Great Patagonian Traverse

Great Patagonian Traverse

16 Views
15 Days
From

$7613

$7232

Great Patagonian Traverse

15 Days Starting in Balmaceda and ending in

Visiting: Patagonia, Argentina, Chile

Tour operator:

World Expeditions

Tour code:

PTG

Guide Type:

Fully Guided

Group size:

5 - 12

Physical rating:

Moderate

From:
$7613
$7232 (USD) The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$381

This tour is no longer available, please see similar tours below or send an enquiry

Tour Overview

This trek is sure to captivate the most seasoned trekker and offers the opportunity to traverse Patagonia, travelling its length from Coyhaique in the north to Puerto Natales in the South, mostly on foot and by boat via some of the most captivating and untouched national parks in the region. We begin in Balmaceda with a long drive down the Austral road to our lodge at Puerto Guadal, where the lake gives way to a breathtaking mountain vista beyond compare. Our forays into the mountains surrounding the lake set the scene for the rest of the trip. Our journey takes us via Villa O'Higgins, so named for the hero of Chilean independence, Bernardo O'Higgins, before joining our boat to cross Lago O'Higgins, with the Southern Patagonian Icefield in our midst. A recently opened pass between the shores of Lago O'Higgins in Chile and Laguna del Desierto in Argentina offers a unique way to continue our traverse and offers a side to Patagonia rarely seen by other trekkers. Of course our trip does not end there and continues to Los Glaciares National Park, home to a stunning array of granite spires including Cerro Torre and Cerro Fitz Roy and onwards to El Calafate where another perspective of the Southern Patagonian Icecap at the Perito Moreno Glacier is on offer. Of course no trip to Patagonia is complete without trekking in the Paine National Park. Here complete the 'W' trek and enjoy forays to the Grey Glacier, up the French Valley and the Ascensio Valley before we finally ascend to the base of Torres del Paine for one of the most unforgettable mountain views in the world, before driving across the pampas to Punta Arenas where our traverse concludes.

Highlights

  • Traverse Patagonia from the remote northern part to the south

  • Ascend to the base of Torres del Paine for one of the most unforgettable mountain views in the world

  • Trek the spectacular ‘W’ Trek in Torres del Paine National Park

  • Undertake day walks in impressive Los Glaciares National Park

  • Marvel at the magnificent Perito Moreno Glacier

  • Travel from Argentina to Chile via a little known route, crossing lakes and rivers by boat

  • Search for Patagonian wildlife

Itinerary

Expand All
Day 1 : Join Balmaceda (Before 12:00), Drive To Puerto Guadal Via Coyhaique
Meals Included: L, D

On arrival at the Balmaceda airport, you will be met by your World Expeditions leader. We have a long drive ahead of us, down the Austral road to Puerto Guadal, so it is important you arrive no later than 12:00*. If you arrive the day before the start of the trip and you overnight in Coyhaique, you will be picked up at your hotel in the morning of day 1 of the trip. The drive will take us from Coyhaique, the capital of the Aysen region to Balmaceda airport and then further south along the Carretera Austral. The landscape slowly changes as we drive. If time allows, we will make a stop at the La Capilla de Marmol (the marble chapel) which is a magnificent marble cave, sculpted over eons by wind and water, set on the emerald green to turquoise blue waters of the General Carrera Lake. The lake is shared by Argentina and Chile, the fourth largest and largest in each respectively. We will spend the night at a charming lodge, which has a spectacular view of the lake and partake of our first Patagonian dinner together as a group.
*Note: Due to flight schedules it may be necessary for an additional night pre tour in Coyhaique and we can help you book these additional arrangements.

Day 2 : Full Day Trekking In The Veranada Area
Meals Included: B, L, D

This morning we will set out by car from our lodge, which faces the Northern Patagonian Icecap, for a short drive before starting the day's walk. Our route takes us to a stunning viewpoint, where we will be rewarded with views of the icecap and its impressive glaciers - Leones, Nef and Soler. Patagonia’s highest peak, Mount San Valentín (4058m), looms large on the horizon. We'll also be on the lookout for fossils; remnants of an age when these mountains were at the bottom of the ocean. The presence of sea fossils indicates that the Andes mountain chain rose very rapidly from the sea, and is a reminder of the enormity of the forces which created this magnificent landscape. After a fulfilling walk, we will return to the hospitality of our lodge to watch the sun set over the vast Patagonian wilderness.

Day 3 : Trek To Lake Leones To View The Leones Glacier
Meals Included: B, L, D

Today a full day of adventure awaits us. We will take a jet boat up the Leones River (40 min) and enjoy incredible views along the way. After the boat ride we will walk for approximately 1 hour until we reach the glacier lake. Here, we will take a zodiac across the lake for a bird’s eye view of the Leones Glacier and see the point where the deep blue wall of glacial ice meets the aquamarine waters of the lake. After a picnic lunch in stunning surrounds and in front of the glacier we have the option for a 2 hour walk to the ice. Once we are back at the boat we will return to the lodge.
Note: Jet boat excursion is subject to river conditions and participant numbers. In case the jet boat is not available it will be replaced by a car transfer.

Day 4 : Transfer To Villa O'higgins
Meals Included: B, L, D

Today we set out by car following the Baker river, and will drive along the last portion of the Austral road towards Villa O'Higgins. The 'Carretera Austral' as it is known, actually winds itself all the way from Puerto Montt to reach Villa O'Higgins, some 1200km south, though the section we'll travel on is far shorter. The area through which we travel is the least populated, least developed and least visited in Chile, and the vast wilderness experienced along the route is captivating. On arrival we will spend the night at a rustic lodge with shared bathroom facilities (or refuge depending on availability).

Day 5 : Embark At Bahamondez Port, Cross Lago O'higgins By Boat
Meals Included: B, L, D

This morning we will join our boat at the Bahamondez port, and will cross Lago O'Higgins to Candelario Mancilla. The milky light blue lake is the deepest in the Americas, and has a maximum depth of just over 830 metres near the O'Higgins Glacier. Our vessel will take us to the foot of the glacier, one of the largest in the Southern Ice Field with a width of 3km and vertical walls up to 80 metres high, before returning to the port in the afternoon. We will spend the night with a local family at their estancia. The homestay is basic, with no hot water, though the experience of spending time with the people of the area outweighs the temporary inconvenience of a cool shower. Candelario Mancilla itself is a tiny speck in the vast wilderness.
Please note: Weather conditions are unpredictable in Patagonia and in case we can’t do the lakes crossing due to weather conditions or the boats not being operational, we will organise alternative arrangements which may result in an additional cost for you.

Day 6 : Cross Into Argentina Via Laguna Redonda And Laguna Del Desierto
Meals Included: B, L

After breakfast we will start our day's trek, which is around 15 km in total, taking us from Chile into Argentina. We will pass through the Chilean border control on foot. The first 5 km or so is lightly sloping. Afterwards the road is even until the hamlet of Laguna Redonda. Our main luggage will be transported by vehicle to Laguna Redonda. From there, we continue the trek accompanied by pack animals to carry our gear (1 horse for every 3 people, max. 60 kg per animal). This section of the walk is around 8 km, and is in on trails covered with mud and tree roots towards the Laguna del Desierto. On arrival at the lagoon, we will pass through customs and board our boat to cross Laguna del Desierto. The journey across the lake takes around 40 minutes and at the southern end, we'll be met by our Argentinean vehicle which will take us to El Chalten, a village in the heart of Los Glaciares National Park. Overnight Hotel/Lodge.
Please note: Weather conditions are unpredictable in Patagonia and in case we can’t do the lakes crossing due to weather conditions or the boats not being operational, we will organise alternative arrangements which may result in an additional cost for you.

Day 7 : In El Chalten, Los Glaciares National Park
Meals Included: B, L

We will make our base here and spend the next few days hiking in the Los Glaciares National Park. For two days, we journey into the park on impressive day hikes in the company of an experienced hiking guide. The options available to us include a trip to Laguna Torre and the base of Cerro Torre, or Laguna de los Tres and Fitzroy Base Camp. The valleys and mountains are all very individual in their beauty and we aim to contrast these views during our visit, as well as appreciating the birdlife and flora. Each day walk varies in length, however you should be prepared to walk for 6-8 hours per day and more, if the group decides to hike to Laguna de los Tres. Los Glaciares was declared a UNESCO World Heritage area in 1982, and after trekking in the area you will find it easy to see why.
Overnight Hotel/Lodge.

Day 9 : Drive To El Calafate And Visit Perito Moreno Glacier
Meals Included: B, L

This morning we will journey across the pampas to El Calafate and onwards to Perito Moreno glacier. This impressive glacier advances across Lago Argentino. We spend several hours wandering the many paths, that offer different vantage points of this calving glacier. The glacier is 4 km wide and 70 metres high and descends to the surface of the lake, almost cutting the lake in two. Occasionally massive pieces break off and fall into the lake becoming icebergs and creating huge waves in the process. The groans and creaks of the active glacier precede dramatic falls of the ice face. We'll return to El Calafate for the night. This is the largest town we'll have been in for some time and there are many restaurants, cafes and several fabulous chocolate shops to enjoy.
Overnight Hotel/Lodge.

Day 10 : Drive To Torres Del Paine National Park
Meals Included: B, L, D

We drive for approximately 7-8 hours across the steppes following the face of the Andes. The scenery is breathtaking, with great rolling hills dotted with stunted beech trees. We have lunch in a local restaurant at the border and transfer to Torres del Paine National Park.
Overnight: Refugio or camping.
NOTE: Today we will leave our main luggage with the driver to be transferred to Torres and will be reunited with it on the evening of day 14. We will carry our own “essentials” on days 12,13 and 14 (these will be left at the refugio on day 11 as we enjoy a day trip to Grey Glacier). All that is required is warm clothes for sleeping and clothes for the three day trek, which will be carried in your daypack.

Day 11 : Trek To The Grey Glacier Mirador
Meals Included: B, L, D

Today we commence the first leg of the famous “W” hike in Paine. Our trail offers stunning views of Lago Grey, the Towers of Paine and the Grey Glacier. It is immediately clear the scale of the ice and rock in this dramatic landscape. Towering above us are the Cuernos del Paine, or “Horns” of Paine, and Paine Grande - the highest peak in the massif. This morning is a 3-4 hour hike to view the awesome Grey Glacier and the Continental Icecap beyond. We return on the same trail to our Refugio, past mountain lakes edged with wildflowers and stunning views down to the larger lakes below. As a day hike it is possible to walk as far as you wish and turn around, although the trail today has fairly gentle undulations with few steep sections.
Walk approx 6-8 hours. Overnight Refugio or camping.

Day 12 : Hike To Refugio Los Cuernos & The French Valley
Meals Included: B, L, D

The hike can be relatively easy or more difficult depending on group preference. The easy option is to walk the direct route to Refugio Los Cuernos, which will take 4-5 hours. However we recommend taking a detour up French Valley, depending upon local weather conditions, to experience fantastic views of glaciers, waterfalls and be surrounded by the granite peaks of Paine. The valley is exciting because you hear the thundering of the river, and the creaks and groans of the French Glacier. The views down to the lakes and forests below are also outstanding. This side trip can be 4-5 hours, which means this day could be around 9-10 hours in total. Refugio Los Cuernos is set above the lake and has great views of the Paine Massif.
Overnight: Refugio or camping.

Day 13 : Trek To Las Torres
Meals Included: B, L, D

Our hike today will take 5-6 hours and follows the scenic Lake Nordenskjöld. We trek through awe-inspiring scenery today, passing by emerald glaciated lakes with the Torres del Paine Massif in the background. A steep ascent takes us to the riverside Refugio for the night.
Overnight Refugio or camping.

Day 14 : Trek Up The Ascensio Valley To The Base Of Torres Del Paine And Return To Las Torres
Meals Included: B, L, D

Early this morning, we ascend the Rio Ascensio to the base of the iconic towers of Paine. When seeing the great granite pinnacles of Paine, it is worth remembering that the Andes is the youngest chain of mountains in the world. One can imagine the great pressures and movements of the earth that created these spectacular peaks. The trek will take around 8 hours, with some steep sections. We will return to Las Torres, effectively completing the “W” trek.
Overnight Refugio or camping.

Day 15 : Drive To Punta Arenas Airport Where Trip Concludes
Meals Included: B

Morning transfer to Punta Arenas airport where our trip concludes. It is important not to book your outgoing flight before 2pm as the drive from Torres Del Paine takes several hours.

What's Included

  • Accommodation
    7 nights lodge/hotel

  • 14 breakfasts, 14 lunches, 10 dinners

  • Expert bilingual guide

  • Comfortable lodges and hotels

  • One group transfer included in Balmaceda on day 1 and from Torres del Paine to Punta Arenas on day 15

  • Refugios or camping (incl all equipment required) in Torres Del Paine and basic homestay/estancia in Candelario Mancilla

  • All national park and site entry fees

  • All internal ground transport by private bus for groups of 7 or more people, and public bus for groups of up to 6 travellers in Argentina. In Chile private transportation for all group sizes.

  • Horses to carry equipment on day 6

  • Boat trips on Lago O'Higgins and Laguna Desierto

  • Group medical kit

What's Not Included

  • Internal flights

  • Meals not indicated in the itinerary

  • Bottle water, aerated and alcoholic beverages

  • Tips

  • Items of a personal nature such as phone calls, laundry, etc.

  • International airfares and departure taxes

  • Visa

  • Travel Insurance

Accommodation

7 nights lodge/hotel
Most of the hotels and lodges we use can be described as 3 star accommodation. In smaller towns and villages hotel options are often limited and we might have to use more basic accommodation with a lower or without star rating. Please note that the star rating in South America is very fluid and can’t be compared to a western standard star rating, however you can be assured of clean, comfortable and well located lodgings. Basic lodge accommodation, refugios or camping in the National Parks. The refugios are bunk style accommodation with 4 or more people and shared bathroom facilities. The atmosphere in the refugios or camping is convivial and friendly and is part of the experience when trekking in the southern part of Torres Del Paine national park. Camping nights include tent, insulation mat and sleeping bag and shared bathroom facilities with hot water.

What You Carry

In your daypack you will need to carry extra warm clothing (depending on the altitude, location and weather), a rainjacket, water bottle, camera, valuables and personal items such as sunscreen, lip-eze etc.

Grading

This adventure involves trekking for up to 6-8 hours a day at a steady pace. On some days the amount of trekking might increase up to 9 or 10 hours if you take all the optional day hikes. You will need a good level of fitness and be in good health. Many of the tracks on which we trek are fairly well defined but sometimes we venture off on less used trails. The pace is steady with plenty of time to stop and take photos and quite leisurely in most cases but on some occasions we will have reasonable climbs or scrambles onto ridges to look out at the stunning mountain landscapes for which Patagonia is renowned. These are optional but well worthwhile as for most they will be the highlights of the trip. We recommend people be fit to enjoy these adventurous side trips. * Suggested preparation: One hour of aerobic type exercise, three to five times a week for the three months leading up to your trip. Hill walking with a pack in variable weather conditions or road cycling is also recommended depending upon the activity you plan to undertake.

Check out our Q&As

  • Who will be my travelling companions on the tour?

    We have offices on three continents which means your travelling companions will be just that – international and wonderfully eclectic. Part of small group travel means that although travellers come from various locations and backgrounds, you will be travelling with like-minded companions who, like you, are keen to share the experience and forge lifelong friendships.

  • What about environmental impact?

    We believe that adventure travel revolves around establishing a strong relationship with the people and environments in which we operate. Our responsible travel policies have been carefully developed to ensure that we minimise the impact of our presence and help to protect the regions we visit while contributing positively to the local community.

  • What should I pack?

    Your pre-departure documents include a detailed packing list with items that you need to bring. While most of the equipment for daily activities is included in your tour cost, some items like helmets and hiking boots are best brought from home. The pre-departure documents also include information on layering and recommended brands for various items to ensure you are fully prepared for your trip.

  • Do you operate a “single share” option and how does it work?

    Yes. World Expeditions does not require single travellers to pay a surcharge for travelling alone on the vast majority of our trips. Our holidays are primarily on a twin share basis, so if you are joining the group as a solo traveller, we will match you with someone of your own gender. The choice is yours however; if you prefer not to share, we do offer single supplements for private occupancy.

  • Are tips included in my trip price?

    Tips are not included in the tour cost. Tipping is a personal thing, do not worry about how much, or when, to tip. Tipping guidelines are provided for certain destinations in our pre departure information upon booking, however the best advice will be provided by your tour leader.

  • Am I suited to small-group travel?

    We recognise that many of our travellers have not been on a ‘group trip’ before. Yet what our departures provide is both structure and flexibility, allowing you plenty of freedom within the framework of the itinerary. You’ll find that with our maximum group size at 16, you’ll travel in a minimal impact style with a great group of like-minded travellers.

  • Can you advise which vaccinations are recommended?

    While our pre-departure kit provides information on vaccinations, we suggest that you consult your doctor, local government inoculation centre or a travel medical specialist in order to get the most current advice regarding vaccination requirements.

Reviews from Travellers on this Tour

William Redman-White(Alton, United Kingdom)  

Great Patagonian Traverse

27 Feb 2024

Epic adventure. This trip was recommended by a friend who did it a few years ago. It certainly met expectations. Fantastic scenery in one of the most remote areas in the world. Our guide went above and beyond to keep things together. The group stayed chilled out went things went a bit off piste as we were confident our guide would sort it. He did and with aplomb.

J. Hiron(Manly, NSW)  

Great Patagonian Traverse

14 Dec 2018

This is a trip to experience some of the most awe inspiring scenery in the world, which sometimes were coupled with challenging walking conditions in the famous Patagonian winds. Our Tour Leader, Herve, provided excellent organization and adaptability to issues that arose during the 2 week trip. Great accommodation and sustenance, comfortable transport in minibus and ferries. Highly recommended.

R. Donnet(Brisbane, QLD)  

Great Patagonian Traverse

07 Mar 2018

The Great Patagonian Traverse was a wonderful adventure with its combination of busing, boating and trekking through a variety of landscapes that were so different to what we have previously experienced, along with a combination of accommodation types. Each day was a new and different experience, many days with challenging tracks, but we were always rewarded with breathtaking vistas for our efforts. A really great experience!

Laura Smith(Montana, USA)  

Great Patagonian Traverse

14 Dec 2016

This trip is one of the best ways to see the less traveled areas of Patagonia. All transportation is prearranged which allows you to easily go to some of the hard to reach places. I would strongly recommend this trip to someone that wants to see as much as they can in one trip.

B. Holland(Dulwich Hill, NSW)  

Great Patagonian Traverse

03 Jan 2019

The Great Patagonian Traverse was a fantastic trip with a good humoured, supportive and energetic group led by an experienced and skilled problem-solving guide. Every day brought new locations and experiences and a chance to learn about the landscape, plants, animals and bird life and sometimes the history and economy of the regions. Routines were reasonable, and necessary variations of schedule were explained as they arose. Advance planning and fitness training paid off as did following the equipment requirements and researching blogs and experience of past trekkers.

Dates & Availability

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Dec 08, 2024 - Dec 22, 2024
$7613 $7232 (USD)

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Jan 05, 2025 - Jan 19, 2025
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Feb 02, 2025 - Feb 16, 2025
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Sunday - Sunday

Dec 07, 2025 - Dec 21, 2025
$8385 $7966 (USD)

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Sunday - Sunday

Jan 04, 2026 - Jan 18, 2026
$8385 $7966 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$419 (USD)

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Sunday - Sunday

Feb 01, 2026 - Feb 15, 2026
$8385 $7966 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$419 (USD)

Book with Confidence

  • Transfer as credit to Future Tours

    World Expeditions allows you to transfer existing payments to a future tour to avoid cancellation fees if you can't travel and inform world expeditions, 70 days before departure.

  • Low Deposit

    World Expeditions requires a minimum deposit of 250 GBP per person or the full booking value, whichever is less, with the final balance not due until 70 days before departure.

  • Cancellation Policy

    We don't charge a cancellation fee, here is a summary of world expeditions charges.

    Up to 70 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of deposit.

    At 69 days before tour starts: Forfeit 50% of booking price.

    At 35 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of booking price.

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