A pair of guanacos standing in front of a Patagonian lake, with mountains in the distance.
Patagonia
January 27 - February 6, 2018
Explore the best of Southern Chile and Argentina on your grand Andean adventure.

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$8,995
land only, double occupancy
$1,995
single supplement

Patagonia has no peer on Earth when it comes to dramatic mountain landscapes. Yet despite the daunting habitats, an array of unique wildlife thrives here, from guanacos and condors to the elusive puma, which you’ll search for on guided treks. Explore every facet of this legendary land of rock, ice, pampas, and petrified forest on this all-encompassing journey to the remote southern reaches of Chile and Argentina.

Patagonia mountain landscape

Day 1: El Calafate, Argentina

Your Patagonia adventure begins on arrival in El Calafate, where you’ll meet your Expedition Leader and fellow travelers at a welcome dinner.

Day 2: La Leona Petrified Forest / El Chalten

Cross the broad expanse of a Patagonian steppe beyond El Calafate, admiring Lago Argentino and the panorama of the Southern Andes and Mount Fitz Roy. A hike through La Leona Petrified Forest reveals fossilized remnants of prehistoric Patagonia. Make your base in El Chalten, the small alpine-style town.

Day 3: El Chalten—Mount Fitz Roy Vista Hike

Embark on a scenic hike through the Magellanic forest, with stunning views of glaciers and the Fitz Roy massif’s magnificent spires. Hike above the Rio Blanco to the Mirador Piedras Blancas and listen for the groaning glaciers grinding down the mountain bedrock. Enjoy a delicious dinner at one of the modest, hospitable restaurants that abound in this charming town.

Day 4: Lago del Desierto/El Calafate

Drive through Los Glaciares National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, on your way to Lago del Desierto, a brilliant turquoise lake overlooking glaciers, waterfalls, and the Fitz Roy and Torre mountains. Cruise across the lake on an excursion boat, viewing the Huemul and Creston glaciers on the way to Glaciar Vespignani Reserve, where you’ll disembark for a short hike. Your destination is the Vespignani Glacier, one of 48 outlet glaciers that flow from the Southern Patagonian Ice Field. Marvel at the scale of the glacier and imposing north face of Mount Fitz Roy before returning to El Calafate for a late dinner and another stay at the Hotel Kosten Aike.

Day 5: Lago Argentino—Perito Moreno Glacier

This morning, enjoy bird-watching on Patagonia’s largest freshwater lake. More than 40 migratory bird species frequent Lago Argentino, including black-necked swans, flamingos, and silvery grebes. Your next destination is Perito Moreno Glacier, one of the few advancing glaciers on the planet. Nearly 200 feet high, it winds down from the perpetual snowfields of the Andes to its terminus in Lago Argentino, where it crowds the water with enormous floating rafts of ice that calve from its massive face. Some light hiking in the area offers us varied vantage points of the glacier and icebergs.

Day 6: Upsala Glacier Cruise/Estancia Cristina

A catamaran cruise across Lago Argentino brings us to the dramatic Upsala Glacier. Disembark at Estancia Cristina, an early 20th-century sheep farm where the traditional gaucho way of life once prevailed. After a classic lunch of lamb roasted on a spit, you’ll board 4-wheel-drive vehicles to reach a lookout with stupendous views of the surrounding peaks and Lago Argentino far below.

Day 7: Torres del Paine National Park, Chile

Driving across pampas and steppes, enter Chile and Torres del Paine National Park. A UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, the park is home to a host of wildlife. A remarkable array of birds, including eagles, hawks, lesser rheas, buzzards, and South American condors, live here. Dominating the horizon are the famous "horns and towers of Paine," igneous rock spires millions of years old.

You’ll stay at EcoCamp Patagonia, which offers low-impact luxury accommodations in the wilderness. Your domed suites are modeled on traditional Kawesqa native huts, blending artfully with the wild landscape. Warm and wind-resistant, these nomad-style dwellings afford superlative views and a complete immersion in nature.

Day 8: Torres del Paine—Salto Grande

Drive to the southern part of Torres del Paine National Park, stopping at several famous viewpoints, including the snow-clad massif of Paine Grande, highest in the range, and Los Cuernos, famed for its dark granite, horn-like spires. Follow Lake Pehoe’s shoreline to Salto Grande Falls, a thunderous cataract that pours into the lake from Lake Nordenskjold above. After a day of extraordinary scenic grandeur, a hearty dinner awaits back at EcoCamp.

Day 9: Torres del Paine—Puma Tracking/Laguna Azul

Travel to the eastern side of the park today to follow the sendero de la fauna—the animals' trail—that winds through a favorite puma hunting area. While pumas are notoriously elusive, we have been seeing more of these stealthy cats in recent seasons, and we'll hope to have good luck today on a nature walk through known puma territory. High rock formations flank the path, serving as dwellings and lookout points for the pumas, and your Expedition Leader helps you scout for signs of their presence.

If time permits, visit a nearby cave with ancient paintings decorating the walls. Drive to Laguna Azul in the northern part of the park, where on a clear day you’ll can see the iconic Towers of Paine from a completely different angle. Before you return to your camp, stop at Cascada Paine to enjoy one of the most beautiful views on this side of the park.

Day 10: Puerto Natales/Punta Arenas

Your grand adventure concludes today in one of the world's southernmost cities, Punta Arenas on the Strait of Magellan. Stop for lunch and exploring in Puerto Natales, an attractive town on Ultima Esperanza Sound. Once you reach Punta Arenas, you’ll gather for a farewell dinner to celebrate your final night in Patagonia.

Day 11: Punta Arenas/Depart

A transfer to the airport is provided for flights home.

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NATURAL HABITAT ADVENTURES,
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Tour
Highlights

Stacey Johnson, tour escort

MEET YOUR
SAN DIEGO ZOO ESCORT

Stacey Johnson, Director of Collections

Stacey Johnson, Director of Collections for San Diego Zoo Global, began his adventure working in zoos more than 30 years ago, first as a zookeeper, educator, animal curator, and executive director along the way. Growing up on a small farm in eastern Colorado, Stacey was always drawn to a career in biology and loves discovering new creatures and the connections between them. Presently he is coordinating San Diego Zoo Global’s Northern White Rhino Initiative, seeking to rescue this critically endangered subspecies from extinction. Stacey is the Jaguar Species Survival Plan® Coordinator, and his field conservation experience includes camera trapping jaguars in Yucatán, México; working with Pecos pupfish in Texas; and coordinating a portion of a brown bear study in Alaska. He is enthusiastically interested in the wildlife, history, and geography of the Americas and is eager to share the stunning vistas of Patagonia—not to mention the unique wildlife and culture.  Stacey will bring breadth and depth to the stories as we uncover how this region has dramatically shaped our understanding of the natural world, including important fossil discoveries, Darwin’s voyage aboard the HMS Beagle, and present-day conservation of wildlife and wild places.

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