Magallanes and Tierra del Fuego
This ten-day to two-week itinerary combines the extreme south of Chile and Argentina.
Arrive at Aeropuerto Internacional Arturo Merino Benítez and transfer to a Santiago hotel. In the afternoon, visit sites such as the Barrio Cívico, Plaza de Armas, and poet Pablo Neruda’s La Chascona home.
Take a morning flight to Punta Arenas. If the timing is right, catch a penguin-watching excursion to Isla Magdalena with accommodations at Punta Arenas; if not, visit the regional museum and transfer overland to Puerto Natales.
If the previous night was spent in Punta Arenas, take a bus or rental car to Puerto Natales, gateway to Parque Nacional Torres del Paine. If the previous night was spent in Natales, plan a full-day motor launch or catamaran excursion to Balmaceda Glacier; otherwise, hike in the afternoon to Cerro Dorotea for panoramas of Natales and Seno Última Esperanza (Last Hope Sound).
Depart early for Torres del Paine, with an afternoon hike to the tarns beneath the Torres. Stay at Hostería Las Torres or camp. Alternatively, hike to Refugio Los Cuernos, with overnight accommodations there at Las Torres or Los Cuernos.
Hike from Hostería Las Torres to Paine Grande Mountain Lodge for overnight accommodations.
Boat from Paine Grande Mountain Lodge to Lago Pehoé, followed by transfer to Puerto Natales.
Depart in the morning by bus or rental car for El Calafate (Argentina), gateway to Parque Nacional Los Glaciares. The next morning, leave early for Moreno Glacier, followed by a visit to a nearby estancia for a barbecue before returning to El Calafate for the night.
With two or three extra days, consider a side trip to El Chaltén, in the park’s northern Fitz Roy sector, before returning to Chile.
Catch a morning flight to Ushuaia, in Argentine Tierra del Fuego, followed by a wildlife-viewing Beagle Channel Boat Excursions. The next morning, plan a full-day excursion to Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego, with multiple short hiking trails, but don’t miss Museo Marítimo de Ushuaia.
Fly back to Punta Arenas and on to Santiago, with the afternoon free for sightseeing and a seafood lunch at the Mercado Central, followed by a nighttime departure from Santiago’s Aeropuerto Internacional Arturo Merino Benítez.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Chile, 2nd edition