Patagonia Walking & Hiking
Hiking/Trekking in Argentina with Backroads
- Hiking Patagonia in the shadow of the Fitz Roy's jagged granite spires
- Unforgettable boat rides among icebergs and fjords
- Sip maté, the local beverage, with Patagonian cowboys
- Ice trekking tour on Perito Moreno Glacier
- Empanada-making with a local chef
Among Glaciers & Mountain Peaks in Argentina
That whole "time flies" theory just doesn't work in Patagonia. Imagine slowly ambling along a small ferry through a tremendous fjord on Lago Argentina heading toward Upsala Glacier. Time is moving so slowly but you can't possibly take in the scenery fast enough. The Andes are so windswept they almost look like petrified ocean waves, white caps and all. The lake is bouncing a clear blue sky back up at you. Framing everything perfectly. It's like time freezes in Patagonia even though you're on a fun adventure tour.
Because Argentina is in the southern hemisphere, seasons are the opposite of those in North America. Summer occurs from mid-December through mid-March and temperatures in southern Patagonia are generally cool. Although these summer months are mostly dry in southern Argentina, there is still a strong possibility of rain, wind and cold dense fog at some point during your trip, particularly at the higher elevations on our hikes. (The weather is similar to that of the Pacific Northwest during the summer.) In Patagonia, where all four seasons can be felt in one day, wearing layers makes good sense! Be prepared for all types of weather to ensure that your trip is enjoyable.
- All lodgings
- All meals included except 1 lunch and 1 dinner, when you'll have the opportunity to sample local fare on your own
- Expertise and services of our experienced Trip Leaders
- Snacks and beverages between meals
- Additional guides and experts from the region on many trips
- Van shuttles to support a variety of route options
- Comprehensive Travel Planner with detailed pre-trip information
- Private guided tours at museums, historic sites, wineries and other select attractions as noted
- All gratuities at hotels and restaurants on Inn Trips
- On Biking and Multi-Sport trips use of fully equipped Backroads titanium bike plus helmet and accessories
- Park and other entry fees
- Fares for trains, ferries and other modes of travel
- Select coach transfers
- Baggage transfers and porterage
- Backroads water bottle
- Alcoholic beverages (Backroads provides wine at select events)
- Gratuities for Trip Leaders
- Personal expenses
Day by Day Itinerary
Meet your Backroads Trip Leaders (the folks wearing Backroads T-shirts) at 10 a.m. at Hotel Posada Los Alamos, located in downtown El Calafate, Argentina. Please arrive dressed in your hiking clothes with your daypack handy.
Shuttle to La Estela 2 Hours
Viedma Lake & Sand Dunes Loop 2.2 Miles (150-foot elevation gain)
Shuttle to El Chaltén 1½ Hours
Welcome to Patagonia! After meeting we shuttle to Estancia Estela, where we get better acquainted over a picnic while taking in spectacular views of Lake Viedma, a 50-mile long, glacially fed body of water. Fueled up and ready to go, set out from the farm on foot following a downhill route to sand dunes. On a clear day, you’ll see 11,070-foot Mount Fitz Roy in the distance. As you move across this wild remote landscape, watch for exotic flowers and armadillos. Gulls and cormorants let you know you’re nearing Viedma Lake, home to a wealth of wildlife.
After the hike we head to El Chaltén, a small mountain town set within Los Glaciares National Park, at the foot of Torre and Fitz Roy peaks. Settle into Hotel Los Cerros (cerro means ―mountain‖), whose large windows offer incredible mountain, lake and valley views. This evening we gather for a reception before sitting down to a hearty meal in the hotel’s dining room.
Lodging: Hotel Los Cerros
Mirador Cerro Torre Route 12.4 Miles (820-foot elevation gain)
Shorter Option: 6.2 Miles (400-foot elevation gain)
Longer Option: Mirador Maestri 15 Miles (1,200-foot elevation gain)
Today’s hikes provide a great introduction to the incredible terrain you’ll be traversing during the trip. Packed lunch in hand, head out on a long but relatively flat trek across young and bare glacial moraines featuring unforgettable vistas of the Fitz Roy River, Mount Torre, Egger and Standhard peaks, and the Adelas Range, with glaciers spilling down toward the Torre Lagoon.
Back at Los Cerros, relax your muscles in the whirlpool tub or curl up with a good book in front of the hotel fireplace. We then venture into El Chaltén for dinner at the cozy Ruca Mahuida, a restaurant featuring a menu of regional and international delicacies.
Lodging: Hotel Los Cerros
Shuttle to Trailhead 30 Minutes
Laguna Capri Route 10.6 Miles (985-foot elevation gain)
Longer Option: Laguna de los Tres 13.7 Miles (2,460-foot elevation gain)
Following breakfast at the hotel we shuttle to the start of today’s trek. Begin walking through groves of lenga trees (a species of beech) and, if the sky is clear, enjoy unobstructed views of the northeastern face of the Fitz Roy Range. Once you make your way up to Laguna Capri, we gather for a lakeside lunch accompanied by the reflection of the Fitz Roy massif. For a challenge afterward, hike to Laguna de los Tres, where you can see the De los Tres Glacier plunging into the lake, Mount Fitz Roy towering above, and sweeping views of Viedma Lake and the endless Patagonian pampa.
You’re on your own tonight to dine in El Chaltén. The town is booming with innovative new restaurants—your leaders can point you to their top choices.
Lodging: Hotel Los Cerros
Shuttle to La Leona 1½ Hours
Shuttle to El Calafate 2 Hours
Cerro Frias Hike 2–4 Miles (600-foot elevation gain)
We start the day by traveling to historic La Leona Roadhouse & Country Lodge, where the chef demonstrates the secrets of cooking authentic Argentine empanadas and then invites us to sample the delicious snack. With whetted appetites, it’s off to El Calafate for lunch on your own and time to shop—this is the chance to pick up that perfect souvenir. Swing by Paseo de los Artesanos to browse for authentic local handicrafts, including items made from silver, alpaca, wood and leather, as well as mate (a traditional drink reminiscent of green tea) and much much more. If you have a sweet tooth, don’t miss tasting the homemade Calafate ice cream at the chocolate shop or the popular alfajor, a delicious traditional cookie with caramel inside!
This afternoon we shuttle into La Anita Valley to remote Eolo, our luxurious Relais & Châteaux lodge for the next two nights. Stretch your legs on a hike to Mount Frias or, if putting your feet up sounds more appealing, kick back on the deck, in the sauna or by the heated pool. In the hotel dining room tonight we savor a tasty meal and wonderful views of Lake Argentino.
Shuttle to Perito Moreno Glacier 40 Minutes
Perito Moreno Glacier Mini-Trek 2 Hours
Balconies Walk 3 Miles (50-foot elevation gain)
Shuttle to Eolo 40 Minutes
Get ready to be wowed today in Los Glaciares National Park, a World Heritage site encompassing 2,770 square miles of ice-laden terrain. Home to hundreds of glaciers fed by one of the world’s largest ice caps, the park features a stunning collection of frozen leviathans set against lakes Argentino and Viedma, and the snaking Santa Cruz River. Vaulting mountains block most of the moisture rising off the Pacific to create a starkly beautiful, arid steppe on the east side of the park. This morning’s drive offers our first glimpse of the enormous Perito Moreno Glacier. Our activities begin with a boat ride across the Brazo Rico, an arm of Lake Argentino, which provides an excellent close-up view of the Canal de los Témpanos (Iceberg Channel). After disembarking take a short walk along the shore to the Perito Moreno Glacier, accompanied by a knowledgeable guide. Learn about this impressive glacier and other glacial formations in the area. Then strap on crampons and begin a memorable two-hour guided trek atop the ice, getting up close with the frozen landscape of crevasses and breathtakingly blue ice. (Don’t forget to bring warm windproof clothes, sunglasses for the glare and a good pair of hiking boots.)
Following our excursion on the ice and a lunch break, we shuttle the short distance to the start of our afternoon walk. Admire the glacier from a different perspective as you step along the famous ―balconies‖—a series of viewing platforms that provide bird’s-eye views of one of the world’s great marvels. Back at Eolo this evening, get to know the local vintages at a wine tasting before dinner at the hotel.
Scenic Cruise on Lake Argentino 4 Hours
Cerro Carnero Hike 6.2 Miles (700-foot elevation gain)
Shorter Option: 4.3 Miles (150-foot elevation gain)
With a 15-minute shuttle we arrive at Puerto Punta Bandera and set sail for a spectacular scenic cruise across Lake Argentino. Be sure to have your camera ready as you take in the grandeur of awe-inspiring fjords and mountain peaks, as well as a close encounter with the Upsala Glacier. You’re likely to see Andean condors soaring overhead as we navigate this frigid maze of ice and water.
Just in time for lunch we arrive at Estancia Cristina, a historic ranch-turned-hotel that welcomes us for the next two nights. Then lace up your boots for a trek into the Patagonian wilderness that starts along the shoreline of Cristina Bay. Stop for a moment at a pristine waterfall before beginning a steep ascent into lenga forests. While fairly strenuous, the breathtaking panorama of lakes, mountains and glaciers makes the effort completely worthwhile.
At the lodge this evening we gather for a ceremonial mate tasting in the Estancia’s living room. Afterward, a feast of traditional barbecued lamb and grilled veggies awaits.
Lodging: Estancia Cristina
Jeep Shuttle to Upsala Glacier Lookout 30 Minutes
Upsala Glacier & Fossil Canyon Hike 8 Miles with Shuttle (500-foot elevation gain)
Longer Option: Lagoons 10 Miles (300-foot elevation gain)
Optional Horseback Ride 2 Hours
Fuel up on breakfast at the lodge before we head to the spectacular lookout point over the massive Upsala Glacier. Once you’ve soaked up the view, hike from the Upsala Hut on a trail with some challenging rocky terrain to Fossil Canyon, featuring startlingly colored stones and ammonite fossils believed to be millions of years old. The walk winds down with a gentle section around lagoons that teem with coots and black-neck swans before arriving back at the estancia.
Want to be a cowboy? You can get a taste of South American gaucho life this afternoon on a horseback ride with local guides. In addition to an abundance of Patagonian flora, there’s plenty of wildlife to see along the route, including condors and perhaps even a few grazing guanacos (related to the domestic llama).
Back at the ranch, take a stroll on the grounds and visit the estancia’s rose garden. You can also stop in at the museum to learn more about the property’s fascinating history—it was home to an English immigrant family for almost 100 years. The museum features antique radio equipment, as well as photos and personal possessions of the Masters family. (Please note that depending on group size, the museum visit may be done in the morning before the hike.) Afterward we gather for an outstanding farewell dinner.
Lodging: Estancia Cristina
Mirador Cristina Hike 7 Miles (1,600-foot elevation gain)
Shuttle to El Calafate 2 Hours
Cap off your Patagonia Backroads adventure with a final gorgeous hike. The route leads you through the scenic Valle del Río Caterina before ascending along the occidental front of Mount Meson to Los Perros Point. Be sure to savor the views of the surrounding mountains, ice fields and Upsala Glacier. It’s easy to find a scenic spot to stop and enjoy your packed lunch.
Late this afternoon we bid farewell to Estancia Cristina and cruise across Lake Argentino to Puerto Punta Bandera. From here a shuttle returns us to El Calafate, where the trip ends.
About The Operator:
Every Backroads vacation is a one-of-a-kind adventure, where serendipity is supported - often invisibly - by a well choreographed backstage effort. After 30 years of practice, we've perfected the craft of creating and delivering world-class experiences and service, both hallmarks of a carefree Backroads vacation.
We ease your trip preparation with little extras, from a recommended packing list to lodging suggestions for before and after your trip. During your vacation, we make sure your luggage is waiting in your room, you have a cool drink or a lift when you desire them, and travel logistics are handled so you can focus on fun and relaxation.
Anticipating and responding to your needs - that is our commitment!Worldwide Presence
The Best Routes
All Backroads itineraries have been carefully researched by our team of 23 Trip Specialists and 9 Regional Managers to ensure you experience the very best way to explore the region. And before your trip, the routes are once again tested by our Trip Leaders-each and every season.
Seven Days of Service
Your Backroads Trip Consultants are available 7 days a week, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT, to answer your questions.
We've designed our trips with plenty of options that let you personalize each day and make the most of your vacation. And on each day of the trip (or the night before if you're heading out early), you'll receive a Daily Snapshot that gives you all of the important information you need so that you have control of your precious time.
Bikes & Accessories
All Biking and Multisport Trips include use of a fully equipped, custom-designed Backroads Titanium bike. Choose either upright or drop handlebars. Backroads is also unique among travel companies in manufacturing our own line of custom-designed kids' bikes. For the younger ones we offer the Burley d'Lite trailer and Burley Piccolo trailercycle.
A Choice of Lodging
We're the only company that distinguishes between Premiere Inns and Casual Inns, making it easy for you to choose a trip that suits your personal style. We provide an honest assessment of each hotel giving you an assurance of quality you can trust.
Backroads has been taking responsible travel seriously since our first trip over 30 years ago. While traveling on two feet or two wheels is the ultimate minimal-impact approach to traveling, we recognize that any travel has an impact and so we do everything we can to make the impact as light and as positive as possible.
When you're out exploring, you may welcome some time to yourself, but when needed, we are there. We pioneered on-trip vehicle support and we continue to perfect it. Read more about On-Trip Support.
Local experts team up with your Backroads leaders, offering firsthand perspectives to enhance your overall experience. From explorations of historic and cultural sites, to culinary adventures showcasing traditional cuisine, to visits with special friends we've made over the years, we take you into the heart of a region with an immediacy and authenticity you'll never forget.
One of the biggest benefits of traveling with Backroads is the wonderful folks you travel with-adventurers who appreciate the Backroads level of quality, pursue new experiences with a passion and take their fun as seriously as they take their work. "People less interested in impressing each other than in having a good time," is how Departures magazine captured the spirit of our guests. Join us-and travel in terrific company.
Nobody knows families like Backroads. From our designated Kid Coordinators to extra vehicle support to custom-designed kids' bikes (a Backroads exclusive), we've considered all angles important to families. Each family trip balances quality time together and apart, with welcome opportunities for everyone to take a break and recharge-something that's virtually impossible to achieve when you vacation on your own.
Your Trip is Guaranteed
At Backroads we're so committed to providing you with an extraordinary experience that we guarantee the quality of your trip. We value our relationship with you, our guest, and want it to be mutually rewarding and long-term.
Our Leaders Make the Trip
You'll find Backroads Trip Leaders to be the best you've ever traveled with. That's not an idle claim-it's backed by the most rigorous recruiting, hiring, training and guest satisfaction programs in the business. View the full scoop on our leaders and why you'll love them.