The wilds of Patagonia stretch from the ice fields of Argentina to the fjords of Chile, spanning twisted granite peaks, sweeping steppe, and pristine glacial valleys. On a variety of excursions by foot, horseback, and 4×4, take in the region’s most spectacular scenery, from the imposing spires of Monte Fitz Roy and the Paine Massif to the calving Perito Moreno Glacier and its iceberg-dotted laguna. Delve deeper into these unspoiled landscapes to discover hidden turquoise lakes and rushing waterfalls, and get to know the culture of the horsemen who call Patagonia home.
Arrive in Buenos Aires and transfer to your hotel in the heart of the fashionable Recoleta district. Spend the day at leisure, exploring the area’s galleries and museums or relaxing at an inviting sidewalk café. Alternatively, go on an optional private tour of the city that takes you through the Plaza de Maya in the center of the historical district, into the antique shops of the traditional San Telmo neighborhood, and along the rainbow-colored houses of La Boca.
Fly to El Calafate in the southern Andes and take a scenic drive to El Chaltén. This tiny town is situated at the northern edge of Los Glaciares National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site that makes up part of South America’s largest ice field. El Chaltén is a popular starting point for treks into the surrounding mountains and will serve as the base for your first hiking excursion.
Take to the surrounding mountains on a trek beneath the dramatic ice-clad spires of the Fitz Roy massif with a private guide. Watch for rare bird species like the Patagonian parrot and red-crested woodpecker while passing through lenga forests, and take in spectacular views over the Valley of the Vueltas River, a stunning example of a glacially carved landscape. Your destination is the Laguna de los Tres, a turquoise lake framed by the jagged granite peaks of Monte Fitz Roy. Circle the shoreline for views over the nearby Laguna Súcia, and then enjoy a picnic lunch in this spectacular setting before heading back to El Chaltén for an evening at leisure.
Return to El Calafate and enjoy time to explore the charming town center on your own.
Spend a full day discovering the magnificent natural displays of the Perito Moreno Glacier. This continually advancing mass regularly calves great chunks of ice into Lake Argentino, the enormous fresh-water reserve at its base. View the glacier’s rugged face from nearby walkways, and then join a boat cruise on the surrounding waters for a different perspective.
A scenic drive brings you to Torres del Paine National Park, where you’ll settle into Tierra Patagonia, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World perched at the edge of Lake Sarmiento. National Geographic travelers will take an exclusive architecture tour of this award-winning structure, getting an insider’s perspective on the cutting-edge design techniques used to merge its form with the surrounding landscape. Sit down to an excellent meal with views of the peaks of Torres del Paine this evening.
Venture into Torres del Paine National Park today and choose from a variety of ways to explore, including hiking, walking, or horseback-riding excursions. Encounter the sapphire waters of Laguna Azul and the rushing cascade of the Salto Grande waterfall, and trek to a mountaintop for vistas overlooking the twisting pinnacles of the Torres del Paine. Along the way, keep an eye out for some of the area’s resident creatures, including eagles; condors; foxes; and ñandú, an indigenous type of ostrich.
Delve further into the park on an excursion of your choosing. Hike to iceberg-dotted Grey Lake, climb rocky peaks for spectacular views of karst cornices, or take a leisurely walk through the heart of the park’s carved terrain. Ride horseback alongside local gauchos across sweeping glacial valleys, enjoying views of the iconic Paine Massif along the way. Or visit a nearby working estancia, or ranch, and tour the property to learn about everyday life in Patagonia.
Spend a final day exploring Torres del Paine, setting out on one last excursion into the wilds of Patagonia. Or just enjoy the comfort of your lodge, relaxing in its state-of-the-art spa while taking in stunning views of the sparkling Lake Sarmiento, framed by snow-dusted peaks.
This morning transfer to Punta Arenas, where you’ll catch your flight home.
From your stunning base camp amid the sweeping landscapes of the Atacama Desert, set out to explore the red-rock formations, geysers, and flamingo-speckled salt pans of this spectacular region. Hike amid lunar-like sand dunes, climb the slopes of an active volcano, and bicycle to traditional oasis villages nestled amid one of the driest landscapes on Earth. Saddle up for a scenic horseback ride, if you wish, and enjoy exceptional stargazing beneath one of world’s clearest, darkest skies.
Suggested Itinerary: Atacama Desert
Upon arrival in Calama, drive to Tierra Atacama Hotel & Spa, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World located on the outskirts of the oasis village of San Pedro de Atacama. Situated on the edge of the Atacama Desert, the lodge offers sweeping views across the Chilean Altiplano. After settling in, take a behind-the-scenes tour of this impressive property with a manager. Learn more about the concept and history behind the lodge’s creation, and visit the solar energy and water treatment facilities that help it function sustainably. Then take a walk through the garden, discovering the properties of indigenous plants such as rica rica, a medicinal plant native to the Altiplano. As the sun goes down on Licancabur volcano, sip cocktails around an open fire on the terrace and stargaze beneath one of the world’s most brightly lit celestial skies.
Today, choose from a variety of adventures that will have your exploring the surreal, wind-sculpted landscapes of the Atacama Desert, the driest place on Earth. Hikers can climb the slopes of an active volcano, descend sweeping dunes into the lunar-like sands of Death Valley, or navigate the twisting passageways of the Kari Gorge—to name just a few of the options. Or set out by van to visit a range of spectacular sites, from flamingo-dotted lagoons to geothermal fields steaming with geysers to the world’s largest salt flats in the Moon Valley.
Enjoy another full day exploring the natural wonders and cultures of the Atacama. Bike past mystical rock formations in Death Valley, or cycle to some of the desert’s traditional oasis villages. Opt to go bird watching, visit ancient rock engravings and archaeological sites, or explore the desert via horseback. Later, if you’d like, unwind from the day’s adventures at the Uma Spa, where a variety of treatments and water features reinvigorate weary bodies. Tonight, explore the desert after dark on a night trek or an astronomy excursion.
After breakfast, transfer to the Calama airport and fly back to Santiago, where you’ll connect to your flight home.
This trip has an activity rating of light/moderate and suits a range of interests and abilities. Travelers should be physically fit and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods, navigating uneven or steep terrain, and climbing stairs without handrails. Excursions include city walking tours, boat trips, horseback rides, and a variety of hikes for different skill levels. There are several drives of up to 5 hours, and some hikes last between 5 to 8 hours on rocky trails.
Throughout the expedition, you’ll stay in accommodations selected for their exceptional quality, location, and character, including Tierra Patagonia, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World.
Top private guides will accompany you throughout the trip, and local experts will meet with you along the way as described in the itinerary.
Our accommodations are selected for their exceptional quality, location, and character. Below are several of the accommodations featured on this expedition.
Built into the curve of a bluff along the shores of Lake Sarmiento and offering spectacular views of the Torres del Paine, Tierra Patagonia Hotel & Spa is a celebration of its stunning natural surroundings. The hotel was selected as a charter member of the National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World collection and is a model of sustainable tourism, while also providing an exceptional guest experience. Suites have a two-story loft design with floor-to-ceiling windows; Superior rooms feature a large full bathroom; and Standard rooms offer a smaller bathroom. The lodge features a restaurant serving locally sourced cuisine, spacious lounge area with a fireplace, a bar, library, and state-of-the-art spa.
National Geographic Private Expeditions are specially crafted itineraries designed for independent travelers that combine guided excursions, fascinating insights into culture and wildlife, and top accommodations. These trips are designed to fit into your schedule. You choose your desired departure date, and we’ll make all the arrangements.
Prices are per person based on double occupancy and do not include international airfare to/from your destination or internal flights during the expedition. Single traveler prices are available upon request. Internal flights are $425 per person. Surcharges may apply to certain travel dates based upon international or local holidays, as well as local events and festivals. All prices and fares are quoted in U.S. dollars and subject to change. See the terms and conditions for this trip for more information.
This expedition is available October through March. April dates are subject to availability.
Due to minimum night requirements at some accommodations, departures inclusive of the dates December 20 – January 2 may require an adjustment to the itinerary.