DAYS 66 – 112: CHILE & ARGENTINA
Setting off early from your altiplano refuge, you will cross the remainder of the Bolivian Altiplano and then descend all the way into the Atacama Desert 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).
Leaving Chile for now, you will have a long drive day to cross the mighty Andes and the border into Argentina, heading for the beautiful town of Salta. You will have a day here to explore the town, visit its many museums, or explore the beautiful surrounding hills on foot or by mountain bike.
From Salta you will drive through the spectacular rock formations of the Quebrada de las Conchas, and reach the serene town of Cafayate. This small unassuming town is 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!
Driving over some more spectacular mountains you will arrive into the lush flat pampas that Argentina is famous for, visiting the ancient ruins of the indigenous city of Quilmes en route.
Next up, 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.
From the ranch you will have an early start for a full day’s drive to the stunning town of 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 two free days 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 drive over the stunning Cristo Redentor pass in the high Andes, passing Aconcagua (the highest mountain in the Southern Hemisphere) and heading to the Chilean capital of Santiago. You will have a day here to explore the city’s sights.
Your next stop will be Pucon in the beautiful lake district of Chile. You will have two free days in the lovely lakeside town of Pucon 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.
From Pucon you will again cross into Argentina and continue your journey to 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!
Heading south, a full day’s drive will take you towards the Patagonia region on the legendary Ruta 40 (Route 40), wild camping en route. Your drive will then continue south 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.
You will then drive into the heart of the Patagonia region, and reach 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.
Leaving El Chalten your overland journey will continue south, across the Patagonian steppe and heading towards the southern island of Tierra del Fuego, wild camping en route.
You will once again cross into Chile, then across the Magellan Straits over to the island of Tierra del Fuego. Here 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.
Leaving Chile for the penultimate time, you will cross 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.
Turning north, you will have a full day’s drive back across the Magellan Straits and up the Chilean side of the mainland. Your overland tour will then take you 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.
Leaving Chile for the last time, you will cross into Argentina and drive to El Calafate, the gateway to 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.
From El Calafate your overland trip will continue across the plains of Patagonia towards the South Atlantic coast, and then heading north to the small town of Camarones where you will have an included visit to the huge colony of Magellanic Penguins at the remote area of Cabo Dos Bahias. After visiting the penguins you will continue north to 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.
From Puerto Madryn you will head north towards Buenos Aires. You will see a definite change in the landscape today as the vegetation becomes more and more lush and green as you come out of the Patagonia region and into the pampas of Buenos Aires, stopping off for a wild camp en route.
Another full day’s drive will take you into the vibrant, cosmopolitan city of Buenos Aires where you have two nights’ accommodation included as part of your overland tour. Buenos Aires is an incredible city and a great place to celebrate the end of your epic journey from Cartagena! There is so much to see and do here that it is well worth spending a couple more days here to fully, soak up the atmosphere of its streets, and discover its amazing culture, art, and music.