DAYS 1 – 47: ARGENTINA & CHILE
This is a guide to the itinerary, the nature of trans-continental journeys means that things can, and will change, it is all part of the adventure!
Your epic overland tour of South America starts in the vibrant, cosmopolitan city of Buenos Aires. Your tour includes two nights here, with one full day to explore the city. There is so much to do here that it is well worth considering arriving in a few days early to give you plenty of time to explore the incredible city, soak up the atmosphere of its streets, and discover its amazing culture, art, and music.
After your city break in Buenos Aires you will begin your overland journey south towards Patagonia, crossing the pampas and grasslands of the province, wild camping en route. Continuing south you will arrive into the coastal town of Puerto Madryn. You will have a free day for optional activities in and around Puerto Madryn. There is the opportunity to take a tour to the Valdes Peninsular to see its desolate scenery and abundant marine life, head out on a boat trip in search of dolphins and whales, or perhaps go for afternoon tea in a Welsh tea house in the nearby towns of Gaiman or Trelew.
Driving along the coast, you will have an included visit to the huge colony of Magellanic Penguins at the remote area of Cabo Dos Bahias before heading to the nearby small town of Camarones.
From Camarones you will set off on an all day drive following the South Atlantic coast. If time and conditions allow you might visit the Jaramillo Petrified Forest en route. Then leaving the coast behind you will head west across Argentina to the town of El Calafate, the gateway to the Perito Mereno Glacier. You will have an included full day guided visit to view this stunning glacier, one of the most spectacular sights in Patagonia.
Crossing into Chile for the first (but not the last!) time, you will drive to the world-famous Torres del Paine National Park. This is one of the most outstanding areas of natural beauty in the world and the main highlight of the trip for many of our passengers and leaders! You will stop en route in Puerto Natales to stock up on supplies and pick up your local guides and cook who will accompany you during your time in the National Park. Your first night in the national park will be at a stunning lakeside camp inside the National Park with incredible views of the main mountain range.
You will have a total of 5 nights in the National Park, during which you will get to walk part of the famous W-walk circuit with a local guide (referred to below as the “base package”). Note if you wish to complete the full W-trek (referred to below as the “W-walk extension”) this needs to be pre-booked so please Contact Us for more information
On your first full day in the park, you will take the catamaran across a lake to the Paine Grande campsite. From here, your group will split into two – the base package group and the W-walk extension group. Each group will then walk with their respective local guides to a viewpoint over the spectacular Grey Glacier. Both groups will then walk back down to Paine Grande, where you will spend the night camping. Approximate walking distance: 22km, estimated duration: 8 hours
If you have not opted for the optional W-walk extension package, you will have free time around Paine Grande the next morning to freely explore. You will then board the catamaran back across the lake, where the truck will meet you and drive you to back to your base campsite for the night. If you have chosen the optional W-walk extension, you will leave Paine Grande and trek up the French Valley with your local guide. From here you will continue trekking to Campsite Cuernos where you will camp for the night. Approximate walking distance: 27 km, estimated duration: 11 hrs.
For those not doing the W-walk extension, the next day is a free day to enjoy the many short walks and other fantastic optional activities available near the campsite, or alternatively it’s a great day to simply relax and enjoy the spectacular views from the campsite. For those doing the W-walk extension you will continue your trek with your local guide along the Lago Nordenskjold to Las Torres Campsite where you will camp for the night. Approximate walking distance: 11 km, estimated time: 5 hrs.
On your last full day in the park, those not doing the W-walk extension will travel with the overland truck to the base of the famous three peaks which give the National Park its name. From there you will walk up to the breathtaking viewpoint of the Torres with the base package guide, before making your way back to the truck, reuniting with the W-walkers and heading back to the base campsite for the night. Approximate walking distance: 20 km, estimated time: 8 hrs.
Those doing the W-walk extension will instead trek up to the incredible viewpoint of the Torres with their W-walk guide and then come back down to Las Torres Campsite where they will meet up with the overland truck and group and then return to the base campsite for the night. Approximate walking distance: 20 km, estimated time: 8 hrs.
After an early start you will leave Torres del Paine and head south to cross the Magellan Straits onto the island of Tierra del Fuego, bushcamping for the night somewhere in the desolate wilds of the Chilean side of Tierra del Fuego.
You will then cross over to the Argentine side of Tierra del Fuego and drive to the incredible port town of Ushuaia, the southernmost town in the world. You will have two free days in the wonderful remote town of Ushuaia, with plenty of time for optional activities such as a visit to the hauntingly beautiful Tierra del Fuego National Park, boat trips to see the scenery and wildlife of the Beagle Channel, or heading out horse riding along the coast.
From Ushuaia your overland tour will once again head north and back onto the Chilean side of Tierra del Fuego where you will visit the small King Penguin colony that have recently set up home at the remote Bahia Inutil (Useless Bay), the only colony of these type of penguins outside of Antarctica.
Continuing your journey north you will cross the Magellan Straits back to the mainland and then cross again from Chile into Argentina, wild camping for the night at a stunning ancient crater called Laguna Azul (Blue Lagoon). Your tour then continues north, overlanding across the Patagonian steppe to the tiny town of El Chalten, situated in Los Glaciares National Park and famous for its incredible mountains, glaciers and world-class trekking opportunities. You will have three free days to enjoy the stunning Los Glaciares National Park and the incredible scenery of the nearby Mt. Fitz Roy. There are lots of trekking and walking opportunities here, as well as boat trips, ice climbing on the Viedma Glacier, horse riding, and many other fantastic options.
From El Chalten you will drive north along the famous Ruta 40 (Route 40) to the Rio Pinturas area where you will have an included visit to the mysterious Neolithic cave-art site of Cueva de las Manos (Cave of the Hands), some of the most well-preserved ancient art in the world dating back over 10,000 years, and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Continuing along Ruta 40 you will wild camp for a night and then you will reach the picturesque town of Bariloche via the scenic Ruta de los Siete Lagos (Seven Lakes Route). You will have two free days to enjoy the beautiful mountain town of Bariloche and the stunning surrounding lakes, mountains and forests. You have the options to explore the area by foot, mountain bike, kayak, boat, or even a historic steam train!
Crossing from Argentina into Chile for the penultimate time, you will continue your journey to the stunning town of Pucon via the scenic Ruta de los Siete Lagos (Seven Lakes Route). In Pucon you will have two free days to enjoy a range of optional activities including a sunrise expedition to climb the Villarica volcano which looms over Pucón, heading out horse riding through the surrounding forests, or an evening visit to the nearby natural hot springs.
A full day’s drive north will take you to the cosmopolitan Chilean capital of Santiago. You will have a day here to explore the city’s sights before crossing the border once again into Argentina. You will drive over the stunning Cristo Redentor pass in the high Andes, passing Aconcagua (the highest mountain in the Southern Hemisphere) and reach Mendoza, nestled in the dry flats underneath the shadows of the largest mountains of the Andes. Mendoza is the centre of Argentine wine production, and one of the nine ‘Wine Capitals of the World’ – it is especially famous for its Malbec, grown at some of the highest-altitude vineyards to be found in the world. You will have a free day here to explore the incredible region, head out on various adventure activities such as rock climbing, rafting or mountain biking, or of course take a tasting tour of the incredible wineries in the region.
From Mendoza you will start your journey through the beautiful San Juan and Cordoba provinces, wild camping en route. Your next stop is a trip highlight, a 3-night stay at a unique Anglo-Argentina Estancia. During your time at the Estancia, you will head out horseback riding, taste the excellent wines produced by their vineyards, be entertained by a local musician, learn some of the skills of the gauchos, and enjoy a traditional asado (Argentine BBQ). This is a magical experience in a beautiful and atmospheric location, and many people’s highlight of the trip!
Please note that some of these activities are subject to weather conditions. Please also note that there is a strict weight limit of 15 stone (210lbs) or 95kg to partake in the horse riding – if you should weigh more than this, then unfortunately you will not be able to participate in the horseback riding.
Leaving the ranch behind you will drive north across the lush flat pampas and start climbing into the drier mountains, camping for the night in the town of Tafi del Valle before continuing your journey to Cafayate. En route you will visit the ancient ruins of the indigenous city of Quilmes.
Cafeyate is a small unassuming town which also happens to be the centre of one of Argentina’s principal wine producing regions, famous for the quality of its Torrentes and Tannat wines! You will have the opportunity to go to a few of the vineyards nearby to see how the wine is made, and of course to try them!
From Salta you will head up to the small village of Purmamarca, at the base of the aptly named Hill of the Seven Colours, where you will stay for the night before crossing the border into Chile for the final time the next day, heading for the town of San Pedro de Atacama. You will have a full day here to explore the incredible highlights of the Atacama Desert surrounding San Pedro. In the evening you will take an included trip out to the extraordinary Moon Valley, where you will hopefully see an incredible sunset. At night you will also have the chance to go stargazing, in one of the world’s premier regions for astronomy (please note that this is only possible when there is not a full moon).