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Eyeball a grumpy elephant seal before you listen to the winds roaring across the Fitzroy Massif. Sip some mate and follow in the wake of the legendary seafarers as you attempt to land on Cape Horn on this wild and wonderful journey through the spectacular Argentine half of Patagonia.
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Land in Buenos Aires today, where your guide meets you for the transfer to your hotel. Your room likely won't be ready for a while yet, so head out to explore the very walkable Palermo area to help you adjust to the time change before checking in later. This evening you are well placed to enjoy some of the city's best reastaurants for dinner, with the help of our local information and advice.
Spend this morning in the company of your own private guide who can take you on and off the beaten track in this lively and beautiful city. You will have a car at your disposal, but we recommend getting out and walking for some of the tour. Rather than follow a specific route, you basically just let them know what sorts of things you like to see and they can take you. This afternoon you might like to explore the enormous and rather lovely Recoleta cemetery.
Fly south to the city of Trelew in Atlantic Patagonia, from where you are transferred out to your lodge on the coast, set on the Golfo Nuevo across from the Valdes Peninsula's southern tip. After settling in, take a walk along the shore to see what wildlife you can spot; seals and sea lions are likely to be the easiest to spot.
While here you can be as active or relaxed as you like, either way you should see plenty of wildlife. One option is to explore the surroundings in the company of the lodge's guides and other guests, looking out for whales, orcas and dolphins. The southern right whales are seen in the latter half of the year, while February and March bring the best chance of orca sightings.
Another day to explore, perhaps heading out to see one of the colonies of Magellanic penguins. If you're feeling more energetic, the lodge has bikes and horses available to help you discover the area.
Return to Trelew today for the short flight down to El Calafate, gateway to the Glaciares and Fitzroy National Parks. Collect your car and drive around 3 hours north to the sleepy town of Chalten, a walker's paradise. Here your guide meets you this evening to talk you through tomorrow's hike and introduce you to the area.
Spend today with a private guide hiking in the stunning surroundings of the granite walls of the Fitz Roy massif and up to Laguna de Los Tres. After breakfast, hike the trail up to Rio Blanco which is a climbers’ base camp to the east side of the mountain. From here a steep one-hour trail leads you to one of the most spectacular viewpoints of the National Park: Laguna de los Tres.
Spend another day exploring the Fitz Roy area. There are many self-guided trails you can follow or you could grab a taxi to take you further up the valley to visit the impressive Lago del Desierto. Whichever way you choose to do, the birdlife in particular is fantastic and the scenery unforgettable. Return to your comfortable hotel for a final night.
Head back south today, continuing past the rather over-touristed town of Calafate out towards the Perito Moreno Glacier, the major draw in these parts. Your next stop is a working cattle and sheep estancia, not far from the famous glacier, giving you much greater flexibility over when you visit.
We suggest you spend the first part of the day seeing something of the estancia life, the most traditional Patagonian environment, where you can help out with the gauchos' activities if you like. Later, head over to Perito Moreno, the glacier is one of only three in Patagonia which is not retreating. The face is some 5km wide, the ice being an average height of 74m above the surface. It continues about 100m below the surface of the lake. The glacier moves at quite a pace which means that it makes the most amazing creaking and splitting sounds, regularly calving great lumps of ice into the water.
This morning fly from Calafate down to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. You have two nights here on the shores of the Beagle Channel, staying in Argentina's most southerly city, Ushuaia.
Free day to see something of Ushuaia and the nearby Tierra del Fuego National Park. There are some interesting museums exploring life over the years in this remote outpost, and the national park is well worth a visit, (though perhaps without boarding the tourist train).
Today, settle into your very comfortable cabin and get to know your way around the ship. The Australis vessels are extremely spacious for their capacity, with a number of lounges and viewing areas. Spend the next three nights on board, cruising the waters around Tierra del Fuego and the Magellan Straits to Cape Horn.
Sail through Murray Channel as far south as the Cape Horn National Park. Cape Horn, a sheer, 400 metre high promontory, marks the point where the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans merge. Weather permitting, disembark here and set foot on what was long thought of as the ‘End of the Earth.’
Delve into the fjords today towards the Garibaldi Glacier, the most western point of your cruise, where you hike through the forest up to a glacial waterfall to enjoy the spectacular views. This afternoon it’s time to turn back towards Ushuaia and navigate the main part of the Beagle Channel to enter the Pia Fjord and visit the Pia Glacier. Walk to a viewpoint offering amazing views over the entirety of the Pia Glacier, along its entire length from mountain to the sea.
Your last full day on board will deepen your understanding of the geological forces that have produced the extraordinary landscapes around you. Pass the westernmost part of Tierra del Fuego, and zigzag through the Magdalena Channel and Keats Fjord to reach the scenic De Agostini Sound. This is a beautiful area peppered with glaciers and sharp peaks, and is someone reminiscent of Torres del Paine.
There should be time for a farewell visit to the locals as you disembark on Isla Magdalena to be greeted by the magellanic penguin colony this morning. Continue to Punta Arenas later, from where you fly up to Santiago for your final night in South America.
Depending on flight schedules, you may have time for some final exploration or shopping this morning before you transfer to the airport for your flight home. Again, please note that international flights are quoted separately.
This is, at its core, a journey which is all about being outside though not, necessarily, about frenetic adventure. We assume you want to be out enjoying these awe-inspiring environments, without perhaps wanting to ‘climb every mountain.’ The result is a carefully paced journey, with lots of flexibility in the activity levels, but whose focus is on feeling the spray in your face and the wind in your hair.
Buenos Aires is a place we like to have you explore on foot as much as is practical. The trip through El Calafate to the estancia and the Perito Moreno Glacier is basically about seeing and experiencing the everyday lives of people here and exploring the beautiful scenery around you. Of course, you have the very dramatic glaciers of the far south to visit too, and it is possible to hike on the surface of the glacier if you are feeling adventurous.
The Australis cruise is in fact quite an active experience with regular landings and hiking on shore – including glaciers and Cape Horn, as long as weather conditions permit.
It is part of our job to get to know you, what you like or don’t like doing and any particular interests or requests that you have. We then advise you what we think is the best way to approach your trip, working with you to tailor it to you. It’s possible that what you have seen here is ideal for you, but equally we can tinker with it to get it just right if not.
Departs on a date to suit you, from September through April, though must coincide with the Australis cruise schedule.
The price is per person based on two people sharing and includes:
First-class accommodation with breakfast and some lunches and dinners
Twin cabin accommodation on the Australis cruise (A class cabin)
4x4 rental car on the Valdes Peninsula
Private airport transfers
Guided excursions & entrances as described
Argentina Holiday Guide with personal recommendations
Argentina driving guide
Pura’s expertise, local contacts, support and advice throughout
International flights are quoted separately for this holiday. Best routing is into Buenos Aires (EZE) and out of Santiago (SCL).
The hotels and lodges on this holiday are carefully chosen, first-class accommodations that enable you to explore wild and remote locations in a very comfortable way.
The boats that take you around the southernmost point of South America offer high levels of comfort with spacious cabins and private facilities. Nonetheless, these are genuine expedition cruises: the focus is on an active discovery of the wild landscapes you are traveling through, rather than on wine and dining (though this is also very good given the remote location).
For more details, please get in touch to request a detailed PDF itinerary.
An important way in which this trip benefits the local communities is by thoughtfully introducing you to the distinct cultures and which we find throughout the country. Doing this on a personal level allows you to make deeper connections and allows the locals to share their ways of life with you.
In Buenos Aires we like to try and get you here for a Sunday as that’s a day when markets spill into the streets and impromptu tango into the parks. We also provide detailed local advice and information to enable you to explore well when you have time on your own. Patagonia remains a place of gauchos who tend to live solitary lives riding across vast estancias. And yet, hospitality runs deep and sipping mate whilst sitting round a fire with lamb roasting over the coals is one of the great delights of life in southern Argentina.