to our hotel, where you'll join your traveling companions, including those who've taken the pre-trip extension to Iguassu Falls & Buenos Aires, Argentina.

    In the afternoon, we'll take an orientation walk with our Trip Leader, giving us the lay of the land in the vicinity of our hotel. Then we'll have a Welcome Briefing with details of what's to come on our trip. Later, we'll 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 to explore at leisure. We have dinner at a local restaurant this evening.

  • 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 composed of lengas and ñires (Patagonian beech trees) along with cherry trees.

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

  • Carretera Austral, Patagonia, Chile

    Fly high above Patagonia's Carretera Austral and get a bird's eye view of the majestic natural landscape.

    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 take a hike lasting approximately two hours. 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 species of 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.

  • This morning, we'll continue exploring the myriad wonders of Torres del Paine—this time on horseback, with a ride lasting approximately two hours. We'll keep our eyes peeled for indigenous fauna such as the guanaco (related to the llama), the ostrich-like ñandú, and condors winging overhead. We have an included boxed lunch, then continue our discoveries on foot, with an afternoon hike also lasting about two hours. Afterwards, we return to our hotel, where we'll have dinner this evening.

  • Discover diverse wildlife in Chile

    After breakfast, we'll continue exploring Torres del Paine this morning and taking in breathtaking views. We have an included boxed lunch, then set off toward Puerto Natales. We'll check in to our hotel in Puerto Natales and 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 Strait 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-March 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 view the glacier where it flows from the Darwin Mountains into 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:

    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 Santiago & Easter Island, Chile, you'll remain in Buenos Aires tonight, with dinner on your own.

  • POST-TRIP EXTENSION:
    Santiago & Easter Island

    5 nights from only $2345

    In the midst of the majestic Andes Mountains, discover Santiago, Chile, a city as vibrant and historic as it is elegant. Then venture more than 2,000 miles west to find Easter Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most isolated—and intriguing—places on Earth.

    View Extension Itinerary
  • 3 nights from only $1145

    It’s easy to add thundering Iguassu Falls—twice as wide as Niagara Falls—to your explorations of South America’s natural wonders. On this extension, we’ll visit the Argentinean and Brazilian sides of this array of 275 separate cascades. We’ll also spend a day discovering the Parana River Delta near Buenos Aires.

    View Extension Itinerary
Ushuaia Buenos Aires Expand All
  • Fly overnight from the U.S. today.

  • How One Man Changed Tango Forever

    Tango—the music of Buenos Aires—was transformed into the passionate genre we know today by one man.

    You'll touch down in the Argentinean capital this morning. Your O.A.T. Trip Leader or an O.A.T. representative will meet you and assist with the transfer to our hotel, where you'll join your traveling companions, including those who've taken the pre-trip extension to Iguassu Falls & Buenos Aires, Argentina.

    In the afternoon, we'll take an orientation walk with our Trip Leader, giving us the lay of the land in the vicinity of our hotel. Then we'll have a Welcome Briefing with details of what's to come on our trip. Later, we'll 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

    Early this morning, 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.

    When we arrive, we'll tour Ushuaia. Then 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. Next, we'll be guests in a local home to share a snack with our hosts and discuss what life is like in one of South America’s southernmost communities. Afterwards, we check into our hotel; dinner is on your own this evening.

  • Cruise the Beagle Channel while touring Argentina

    This morning, we’ll tour Tierra del Fuego National Park, then return to Ushuaia. After lunch on your own, we’ll visit the Prison Museum, which has exhibits on this area's early penal colonies.

    Early this evening, we transfer to the pier to embark the M/V Stella 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

    Today, we continue our travel in Patagonia as we cruise into 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. We'll take a zodiac ride around the lagoon, as well as have the chance to get out and hike with the brillant lagoon, forest, and glacier surrounding us in natural beauty.

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

    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. We'll take an orientation walk and enjoy an included lunch. This afternoon, we depart to Torres del Paine. We gather for dinner at our hotel this evening.

    Please note: Penguin viewing on Magdalena Island will be replaced with a zodiac ride to Marta Island to observe sea lions on April and September departures.

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

    After breakfast, we begin our exploration of 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.

    This morning we'll take a hike in this area of spectacular scenery. The park comprises about 935 square miles including the Paine Massif, granite mountains that emerge suddenly from the plains of the Patagonian steppes and are capped by crumbly sedimentary rock. These mountains were 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 species of 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. After our hike, we continue to our hotel, where we enjoy dinner this evening.

  • Discover diverse wildlife in Torres del Paine

    This morning, we'll continue exploring the myriad wonders of Torres del Paine—this time on horseback, with a ride lasting approximately two hours. We'll keep our eyes peeled for indigenous fauna such as the guanaco (related to the llama), the ostrich-like ñandú, and condors winging overhead. We have an included boxed lunch, then continue our discoveries on foot, with an afternoon hike also lasting about two hours. Afterwards, we return to our hotel, where we'll have dinner this evening.

  • Carretera Austral, Patagonia, Chile

    Fly high above Patagonia's Carretera Austral and get a bird's eye view of the majestic natural landscape.

    After breakfast this morning, we'll head out of Torres del Paine National Park, stopping for final photo opportunities in this natural wonderland. We'll stop for lunch at the Chilean border before moving on by bus to the Argentinian border at Concha Carrera. This evening, 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. Tonight, we'll enjoy an included dinner together.

  • 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 composed of lengas and ñires (Patagonian beech trees) along with cherry trees. We return to our hotel in El Calafate late this afternoon.

  • After breakfast this morning, we'll depart our hotel and set off for a nearby Patagonian ranch. Here we'll learn how a working ranch functions along the Patagonian steppe, perhaps seeing gauchos on horseback in action as they wrangle one of the country's most prized commodities: Argentinian cattle. We'll have lunch here before heading back to Calafate where this evening, dinner 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 Santiago & Easter Island, you'll remain in Buenos Aires tonight; dinner is on your own.

  • POST-TRIP EXTENSION:
    Santiago & Easter Island

    5 nights from only $2345

    In the midst of the majestic Andes Mountains, discover Santiago, Chile, a city as vibrant and historic as it is elegant. Then venture more than 2,000 miles west to find Easter Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most isolated—and intriguing—places on Earth.

    View Extension Itinerary

Click below to read our Travel Planning Guide on The Wilderness Beyond: Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego & the Chilean Fjords

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