Glaciers, waterfalls, peaks, emerald lakes, snowcapped mountains, snowy passes, alpine vistas and very unpredictable weather! That's what this trip is in a nutshell...and if you're a true adventurer, you will not want to miss one of the most unique and impressive trekking destinations in the world...PATAGONIA -both Chile and Argentina!
The trip date is from Nov. 11 to Dec 4, 2011 but divided in sections so you can join in at certain points along the trip and do just a portion if you're one of the unlucky ones who is limited with your vacation time. This is mainly a trekking/backpacking trip with hikes scheduled for most days; other days will be for travelling via bus and planes. This is independent/unguided trekking...and because this is backpacking-style, we'll be staying in hostels/budget accommodations and you'll have to be up for the fast-paced itinerary as outlined below.
In this trip, we'll hit the following major areas:
ARGENTINA: Buenos Aires, Bariloche, Lake District, Nahuel Huapi National Park, El Chalten, Los Glaciers National Park (Fitz Roy & Perito Moreno).
CHILE: Torres del Paine National Park & trekking town of Puerto Natales
Part I: Bariloche & Lake District (Argentina)
Nov 11 Fri: Arrive @ Buenos Aires anytime
Nov 12 Sat: Take overnight bus to Bariloche in p.m.
Nov 13 Sun: Arrive @ Bariloche/Lake District in a.m.
Nov 14 Mon: Dayhike
Nov 15 Tues: Dayhike
Part II: Fitz Roy, Los Glaciers National Park (Argentina)
*Nov 16 Wed: Fly to El Calafate in p.m.
*Nov 17 Thurs: Bus to El Chalten/Fitz Roy in a.m.; free day/short hike (p.m.)
Nov 18 Fri: Dayhike (Fitz Roy)
Nov 19 Sat: Dayhike (Fitz Roy)
Nov 20 Sun: Day hike (Fitz Roy)
Part III. Torres del Paine (Chile) & Perito Moreno (Argentina)
*Nov 21 Mon: Bus to El Calafate in p.m.
Nov 22 Tues: Bus to Puerto Natales (Chile); info session @ Erratic Rock @ 3 p.m.
Nov 23 Wed: Bus to Torres del Paine in a.m.; hike to Torres lookout; overnight at Las Torres Refugio
Nov 24 Thurs: Day 1 of TDP Circuit: Las Torres to Dickson refugio (~18 mi./11 hours)
Nov 25 Fri: Day 2: Dickson to Los Perros campsite (5 mi./5 hours)
Nov 26 Sat: Day 3: Los Perros to Grey refugio (14 mi./12 hours)
Nov 27 Sun: Day 4 Grey to Paine Grande refugio (7 mi./5 hours)
Nov 28 Mon: Day 5: Paine Grande to Cuernos refugio (include side trip to the French Valley) (15 mi./8 hours)
Nov 29 Tues: Day 6: Cuernos to El Chileno refugio (9.5 mi.); El Chileno to Torres lookout for sunset (as an option) (16.5 mi.)
Nov 30 Wed: Day 7: Sunrise hike up Torres lookout (as an option); Chileno to Laguna Amarga; bus to Natales in p.m.
Dec 1 Thurs: Bus to El Calafate in a.m.
Dec 2 Fri: Ice hike of Perito Moreno Glacier
Dec 3 Sat: Fly to Buenos Aires & get crazy, do the Tango etc. on our last night
Dec 4 Sun: Fly home and be trek happy!
*This is a join-in city where you can meet the group. E-mail me if you plan to do join-in instead of the entire itinerary. You can come to or leave from Buenos Aires a day or so earlier/later.
Accommodations: Hostels will range from $20-35 per person per night. This will be reserved once a group is formed. Hostels consist of 2-6 beds in a room with a shared bathroom (or at times private for the group). Private rooms are available but cost a bit more. Hostels usually have a fully functioning kitchen, lounge, internet room, laundry, lockers etc.
Hike Difficulty: The day hikes in Bariloche will vary from 3-7 hours. The hikes in Fitz Roy will be much more strenuous and can be up to 9+ hours. Torres del Paine (TDP) circuit is the most difficult as you will have to carry more gear (sleeping bag, clothes, food etc.). To do Torres del Paine, you must have some recent experience with backpacking. If not, you MUST work on that before the trip. Otherwise, you're likely to find the trek very challenging & will impact your level of enjoyment. Prep hikes and backpacking trips will be scheduled prior to the trip. With that said, I strongly urge you to do the TDP circuit as it's a "not to be missed" part of the trip. It's doable. You just have to be willing to train and prep!
Torres del Paine Circuit (aka "O" Circuit): We're doing the full circuit (7-8 days, a total of ~75 miles) and you can choose however comfortable you would want it to be.
Refugios: There are huts, normally called "refugios", along the trail which have bunkbeds and mattresses to sleep on. They also offer meals and you can opt to do full board (breakfast, lunch & dinner). The pricing for[masked] season has not been published yet but from the past season the bunk costs from about $75 and up per night. With full board it can be $120+
Tents: Each refugio also rents out tents, mats and sleeping bags. They also offer meals and full board options for this one. With tenting, it would probably be around $35 or so per person + cost of food.
NOTE: Personally, I would choose to go with refugios. TDP is known for wind gusts of about[masked] mph in some sections of it. There's a lot more risk of losing sleep in a tent with the unpredictable weather (including rain). But if you are on such a tight budget and really want to do this trip, then you can opt to do the tent but be forewarned that you'll have to deal with some challenging weather and the possibility of having to chase your tent in the middle of the night if it flies away (so I heard!) or wet gear (Yuck!). If you think about it, because we're trekking it independently, we're already saving lots versus booking a tour group so not worrying about the sleeping conditions you'll be in by the end of EACH day is really, ehem, priceless!
Bookings for Refugios & Tents: The pricing has not been published yet for[masked] season. I will update this posting once I get information and let you know when you can start sending payments for this part of the trip. I would book the refugios/tents as a group so I can keep track of who's doing what. I'll email those who RSVP "yes" once I'm ready to take payments in order to book this portion of the trip.
International & Domestic Flights
You are responsible for booking your international and domestic flights. You fly to and from Buenos Aires. The current flight cost is $1000. Check out the flights via these websites: www.fly.com, www.kayak.com, www.sidestep.com. I can share with you my flight itinerary upon request though I should note I book mine via Continental using my miles (55,000).
Internal flights include the following:
1. Bariloche to El Calafate ($293) and 2. El Calafate to Buenos Aires ($190)
Websites: www.lan.com or http://www.aerolineas.com.ar/
Visas: Flying into Buenos Aires will require a fee of $140 that you can pay at the airport.
Buenos Aires to Bariloche: This is a luxurious overnight bus with fully reclining seats, meals and drinks. Yeah!
El Calafate to El Chalten (round-trip): 2-3 hour bus ride one way.
El Calafate to Puerto Natales (round-trip): crossing the border of Chile & Argentina; 5-6 hour bus ride
I will ask for payments for the above bus rides once booking opens up. Prices for the above buses are not yet available. I'll email you when we're ready to book this portion of the trip.
I will provide more information on the other activities as we get closer to the date with cost info & detailed description of the activities. The activies include:
1. Ice hike of Perito Moreno (non-tehnical trekking on ice) - check out the photos online. It's amazing!
2. Multi-day treks in Bariloche while staying overnight in refugios. This is weather dependent & to be discussed by the group. There are other activities in Bariloche including hanggliding, rafting, kayaking etc.
Gear List: A gear list will be provided to paid attendees but definitely you should have a sleeping bag, a good pair of hiking shoes and a sturdy backpack (60 liters or more).
Interested and Want More Info?
I will be scheduling a get together/meeting at some point to talk about the trip and meet those who are interested. So, if you're all psyched about this like I am, then RSVP "yes". That way I can notify you about future get-togethers and changes. (Please note that some portions of the itinerary above are tentative and may be subject to further discussion and changes).