Essence of Patagonia

Dip your toes into the best of Argentina’s extremes, from the cosmopolitan lifestyle of Buenos Aires to the rugged wilderness of Patagonia. Explore Buenos Aires, the “Paris of South America,” admiring its most beautiful neighborhoods characterized by the neo-classical and art deco architecture brought by French and Italian immigrants in the late 19th century. A walk through the Recoleta Cemetery and La Boca’s colorful caminito street, with ever present tango dancers, is a... READ MORE >>
Itinerary
Day 1 ARRIVE BUENOS AIRES
Day 2 THE FOUR BALCONIES OF BUENOS AIRES
Day 3 BUENOS AIRES - EL CALAFATE
Day 4 EL CALAFATE – ESTANCIA CRISTINA
Day 5 ESTANCIA CRISTINA – EL CALAFATE
Day 6 PERITO MORENO GLACIER SIGHTSEEING AND GLACIER CRUISE
Day 7 EL CALAFATE - BUENOS AIRES - HOME
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Itinerary
Day 1 ARRIVE BUENOS AIRES
Upon arrival in Buenos Aires, a Southern Explorations guide will meet you and take you to your hotel. Spend the rest of the day at your leisure, enjoying the many sights and sounds of this sophisticated metropolis. If you like, add in our Four Balconies tour extension for an excellent guided overview of the capital.
Day 2 THE FOUR BALCONIES OF BUENOS AIRES
The Four Balconies Tour draws first-time visitors into the stormy past and cosmopolitan pulse of Buenos Aires by highlighting four disparate areas of this magnificent city. You’ll visit La Plaza de (25 de) Mayo: named to commemorate the city's declaration of independence from Spain, here dissidents still gather for major political demonstrations. The most famous are Las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo (The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo) whose weekly marches have continued for thirty years as they demand answers about the disappearance of their sons during the notorious Dirty War. Other areas of interest include Parque Lezama, La Boca neighborhood, Plaza San Martin and Recoleta, one of Buenos Aires' most stylish neighborhoods, with wide boulevards, elegant homes, fashionable shops and art museums as well as the city's most popular tourist attraction, the Recoleta Cemetery. The Four Balconies Tour will orient you to the geography of Buenos Aires, explain some of its idiosyncrasies and make it obvious why this beautiful city is called the Paris of South America. After your tour, return to your hotel and spend the rest of the day at leisure. (B)
Day 3 BUENOS AIRES - EL CALAFATE
Morning transfer to the airport for your flight to El Calafate, the gateway to Patagonia. Transfer to your hotel and spend the afternoon enjoying this charming lake-side town. (B)
Day 4 EL CALAFATE – ESTANCIA CRISTINA
Early morning transfer from El Calafate to the pier at Puerto Bandera. Here you board the estancia’s catamaran for a 3 hour navigation across the northern arm of Lake Argentino with forays up the Upsala Chanel to view the face of the Upsala Glacier (weather permitting), among icebergs and stunning scenery. Entering the Cristina Channel leads to the famous estancia surrounded by towering snow-capped mountains and glowing blue icebergs floating in the lake. Arrive mid-day to meet the guides of the estancia to discuss the available activities. Enjoy a local lunch before heading out on your chosen excursion. After exploring the area settle into the estancia for the night. (B,L,D)
 
The lodge offers several activities to explore the area, here are a few of our favorites:
 
Estancia Exploration – First you will head to the old Secadero de Ovejas (literally, the “Sheep Dryer,” the building where the sheep were kept after bathing) which has been transformed into a comfortable dining area with full panoramic windows that capture the beauty of the area. After a healthy lunch, enjoy a relaxed afternoon and visit the Chapel, the nearby Rio Caterina, the museum (the old sheep shearing warehouse) and the orchard, amongst other sights.
 
4x4 Tour – We begin the day in our all-terrain vehicles heading up hill across the Cordon Feruglio. We drive through a landscape that until recently was covered by glaciers and has a great geological interest. Reaching 550 meters above sea level we can view the majestic Upsala Glacier from an angle only possible at the Estancia Cristina. We also see the Andes Mountains, Bertrand hills and part of the southern Patagonian ice fields. We take plenty of time to walk, explore and photograph this beautiful area. The whole tour takes about four hours.
 
Horseback Riding - There are two easy horseback riding options, each two hours long including time to enjoy a box lunch. The rides are not demanding and are appropriate for most participants, though previous riding experience is recommended. Both routes travel to lookout points from which to enjoy the amazing vistas far down the valleys. Upon arrival at the estancia, you can discuss which of the two riding excursions you prefer with your guide.
Day 5 ESTANCIA CRISTINA – EL CALAFATE
After breakfast you’ll head out on the excursion of your choice (horseback riding, hiking, 4x4 tour, etc.). Return for lunch before departing the estancia around 5 PM. The cruise back to Punta Bandera is about two hours then it is a one hour drive back to El Calafate. Settle into your hotel for the evening. (B, L)

Day 6 PERITO MORENO GLACIER SIGHTSEEING AND GLACIER CRUISE
This tour allows you to spend the day gazing at the most famous glacier in South America from several angles. You’ll glimpse your first breathtaking views of the glacier down a narrow arm of Lago Argentino with the majestic backdrop of the Andes. As spectacular as this is, the view pales compared to the experiences you’ll have later today. From El Calafate, it is about a two-hour drive on a paved road to reach the Perito Moreno Glacier. Here you will spend time on the catwalks, taking in the mesmerizing views of the constantly calving glacier. The area’s wildlife includes Andean condors, buff-necked ibis, black-chested buzzard eagles and ashy headed geese. An hour-long afternoon tour starts at Bajo de las Sombra where you’ll board a vessel to cross Lake Rico, passing icebergs. On reaching Iceberg Channel, the boat will stop at a safe distance to allow passengers time to photograph the Perito Moreno Glacier’s wall and watch for falling chunks of ice. You will be returned to El Calafate in the afternoon. (B,L)
Day 7 EL CALAFATE - BUENOS AIRES - HOME
Your tour of Patagonia ends with a transfer to the El Calafate airport in time to connect with your flight to Buenos Aires. Upon arrival transfer to the international airport. (B)
 
Key: (B)reakfast (L)unch (D)inner

Weather

When to Visit
  • jan
  • feb
  • mar
  • apr
  • may
  • jun
  • jul
  • aug
  • sep
  • oct
  • nov
  • dec

Due to the country's geography and location, Argentina & Patagonia offers a wide variety of climates. The Argentine mainland is mostly temperate, with seasons reversed from those in the northern hemisphere. The northern areas of Salta and around Iguazú are tropical, while southern Patagonia's weather is often cold and windy and always unpredictable.

Winter (from the end of June to the beginning of October) may be cold with some rain in certain areas of Argentina, while the Northwest enjoys sunny days and warm temperatures.

Summer (from December to March) is hot and sometimes humid in Buenos Aires; warm and dry in the Northwest with intermittent summer rains; and cold but sunny and sometimes windy in Patagonia.
 

BUENOS AIRES

Min-Max Air Temp

Avg Rainfall

JAN69-833.9
FEB67-814.2
MAR67-784.9
APR58-713.5
MAY53-652.8
JUN47-582.2
JUL47-582.4
AUG48-612.6
SEP51-642.6
OCT56-704.4
NOV61-764.1
DEC66-813.8
*Temperatures in °F, Rainfall in Inches

 

EL CALAFATE

Min-Max Air Temp

Avg Rainfall

JAN45-650.5
FEB42-650.3
MAR37-610.5
APR32-541.0
MAY28-451.2
JUN27-410.8
JUL29-391.0
AUG33-430.8
SEP44-500.6
OCT37-560.5
NOV41-610.4
DEC44-640.6

*Temperatures in °F, Rainfall in Inches

 

USHUAIA

Min-Max Air Temp

Avg Rainfall

JAN41-571.5
FEB51-561.8
MAR39-542.1
APR36-492.2
MAY32-432.1
JUN29-401.9
JUL28-391.4
AUG30-421.8
SEP32-461.6
OCT36-501.4
NOV38-531.4
DEC40-561.7

*Temperatures in °F, Rainfall in Inches

 

BARILOCHE

Min-Max Air Temp

Avg Rainfall

JAN43-700.9
FEB42-710.9
MAR39-661.2
APR35-582.1
MAY33-505.3
JUN30-445.5
JUL29-435.1
AUG30-464.6
SEPT31-512.3
OCT34-571.5
NOV38-631.0
DEC41-671.3

*Temperatures in °F, Rainfall in Inches

 

MENDOZA

Min-Max Air Temp

Avg Rainfall

JAN64-901.4
FEB62-871.3
MAR57-811.1
APR50-740.5
MAY42-660.2
JUN35-600.2
JUL35-590.3
AUG38-650.1
SEP70-430.3
OCT51-770.4
NOV57-840.6
DEC63-881.0

*Temperatures in °F, Rainfall in Inches

 

SALTA

Min-Max Air Temp

Avg Rainfall

JAN61-817.0
FEB61-796.4
MAR59-774.6
APR54-731.4
MAY46-700.3
JUN39-660.1
JUL37-680.2
AUG39-720.2
SEP45-750.8
OCT52-791.0
NOV57-812.5
DEC61-825.4

*Temperatures in °F, Rainfall in Inches


 

 

 

Maps

Essence of Patagonia

Pricing
Per Person
$2,845
Included in tour cost
  • All airport/hotel transfers
  • All hotel accommodations
  • All listed activities
  • English-speaking certified guides
  • Entrance fees for all scheduled tours, national parks & archaeological sites
  • Meals as indicated
  • Southern Explorations pre-departure services
Excluded from tour cost
  • Airport taxes, international and local
  • Domestic airfare within South America
  • International airfare to and from Central & South America
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Medical & travel insurance (highly recommended)

Essence of Patagonia

Trip Dates
Weekly Departures. Contact us for details
Available
Estancia Cristina
Hotel upgrades are available, please contact us to discuss your options.
El Calafate
Hotel upgrades are available, please contact us to discuss your options.
Buenos Aires
Hotel upgrades are available, please contact us to discuss your options.

One Day

Multi-Day

patagonia glacier trek
Our trip was marvelous from start to finish. Southern Explorations is the only way to really enjoy Patagonia. Because the territory is so vast, having everything planned maximized our experience and minimized the logistical aspects and associated worry. This was our second trip with Southern Explorations and will definitely take another one. - Anne Whitehair (Private Patagonia Lakes & Glaciers)

patagonia travelLuxury Patagonia’ exceeded our every expectation. The arrangements, the accommodations, the guides, the food as well as every location visited were as close to perfect as one could hope. The care and assistance from Southern Explorations prior to our departure was meticulous and informative. We will never forget this trip – one of the best in our lives. - Rosemary and Geoff Pierson, Massachusetts (Patagonia)

patagonia travelThis was a trip of a lifetime. The highlight was the Explora Lodge with unbelievable hikes and horseback riding. Also, the Perito Moreno Glacier was fantastic. I wouldn't change a thing. - Kyle Craig, Colorado (Patagonia)
 

patagonia travelEveryone at the SE office was helpful and returned calls promptly. We just cannot say enough about how enjoyable our entire trip was. - Kathy & Peter Brackett (Argentina)

mount fitzroy patagoniaMy father and I really loved Luis. He is just a super dependable, humble, smart and kind person. We invited him to dinner with us twice at Los Cerros because we enjoyed his company so much. My father and Luis spent most of dinner sharing stories about their passion for the mountains and discussing all the same books they’ve read about climbers who’ve climbed thee highest peaks around the world. I even had lunch with Luis in Buenos Aires while he was home for the holidays. Please make sure that Luis knows how much we appreciated him as a person as well as his skills as a guide. We couldn’t have asked for a better guide. We enjoyed all the hotels. The staff at the Sheheun in El Calafate were very attentive and kind. I liked the fact that it was a few blocks out of the main street. We had a lovely view from our room. I cannot say enough about Los Cerros. The hotel was lovely. Everyone on staff was so friendly - the airport transfer driver, the wait staff, the receptionists, and the manager. They treated both my father and I like royalty and yet like family. I really hope to return. I thought the entire staff with whom I had contact at Southern Explorations - Jonathan, Justin, Eric and Marisa - were incredibly competent, communicative and genuinely enthusiastic about what they do. I felt from the very beginning that I could trust you folks. I just had a good feeling about you all. Thanks so much. It was an unforgettable trip with my dad. - Virginia Roberson (Patagonia)

 
patagonia travelWe thoroughly enjoyed our trip. The Hosteria del Fuego in Ushuaia was our best experience. I have never slept so well while on a trip. All accommodations exceeded my expectations, however. We especially enjoyed the picnic lunch in Ushuaia. Also, the tea in Gaiman was outstanding. We would definitely consider Southern Explorations again if they offered a trip to a desired destination. We have a lot of other places we want to go, though, so wouldn’t know when we might go back to South America. - The Rambow Family, Houston (Patagonia)

We just returned from our South American adventure this morning, but I wanted to write you to thank you for helping us put together a fantastic vacation. Our friends called it the 'trip of a lifetime', that included the 'hike of a lifetime' and the 'kayak paddling day of a lifetime' for them. You made it so easy to have a great adventure. Thanks again for all your help. - Heidi and Michael Rotberg (Argentina Mountains & Wineries)  

Thank you for planning an amazing trip for us. Everything was beyond wonderful... and ran so smoothly. We so enjoyed our guides...who took us on harder hikes, just like we wanted. We especially loved El Chalten... and of course the Eolo Hotel. I think the glacial hike was one of the most beautiful walks we have ever taken. So appreciate all the effort your agency put into our trip. I WILL definetely travel with you again. - Lisa Goldman (Luxury Patagonia) 

It was a wonderful trip and Southern Explorations really did a marvelous job of putting everything together for us. Thank You. We have had nothing but fantastic memories and have spoken to many people about Southern explorations and what a nice job you guys did putting everything together. Peru and other South America ventures will happen. I will be in touch. - Steve Andryk (Wisconsin) (Luxury Patagonia)

We were extremely pleased with the services provided by Southern Explorations...not only the extensive itinerary for Patagonia, but also the care and attention to detail that was delivered at every step of the way. It sure made this trip easy for us...everything was extremely well organized. We enjoyed the variety of activities and loved the guides....they were truly outstanding. - Joyce & Garry Mammel, Canada (Patagonia)

Southern Explorations created an amazing custom trip to one of the most beautiful places on earth. They worked with us to fine tune the details of what our perfect vacation to Patagonia would be. The reservations, the accommodations, the transfers and the guides were spot on, very informative and professional. Will we use Southern Explorations for our next trip to the southern hemisphere? You can be certain of that. - Jim Balsitis and Kathy Kalp (Patagonia)

I chose Southern Explorations for the combination of interesting itineraries and your high rating on customer satisfaction. I made the right choice. I will gladly recommend you to others. - Pat Harding, Texas (Iguazu, Lakes District, Mendoza & Santiago)

From arrival to departure this trip, from an organizational stand point, felt like a ballet… seamless and fluid. We couldn’t have done it without you – Thanks Southern Explorations! - Lori Schrader, New York (Patagonia)

Our experience planning a trip to Patagonia in South America with Southern Explorations exceeded my highest expectations!  Everything was incredibly well organized, the hotels they booked for us were very nice, the guides and people who transported us all spoke our language (English).  When my husband got very sick and we had to alter our plans,  they were on top of rebooking flights and canceling excursions, and handled all of the logistics for us.  I would highly recommend the services provided by Southern Explorations, and will certainly use them for all future travel planning that we do!! - Kristi Holland, Alabama (Patagonia)

Our words to describe our trip are Spectacular, Exciting, and Remote! We got to see basically everything we had hoped for, and more! - Ann Huston, California (Patagonia)

My daughter and I thoroughly enjoyed all the activities in Patagonia and Southern Explorations made the trip smooth and easy. From the hotels, to the food, to the guides, and the outings, we loved it all. We would recommend it to all our friends and family! - Miriam Derman, Illinois (Patagonia)

 

Argentina - Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How do I choose an itinerary?
A: We offer a variety of pre-planned tours online and we’d love to design a custom trip just for you. Take a look at what we have online, then call an Adventure Travel Coordinator to discuss the trip that best fits your timeframe, budget and interests.
Q: Can I make changes or additions to these tours?
A: Yes! We are happy to modify any tour to meet your needs and also add pre and post-excursion extensions. If you sign up for a group departure we cannot change the group portion, but we can add extensions before and after.
Q: When is the best time to go to Argentina?
A: Argentina’s large size and geographic orientation means it covers many climatic zone and different areas are better to visit during different times of the year. In the south, Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego are best visited from October through April. In the north, the season is inversed and your best time to travel is from April through November. Buenos Aires and the wine country around Mendoza can be visited year round.
Q: What is the weather like in Argentina?
A: The weather ranges from temperate summers and cold, snowy winters in the south to rainy summers and dry, warm winters in the north. You will find a detailed weather chart on the Overview page of each trip. You can also call your Adventure Travel Coordinator to discuss the weather trends for your trip.
Q: What is a typical day like in Argentina? 
A: The typical day varies widely from trip to trip, but all tours will have full days with guided exploration. There will be time for rest and relaxation, as well as independent exploration of the cities and towns we visit. Due to the remote nature of Argentina’s most scenic areas, some long travel days will be required.
Q: How physically fit do I need to be to enjoy a trip to Argentina? 
A: As long as you are able to walk a couple of miles at a leisurely pace and comfortably navigate uneven terrain, you will be able to enjoy most of our tours. Some of our more adventurous tours include activities like kayaking, ice climbing and hikes up to 12 miles. Please check the physical ratings on our trip pages or contact your Adventure Travel Coordinator to see if a particular itinerary is a good fit for you.
Q: How much time do we need to visit Argentina?
A: Because of the vast size of Argentina we recommend at least seven days. If you wish to visit multiple regions within Argentina we recommend 12 days or more.
Q: How far in advance should I book?
A: As a rule, the further in advance you can plan, the more options you will have. We recommend planning a trip at three to nine months in advance, but if you want to stay at very specific luxury hotels or travel over a holiday then we recommend planning nine months to a year in advance.
Q: What are your booking and cancellation policies?
A: Click here to see our booking and cancellation policies.
Q: Do you use certified guides?
A: The guides on all of our tours are experienced, fluent in English and hold a degree in a related field. The guides are experienced in the outdoors and trained in basic first aid. We tend to use the same guides as they are accustomed to the trips we offer and understand the Southern Explorations commitment to quality.
Q: What kind of accommodations can I expect?
A: We primarily work with 4-star hotels in Argentina and the occasional 3-star property, provided they meet our standards. We also work with several amazing 5-star properties. All of our hotels are clean, comfortable, well-located, offer en suite bathrooms and have been personally vetted by a Southern Explorations staff member.
Q: Do tours include airfare?
A: We will confirm all airfare within South America and this price is listed separately from our base tour costs. You are responsible for booking international flights to/from Argentina.
Q: How many people are on your tours?
A: Our Argentina trips are generally limited to 8 travelers, although some areas (all-inclusive lodge stays and cruises) may require that we form larger groups with other travelers.
Q: Will I get more information on packing, vaccines, currency, electricity, etc.?
A: After booking you will receive a link to our online trip portal, which includes all of the need-to-know information that is specific to your itinerary.  This includes packing lists, restaurant recommendations, tipping guides, FAQs, vaccine recommendations and currency information. Your Adventure Travel Coordinator will also be a great resource for any other information you may need.
Q: I read about a “Reciprocity Fee” to enter Argentina, do I need to pay that?
A:

There is no longer a “Reciprocity Fee” required for travelers carrying US, Canadian or Australian Passports. If you carry a passport from a different country please check with your nearest Argentine consulate for more information.