Start your week in the serene location of Punta Arenas, one of the closest Chilean towns to Antarctica. From there, take a ferry to Isla Magdalena, a very popular penguin spotting location in South America where penguins rule the island and approximately 60,000 breeding pairs come every year. You can then visit Bahia Inutil where the only colony of king penguins outside of Antarctica resides. After a day of watching these adorable penguins in their natural habitat, it’s time to press on to Puerto Natales.
A crucial stopping point for those heading to the Torres del Paine National Park, Puerto Natales is a modest fishing port with a string of corrugated tin houses that now has a handful of hiking shops for its visitors to browse. From there you can either rent a car or jump on a bus to the famed Torres del Paine National Park. Whether you want to go into the wild to set up your camp, stay in rustic refugios (hiking hostels) or live the high life in one of the many boutique hotels with incredible views, enjoy spending the afternoon discovering your surroundings—wherever you’re situated, there are bound to be some waterfalls or lakes to visit.
If you’re a keen hiker and want to hike the more advanced W or O trails, you will need to allow for a longer stay in the Torres del Paine National Park as they take between four to ten days (the W trail being the shorter of the two). If you’re on a tight schedule then today is the day to do the Torres hike! Some hikers tend to start before sunrise to catch views of the three towers as the sun comes up. Once you’ve reached the creamy green lake and the humongous towering peaks, you can relax and take in your well-earned view. Why not treat yourself to a meal in one of the refugios or hotels after your hard trek?
Stroll around the stunning turquoise Pehoe Lake and if your legs are tired from hiking, you can take a boat across the lake to enjoy the surrounding waterfalls and magnificent vistas. Your last afternoon in Chile should be spent at Grey Lake where the huge Grey Glacier sits. It’s accessible via a boat trip or by hiking across the ice on a Bigfoot Patagonia excursion where all the necessary equipment will be provided. Enjoy your last evening in Chilean Patagonia before heading to Argentinian Patagonia!
It will be best to get the earliest possible bus out of Torres del Paine and across the Chile-Argentina border as the queues can take a longer time later in the day. Once you have arrived at El Calafate, Argentina’s glacier capital, you can peruse the shops on the main street, go horseback riding and settle into your accommodation. Enjoy an evening meal at any of El Calafate’s various restaurants to fuel up for the next day’s adventures.
El Calafate’s most impressive attraction is the Perito Moreno Glacier in the Los Glaciares National Park. Spend the day seeing the huge glacier from a number of angles and listening to the loud thuds of glaciers melting and hitting the water. You can also walk around the park’s paths, take a boat trip to the glacier or even go on an ice-trekking trip across it. Once you have experienced the grandeur of Perito Moreno, make your way to the sleepy rustic town of El Chalten, where you can stay in hostels, refugios or eco domes.
Your final day should be spent hiking one of the most impressive trails at the Cerro Fitz Roy. While the first half of the hike is a pleasant walk through the forests to the glaciers, the last part of the trek is hard work. Once you complete the hike, you will be greeted with extremely beautiful vistas. If you can’t bear to tear yourself away, there are plenty more hikes as well as glaciers you can visit either by boat or by kayak around El Chalten.