DAYS 66 – 101: 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 a free day 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, you will cross back into Chile and drive to the rafting mecca of Futaleufú. From this point you will join the famous Carretera Austral, probably one of the most stunning roads in South America, surrounded in gorgeous mountain and forest scenery. Please note that the road from here to El Chaltén is rough and mostly unpaved meaning that the going is slow.
From Futaleufu you will drive through the Chilean fjords to Queluat National Park. If time allows there is an optional walk to see the incredible hanging Colgante Glacier.
The following day you will continue your overland tour south through the magnificent Chilean scenery to the beautiful area of Cerro Castillo National Reserve.
You will then cross into Argentina’s Patagonia region and continue your journey south along the famous Ruta 40 (Route 40), wild camping en route in the Rio Pinturas area.
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.
From El Chalten it is a short drive to El Calafate, the gateway to the Perito Mereno Glacier. You will have an included full day guided visit to the view the glacier, one of the most spectacular sights in Patagonia.
Your overland tour then heads 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.
From Torres del Paine you will have a full day drive south to cross the Magellan Straits over to the island of Tierra del Fuego, camping en route on the Chilean side of Tierra del Fuego.
The following day you will 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. Ushuaia is a great town, and a great place to celebrate the end of your epic South America overland tour!
Your overland tour includes one night’s accommodation in Ushuaia, but it is well worth considering staying for a few more days to give yourself the opportunity to explore the town and local area including 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.
Ushuaia is also the boarding point for cruises to Antarctica. Contact us for more information.