This trip begins in El Calafate, Argentina. Plan to meet your guide and fellow travelers at the first night's hotel at 6:30pm for orientation. Dinner in El Calafate will be after the orientation. Dinner included.
This morning we rise early, have breakfast at the hotel, then depart for El Chalt�n. 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 witness the granite fin of Mount Fitz Roy rising up behind the turquoise waters of the lakes, and we?ll likely spot some �and� (a flightless bird similar to an ostrich). Upon arrival at El Chalt�n we start hiking on the Cerro Torre trail. We arrive at the first Mirador (lookout) after 1.5 hours of gentle uphill hiking and enjoy inspiring views of Cerro Torre, Fitz Roy and other nearby peaks. Continuing along a mostly flat, scenic trail which traces the original glacial valley, through patches of lenga forest, we finally reach Laguna Torre. The lagoon features the Torre glacier calving in the far side, and the Cerro Torre group and spires rising in the background. Upon returning to El Chalt�n we overnight in our hosteria for the next two nights. Breakfast, box lunch and dinner included.?
Hiking: 13 miles, Elevation gain: +1,950'; Van transfer: 3 hours
After breakfast, we drive to the trailhead and begin our hike toward Mount Fitz Roy, following the R�o El�ctrico River to its junction with the R�o 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, unique plants and several species of birds. Hiking uphill, we stop at the basecamp area where climbers stage their expeditions to Fitz Roy's 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, and the unusually blue, Piedras Blancas glacier. Following a picnic lunch, we return to the basecamp area and continue along the valley floor to the trailhead near El Chalt�n. Breakfast and lunch included.
Hiking: 13 miles, Elevation gain: +3,150'
Today we start our backpacking circuit. After departing from Chalten, we shoulder our packs and start the hike to Laguna Toro. Today?s hike passes through pristine meadows and lenga forests, offering spectacular views of the Fitz Roy range and Cerro Torre from a different perspective. We arrive at our tranquil forest camp in the afternoon and have time to settle in and explore before our first trail dinner together. All meals included.
Backpacking: 11 miles, Elevation gain/loss: +2,445'/-1,560'
We use 4 season tents for this trip. We spend all three nights of the itinerary in primitive, beautiful backcountry campsites without running water or toilet facilities. Your guides will discuss proper Leave No Trace procedures.
It?s not every day you get to zipline in the Patagonian wilderness! Our first challenge of the day is crossing the Rio Tunel. Guides have fixed a Tyrolean Traverse?similar to a zipline?across the river. Our expert guides fit us into harnesses and help us to zip across the river. After crossing, we start the uphill trek to Viento Pass (Windy Pass). The hike is well worth the effort as we enjoy unparalleled views of the Southern Ice Field, the second largest non-polar ice cap in the world. We descend from Paso Viento to arrive at our secluded and protected camp. All meals included.
Backpacking: 8 miles, Elevation gain/loss: +2,625'/-1,800'
From camp,From camp, the trail skirts the western slopes of Cerro Huemul for 3 or 4 hours before we start our climb to Paso Huemul, where we soak in our final views of the ice cap. Today?s trail is a balcony hike, offering splendid aerial views of the ice fields and Viedma Glacier for the majority of the day. What goes up must come down, so our afternoon includes a (very) steep descent from the pass through the forest to the idyllic meadows below. Our day ends on the shore of Viedma Lake, an iceberg-filled lagoon with privileged views of the Chalten area. All meals included.
Backpacking: 9 miles, Elevation gain/loss: +1,425'/-3,560'
Our final day of backpacking starts with an epic sunrise over the lake and Viedma glacier, with Huemul peak in the distance. Icebergs float serenely in the water before us as we gear up for the walk out. A pleasant trail crosses the grassy steppe to arrive at Bahia Tunel, where our driver will be waiting for us. We transfer back to Chalten, arriving at our hotel in the afternoon with time to shower and rest before our celebratory dinner this evening. All meals included.
Backpacking: 11 miles, Elevation gain/loss: +1,150'/-1,150'
Bid a fond farewell to El Chalten and Mount Fitz Roy. This morning, after breakfast, we transfer from El Chalten to El Calafate. Choose to fly home this afternoon or extend your time in Calafate. Breakfast included.
Van transfer: 3 hours