Itinerary: Bariloche - Carretera Austral - Ruta 40 - Calafate
Duration: 12 Nights / 13 Days
Season: October / April
Total Km.: 1490 km (770 km paved road, 720 gravel road)
Flight from Buenos Aires to Bariloche
DAY 1: BARILOCHE - ESQUEL
Arrival and reception at San Carlos de Bariloche airport. Explanations about the journey and vehicle issues are offered at the airport. Bariloche is the gateway to the northern Patagonian Andes and a world known beautiful mountain resort. It is located in the most important national park in Argentina: the Nahuel Huapi National Park, in the heart of the Patagonia Lake District. Various mountains, glaciers, lakes and rivers are noted for their magnificent beauty. Drive through the Lake District surrounded by forests, traverse the impressive Canyoun know as Cañadon de la Mosca (El Bolson) and reach Los Alerces National Park where you can stop for lunch and a short trek. From the road there are great views o the Arrayanes River, and the Verde and Futalaufquen Lakes.
Accommodation at the cozy hosteria Canela. Distance: 350 km (210 km paved road)
DAY 2: ESQUEL - EL PANQUE (FIORDO DE PUYUHUAPI)
Only 20 kilometers after Esquel, the drive comes to the gravel road leading the International Pass Futaleufu. Later on, the mythic Carretera Austral cuts right through the heart of the mountain range, passing high mountain glaciers, waterfalls, fiords, and National Parks in the dense Pacific Forest.
Lodge at El Panque Lodge. Distance: 290 km (30 paved road)
DAY 3: EL PANQUE - COIHAIQUE
Drive south through stunning and diverse scenery. The first part of today´s journey is specially difficult and slow, due to the topography of the terrain and dense vegetation as well as the drastical altitude changes.
Continue south along the picturesque Simpson Valley to Coihayque.
Lodging at Hotel in Cohayque. Distance: 210 km (100 km gravel road)
DAY 4: COIHAIQUE - LAGO GRAL. CARRERAS - PUERTO GUADAL
Drive into the National Reserve of Cerro Castillo, then along the Ibañez River, a cross a forest that is covered with thick layers of ash from the Hudson Volcano which erupted violently in 1991, these follow the road goes up to the great General Carreras Lake. This is the third largest lake in South America after Titicaca and Maracaibo. It takes a day and a half to drive around it. We suggest to visit the Marble Cathedral.
Accommodation at Hosteria Terra Luna, located on the coast of Gral. Carreras Lake. Distance: 308 km (89 km paved road, 219 gravel road)
DAY 5: PUERTO GUADAL - LAGO BERTRAND - RIO BAKER - PTO. GUADAL
Baker River is Chile's largest river in terms of volume of water. The river flows out of Bertrand Lake, which is fed by the General Carrera Lake, it runs along the east side of the Northern Patagonian Ice Field and empties into the Pacific Ocean. Its characteristic turquoise-blue color is due to the glacial sediment deposits. This water system boasts a great diversity of landscape and wildlife.
Distance: 60 km (gravel road)
DAY 6: PUERTO GUADAL - LOS ANTIGUOS - RUTA 41 - LAGO POSADAS
Drive eastward to the international Pass of Chile Chico - Los Antiguos. Visit to one of the famous cherry farms. From Los Antiguos the recently opened Ruta 41 offers an adventurous and spectacular drive, through an unknown region and a great diversity of terrain, wildlife and geology. The drive starts 270 meters above sea level in Los Antiguos and rises up to 1580 meters, in the midst of a volcanic formation descending to the Pueyrredon and Posadas lakes at only 180 meters, a narrow land strip that barely separates these two different colored lakes. Distance: 240 km (gravel road)
DAY 7: LAGO POSADAS
Full day expedition visiting the Jurassic Coast of Posadas Lake, “The Arch” and the Isthmus. In the afternoon we explore the Puma cave, the “Laguna de los Colores” and the Gorge of Rio Oro with its white waters descending from Mt. San Lorenzo (3706mts). Its snowy peaks, can be seen from very far away, the highest peak in the southern Andes. It is also a great challenge for the climbers of the world. Father Agostini was the first one to reach its peak in 1943. Lodging and dinner at La Posada del Posadas.
Distance: 70 km (gravel road)
DAY 8: LAGO POSADAS - PAINTED CAVES - PERITO MORENO NATIONAL PARK
The road crosses the Patagonian vastness Central Plateau, interrupted only by the lonely Lago Cardiel.
Time allows a visit to Cuevas de las Manos (prehistoric cave paintings) and the Rio Pinturas Valley. The Cuevas de las Manos were a sacred site for the Tehuelches and its ancestors. The oldest painting, date back 9000 years. Distance: 360 km (gravel road)
DAY 9: PERITO MORENO NATIONAL PARK
You can go deep into the park's wilderness where you can easily observe guanacos, choiques (rhea americana), red and gray foxes, patagonian hares, flamingoes, kaukenes, condors. Puma(felis concolor) and huemul (American deer) are very difficult to spot. The sightseeing presents the Cordillera de los Andes and a complex lake system that includes Lake Belgrano, Azara, Burmeister, and Lake Nansen. Visit to the Belgrano Peninsula where there are hundreds of guanacos grazing on the hilly peninsula. Optional: trekking to Monte Leon.
In the afternoon drive up to the Milky Water River, a river that carries glacier sediments from Mount San Lorenzo (3740 m.). Lodging and dinner at Estancia La Oriental.
DAY 10: PERITO MORENO NATIONAL PARK - EL CHALTEN
Today´s journey takes us across the Patagonian vastness, interrupted by the lonely Lago Cardiel. On the road there are great opportunities to observe diverse land mammals like guanacos, hares, red and gray foxes, armadillos and skunks plus birds of prey such us falcons, eagles or condors.
Arrival at El Chalten, a windswept town at the foot of the impressive Mt. Fitz Roy. You will enjoy magnificent vistas of the huge granite walls of Mt Fitz Roy and some other important peaks. Distance: 440 km (180 km paved road)
DAY 11: EL CHALTEN
-Full day trekking to the Base Camp of Mount Fitz Roy
-Full day trekking to Torre Glacier
-Visit to Lago del Desierto. Trekking to Laguna Huemul
-Visit to Lago Viedma. Catamaran.
DAY 12: EL CHALTEN - EL CALAFATE - PERITO MORENO GLACIER
Drive to El Calafate, on the coast of Lago Argentino. From the road you observe the great Viedma Lake and its Glacier that comes from the continental snow fields. El Calafate is a charming small village with good facilities and the gateway to the magnificent Perito Moreno Glacier and Los Glaciares National Park.
In the afternoon visit to the famous Perito Moreno Glacier, an important river of ice, 3 km. wide by 50 m high. Because it is the only glacier in the world which is permanently advancing, it has been declared a world heritage by UNESCO. Some people consider it to be the eighth wonder of the world. Distance: 160 km (paved road)
DAY 13: EL CALAFATE AIRPORT
Drop off vehicle at El Calafate airport.