Patagonia – Trekking in Paine & FitzRoy

FROM: Chile and Argentina 
ADVENTURE: Trekking, Optional Horseback Riding 16 days   
Day hike in stunning Torres del Paine National Park
Day hike near the awesome Fitz Roy massif and Los Glaciares National Park
Hike onto the Moreno Glacier using crampons
Tour leaders are seasoned, mature, responsible, and most of all, are experts in their field. Simply put, they are the best. They know the area intimately, live there, and have come to know the destination over many years. These individuals are highly respected for their knowledge, communication skills, but most of all for their friendly attitude and their ability to provide the personal attention that will make your journey a wonderful experience.
Juan Luis “Janko” Gorse. Juan is a specialist at guiding exploratory trips in Southern Patagonia. He has developed numerous trips in remote and untraveled areas. Janko has been guiding trips in Patagonia since 1988 and has been certified by the Mountain Guide Association.
Sebastian De La Cruz. Sebastian was born in Switzerland, but moved to Argentina when he was six years old. He began mountain climbing when he was 13, and at age 16 he climbed Mt. Fitz. Now at age 33, he is considered one of Patagonia’s best climbers. He has completed the first ever Icecap crossing North–South as well as the transpolar crossing on foot. He was the logistic organizer for the 1998 Eco-Challenge in Morocco and the 1999 Eco-Challenge in Patagonia
The adventurous treks on this expedition take in the spectacular views in Torres Del Paine and Los Glaciares National Parks, home to Mt. Fitz Roy and the Moreno Glacier. Each day of hiking presents some of the most spectacular scenery on Earth!
Torres del Paine is a destination that sets standards for sheer sensory impact. The Towers of Paine, and the rest of the Paine massif— truly one of the earth’s scenic masterpieces. These mountains are 8,000 to 10,000 ft. towers of pinkish-gray granite capped by striking by peaks of jet-black slate. Rising out of the Patagonian Ice Cap (third largest ice cap on Earth), these spires dominate every view in the park and seem to leap into the clouds from the floor of the valley. They are surrounded by a necklace of turquoise glacial lakes, seven glaciers, and beech forests. You will come across herds of guanacos (wild llamas) that allow you to get within a thrilling 15 yards. In addition to guanacos you will likely see the lesser rhea (American ostrich), red and gray foxes, condors, flamingos, and perhaps pumas (cougar).
Hike for five stupendous days, the views you encounter will be nothing short of awesome. Los Glaciares, covering more than 6000 sq. km. of southern Argentina, offers a remarkable combination of spectacular mountain ranges, breathtaking glaciers, vast emerald green lakes, and rare plants and animals. At the far north end of Los Glaciares lies one of the most magnificent and famous mountain areas in the Andes. Here the legendary peaks of Cerro Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre rise abruptly from the Patagonian steppes. Your day hikes will encompass incredible views of each, circumnavigate these magnificent formations. You will hike on the Moreno Glacier, one of the most stunning glaciers in the world. Galen Rowell, the renowned outdoor photographer, has called this “one of the top ten photography destinations on earth”.

Begin in Buenos Aires after exploring the city. Day three head to Chalten (Los Glaciares National Park). Fly to Calefate and drive 3 1/2 hours to Chalten. This village is near Mt. Fitz Roy along the Patagonian Steppes. You will have time in the afternoon to explore the nearby peaks. Overnight El Puma.
Day 4 – Head to Rio Blanco Base Camp day hike (Los Glaciares National Park). Day hike to Rio Blanco base camp and Laguna de Los Tres vantage point for an absolutely stunning view, weather permitting, of the complete Fitz Roy massif. Directly across a small glacial lake rises Mt. Fitz Roy (11,073′), almost two miles of vertical wall in a single bound. For those with spare energy a further walk leads to Piedras Blancas glacier. The majority of this hike is of moderate difficulty. The last 45 minutes to the viewing point is difficult, however the view is worth it and could be one of the highlights of your Patagonia trip. Overnight El Puma.

Day 5 – Cerro Torre Valley day hike (Los Glaciares National Park). This is an amazing day of hiking and glacier trekking. The day starts with a hike  to Torre Lake and glacier for a close view, weather permitting, of the awesome spires that make up Cerro Torre (10,178′) and its neighbors. This slender needle of granite is topped by a treacherous cap of ice known to climbers as “the mushroom”. Once at the Cerro the environment becomes more interesting. You will use a rope to cross the Fitz Roy River and then walk for about an hour on a glacier moraine to the base of the glacier. On the glacier Torre itself, below the famous Cerro Torre group of rock and ice needles, observe the incredible ice formations, crevasse, and ice caves. Total approximate hiking time: 9.5 to 11 hours.

Day 6 – Day hike to Piedra del Fraile and Fitz Roy North Glacier (Los Glaciares National Park). A hike next to the Rio Electrico takes you past beautiful river flats of beech forests to Lago Electrico. A hike up the side valley provides an incredible panorama of the north face of Fitz Roy and various other peaks. By doing this as a day hike you can be assured of shelter from winds and storms that have reached 100 mph in past trips. Overnight El Puma.

Day 7  – Chalten – Calafate. Half day hike to the Pliegue Tumbado vantage point. You will hike towards South Chaltén, following a stream, and gain amazing views of the Cerro Fitz Roy, Torre, Solo and Huemul. Weather permitting, you may reach the summit, where you can enjoy a full view of the Cerro Grande and the Tunel river valley. The Paso del Viento, entrance to the Continental Ice shell appears in front. You begin the route back along the same trail.
If the pace has been brisk, there could be time to continue onward and head to the Chorrillo del Salto falls. The Chorrillo del Salto drive follows the Río de las Vueltas, crossing the Madsen camp and Estancia. Ten minutes later, arrive at Chorrillo del Salto. A short walk and you arrive at the falls. The trekking goes through an Andean- Patagonic forest. In the afternoon, drive to Calafate  Overnight in the 4-star Kau Yatun.
Day 8 –  Perito Moreno for Glacier Exploration. This will be a full day visit to the fabled Perito Moreno glacier. Take a boat crossing of the Rico branch of Lago Argentino followed by a 45 minute hike through the lush sub-Antarctic rainforest by the glacier’s lateral moraine, followed by a short excursion over the glacier. It is an easy walk with crampons. Overnight in the 4-star Kau Yatan.
Day 9  – Calafate – Torres del Paine National Park, Chile. A full day drive through rolling grasslands and classical Patagonian steppe landscape to Torres del Paine National Park in Chile- a 600,000 acre park declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1978. You will cross Pehoe lake in a small boat to the hut on the opposite shore.
The Paine Massif is a truly spectacular nest of pinkish granitic mountains, capped with sedimentary rock. It is surrounded by a necklace of multicolored glacial lakes and deciduous southern beech forests. Paine possesses some of the most incredible mountain scenery seen anywhere in the world. Herds of guanacos (wild llamas) crowd the spot exhibiting a very interesting social organization. Among other species, find lesser rheas (American ostrich), red & gray foxes, and possibly mountain lions. The birdlife includes condors, crested caracaras, buff-necked ibis, Austral parakeet, Austral trush, varieties of falcons, black-necked and coscoroba swans, flamingos and more. Overnight Pehoe hut.
Day 10- Grey Glacier day hike (Torres del Paine). You will hike towards a vantage point for Grey Glacier, walking along Grey Lake and through southern beech forests. There will be good views, weather permitting, of Mt. Paine Grande West. Your return to Pehoe hut is by the same trail.
Day 11 – Frances Valley day hike. Paine Grande & Cuernos del Paine (Torres del Paine). An easy walk along Del Frances river to the Italian campground at 328′. Followed by a moderate to difficult hike up the Frances Valley as the trail becomes steeper and traverses dense southern beech forests. Awesome views of Paine Grande (10,007′) and the Cuernos del Paine (Horns of Paine – 8,531′) start rising until we get to the British climber’s camp (2,624′). This has been called the most stupendous scenery in the park, and perhaps in all of Patagonia! Paine Grande dominates the entire western side of the valley with its snow covered faces while the Cuernos tower over the eastern half. You will most likely see avalanches and hear snow rumble down the slopes to feed the Frances Glacier. After lunch, time permitting, you may even walk a little further towards the end of the valley. Return is by the same path. Overnight Pehoe hut.
Day 12 – Nordenskjold Lake day hike Cuernos del Paine (Torres del Paine). A moderate to difficult hike along Nordenskjold Lake by the very foot of the Cuernos del Paine towards the old estancia Paine. This is a remote trail that is seldom used. Enjoy  excellent views of the lake, the horns, and Mt. Almirante Nieto.  Cross the Ascencio river by suspension bridge before arriving at the estancia, the comfortable Las Torres Inn still run by the original family owners.
The Inn is at the foot of the trail leading to the base of the Paine Towers. Those whose feet are weary can follow their luggage by boat and van to the Las Torres Inn. Total hiking time of approximately 7 hrs with no net elevation gain, though there are substantial ups and downs. Overnight Las Torres Inn.
Day 13 – Torres del Paine Day Hike.  Today will be a full day of hiking (or horseback riding) up the Ascencio river valley following the river and walking through southern beech forest. This is a moderate to difficult ascent up to Las Torres climbers campground for lunch.  A further 45 minutes – 1.5 hr steep ascent takes you to a vantage point (2,952′) in front of the three Paine Towers (North, Central & South – 9,351′). You are practically at the foot of the greatest sheer vertical mass of exposed granite in Paine, and perhaps the world — over 6,000 ft. Only a small glacier lake separates you from the towers. This is the mecca of today’s technical climbers. Condor sightings are likely. Hike back the same trail. If you decide to rest your legs, do today’s hike by horseback instead. Overnight Las Torres Inn.
Day 14 – Torres del Paine Hiking. Enjoy a full day of exploration in the park, on new trails or go back to favorite spots. Overnight Las Torres Inn.
Day 15 – Paine – Santiago – USA. An early drive to Punta Arenas allows you to catch a flight to Santiago. From here you meet your flight back to the USA.

Add-on Expeditions: Extensions can be arranged to numerous places in South America: Peninsula Valdes, Iguaza Falls, Machu Picchu, or the Amazon basin.

Moderate to difficult hiking, but worth every minute for unrivaled scenery!

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