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Testimonial:
“Thank you for such a wonderful trip. This was a once in a life time trip and something I will remember always! This trip was perfectly organized with well-balanced activities and free time.... I have nothing more to ask for to make the trip better. I made so many friends and the guides were good, fun and friendly and made us laugh and enjoy ourselves all the time. I definitely recommend you to all my friends. Great job.”
Rasa G, Schenectady. NY
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Print Itinerary
Patagonia: Dramatic Landscapes and Glaciers of Chile & Argentina

GEC Trip Type: GROUP TOUR

*Solo Travelers: You're in luck! Free roommate matching provided - unless you'd prefer to purchase a single room.

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TRIP DESCRIPTION:

The group will travel:
- February 29 - March 6, 2020
---- Feb 29 - Mar 7 if doing the Optional 2d/1n Extension

Join the group as we explore the incredible beauty of Patagonia!

Encompassing the entire southern tip of South America and stretching from the Pacific to the Atlantic Oceans across all of southern Chile and Argentina, the Western Patagonia Region is highlighted by dramatic landscapes that dot the entire Southern Andes Mountain Range. On this trip we will travel to two of the most famous National Parks; Parque Nacional Los Glaciares in Argentina & Torres del Paine National Park in Chile.

Here we will travel by boat see immense glaciers crashing into the ocean, explore the turquois lakes formed by melting glaciers, and gaze in amazement at the sheer towering mountains that make these national parks so famous. We’ll even include an option to hike during one of the optional day trips, as well as include an optional 2d/1n post-trip extension to allow those who wish to trek an opportunity to take the 12 mile hike up to the most iconic and most photographed area of Patagonia; the base of the Paine Towers.

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Make Friends. Travel the World. With over 100,000+ members across the US and Canada, GEC is the largest and fastest growing adventure travel club in the world! GEC is a unique and exciting social travel club open to anyone interested in traveling to exciting destinations around the world with other like-minded adventurers. Membership is free... just sign up for a trip and you are a member!


Places Visited:

Group Tour to Chile and Argentina, Group Tour to Chile, Group Tour to Argentina, El Calafate, Puerto Natales, Mt. Fitz Roy Hiking, El Chalten, Torres del Paine Tour, Balmaceda Glacier, Serrano Glacier, Optional Hike to Paine Towers


Trip Itinerary:
B: Breakfast | L: Lunch | D: Dinner

Brief Itinerary:

Day 1: Arrive in El Calafate, Argentina. Evening Group Orientation.
Day 2: Full Day Tour to the Perito Moreno Glacier including Boat Ride. (B)
Day 3: Optional El Chalten and Mount Fitz Roy Day Trip with Time for Optional Hiking (B)
Day 4: Bus Transfer El Calafate to Puerto Natales (B)
Day 5: Day tour of Torres del Paine NP (B)
Day 6: Optional Balmaceda and Serrano Glaciers Sightseeing Cruise (B)
Day 7: Trip Ends OR Start of Optional 2d/1n Post-Trip Extension to Hike to Paine Towers (if purchased):
Day 7: Hotel Pickup. Transfer to Trailhead. Hike 12 Miles Round Trip. Transfer Back to Hotel. (B)
Day 8: Trip Ends. (B)



Detailed Itinerary:

Day 1
Arrive in El Calafate, Argentina. Evening Group Orientation.


Arrive at the hotel in El Calafate, Argentina. Airport arrival transfer options will be emailed to you as part of the comprehensive Pre-Departure Dossier we will send you about 3 weeks in advance of the trip.

The trip officially begins with an early evening group orientation meeting held at the hotel (details provided before departure). Here you will have a chance to meet your GEC Local Guide, as well as all of your fellow travel companions for what is sure to be the beginning of many great friendships!

Overnight El Calafate, Argentina


Day 2
Full Day Tour to the Perito Moreno Glacier including Boat Ride. (B)


This morning we will experience the majestic icy behemoth of the Perito Moreno Glacier, a favorite Patagonian destination due to its impressive expanse, accessibility, and continuous movement. After breakfast we will leave El Calafate and travel to the Los Glaciares National Park, so named for the abundance of glaciers found here, including Upsala, Onelli, and Spegazzini. Here you’ll enjoy views of the pristine streams, gullies, and the jagged peaks of Los Glaciares National Park with a professional local guide. We’ll also get an up-close view of the famous glaciers with a boat ride through a glacial lagoon. With luck, you might even witness the glacier’s signature movement and cracking sounds from detaching icebergs!

Overnight El Calafate, Argentina


Day 3
Optional El Chalten and Mount Fitz Roy Day Trip with Time for Optional Hiking (B)


Today if you purchased the optional El Chalten and Mount Fitz Roy Day Trip activity, we’ll travel north from El Calafate to to El Chalten; Argentina’s adventure and hiking capital and home to Mt. Fitz Roy and numerous lakes, glaciers and scenic mountains. The trip takes a few hours up the iconic Routes 40 & 23, but stops along the way for numerous photo opportunities including glaciers, lakes and Mt. Fitz Roy should the weather be cooperating.

Arriving in El Chalten, you will have to option to spend the day exploring the town and area on your own OR take one of several optional self-guided hikes. All trails are well marked and a map is provided... or join your Trip Leader on the trek of their choice. Most popular options include:
  • 1) Laguna Torre Trail: hike to DeAgostini base camp, one of the most classic treks of El Chaltén. It takes you up to the Adela range and the incredible Lagoon Torre where you often find a number of icebergs that have slid down from the face of the glacier Cerro Torre. It also offers incredible views of Cerro Torre Mountain and Glacier Torre. It’s about a 5-7 hour hike with an altitude gain of about 900 feet (300m)... El Chalten is about 1,200 feet (400m) above sea level.
  • 2) Laguna Capri Trail: a relatively easy 2-4-hour hike for unforgettable views of Mt. Fitz Roy above the beautiful Capri Lagoon only two hours from El Chaltén (altitude gain of about 900 feet (300m).

  • Returning to our base in El Chalten by 6:00pm at the very latest, our bus takes us back to El Calafate where we will arrive somewhere around 8:30pm.

    For those who didn’t purchase the optional day trip, then today is a free day for you to explore El Calafate on your own.

    Overnight El Calafate, Argentina


    Day 4
    Bus Transfer El Calafate to Puerto Natales (B)


    Today we will take a shared bus and transfer from El Calafate, Argentina to Puerto Natales, Chile. The estimated time for this transfer is 4 hours, but this all depends on the border crossing wait times. Upon arrival at the bus station, we will transfer to our hotel in Puerto Natales and check in. The reminder of the day/evening is free.

    Overnight Puerto Natales, Chile


    Day 5
    Day tour of Torres del Paine National Park (B)


    Today will be a highlight as we spend a full day exploring the famously beautiful and dramatic Torres del Paine National Park with a local guide.

    Getting a very early start, we will first travel to the Milodón cave, an enormous cave where the primitive Patagonian people and the Milodón, an extinct herbivorous animal, have called home in the past.

    From Milodón cave we will travel to the town of Torres del Paine for a short break before entering Torres del Paine National Park through the Laguna Amarga sector (National Park entrance fee not included and paid by each person on entry). Here we will travel through park stopping for incredible scenic photo stops of the towering snowcapped mountains, turquoise blue lake feed by melting glaciers, Salto Grande rapids, and the famous Grey Glacier lake. Arriving back in Puerto Natales, you will understand why people travel to this remote region of the world!

    Overnight Puerto Natales, Chile


    Day 6
    Optional Balmaceda and Serrano Glaciers Sightseeing Cruise (B)


    If you purchased today’s optional tour, then your day is all about boats, lakes, mountains and glaciers.

    In Puerto Natales we’ll climb aboard a luxurious boat and set sail northwest beginning with a scenic three-hour sail through the impressive Ultima Esperanza Fjord, a natural inlet named the ‘Last Hope’ due to its impenetrable nature, and up to the glaciers. First, we will sail by Serrano Glacier which plunges into the lake. We will then stop at the impressive Balmaceda Mountain where we can disembark for a moderate walk through the lush greenery of the forest. Entering the Bernanodo O’Higgins National Park, our guide will take us to an amazing vantage point where we will see the splintered peaks of the Serrano Glacier that deposits hundreds of icebergs of all sizes into the lake it carved out over the countless years of its flow and recession.

    On the sail back, why not treat yourself with a traditional whiskey or pisco sour cocktail, chilled using ice from the Serrano glacier... a fantastic way to end an incredible voyage.

    For those who didn’t purchase the optional day trip, then today is a free day for you to explore Puerto Natales on your own.

    Overnight Puerto Natales, Chile


    Day 7
    Trip Ends. OR Start of Optional 2d/1n Post-Trip Extension to Hike to Paine Towers (if purchased). (B)


    Today your GEC group trip officially ends in the morning after breakfast. Should you be heading the airport today, your Trip Leader or the hotel can easily help arrange transfers to the airport.

    OR If purchased, this morning starts the optional 2d/1n post-trip extension to hike to the Paine Towers. Early in the AM we will transfer about 70 miles from Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine National Park (National Park entrance fee not included and paid by each person on entry). At the trailhead, we will begin a 12 mile (19km) round trip hike to the jewel of Torres del Paine National Park.

    During the first 90 minutes or so of the trek, we’ll make our way up a series of switchbacks, leading to views of pristine Nordenskjöld Lake. We will then walk under the hanging glaciers of snowcapped Mount Almirante Nieto taking plenty of breaks as needed along the way. Eventually the trail levels off, but can dip and climb up to 200 feet (61 meters) as it snakes around a mountain, with the Ascencio River gurgling below.

    After several hours of hiking, we’ll stop for a well-earned 20-minute rest at Refugio El Chile, where you can purchase snacks and beverages (own expense). After a short break it’s back to the trail where we enter a lenga forest, an area with a sense of well-being and calm as you trod on soft ground amid the tangle of beautiful beech trees. With about an hour or so in the woods, you’ll emerge onto a moraine, a mass of rocks piled on top of one another and a clear indication that our destination lies ahead (and up!).

    Beginning the final and hardest part of the hike, the trail twist through a tangle of rock and gravel during a arduous ascent of switchbacks lasting approximately 45-75 minutes. Reaching the top of the moraine you are greeted with a breathtaking example of nature’s incredible beauty: a turquoise-colored glacial lake, surrounded by the three jagged towers called the Paine Towers. The northern tower stands 8,530 feet (2,600 meters) above sea level, the central tower at 9,186 feet (2,800 meters), and the southern tower at 9,350 feet (2,850 meters).

    Here you will have time to relax and take in this majestic landscape and hopefully glimpse condors swooping high over thermal currents.

    After a bit of relaxing at the lake’s edge, the same trail takes you back down to the trailhead where you are transferred back to Puerto Natales.

    NOTE: The post-trip extension trek to the base of the Paine Towers is a full day trek of about 12 total miles (19km). While it is not a technical hike that requires special training (as the trails are well traveled), nor does it reach significant altitude (about 4,500 feet), it is rated as difficult due to the total length and overall strenuousness of the hike. There is altitude gain on parts and uneven terrain for the majority of the trek. Please ensure that you are capable of doing this hike and consult a doctor if need be. That said, anyone in good reasonable shape and accustomed to hiking should be able to make it without too much difficulty. Regardless, no refunds will be issued should you turn around or not hike it because of weather (even if cancelled by the supplier), personal decisions, etc. Additionally, the local supplier requires everyone to have and show proof that they have travel medical insurance (we will send you details on travel insurance after booking) and to fill out a waiver before starting the trek.

    Overnight Puerto Natales, Chile


    Day 8
    End of Optional 2d/1n Post-Trip Extension to Hike to Paine Towers (if purchased):


    Today your GEC group trip officially ends in the morning after breakfast. Your Trip Leader or the hotel desk can easily help you arrange transportation to the airport for your flight home.


    Important Information



    This is a GEC small group trip that is open for anyone to join. You can sign up as a solo traveler* OR join with a spouse, friends or other family members. All are welcome!
    *Solo Travelers: You're in luck! No mandatory single supplements. We provide free roommate matching - unless, of course, you'd prefer a single room which you can purchase during checkout.


    This tour requires a total minimum group size to run. Please DO NOT purchase your airfare or any personal travel requirements until you receive a written confirmation of guaranteed departure.

    Important Flight Note: This trip Starts in El Calafate, Argentina (Airport Code: FTE) and Ends in Puerto Natales, Chile (Airport Code: PNT). Please be sure to book your flight accordingly once you receive your confirmation from us to book your flight.

    Prices are based on double occupancy in twin rooms. If you would like your own room (where available), please choose the optional single room supplement at check out. If you do not mind being paired up with a roommate of the same gender, then the single supplement does not apply.

    Visas: This trip Starts in El Calafate, Argentina and Ends in Puerto Natales, Chile and requires a border crossing during an included transfer. At the time of writing, Visas are not required for US and Canadian Citizens for either Argentina or Chile, however you will be required to present a valid passport with at least 6 months of validity following the last day of your tour. Please be sure to check with the Argentinian and Chilean Embassies in the country of your residence/citizenship for the most current requirements.

    The post-trip extension trek to the base of the Paine Towers is a full day trek of about 12 total miles (19km). While it is not a technical hike that requires special training (as the trails are well traveled), nor does it reach significant altitude (about 4,500 feet), it is rated as difficult due to the total length and overall strenuousness of the hike. There is altitude gain on parts and uneven terrain for the majority of the trek. Please ensure that you are capable of doing this hike and consult a doctor if need be. That said, anyone in good reasonable shape and accustomed to hiking should be able to make it without too much difficulty. Regardless, no refunds will be issued should you turn around or not hike it because of weather (even if cancelled by the supplier), personal decisions, etc. Additionally, the local supplier requires everyone to have and show proof that they have travel medical insurance (we will send you details on travel insurance after booking) and to fill out a waiver before starting the trek.

    Trip ID: SA1254
    PRICING
    Departure Dates:

    Local Fee
    $100.00
    Optional Add-Ons
     
    OPTIONAL: El Chalten & Mount Fitz Roy Day Trip (Hiking Options Available) – Day 2
    $119.00
    OPTIONAL: Balmaceda and Serrano Glaciers Sightseeing Cruise – Day 6
    $259.00
    OPTIONAL: Single Room (choose only if you want your own hotel room)
    $589.00
    OPTIONAL: 2d/1n Post-Trip Extension: 1 Night Hotel & Full-Day 12 Mile Hike to the Famous Paine Towers Base (Day 7 & 8)
    $387.00

    Price Includes
    • Small group tour of Patagonia in Argentina and Chile
    • GEC Trip Leader
    • Expert local guides on select trips
    • Full Day Tour to the Perito Moreno Glacier including Boat Safari
    • Day tour of Torres del Paine National Park
    • Bus transfer form El Calafate to Puerto Natales
    • 6-nights lodging in excellent mid-range hotels
    • Meals as indicated in the itinerary

    • Optional 2d/1n Post-Trip Extension to Hike to Paine Towers (if purchased):
    • 1-night accommodation in excellent mid-range hotel
    • Round Trip Transfer to Trailhead and Hike to Paine Tower Base
    Price Does Not Include
    • International airfare (see "Important Information" section below)
    • Airport transfers
    • Meals and beverages not indicated
    • Travel medical insurance (details)
    • OPTIONAL: El Chalten and Mount Fitz Roy day trip with time for optional Hiking
    • OPTIONAL: Balmaceda and Serrano Glaciers Sightseeing Cruise from Puerto Natales
    • OPTIONAL: 2d/1n Post Trip Hike to base of Paine Towers
    • Torres del Paine National Park Entrance Fees
    • Milodón Cave Entrance Fee
    • Local fee
    • Personal expenses & tips
    • Optional activities

    • Optional 2d/1n Post-Trip Extension to Hike to Paine Towers (if purchased):
    • Meals & beverages not indicated
    • Entrance fee to Torres del Paine National Park (about $48)
    Accomodation Included
    • 6 nights lodging in excellent mid-range hotels
    Seasonal Info
      Patagonia is located in the southern region of South America. While it is tourism season there and the weather is at its best, it is still a mountainous region with cool and sometimes unpredictable weather. The temperatures during the day can range from the mid-60’s (19c) in the towns right down to the low 40’s or below when hiking and cloudy. Shorts and t-shirts are possible some days, while pants and a fleece could be needed another day. A waterproof outer layer is always a good idea to have on hand when touring, while hiking it is an essential item (along with layers and other warm gear – an example packing list will be provided in the Trip Dossier sent about 3 weeks before departure).


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