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Walking Vacation Argentina: Walking in Patagonia​

Activity Level: Moderate  |  Daily Mileage: 3 – 10 mi  |  Daily Walking: 2 – 6 hr
Pre-trip Extension:
Buenos Aires · 2 nights $445

Post-trip Extension:
Mendoza Wine Region · 3 nights $545
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Detailed Itinerary  2014

****Reciprocity Fee: American, Canadian and Australian passport holders visiting Argentina will be required to pay the reciprocity fee online at the following site: https://virtual.provinciapagos.com.ar/ArgentineTaxes/. You must register and pay with a credit card. Once the payment is received, an electronic receipt will be given, print this out and bring it along. You will need to show it upon your arrival in Argentina.

YOU WILL BE DENIED ENTRANCE INTO ARGENTINA IF YOU DO NOT HAVE THIS RECEIPT WITH YOU. 

The lack of such proof of payment will generate the denial of entry of the passenger and consequent returning to their departure city by the airline. We strongly urge passengers to take the necessary precautions and have the electronic receipt with them. 

Day 1 - Depart U.S. / Fly overnight to Argentina

Depart from the U.S. and travel to Argentina. The particulars of your arrival overseas are detailed with your flight itinerary and airline tickets.

Day 2 - Arrive Argentina

Upon arrival at Buenos Aires Ezeiza International Airport (EZE), proceed through immigration where you will need show your online proof of payment of the Argentina Reciprocity Fee. Please note you will be required to complete a landing card prior to proceeding through the immigration check point. These landing cards will be provided to you onboard your flight. You will need to have your El Calafate hotel information to complete these cards. Please keep it in your carry-on luggage. 

Claim your luggage and clear customs. If your luggage is delayed, fill in a PIR form before leaving the customs area – VBT representatives are not allowed into the customs area. Please make certain that your VBT luggage tags are affixed to your bag so your VBT representative can identify you. Depending on your flight itinerary, you will either check in for your next flight connection staying at Buenos Aires Ezeiza International Airport (EZE), or transfer to Buenos Aires' Aeroparque Jorge Newbery (AEP) domestic airport for your flight to El Calafate.

If you are transferring to the domestic airport, after exiting customs, enter the arrival hall, where your VBT representative will be holding a VBT sign and will assist you with transferring to the domestic airport for your flight to El Calafate. Transfer time is approximately 60 minutes depending on traffic.

Upon arrival at El Calafate airport, claim your luggage and look in the arrivals hall, where your VBT representative will be holding a VBT sign. Please make certain that your VBT luggage tags are affixed to your bag so your VBT representative can identify you. Your representative will make arrangements for the transfer to your hotel in El Calafate.
 
El Calafate, near the Chilean border was an old settlement town which has grown into a magnet for nature lovers, trekkers and mountaineers; its outpost quality is hard to resist. You may want to browse the shops along Paseo de los Artesanos, brimming with local handicrafts made from leather, silver and alpaca wool. Be sure to sample an alfajor, a sweet cookie infused with local caramel. Or stroll from your hotel to the shores of Laguna Nimez Nature Reserve, where flamingos and black-necked swans wade.

 

VBT provides you with City Information in your Final Travel Booklet that includes information and recommendations on what to see and do in El Calafate. You have the rest of the day to relax or to begin your exploration of the city.

Day 3 - All guests meet in El Calafate

VBT No-Air Package guests: Meet your VBT Trip Leaders at the Los Sauces Casa Patagonia at 8:30 am. The contact information for the inn will be included with your final documents. Please contact your first inn to advise them of any travel delays or changes so the staff can alert the VBT Trip Leaders. We will have a short orientation during our shuttle ride (approximately 1.5 hours) to the start of our warm-up walk. Please be dressed in your walking attire for your warm-up walk this morning when you meet your Trip Leaders.

VBT Pre-Trip Extension and Air Package guests: Meet your VBT Trip Leaders at your hotel at 8:30 am. We will have a short orientation during our shuttle ride (approximately 1.5 hours) to the start of our warm-up walk. Please be dressed in your walking attire for your warm-up walk this morning when you meet your Trip Leaders. 
 
Our warm-up walk will take us on a fascinating trail through petrified forests with heaps of fossilized bones of large pre-historic reptiles that are still in the process of being identified. Following our warm-up walk we will transfer to our hotel in El Chalten, approximately a 2 hour drive. El Chalten is the northern gateway to Los Glaciares National Park, where the soaring Andes and vast stretches of untouched wilderness form a magnificent backdrop for our walking days ahead. El Chalten is a young village, just 25 years. Its charms – and dramatic setting amidst mammoth outcroppings – are undeniable. Due to the long travel day, we will have a simple Welcome Reception at 6:30 pm. Our formal welcome dinner will be tomorrow evening

Day 4 - El Chalten walking tour / Visit Los Glaciares National Park Ranger Station / Mirador de los Condores Trail

After breakfast, we will have a short orientation followed by a walk through the town of El Chalten. Our walk will end at the Los Glaciares National Park Ranger Station where you will have an opportunity to learn more about the history and natural wonders of this region of Argentina.

Return to our hotel, or continue uphill on the Mirador de los Condores Trail, where you'll be rewarded with spellbinding views of the Adela mountain range, Torre and Fitz Roy Mountain peaks and the Rio de las Vueltas Valley. The lookout point at the highest elevation of our walk is in a strategic vantage point for observations of magnificent gliding condors.

Later in the afternoon we will shuttle to a trail for a short walk to a beautiful waterfall. After working up an appetite we will make our way to a cozy timber lodge on the banks of the Vueltas River where we will have our Welcome Dinner. A traditional Argentine barbecue is on the menu – steaks, sausages, and vegetables over coals – with spectacular north face views of Fitz Roy, one of the tallest mountains in the Patagonian Andes.

Day 5 - Fitz Roy Valley

Following breakfast we will transfer to the starting point of today's walk.
 
The trailhead leads us into a lush grove of lenga trees, cousin to the Beech tree. We proceed through the forest and its enchanted ancient atmosphere, alongside a mountain stream. We hope for clear skies on this trail so we can marvel at the Fitz Roy spire and the glaciers and lakes that lap at its base. And since we're looking up, we'll also try to spot austral parrots in the canopy overhead.
 
As we continue, the landscape opens up before us with even more expansive vistas. With these dramatic views as our dining room, we lay out another picnic at a mountaineering base camp. As we dine, imagine bold climbers waiting here for favorable weather to ascend these dizzying massifs.
 
After a picnic lunch at a mountaineering base camp, we will have the option to return to the trailhead and return back by bus to the hotel. For those seeking more challenges, you may opt to continue back to the hotel along the trail, passing by the lovely Lake Capri.
 
This evening dine on your own in the small town of El Chalten or enjoy the fine dining at your 5-star resort.

Day 6 - Viedma Glacier and Ice Trekking / El Calafate

We shuttle back to El Calafate this morning, stopping en route at Harbor Tunnel Bay where we board our catamaran for our excursion to Viedma Glacier. Viedma Glacier is the largest glacier in Argentina and second largest in South America with a surface area of almost 1,000 square km. After sailing across the bay we arrive to a rocky promontory where we will disembark for our ice trekking tech training. Once instructed on the technical and safety procedures, we will begin our exploration of the glacier. During our ice trek today we will have a break for our included box lunch. Note: if you are not interested in the ice trekking excursion you will have the opportunity to continue the Viedma Lake cruise with lectures about the National Park and Southern Ice Field.

Later this afternoon we continue with our 3 hour transfer to El Calafate. Tonight, enjoy dinner on your own in town or indulge in the first-rate restaurant at the hotel, a modern ranch-compound in a peaceful setting.

Day 7 - Lake Argentino cruise / Upsala Glacier / Estancia Cristina

This morning we depart early for Puerto Bandera's harbor on the azure waters of Lake Argentino, where our boat is waiting to take us to the remote Estancia Cristina. En route, enormous aqua-blue icebergs and seracs (blocks of ice clinging to a glacial mass) take our breath away. We pass through the Devil's Mouth, granite cliffs towering on either side of us, and sidle up as close as we safely can to Upsala Glacier.

Estancia Cristina is located on the most remote arm of Lake Argentino and is only accessible by boat. Founded in 1914 as a cattle and sheep ranch by an Englishman and his wife, this estancia became well known among explorers, climbers and adventurers of the National Park. It retains its rustic ambiance and adventuresome spirit, as we'll learn at its small museum.

We'll have time to take a short walk through the estancia's countryside. For a longer and more challenging walk, you can purchase one of two options. Both options include a 4x4 adventure to the Upsala viewpoint, where you have the second option to walk through Fossils Canyon and observe fascinating marine fossils.

Later in the afternoon we return by boat to Puerto Bandera and El Calafate. Dinner this evening is at your leisure.

Day 8 - Perito Moreno Glacier / Safari Nautico boat tour

Today we journey to the Perito Moreno Glacier on the farther shore of Lake Argentino. This is the world's third largest single reserve of fresh water and one of very few advancing glaciers in the world. In fact, this icy behemoth occasionally advances to the opposite shore of the lake. Perito Moreno glacier is protected by the World Biosphere Reserve from UNESCO.

We embark on a boat tour of the glacier this morning. Our captain will keep his distance in hopes that we'll witness a glacier calving, in which giant chunks collapse into the water. After our boat tour, there'll be time to further explore by strolling along the numerous boardwalks that face the glacier.

Later this afternoon, we will return to El Calafate where you can browse the shops along Paseo de los Artesanos, brimming with local crafts made from leather, silver and alpaca wool. Be sure to sample an alfajor, a sweet cookie infused with local caramel. Or stroll from your hotel to the shores of Laguna Nimez Nature Reserve, where flamingos and black-necked swans wade.

In the evening we share our day's events over a farewell drink before enjoying a sumptuous farewell dinner.

Day 9 - VBT Land Package ends / Begin optional Mendoza Wine Region Extension

VBT No-Air Package guests: VBT provides an early morning transfer to El Calafate airport. Our tour concludes here.

VBT Air Package guests: Transfer to the airport in El Calafate for our flight to Buenos Aires. There is a $9 US departure tax that must be paid after checking in at El Calafate airport. Upon arrival at Bueno Aires Aeroparque Jorge Newbery (AEP) domestic airport, collect your luggage and transfer to Ezeiza International Airport. For guests that have more than a six hour layover, a day room will be provided at the Panamericano Buenos Aires Hotel (transfer time is approximately 45 minutes depending upon traffic). If you are provided a day room, you will transfer back to the airport in the early evening (exact time will be provided by the transfer representative meeting you on arrival in Buenos Aires) to check in for your flight to the U.S.  NOTE: Some departures will fly from El Calafate to Ezeiza International Airport directly, and there will not be a need to transfer between airports. Please check your itinerary to confirm this. Guests with more than a six hour layover will still be provided a day room at the Panamericano Buenos Aires Hotel.

VBT Post-Trip Extension guests: Transfer to the airport in El Calafate for our flight to Buenos Aires. There is a $9 US departure tax that must be paid after checking in at El Calafate airport. Upon arrival in Buenos Aires, make your connection with LAN Airlines for your flight to Mendoza. After collecting your luggage in Mendoza and exiting the luggage area, a VBT representative meets you and assists you to your accommodations at Finca Adalgisa, located in the Maipu region at the beginning of Argentina's Wine Route.

Please note: VBT transfer times and departure points are finalized in advance and cannot be modified for individual guests. If you extend your stay beyond the scheduled program dates, return transportation to the airport will be at your own expense.

Day 10 - Air Package Guests arrive home

Flights arrive in the U.S. this morning, allowing for connections to your home city.
 
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