Ruta 40

Unparalleled adventure, pristine environment, feeling of space on a large scale, peace: the least visited Patagonia. This escape from day to day life will not let you down. Drive along Ruta 40 one of the longest roads in Argentina. Trek in the national parks of Argentina; the most famous, the newest and the most remote.

Day 1
Arrive into El Calafate

Your are picked up from the airport and transferred to your accommodation in town.

If you have free time you could visit the bird reserve of Laguna Nimes on the edge of Lake Argentino or you could visit Glaciarium – an interpretations centre all about the history of the area, glaciers, pioneers,etc. It’s a great introduction if you have time.

– Overnight: Hotel in El Calafate

Day 2
Visit Perito Moreno Glacier

Your day will begin with an hour’s journey to the port where you will embark on a boat ride that gives you a unique approach to the glacier. The drive follows a beautiful route around the edge of Lake Argentino. There will be time for photo stops along the way and you may even be lucky enough to spot condors and eagles.

Once you have stepped aboard, the boat will take you along Canal de Los Témpanos toward the northern face of the glacier. Before you reach the glacier, the lake branches off and you will enter Seno Mayo until you get to Bahia Toro where black sand meets glacial blue waters. You will hop out here and take a short walk through beautiful coihue forest, typical of the Patagonian Andean region. Finally, you arrive at an impressive waterfall and fascinating rock formations. Your guide will tell you all about the fauna and flora, glacial formations and the history of Perito Moreno, not just a glacier but a person, too!

On return to the boat, you will continue the ride before making a second stop for another forest walk and a closer look at Glacier Mayo. You will embark once more for an hour’s boat ride that will take you right up to the northern face of Perito Moreno. You will spend some time watching its spectacular display of calving ice and the formation of deep blue icebergs.

After disembarking at the bottom of the walkways opposite the glacier, you will have the opportunity to explore along the paths, which offer brilliant views of the glacier from a different perspective.

If you are lucky you will also see some ice calving, creating great waves on the lake. You will have time for wandering around and enjoying the views. There is a cafeteria at the glacier for snacks and hot drinks. At the end of the day you will be dropped off at your hotel. A great highlight to start your trip on!.

– Overnight: Hotel in El Calafate

– Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

Day 3
Travel to El Chaltén + Visit Madsen house + museum

You depart in the morning for your next destination: El Chaltén. The road to El Chaltén circumnavigates two vast Patagonian lakes – Argentino and Viedma. Both were glacially formed and are the end resort of various glaciers and the Continental Ice field that feed into them today.

El Chaltén is the youngest town of Argentina, founded in 1985 and is located in the heart of Los Glaciares National park, which is nearly a hundred years old. The region was originally inhabited by local aborigines, called Tehuelches, who would consider the Huemul -andean deer- a sacred animal, and later explored by pioneers -mainly European- and climbers who wanted to scale the granite massifs.

After checking in to your accommodation and having lunch you are off to learn a bit more about the area and its history.

Andreas Madsen, a Dane that lived in the valley where El Chaltén is located today, has left us an amazing family saga that will give us a fantastic introduction to the area. Learn about why he ended up here, how he survived as a pioneer and what it was like to live in this distant and inhospitable corner of Patagonia. Enjoy a gentle walk to his home, lovely views of the national park, a visit of his property and then afternoon tea at his family dining room table. At the end of the afternoon you return to town.

– Overnight: Hotel in El Chaltén

– Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

Day 4
Day trek to Pliegue Tumbado

After a good nights sleep you’ll be ready to get out and enjoy the park! Pliegue Tumbado is a giant geological fault that means you can admire fossils such as ammonites and belemnites that used to be on the sea bed about a hundred million years ago! This trek also allows 360 degree views of the national park and beyond. This out and back trek is a gentle uphill all the way there and downhill all the way back. The guide accompanying you will be full of information about the flora and fauna that you find en route and share a tale or two about some of the climbers and pioneers that visit us.

At the end of the day you’ll have a free evening to explore the town and enjoy dinner in a local restaurant.

(20km, 800m height elevation, approx. 7 hours)

– Overnight: Hotel in El Chaltén

– Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

Day 5
Day trek to Laguna de los Tres

After breakfast you’ll be picked up and will drive 17km out of town to start this fantastic linear trek back to El Chaltén, going via Laguna de los Tres, Fitz Roy – one of the most beautiful and awe inspiring places on earth. This trek really does take in everything; from glacially formed valleys, endemic Lenga tree forests, lagoons and impressive glaciers.

The trek starts with a gentle climb through the forest with views every so often of the granite peaks and hanging glaciers. After passing a couple of camp areas you start the one steep section of the day – you climb 400m in about 1 hour. It’s all made worth while at the top – with majestic views of Mt Fitz Roy and it satellite mountains.

After enjoying lunch with an awesome view, you start the trek back down the moraine and then towards El Chaltén. You trek via Laguna Capri, a crystalline lake where you can enjoy your last break before descending into the valley where El Chaltén is located.

(22km, 800m height elevation, approx. 8/9 hours)

Last night in El Chaltén to enjoy your last taste of “town life” for a few days!

– Overnight: Hotel in El Chaltén

– Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

Day 6
Drive from El Chaltén to Perito Moreno National Park

Today you start early with a day of travelling to your next destination. The journey, partly on paved roads, but also on gravel roads will take about 7 hours including a couple of stops en route. Today you will really begin to experience the vast expanse of Patagonia and be in awe of the pioneers who came to explore before roads and bridges arrived in the area.

You will drive along part of the Ruta 40, the emblematic road of over 5.000 km that connects the north of Argentina with the south. Drive through a couple of far west style towns lost in a time warp and untouched by McDonalds or Starbucks. Learn why Tres Lagos and Gobernador Gregores were founded and who lives there today.

The last leg of the journey is the gravel road that takes you towards the Perito Moreno National Park, also founded nearly 100 years ago. The national park, as the glacier and town (all located in Santa Cruz province but with hundreds of kilometers between each of them) are named in honour of Francisco Pascasio Moreno who worked as an explorer and helped the Argentine government define the international border between Chile and Argentina in the 19th century.

At the end of the road we arrive at the national park and after checking in with the park rangers we head to our new home for the night. Here we enjoy dinner, too.

– Overnight: Accommodation in Perito Moreno National Park

– Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

Day 7
Trekking in Perito Moreno National Park

There are various treks possible, from day trekking to multi-day and mixing up with refuges or camping. The choice is yours. This national park receives less visitors in a year to what Los Glaciares receives in a day – so you will be able to enjoy the remote Patagonia that you have dreamt of.

Here are some ideas – we can discuss what is the best for you.

● Peninsula Belgrano – a lovely loop that for little effort offers lovely views of the beautiful turquoise lake, the snow capped mountains in the distance and great refuges right out on their own. Heaven. This could be one long day or spread over 2.

● Vía Láctea (The Milky Way) valley – a more challenging trek to get closer to Mount San Lorenzo – a 2 day/1 night trek to be able to enjoy the mountains, icebergs and expanse of the park.

● Lake Burmeister and Lagunas Mié – in the south of the park – some lovely aquatic spots to photograph or to spot a black necked goose amongst other birds. A great choice for those not wanting a huge trek.

● Cerro León – fantastic day trek up this mountain that offers great views of the park, it takes in not only the Belgrano lake but lots of other lakes, mountains and valleys. While you have lunch you have to change position every 10 minutes to take in the 360 degree views!

– There are also different accommodation possibilities available – from camping, to refuges and an old estancia.

We can discuss the best options for you, but in general we’d recommend a night or 2 in the refuges and then the estancia for a night to enjoy a hot shower and some creature comforts.

– Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

Day 8
Trekking in Perito Moreno National Park

Trekking in national park (ideas mentioned on day 7)

Day 9
Trekking in Perito Moreno National Park

Trekking in national park (ideas mentioned on day 7)

Day 10
Journey from the national park Perito Moreno to Lago Posadas

After a relaxing breakfast we get on the road again and will enjoy a couple of days of a road trip, taking in the views of the steppe where it disappears into the horizon.

We only have about 150 km on a paved road, this will take us to Bajo Caracoles, a small hamlet, here we’ll see “people”!! and be able to enjoy a coffee before continuing along the old gravel roads of Patagonia, interconnecting old estancias.

At the end of the road today we find Lago Posadas another small town of 500 people. A few kilometres from here is the beautiful lakes of Posadas and Pueyrredón. Both offer great blues and turquoises that contrast the yellow/ochre colours of the surrounding landscape. We can stretch our legs here, too, at the end of the day.

– Overnight: Hotel in Lago Posadas

– Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

Day 11
Scenic Route 41 to Los Antiguos

We continue our journey along gravel roads, with the difference today that rather than views of immense landscape, the road is more winding, going round stunning geological formations, crossing rivers and climbing from just above sea level all the way up to 1500 masl.

We admire the Andes to our west and the Buenos Aires plateau and lake in the north-east. Throughout the day we’ll enjoy some short walks; some in forest and some to observe unique rock formations.

At the end of the day we arrive at Los Antiguos, the capital of cherries of Argentina! Here they hold an annual cherry festival every January. Time to enjoy a stroll along the lakefront of Buenos Aires lake and then dinner in one of the local restaurants.

– Overnight: Hotel in Los Antiguos

– Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

Day 12
Trek in Parque Patagonia

After breakfast we leave Los Antiguos and head for one of the newest National Parks of Argentina – Parque Patagonia. Originally the park was private land – enormous sheep ranches but they were affected by the ashes of the eruption of Hudson volcano. The land was bought up by the Tomkins Land Conservation Trust and in 2019 handed over to the National Parks Association of Argentina.

The are various trek options here across the steppe, up on to the plateau, by the lake Buenos Aires, etc. Whichever you do you will probably run into guanacos, from the camelid family, related to llamas in South America. Before we spot them you may hear their high pitched bleat warning other nearby guanacos of our presence! We will enjoy them from a distance, and respect this aloofness!

At the end of the day we continue a little longer along the Buenos Aires lake to Perito Moreno town, a town that is surrounded by private gold mines, tourism and some agriculture. Here there are a few restaurants and a local brewery to try out!

– Overnight: Hotel in Perito Moreno town

– Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

Day 13
Visit Cueva de las Manos

Today we travel back down the Ruta 40 to Cueva de las Manos, recognised as a UNESCO world heritage site since 1999. There are various caves with what in general have a large amount of hand paintings (the silhouette of the hand of the painter), guanacos and choique footprints. They are all over 9000 years old and are to be believed to have been painted by the indigenous groups, probably the ancestors of the Tehuelches.

It’s not just the cave paintings that is interesting today; it’s the expanse of the whole valley of the Pinturas river. The contrast between the red colour of the earth, bright blue skies and the river winding along the bottom of the valley leaving a path of green trees in its wake.

We enjoy fantastic landscapes today and enjoy some short walks to absorb the views.

Back in Perito Moreno town there may be time to visit the new archeological museum which has more information about the caves, the indigenous and the history of the area in general. Just opposite there is a lovely café to enjoy a drink in at the end of the day!

– Overnight: Hotel in Perito Moreno town

– Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

Day 14
Adios Patagonia

Today you have the option of travelling south, back to El Calafate and flying from there (7 hour journey) or from Comodoro Rivadavia (5 hour journey).

You can discuss options with us.

End of Services.

We ask you to bear in mind:

  • This itinerary is a dream, but may need to be adapted to your time constraints. Let us know. If you have more time available, we have more ideas, too!
  • This adventure visits lots of places off the beaten track. That’s its beauty. It also means that some basic treats/communication/variety of accommodation is limited.
  • English is not widely spoken everywhere – only in the more tourist destination of the tour.
  • Food – we eat what is available and what reaches the lost corners of Patagonia. If you have/need a special diet bring some snacks from home and discuss with us prior to booking.

Includes:

Accommodation – mainly hotels, possibility of refuges/tents, estancias.

Meals:

  • Breakfast daily.
  • Lunch – mainly box lunches every day.
  • Dinner – days: 6,7,8,9,10

Transport:

  • Mix of private transport, semi private shuttles between Chaltén and Calafate
  • Private transport from El Chaltén, Perito Moreno National Park, Lago Posadas, Los Antiguos, Perito Moreno town.
  • Transport to airport on depature – could be private or public.

Excursions:

  • Group guided excursion to Perito Moreno glacier
  • Group guided trek Pliegue Tumbado
  • Group guided trek Laguna de los Tres
  • Private 3 days guided trekking in Perito Moreno National Park
  • Private day guided trekking in Parque Patagonia – Ascensión entrance
  • Group guided excursion to Cueva de las Manos

Doesn’t include:

  • Entrance fees to national parks
  • Meals not specified
  • Tips
  • Porters for trekking
  • Insurance
  • Flights to/from Patagonia
  • Services not mentioned in the programme

You can send your inquiry via the form below.

Trip Facts

  • 14 Days and 13 Nights
  • 5 Moderate | Requires experience in trekking
  • October to April
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