- Explore the magnificent peaks of southern Patagonia’s national parks
- Hike in the shadow of shark-finned Mt. Fitz Roy, one of the world's most iconic mountains
- Trek Torres del Paines' "W" route to the Paine Towers, French Valley, and Grey Glacier
- Stay in small hotels, hosterias, and an estancia—a working ranch
Southern Argentina & Chile share an immense, sparsely populated expanse divided by the Andes Mountains, commonly known as Patagonia. Here, granite peaks, spires, and horns tower over the surrounding plains creating some of the most impressive mountain vistas in South America.
Our adventure is designed for hikers wanting to experience the full range of the Patagonian Andes. Starting in Buenos Aires, Argentina's vibrant capital, travel to the small village of Chalten. We hike to the base of the spectacular Fitz Roy massif before making our way over the Argentine steppe to the magnificent wilderness of Chile's Torres del Paine. In Paine, we'll hike through the French River valley and ascend to the park's namesake towers for close-up views of these massive vertical walls.
Evenings are spent in a combination of small hotels, hosterias, and a working ranch. Prefer an opportunity to get out under the stars? Our Fitz Roy & Torres del Paine Hiking with Camping trip features the same itinerary with a few nights of camping below the Paine Towers and at Pehoé Lake.
- Day 1 - Enjoy a city tour of Buenos Aires followed by dinner and a tango show.
- Day 2 - Fly to Calafate and drive to El Chalten, at the base of Mt. Fitz Roy.
- Day 3 - Hike to Laguna Torre for fantastic views of Cerro Torre (10,265').
- Day 4 - Hike to Laguna de los Tres, a beautiful lake beneath Mt. Fitz Roy.
- Day 5 - Take a boat cruise to massive Perito Moreno Glacier. Overnight in a lovely estancia.
- Day 6 - Morning hike with panoramic views of the Andes. Traditional barbecue tonight!
- Day 7 - Arrive in Chile's Torres del Paine National Park. Hike past herds of guanacos.
- Day 8 - Full-day hike to the Paine Towers viewpoint (Mirador de Las Torres).
- Day 9 - Hike past Cerro Paine Grande into the spectacular French Valley.
- Day 10 - Hike to Grey Lake for views of Grey Glacier and the Continental Ice Cap.
- Day 11 - Stop in the Park Vistor Center before a final hike in Torres del Paine.
- Day 12 - Return to Punta Arenas for a farewell celebration dinner.
- Day 13 - Our Patagonian adventure ends this morning as we depart Punta Arenas for home.
Trip Itinerary and Details
Important Notice: Day 1 is the day you should plan to arrive at the meeting point for the trip. This may require departing your hometown one or more days in advance and traveling on an overnight flight.
Day 1 - Enjoy a city tour of Buenos Aires followed by dinner and a tango show.
Your trip begins today in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Arrive in Buenos Aires' Ezeiza International Airport this morning and transfer to our centrally-located hotel. After lunch, we join our local guide for a city tour that includes a visit to the Plaza de Mayo, Recoleta Cemetery and the colorful San Telmo and La Boca neighborhoods. Later this evening, we enjoy a typical Argentine welcome dinner and sultry tango show with our local host. Dinner and hotel included.
Day 2 - Fly to Calafate and drive to El Chalten, at the base of Mt. Fitz Roy.
We transfer to the city airport this morning for our four-hour flight (not included in trip cost) to El Calafate - the small desert oasis named for the abundant bushes that dot the countryside. Upon arrival, we're met by our trekking guide and drive across the open landscape, typical of Argentine Patagonia, to our hosteria (small hotel) in El Chaltén at the base of Mount Fitz Roy. Our route takes us around the southeastern shores of Lago Argentino, South America's third largest body of water, and past picturesque Lago Viedma. As we drive, we watch the granite fin of Mount Fitz Roy rise up behind the turquoise waters of the lakes and will likely spot some ñandú (a flightless bird similar to an ostrich). We arrive at the community of El Chaltén, in the foothills of the massif, in the afternoon. Time permitting, we'll enjoy a short level hike to Chorrillo del Salto Falls before returning to town for an orientation meeting and dinner. If skies are clear this evening, we can ponder the thousands of stars that form the Southern Hemisphere constellations such as the Cruz del Sur (Southern Cross) and the Corona Australis (Southern Crown) and look for distant galaxies and nebulae, like Andromeda and the Clouds of Magellan. Overnight in our hosteria in El Chaltén for the next three nights. Breakfast and dinner included.
Driving distance: 135 miles (3 hours).
Day 3 - Hike to Laguna Torre for fantastic views of Cerro Torre (10,265').
Today's hike takes us toward the southwest, along the Fitz Roy River valley. The trail is fairly easy as we cross some ancient terminal moraines left behind when the glaciers of the last ice age receded. We arrive at the first Mirador (lookout) after 1½ hours of gentle uphill hiking and enjoy inspiring views of Cerro Torre, Fitz Roy and other nearby peaks. With sheer walls topped by a mushroom-shaped ice cap, Cerro Torre's 10,265-foot summit is one of the most difficult to climb in the world. Continuing along a mostly flat, scenic trail through patches of lenga forest, we finally reach Laguna Torre. After a relaxing picnic lunch near the lake, we continue along the moraine for better views and photo opportunities of the Cerro Torre summit and the Ventisquero Grande Glacier. Our return hike takes us part-way along a different trail before rejoining the main trail that runs along the Fitz Roy River. All meals included.
Hiking: 10.5 miles (6½ hours).
Day 4 - Hike to Laguna de los Tres, a beautiful lake beneath Mt. Fitz Roy.
After breakfast this morning we drive to the trailhead and then hike toward Mount Fitz Roy, following the Río Eléctrico River to its junction with the Río Blanco, then turning south to make our way closer to the foot of the peaks. Along our route, we identify a variety of colorful flowers and several species of birds. We also notice the unique, apricot-colored fungus called llao-llao, which only grows on trees of the species, Nothofagus. Hiking uphill, we stop at the basecamp area where climbers stage their expeditions to Fitz Roy's 11,290-foot summit and enjoy the craggy panorama. Resuming our climb, we continue ascending the steep zig-zag trail to Laguna de los Tres (2 additional miles roundtrip and 1,300' elevation gain). From this small lake, we have outstanding, close-up views of the nearly vertical rock walls of Fitz Roy's east face, the impressive spire to the south called the Poincenot Needle (9,960'), and the unusually blue, Piedras Blancas glacier. Following a picnic lunch, we return to the base camp area and continue on to the valley floor and the trailhead near El Chaltén. All meals included.
Hiking: 11.5 miles (7½ hours), elevation gain 980' with option of additional 2 miles (1½ hours) and 1,300' elevation gain.
Day 5 - Take a boat cruise to massive Perito Moreno Glacier. Overnight in a lovely estancia.
We drive back to El Calafate this morning and continue further into Los Glaciares National Park, following the Brazo Rico section of Lago Argentino. At the narrowest point on this arm of the lake, we stop at a lookout to view the spectacular Perito Moreno Glacier, the only glacier outside of the Polar Regions still advancing. We observe and photograph the massive sheet of ice (three miles wide and 190 feet high) from various angles, as we walk along the paths that wind along the river bank, across from its snout. Weather permitting, we'll have our lunch overlooking the glacier before joining our guide for an hour-long boat ride on the lake for another close-up perspective. This afternoon, we drive to Estancia Nibepo Aike, an authentic working ranch that offers a glimpse into the distinctive Patagonian lifestyle. Comprised of nearly 25,000 acres and located in Los Glaciares Park overlooking the Brazo Sur arm of Lago Argentino, there are plenty of activities at the ranch and lots of natural beauty to contemplate. We have time before dinner to walk along the lake's edge and enjoy the solitude. Overnight at the estancia for the next two nights. Driving distance: 240 miles (5½ hours). All meals included.
Day 6 - Morning hike with panoramic views of the Andes. Traditional barbecue tonight!
This morning we set out on a short but steep hike towards the windy Filo de los Cristales peaks. The mostly off-trail route passes through typical Patagonian steppe and patches of forest with panoramic views of the Andes including Lago Argentino and the Perito Moreno Glacier off in the distance. After a hearty lunch and short siesta back at the Estancia, those who wish can participate in an additional short hike along the shoreline of Lago Roca and enjoy impressive views of the lake and Mount Cervantes (7,805'). Further south loom the mountains separating Los Glaciares National Park from Paine National Park on the Chilean side. Birdlife in this region is abundant and we may encounter upland goose, buff-necked ibis, Chilean flickers, American kestrel, and many more during our walk. Those who prefer not to hike this afternoon can choose from a variety of activities including horseback riding with a baqueano guide toward the Brazo Sur section of Lago Argentino or Laguna Frias (at additional cost), fishing, biking or just relaxing and taking in life on the ranch. In the evening, we savor a hearty Patagonian barbecue made with fresh ranch ingredients. All meals included.
Hiking: 5-6 miles (4 hours) mostly off-trail on steep terrain. Options for additional hiking this afternoon.
Day 7 - Arrive in Chile's Torres del Paine National Park. Hike past herds of guanacos.
Leaving the ranch after breakfast, we continue overland across the Patagonian plains to Torres del Paine National Park, a crown jewel in the Chilean National Park system. After passing through Cerro Castillo, a small village near the Chilean border, we get our first views of the Paine massif, towering above the plains in the distance. Upon entering the park (established in 1970 and given World Heritage status in 1978), we are often greeted by small herds of guanacos, a wild relative of the llama. We continue to the Sarmiento Park Station where, following a short break after our drive, we begin an afternoon hike. Our route follows a trail up and over the steppe-covered foothills, past small ponds and meadows where we can photograph noisy buff-necked ibis, en route to the Laguna Amarga guard station. Other possible wildlife sightings include red-fox, hares, flamingos and upland geese. We spend the next two nights in the comfortable Hosteria Los Torres located a short distance from the Paine Towers trailhead. Driving distance: 225 miles (6 ½ hours). All meals included.
Hiking: 4.5 miles (2½ hours). Elevation gain 650'.
Day 8 - Full-day hike to the Paine Towers viewpoint (Mirador de Las Torres).
Today, we have the option of taking a shorter hike near our lodge along the shore of Lake Nordenskjold or participating in a demanding, but highly rewarding hike towards the Paine Towers. We follow a trail that leads across the Ascencio River then climbs uphill along a steep path paralleling the river's right bank. As we gain altitude, we have excellent vistas of the Paine River, winding its way through the surrounding countryside below us. We cross a boulder moraine to reach the high cirque where we find the basecamp from which expert climbers from around the world attempt to scale the towers' walls. Before us lies an awe-inspiring landscape encompassing the impressive granite spires of the near-vertical towers, rocky moraines and hanging glaciers, all surrounding a lovely turquoise-colored tarn. After a picnic lunch beneath Torres Norte (8,530'), Central (9,185'), and Sur (9,350'), we descend the same trail back to our hosteria. All meals included.
Hiking: 11.5 miles (8 hours). Elevation gain 2,600'.
Day 9 - Hike past Cerro Paine Grande into the spectacular French Valley.
Rising early, we drive through the park to the boat dock on Pehoé Lake and board a catamaran for the 20-minute ride to the far side. The vessel is covered, but with clear weather most passengers stand outside to take in the wonderful views of the impressive Paine Horns. From the arrival dock, we follow a short trail to our lodge and, after checking in, begin hiking through the rolling foothills at the base of Paine Grande peak. We cross the French River on a foot bridge and follow a steep trail along the narrow gorge. Our route takes us through lenga forests on the southeastern slopes of Cerro Paine Grande (the highest peak in the park at 10,007') and crosses a few small creeks. As we gain altitude, we scramble through rocky sections of the mountain's boulder moraines to a breathtaking lookout point. On a clear day, we have fantastic views of the high peaks that surround us from this extraordinarily beautiful cirque. The Paine Horns (8,530'), as well as the Máscara (7,545') and Espada spires (8,205') are among them. We marvel at the geology of these incredible rock formations as we watch patches of snow break loose and thunder down Cerro Paine's rock and ice face. We spend the next two nights at the Lodge Paine Grande. All meals included.
Hiking: 11.5 miles (8½ hours). Elevation gain 1,850'.
Day 10 - Hike to Grey Lake for views of Grey Glacier and the Continental Ice Cap.
This morning we hike toward Grey Lake for a panoramic view of its four-mile-wide glacier. Crossing a dry, shallow valley, we contour around the lower slopes of Cerro Paine Grande watching for soaring condors along the way. Our trail passes a small, secluded tarn before reaching a ridge with fabulous views of Grey Lake and the massive Grey Glacier. Icebergs may be floating in the lake's grayish waters, blown from one end to the other by the strong Patagonian winds. Views of Cerro Zapata, (5,020') as well as several sparkling waterfalls cascading down the mountainsides add more drama to the surrounding landscape. Trip members interested in getting even closer to the glacier can continue further along our trail and get close-up views of its ice walls and caves. Grey Glacier is one of three glaciers in the park that originate at the Continental Ice Cap, visible on a clear day as a huge white mass on the horizon. Along the return route, there are excellent opportunities to spot some of the park's 105 species of birds, including grebes, coots, torrent ducks, oyster catchers and others. All meals included.
Hiking: 9 miles (5 hours). Elevation gain 985'. Continuing all the way to the glacier adds an additional 6 miles (4 hours).
Day 11 - Stop in the Park Vistor Center before a final hike in Torres del Paine.
After a short exploratory walk this morning, we catch our catamaran for the return trip across the lake and drive to the Park Visitor Center for a brief visit. We have the opportunity to examine a relief map, review the trails we've hiked and talk to the ranger about the geographical features of Torres del Paine. After lunch, we take a final hike - either along the black sand beaches of Grey Lake or in the secluded Pingo River Valley. This is a gentle, forested trail that offers different scenery and terrain than we've experienced to this point in our adventure. Finally, we drive to our final hostería, where we share our dinner and enjoy the play of light and clouds as the evening sun turns the Paine Horns shades of gold and mauve. All meals included.
Day 12 - Return to Punta Arenas for a farewell celebration dinner.
We leave the park very early this morning, heading south across the Patagonian steppes to Puerto Natales, a quaint fishing village overlooking Last Hope Sound. After a short visit we continue to Punta Arenas, one of southern Chile's main ports, located on the Straits of Magellan and considered the southernmost city on the continent. We'll celebrate our amazing adventure at a farewell dinner in a local restaurant and spend the evening in a small, nearby hotel. Driving distance: 225 miles (7 hours). All meals included.
Day 13 - Our Patagonian adventure ends this morning as we depart Punta Arenas for home.
After breakfast one group transfer to the Punta Arenas airport will be arranged for travelers departing today. Breakfast included.
Although we do our best to adhere to the schedule listed above, this itinerary is subject to change for numerous reasons beyond our control including weather, trail and road conditions.
Please check with us before purchasing your airline tickets to ensure your trip has the necessary minimum number of participants required to operate.
Meals as noted in the daily itinerary; all accommodations as noted; guide leadership and support staff; group airport transfers; all noted ground transportation within Argentina and Chile; tango show in Buenos Aires, Perito Moreno boat excursion and Pehoé Lake catamaran ferry; park fees.
International airfare into Buenos Aires and departing from Punta Arenas; internal airfare from Buenos Aires to El Calafate; 1 lunch; cost of medical immunizations; insurance of any kind; excess baggage charges; airport taxes; entry fees for Argentina (subject to change); alcoholic beverages or soft drinks; gratuities and items of a personal nature.
This trip is rated as Vigorous . Trip members should be strong, experienced hikers in good physical condition. This is a remote trip, with long (but spectacular) days of hiking and no easy access. Hiking trails may be muddy with numerous stream crossings and participants should come equipped with a spirit of adventure. To maximize your enjoyment of the trip and to avoid sore muscles, we suggest beginning a regular exercise regimen at least three months prior to departure. Recommended exercises include hiking, jogging, cycling and/or swimming. Get out on those hills if possible!
The weather in Patagonia is notorious for high winds and extreme variability. Days can range from sunny with temperatures in the 70s to rain, hail, and occasionally even snow. Nighttime temperatures often drop down into the 30s and 40s. Please come prepared for all possibilities and equipped with good quality raingear.
If you are traveling alone and specifically request single accommodations, you will be asked to pay the single supplement fee. There is no single supplement fee for those willing to share accommodations, and we will assign you a roommate of the same gender if possible. Please be advised that there are a limited number of single accommodations available.General Information
This trip is subject to the booking information set forth in the current REI Adventures Reservation Information. Please read this information carefully and call us if you have any questions. A full gear list and pre-departure information is sent upon sign-up. We highly recommend the purchase of travel insurance through REI Adventures. If coverage is purchased at the time of your initial reservation, the 'Pre-existing Conditions Exclusion' is waived (certain exclusions apply).
We look forward to having you join us for the trip of a lifetime! Why wait? Space is limited, reserve your adventure today.
Fitz Roy & Torres del Paine Hiking Gear List
The key to staying comfortable while on an active trip is layering. To obtain maximum comfort with minimum weight, you need versatile layers that mix and match to create the right amount of insulation, ventilation and weather protection. This gear list has been created to help you choose your clothing and gear for this trip. Try to bring only what is necessary—this will help you and the field staff.
- Trip leader first aid kit
- Valid passport
- Airline tickets
- Duffel bag - extra-large
- Duffel bag - medium (for the gear you will take with you on the ferry to Lodge Paine Grande for 2 nights)
- Daypack (approx. 2,000 cu. in.) to carry your lunch, camera, water bottles, extra clothing
- Luggage tags
- Passport pouch or money belt
- Rain jacket, waterproof and breathable
- Rain pants, waterproof and breathable, side-zip pants are highly recommended
- Insulated parka/ski jacket, down or synthetic, able to accommodate your sweater underneath
- Bring a few lightweight, easily washable items for travel and evening wear
- Midweight fleece or wool sweater
- Midweight thermal underwear tops and bottom, synthetic or wool
- Hiking pants, lightweight and synthetic
- Hiking shorts, lightweight and synthetic
- Long-sleeve shirt(s)
- T-shirts, synthetic
- Hiking socks
- Liner socks, synthetic
- Casual socks
- Sun hat
- Wool or fleece hat
- Wool or fleece gloves
- Gaiters, ankle-high
- Sturdy hiking boots, waterproof, lightweight, broken in, aggressive tread
- Comfortable shoes for travel and evening wear during nights spent in hotels
- Two (2) one-quart water bottles or hydration system
- Water purification tablets or filter
- Flashlight and spare batteries/bulb or headlamp and spare batteries/bulb
- Sunglasses and retainer strap
- Sunblock and lip balm
- Toiletry kit
- Baby Wipes or hand sanitizer gel
- Personal prescription medication
- Insect repellent
- Watch with alarm or travel clock
- Plastic garbage bags (2) to line duffel bag if it rains
- Rain cover or large plastic bag for your daypack
- Hiking stick or trekking poles
- Camera, spare media card and batteries
- Small binoculars
- Electrical adapter plug
- Spare contact lenses or glasses
- Ear plugs
- Reading and writing materials
- Travel pillow
- Several Ziploc plastic bags
Things to Consider
- Please remember to always pack essential items such as your passport, money, eyewear, a change of clothing, hiking boots and medications in your carry-on baggage, in case your luggage is delayed.
- Wind chill can be a significant feature of this trip. Air temperatures can be relatively warm, but when the wind is constant you can be robbed of body heat quickly. Adequate wind/raingear is very important.
- Cotton is wonderful in warm weather. However, once it becomes wet, it will drain your body heat. Bring wool or synthetics such as Capilene, MTS® and Thermax.
- Always test your layers before a trip. Your outer layer should fit easily over the inside ones without binding and bunching up.
- Make sure boots are broken in. Bring moleskin for foot treatment. Thin liner socks worn under regular hiking socks may minimize the risk of blisters. The liner sock should be synthetic, not cotton.
Feel free to give us a call at (800) 622-2236 should you have any questions regarding the gear list. The staff at our stores and Direct Sales (800-426-4840) will also be happy to help you with gear questions. Or check out www.rei.com/learn. The Expert Advice section on our "Learn" page has great information to help you prepare for your trip.