El Calafate
El Calafate
NEW FOR 2021 £299 deposit

Landscapes and Flora of Patagonia

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 provide some of the most spectacular mountain vistas you will ever see.

An expert local guide will be with us throughout and will help identify plants as we botanise on the hillsides and in the forests.

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.

What's included?

  • Flights
  • Accommodation
  • Services of a professional tour manager
  • Comfortable coach travel throughout
  • Meals - as per the itinerary

Led by...

Julia Corden

Julia Corden Tour Manager

Julia Corden is the Garden Manager at the Explorer's Garden in Pitlochry and has led numerous Brightwater tours to every corner of the globe.

Full Price
£6,995

Today's Price
£6,795

Saving
£200

Benefit from this limited time offer:

  • Pay a low deposit of £299, was £680.

Single supplement: £800

Tour highlights:

  • Boat trip on Lake Gray
  • Visit to the Moreno Glacier
  • Full day tour of the Torres del Paine National Park
  • Stunning mountain views
  • Rare and endemic flora

Tour details

Dates 30 November 2021 - 12 December 2021
Duration 13 days
Cost
Full Price
£6,995
Today's Price
£6,795
Saving
£200

Benefit from this limited time offer:

  • Pay a low deposit of £299, was £680.
Single supplement: £800 Balance due by 7 September 2021
Activity Level
Tour code BPAT211130

Book Now or call 01334 657155 if you have any questions

30 November 2021: Itinerary

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.

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.

Meals include: Dinner

Hotel: Calafate Parque Hotel, El Calafate

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.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Hotel: Calafate Parque Hotel, El Calafate

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).

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Hotel: Calafate Parque Hotel, El Calafate

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).

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Hotel: Hotel Pudu Lodge, El Chalten

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.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Hotel: Hotel Pudu Lodge, El Chalten

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.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Hotel: Hotel Pudu Lodge, El Chalten

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.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Hotel: Hotel Cerro Guido, Torres del Paine

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.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Hotel: Hotel Lago Grey, Torres del Paine

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.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Hotel: Hotel Lago Grey, Torres del Paine

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.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Reconquista Luxor Hotel, Buenos Aires

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.

Meals include: Breakfast

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

30 November 2021: Additional Info

30 November 2021: Accommodation

This 4-star hotel is surrounded by woods and mountains, and is located close to Lake Argentino. It has an on-site restaurant which serves a rich buffet breakfast in the morning and regional dishes in the evening, along with Argentinian wines.

All rooms include a flat-screen TV, minibar, safety deposit box and a private bathroom equipped with free toiletries and a hairdryer. Free WiFi is available throughout the property.

Situated inside Los Glaciares National Park and nearby to Mount Fitz Roy and Mount Torre Lagoon. This lodge offers free WiFi in common areas, cleaning services and a daily breakfast with fruits, waffles, cereals and homemade breads.

All rooms here have en-quite bathrooms, underfloor heating and king-size beds.

Hotel Cerro Guido is located in a ranch-style house and is only a 35 minute drive from Torres del Paine National Park. Free WiFi is included in public areas and you can enjoy local delicacies at Kaw restaurant. The communal areas are available for all guests, including the library and the garden.

The rooms at the hotel are equipped with private bathrooms with bath tubs and parquet floors, some rooms also include fireplaces.

Located in Torres del Paine, Hotel Lago Grey offers free WiFi throughout the property and a complimentary buffet breakfast. Guests can also enjoy dinner and drinks in the on-site restaurant and bar.

All rooms are equipped with heating, a private en-suite bathroom and satellite TV.

This 4-star hotel is located in the downtown district of Buenos Aires. Facilities include a gym, sauna, jacuzzi, function room, business centre and 24-hour reception. There is also an on-site restaurant which serves a daily buffet breakfast and free WiFi is available throughout the property.

All rooms include air conditioning, a flat-screen TV and an en-suite bathroom with complimentary toiletries and a hairdryer.

30 November 2021: Enquiries

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