Landscapes and Flora of Patagonia

Landscapes and Flora of Patagonia

Visiting: Buenos Aires, El Calafate, Torres del Paine, Grey Lake


Duration: 12 Nights

Physical rating: Challenging

Special diets catered: Vegetarians, Vegans, Meat, Please contact Brightwater with any specific dietary requirements

Tour code: BPAT

Private Available: Request A Private Tour

Tour operator: Brightwater Holidays

Group size: 6 - 25

Age range: 1-99

Tour operated in: English


From: $9485 $9296

Extra tourhub saving: $190

Tour Overview

Patagonia takes its name from Patagón, the name used by the explorer Magellan to describe the native tribes of the region, whom his expedition thought to be giants, and early maps and charts of the New World often referred to Patagonia as ‘Land of the Giants’. While the indigenous people were of above average height they were certainly not giants, yet this description of the region remains accurate. The reason lies in the massive mountains that rise from the plains of Patagonia, jagged, snow-flecked peaks that pierce the sky in an unforgettable display of natural wonder. Elsewhere we will see glittering glaciers and azure lakes, verdant forests and colourful shrubs, and a host of rare and endemic flowers, as we embark on a series of walks and hikes among the mountains. Highlights include El Calafate Mountain Park, named for the little shrub with yellow leaves and purple berries; the Moreno Glacier, the third largest glacial area in the world; the mountain of Lom del Pliegue Tumbado and of course the Torres del Paine National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that will also provide some of the most spectacular mountain vistas you will ever see. Our tour will be led throughout by Julia Corden, President of the Scottish Rock Garden Club and an expert on alpine plants. Walking fitness: please note a good level of mobility and walking fitness is required to get the most out of this holiday, with daily walks of up to 18km. Should you wish to opt out of any of the excursions you are free to do so.

Highlights

  • iconClick here to see route map
  • iconBoat trip on Lake Gray
  • iconVisit to the Moreno Glacier
  • iconStunning mountain views
  • iconFull day tour of the Torres del Paine National Park
  • iconRare and endemic flora

Itinerary

icon Day 1

We depart from London on an overnight flight to the Argentinian capital Buenos Aires and continue on a connecting flight to El Calafate in Patagonia. Regional flight connections, flight upgrades and overnight accommodation before or after the tour available on request – please ask for a quotation.

icon Day 2

Accommodation Name: Calafate Parque Hotel, El Calafate

Meals: Dinner

On arrival at the airport in El Calafate we will be met and transferred to our hotel in the town, which was only founded in 1927 and takes its name from the Calafate, a little bush with yellow flowers and dark blue or purple berries (Berberis buxifolia), which is very common in Patagonia.
In the evening we will enjoy a welcome dinner with our local guide.

icon Day 3

Accommodation Name: Calafate Parque Hotel, El Calafate

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

This morning we drive to El Calafate Mountain Park, from where we walk up to the meseta known as Balcones de El Calafate, to see our first native plants, which will include Notro, with its beautiful red flowers, and the aforementioned Calafate.
In the afternoon we drive (approx. 3 hours on paved road) to El Chaltén a small, picturesque village at the foot of the Fitz Roy & Cerro Torre massif.

icon Day 4

Accommodation Name: Calafate Parque Hotel, El Calafate

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Today we will enjoy a hike in the Torre Valley, which starts as a glacial valley in the Laguna Torre before reaching the town as a fluvial valley. After an hour or so of walking we will reach the first viewpoint over the glacial part of the valley. Depending on conditions, we will go on to reach the lagoon, a natural viewpoint over the ice-mushroom-covered spires of the Cerro Torre massif. We hike back to El Chaltén in late afternoon (18 km round trip if we get to the lagoon, duration around six hours, with not much gain of altitude).

icon Day 5

Accommodation Name: Hotel Pudu Lodge, El Chalten

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

After an early breakfast this morning, we drive to Hosteria El Pilar, the starting point for our walk along the Rio Blanco Trail, which meets up with the Fitz Roy trail after around two and a half hours of walking. This trail offers spectacular views, with valleys cloaked in verdant forests of Southern Beech, fed by azure glacial melt water, with the precipitous peaks of Mount Fitz Roy thrusting high into the sky, often shrouded by cloud hence the nickname ‘smoking mountain’. We will also see forests of Lenga and Nirre, more Calafate, yellow orchids and other dainty flowers. Birdlife includes Magellenic Woodpeckers, Caracaras (a type of falcon) and Chucao (resembling a cross between a robin and a wren). After resting and enjoying our picnic lunch at the camp in Poincenot, we will walk back down to town. (16 km round trip, duration around six hours, 250 metres gain of altitude).

icon Day 6

Accommodation Name: Hotel Pudu Lodge, El Chalten

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Today we will enjoy a hike on the mountain Loma del Pliegue Tumbado, which rises to 1500 metres, (with the town at 400 metres above sea level). It is located immediately to the south of Cerro Torre valley and offers some of the best views over the different mountains, glaciers and lakes of the region. From the lower terraces to the summit, we will enjoy spectacular views of Fitz Roy, Torre and the spectacular glacial valley in between them. From the summit the bonus is the sight of Paso del Viento and some of the mountains that protrude from the Patagonian Icefield. According to the ability of the group and weather conditions, we will probably stick to the lower terraces, though some may wish to try for the summit, a long but gentle climb in scree, accompanied of course by a trekking guide. The lower part of the mountain is covered by shrubland and Lenga forest with many flowers to see, and our guide will help identify various plants along the way.
We return to Chalten in the late afternoon and drive back to El Calafate.

icon Day 7

Accommodation Name: Hotel Pudu Lodge, El Chalten

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Today is set aside for a to visit one of the great natural wonders of the world, the Moreno Glacier, which flows down from the Patagonian Icefield, a huge sheet of ice which at 22.000 square kilometres is the third largest glacier area in the world, after Antarctica (14 M sq km) and Greenland (1 M sq km). Because of unusually favourable local conditions, this glacier is the only one in the world that exhibits a ‘closure and rupture’ process. The road leads to the very edge of the glacier, so will offer some great photo opportunities. The roar of the chunks of ice falling inside the glacier or from the glacier into the lake and the frequent collapse of seracs (large blocks or columns of ice, often formed by intersecting crevasses) into the turquoise water, not to mention the sheer scale of the glacier, will make this day a very special and unique experience. We will also stop to look at some of the flowers on the access road to and from the area.
We drive back to El Calafate in the afternoon.

icon Day 8

Accommodation Name: Hotel Cerro Guido, Torres del Paine

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

After breakfast, we drive to Torres del Paine National Park, which lies just over the border in Chile (211km, approx. 3.5 hours on paved roads). As we approach the park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, we will see the various mountains that give the area its distinctive and unique appearance: Paine Grande, the Horns, Admiral Nieto and the Towers. As we drive though the vast Patagonian steppes we will also take the opportunity to look for some of the great array of plants endemic to this dry region of Patagonia.
We will stay overnight in the town of Torres del Paine.

icon Day 9

Accommodation Name: Hotel Lago Grey, Torres del Paine

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

After breakfast we have a full day excursion to Torres del Paine National Park, where we can expect to find a very interesting array of plant species. These could include striking species such as various Lady's Slippers of the genus Calceolaria including C. biflora and the striking C. uniflora, the tiny Patagonian Alstroemeria (Alstroemeria patagonica) or the conspicuous Oxalis (Oxalis enneaphylla). Extensive shrubby areas hold stunning species such as the Chilean Fire-Bush (Embothrium coccineum) or the fragrant Escallonia (Escallonia rubra). We will also look for the most beautiful orchids of the region including Chloraea magellanica, Codonorchis lessonii and Gavilea littoralis.
We will also enjoy some stunning scenery, with further views of the mountains such as The Horns and Paine Grande and the lakes of Nordenskjöld, Pehoe and Grey. Overnight in the Lake Grey area.

icon Day 10

Accommodation Name: Hotel Lago Grey, Torres del Paine

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Today we explore the south shore of Lake Grey, a fascinating walk along the shore that usually collects the icebergs that the glacier calved on the far side of the lake and have been brought here by the wind. Later we take a boat trip to the north side of the lake, where we will see the huge glacier calving down into the distinctively grey waters of the lake, and disembark at Grey Refuge. From here we hike (around 4 hours) to Lodge Paine Grande. Our trail skirts the lake, going up and down the westerns slopes of Paine Grande, offering some of the most impressive sights of the Park. From the high sections of the trail, many different viewpoints allow us to see the south end of the lake where the blue icebergs gather and the mountains rise far in the distance above the Grey and Tyndall glaciers. We will continue to botanise along the way. Once in Paine Grande, another boat ride takes us to Pudeto and from there we drive back to our accommodation, at the end of a truly spectacular day.
Note: this is a walk of some 10 – 11 km, with a gain of altitude of 250-300m and will take around five hours.

icon Day 11

Accommodation Name: Reconquista Luxor Hotel, Buenos Aires

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

After breakfast we check out of the hotel and drive to the airport in El Calafate for our internal flight to Buenos Aires. On arrival we are transferred to our hotel in the city centre. Evening at leisure.

icon Day 12

Meals: Breakfast

If flight schedules permit, after breakfast we will be joined by a local guide for a panoramic city tour of the Argentinian capital, featuring sights such as the Plaza de Mayo and the Casa Rosada. Later we transfer to the international airport for our overnight flight back to London.

icon Day 13

On arrival in London the group will disperse or make onward connections.

What's Included

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    Drinks with Meals

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    All Domestic Transportation (including internal flights)

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    Accommodation

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    Meals - as per the itinerary

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    Comfortable coach travel throughout

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    Services of a professional tour manager

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    Entrance Fees

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Got a question? Check out our Q&As

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Will I receive more details of the holiday before I travel?

You will receive detailed joining instructions around 10 days prior to you departure, but you are of course welcome to contact us at any time should you have any queries.

What facilities do your coaches have?

Generally, our coaches have reclining seats, air-conditioning and toilets, however this cannot always be guaranteed as sometimes we have to use smaller vehicles. Toilets are recommended for emergency use only and regular comfort stops will be made throughout your holiday while travelling around.

Do I have to go on the included excursions?

Absolutely not. You are more than welcome to spend the day at your hotel or exploring independently should you wish. All we ask is that you inform your Tour Manager, so they are not left waiting for you to join the group.

Is there time to relax?

Although our itineraries may seem jam-packed, boasting access to some of the most exclusive sites across the UK and beyond, a Brightwater Holiday is just that: a holiday. Each trip will counter in more than enough free-time for you to explore places at your own leisure. And with most nights and the majority of meals being included in our tour prices, you can relax in hand-picked accommodation.

Do I need to be an expert?

Absolutely not! Although some of our tours are specifically focused on one thing, all you need to enjoy a Brightwater holiday is interest and bags of enthusiasm! Even on our most specialist tours, we take travellers from all skill levels, from experts to beginners.

    How fit or active do I need to be for one of your holidays?

    You need to be able to get on and off the coach unassisted, and most – but not all – coaches have a kneel facility that lowers the front step for ease of boarding

    Do you have self-drive holidays?

    Yes, we do – tailored to your exact requirements!

    What’s the luggage allowance on your coaches?

    There’s no fixed limit, but we generally say one large suitcase to go in the luggage compartment and a smaller bag that you can take onto the coach with you. For flight-inclusive holidays, we include a luggage allowance of at least 20kg.

    Where are your departure points?

    UK garden holidays generally depart from London, with additional pick-ups depending on the route of the coach, while holidays to Scotland depart from Glasgow, Edinburgh and Perth, with Dundee, Inverness and Aberdeen sometimes included. All Eurostar holidays depart from London St. Pancras and flight-inclusive holidays depart from one or more of the main London airports, with regional flights .

    What about the company that will be kept?

    For single travellers, those with a companion or even those travelling in a larger group, you'll find that the signature of any Brightwater Holiday is the company. You won't ever be travelling with a group of strangers, instead, you'll find yourself surrounded by like-minded people with a strong shared interest who will soon become your firm friends.

    What is a Brightwater Holiday?

    Bursting with enthralling, educational and enlightening itineraries, a Brightwater Holiday, by its very nature, is packed with bucket-list-worthy destinations, behind the scenes passes and expert-led experiences. From creating bespoke quality garden and special interest tours for groups and individuals alike, we have made it our business to make our guests' travel dreams come true.

    Why is there a single supplement?

    Unfortunately, single room supplements are charges that are often imposed on us as a company when we book rooms for group holidays. However, most hotels do charge less for single occupancy, and we always pass this saving on to our solo travellers in the form of a modest single supplement.

    How much are your optional excursions?

    Prices start from as little as £20, but please contact our friendly team for questions about specific itineraries or excursions.

    Can I pre-book my coach seats?

    Yes, you can. In the case of front seats, guests with limited mobility are given priority. Please get in touch with our friendly team to discuss any requirements you may have.

    How to get there? Easy!

    With a Brightwater Holiday, the journey is just as important as the destination and we make getting you to your tour start point easy. From organising group flights and individual travel plans, to offering accessible local departure and pick-up points, we go out of our way to ensure that your journey is as convenient and hassle-free as it can be.

    Do I need to have travel insurance?

    Travel insurance is required for all overseas holidays and is also strongly recommended for UK holidays – primarily to protect yourself against cancellation charges should you be unable to travel.

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Dates & Availability

Nov 29, 2022

Tuesday

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Dec 11, 2022

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Dec 11, 2022

Sunday

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