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5 Patagonia Itineraries For One And Two Weeks of Travel

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The sky-piercing peaks of Torres del Paine National Park; the dense, milky blue hue of Glacier Perito Moreno; the huge wingspan of an Andean condor sailing through in the skies of Tierra del Fuego; every moment traveling through Patagonia is one of utter magic.

There are few other places on earth where nature and vast, hostile wilderness are so easily accessible. But, thanks to the region’s huge size and its dazzling array of unmissable sights, it’s never an easy task designing a Patagonia itinerary, particularly if you’ve only got one or two weeks to travel.

The paved road into Torres del Paine National Park from the south, facing the Los Cuernos mountins and a key destination to include in a Patagonia itinerary for one week or two weeks

Why use these Patagonia itineraries?

Here’s why:

Patagonia covers an area over 402,000 square miles, making it two-thirds of the size of Alaska. What’s more, this region crosses into not one but two countries, meaning travel here can be more complicated as a result.

Finally, it’s a notoriously expensive part of the continent to visit, so a comprehensive Patagonia travel itinerary can help those planning a trip to Patagonia know how to stretch their holiday – and their budget – as far as possible (although if you want to take this even further, read about how to visit Patagonia on a budget).

These itineraries focus slightly more on Chilean Patagonia as, from my own travels around the region, I personally feel that the area is less developed in terms of tourism and, as a result, it’s a world away from the hordes of tourists that you now find across the border in Argentina.

There are a lot more off-the-beaten-trail adventures to be had in Chilean Patagonia and it’s home to some of the region’s best hiking trails. It’s also – contrary to what most believe – cheaper to travel in Chilean Patagonia due to the huge rates of inflation currently affecting the Argentine economy.*

The marble chapel on Laguna General Carrera near Puerto Rio Tranquilo in Chilean Patagonia, a must-visit destination for any Patagonia itinerary
The marble caves are a truly spectacular Patagonian sight and located along the Carretera Austral.

*As of April 2020, the exchange rate between the dollar and the Argentine peso is now very favourable for foreign travellers, although prices on the ground are rising too. If visiting Argentina, make sure you bring plenty of dollars as it’s often hard to get cash out of ATMs. Unfortunately, the Blue Dollar (an unofficial, black market exchange rate) no longer exists, but it’s easy enough to change dollars for a favourable rate at any money exchange. 

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Sharon, United Kingdom

Traveled to Patagonia, January to February 2019

My recommendations for planning a Patagonia travel itinerary 

I’ve spent around six months altogether in Patagonia over the past few years, both travelling and research for the forthcoming Moon Chile guidebook

I’ve written extensively about the region as part of my day job as a travel writer (as well as here on the blog, so check out my Patagonia archives).

Scroll to the bottom of this article for a FREE Patagonia itinerary and ebook to download and use for your trip!

Near the top of the John Gardner Pass along the O Circuit, a hike that you can do as part of a 14-day Patagonia itinerary
Almost at the top of the John Gardner Pass along the O Circuit, Torres del Paine National Park.

I can’t count how many people whose Patagonia travel routes I’ve planned (you can find more information about my Patagonia trip planning service) and all have included the following pieces advice about planning a Patagonia itinerary:

  • Patagonia is huge. Slim down your Patagonia travel itinerary, make the most of some of the lesser visited parts (we’ll go into that shortly) and you’ll enjoy the region more.
  • Don’t try and fly from Chile to Argentina. It’s horribly expensive. Always fly internally from Santiago or Buenos Aires and then use one of the long-distance (and generally comfortable) buses to cross the border. You will save a lot of cash. Find a detailed guide to how to get to Patagonia here.
  • LATAM (expensive), Sky Airlines (cheap) and Jet Smart (very cheap) are the main airlines in Chile. Compare prices through Skyscanner.com and then book directly for the best deals. Be aware that if you book through LATAM’s US site, you may well pay up to four times the price than if you buy it via their Chilean site. Unfortunately, the latter is in Spanish – so find someone who can help with the translation! Sometimes this isn’t the case though – but it’s worth check out the website in both English and Spanish to see the difference. 
  • Internal flights in Argentina are significantly more expensive than those in Chile. You can save a few hundred dollars by flying into Santiago and then to Punta Arenas in Chilean Patagonia, rather than flying to Buenos Aires south to El Calafate in Argentine Patagonia.
  • LATAM (expensive) and Aerolineas Argentina (cheaper but unreliable) are the main airlines in Argentina. Fly Bondi (cheap) is a new low cost airline, but it only flies from Buenos Aires to Bariloche (a 12-hour bus journey north of El Chalten). Norwegian also operate this route for a similar price.
  • Be aware that booking flights, buses and car rental in advance during peak season (December through March) is generally necessary. The same goes for accommodation in places such as Ushuaia, El Calafate, El Chaltén and Puerto Natales.
Cerro Castillo as seen from the Carretera Austral in Chilean Patagonia and a must-visit destination for any Patagonia itinerary
Patagonia is a fantastic place for a road trip and promises spectacular natural landscapes such as these along the Carretera Austral in Chile.
  • You will need to book your accommodation in Torres del Paine National Park from as early as September/October for visits in January and February, and at least two months in advance for trips at other times. This is because the park has become incredibly popular with tourists and there is a limited amount of accommodation. Sometimes it’s possible to find a spot in the campsites or refugios a couple of weeks in advance (tour agencies have provisionally booked up lodgings and not filled the spots which then get released back to the general public) so it’s worth checking back in regularly if you can’t get a spot. If you’ve missed out on accommodation, don’t despair: read my guide to your six options if you can’t get reservations in Torres del Paine.
  • The shoulder seasons, October-November and March-April are far quieter for travelling in Patagonia and, in most cases, cheaper. Be aware that accommodation in smaller towns and some tourism agencies may not be operating in October or April. For more information, read this article about the best time to visit Chile and Patagonia
  • Bus timings can and do vary depending on the season, so never trust 100% what is written on the internet. Always make the bus station your first port of call when you get to a new place to confirm timings and buy your tickets for the next leg of your journey. Bus Chile and Recorrido are good for finding bus timetables in Chile; in Argentina, Omnilineas does the same job.
  • Before choosing to rent a car, read this packed post about planning a Patagonian road trip. It’ll save you time and money and contains three road trip itineraries along with other essential information.
  • Patagonia is probably the safest part of South America. I’ve hitchhiked in Patagonia without problems and met some of the world’s nicest people.
  • I’ve written extensively on this subject, so make sure you head over to this really comprehensive, 15,000-word guide to travel in Patagonia, which covers everything from how to get there, where to go, where to stay and everything else in between.
  • If you want something to take with you and have access to regardless of internet connection, you can get your hands on my brand-new guidebook, Moon Chile.
  • If you’re on a budget, this guide to budget travel in Patagonia should help considerably, too. 

Patagonia itineraries for one week of travel

A one week Patagonia itinerary isn’t the longest, but if you’ve got a reasonable budget for transport around the region, then you can still cram plenty into just seven days of travel.

The torres on the W circuit in Torres del Paine National Park at dawn, a hike that you can fit into a one week Patagonia travel itinerary
At the Torres at the end of the W trek/O Circuit in Torres del Paine National Park.

These two Patagonia travel itineraries for one week include hiking Patagonia’s most famous trails, such as the W trek in Torres del Paine National Park, Chile and around El Chaltén, Argentina, as well as a visit to the mesmerising Perito Moreno Glacier.

Patagonia itinerary for one week of travel: Hike the W in Torres del Paine National Park

Overview of this one-week Patagonia itinerary:

  • Day One: Santiago to Puerto Natales
  • Day Two: The W trek hike to Glaciar Grey, Torres del Paine National Park
  • Day Three: The W trek hike to Paine Grande, Torres del Paine National Park
  • Day Four: The W trek hike to Valle Frances, Torres del Paine National Park
  • Day Five: The W trek hike to Las Torres, Torres del Paine National Park
  • Day Six: The W trek hike to Mirador Torres, Torres del Paine National Park
  • Day Seven: Punta Arenas to Santiago

If you’ve only got a week to travel to Patagonia, chances are you’ll be starting from the Chilean capital Santiago. I would recommend flying into this city, rather than Buenos Aires in Argentina.

This is because Chile has one of the most extensive selections of internal flights of all countries in South America, meaning that you can fly to Patagonia quickly and affordably.

With one week in Patagonia, you can hike the fabled W trek, Torres del Paine’s most famous trail.

Day One: Santiago to Puerto Natales

The domestic terminal is inside the Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport in Santiago, although you will likely have to collect your baggage and check in to your internal flight.

Fly to Patagonia with from Santiago to Punta Arenas (three hours 35 minutes, every two hours, from $80 USD return).

If you’re planning a trip to Patagonia, Chile between December and February, LATAM offers flights directly to Puerto Natales from Santiago (around four, three hours 10 minutes, from $80 USD return).

Two horses and riders on Seno Ultima Esperanza at Estancia La Peninsula in Chilean Patagonia
If you’ve extra time, consider going horseback riding at Estancia La Peninsula.

From the airport in Punta Arenas, board a bus to Puerto Natales (three hours 30 mins, around $8,000 CLP ($12 USD)). Check out Bus-Sur, Buses Pacheco and Buses Fernandez who run this route. You must buy your ticket on the internet because they do not sell bus tickets to Puerto Natales in the airport.

When you arrive in Puerto Natales, buy return tickets to Torres del Paine National Park from the bus station. 

Puerto Natales is the town closest to Torres del Paine National Park, where the question of where to hike in Patagonia is easily answered in the form of the popular and rewarding five-day W trek.

Use the afternoon in Puerto Natales to buy food and organise your hiking gear (visit my complete and 2020/2021 season guide to trekking the W in Torres del Paine National Park for all the information you need, including routes and packing lists).


Where to eat in Puerto Natales

For a truly unique Patagonian dining experience, book a table at the matchbox-size Lenga (Bories 221) which uses fresh, local ingredients, such as eel cheeks, sea asparagus, guanaco and lamb, turned into mouthwatering, modern twists on traditional Patagonian dishes. 

For a heartier dinner, opt for La Mesita Grande (Arturo Prat 196), a Puerto Natales institution named after the long, communal tables where diners eat together and known for its excellent pizzas, many of which take the names of hiking routes in Torres del Paine.


Budget accommodation in Puerto Natales 

The cheapest accommodation in Puerto Natales is camping at Jos Mar II ($6,000 camping per person ($9 USD)), who have eight grassy spots with picnic tables, plus a shower block with hot water and a small indoor kitchen with fridge.

For upmarket lodgings – at very affordable prices – stay at the characterful, vintage-style Vinnhaus ($13,000 dorm ($20 USD), $38,000-$50,000 double ($58 USD-$77 USD), where a 1920s house has been converted into smart, modern accommodation, with a comfortable attached cafe and grassy patio.

Mid-range accommodation in Puerto Natales

Comfortable beds, quirky, modern décor and access to a number of snug communal areas with squishy sofas and wood burning stoves makes Amerindia Hostal ($48,000-$55,000 double ($74 USD-$84 USD)) a great choice for couples or single travellers who don’t want to stay in dorms. 

A bedroom at Simple Patagonia in Puerto Natales, a must-visit destination for any Patagonia itinerary
Simple Patagonia promises dazzling views across the fjord and the Patagonian pampas.
Luxury accommodation in Puerto Natales 

As I found during my stay, sunsets across the Seno Última Esperanza are nothing short of spectacular from the vast windows of Simple Patagonia ($127,000 double ($195 USD)), four kilometers north of Puerto Natales. Set within what looks like an original granero (barn), it combines modernity with astonishing views from the bedrooms (eight and 11 have the best) and living and dining area. They also offer up three-course dining in the evening, using local Magellanic ingredients to produce delicious, top-quality dishes.


Days Two-Six: Hike the W in Torres del Paine National Park

At 6.40am or 7:30am, take the bus from the bus terminal in Puerto Natales ($15,000 CLP ($23 USD) return, two hours 15 minutes (to Laguna Amarga) four hours 15 minutes (to the Catamaran stop) to Torres del Paine National Park and start trekking the W from either the west at Paine Grande or from the east at Torres Central. 

JB Buses Patagonia, Transport Maria José, Buses Juan Ojeda and Buses Gómez run this route. 

Get more detailed information about preparing for the W trek without a tour, plus a complete guide to booking campsites and refugios in Torres del Paine National Park

If you’re struggling to get reservations for the W trek or want someone to organise all of the logistics for you, check out our local partner Chile Nativo. They give a 5% discount on tours in the park to Worldly Adventurer readers – just mention our name when you book!

Signposts for the different refugios and campground in Torres del Paine National Park a top destination for seven days in Patagonia
Hiking the W in Torres del Paine National Park.

Expect to stare across huge, sparkling glaciers, catch a glimpse of condors floating on thermals above and, in the light of dawn, admire the rearing silhouettes of the granite needles that give the park its name.

Day Seven: Punta Arenas to Santiago

Take the bus back to Punta Arenas and your flight back to Santiago.

If you have a bit of extra time, take a wander along the waterfront in Punta Arenas or visit the Museo Regional de Magallanes, located in the neoclassical Palacio Braun Ménendez that once belonged to wool magnate family, the Braun Ménendez and which now offers an interesting history of the region, including it’s indigenous former inhabitants.

Don’t miss the deliciously thick traditional hot chocolates at La Chocolatta (Calle Gobernador Carlos Bories 852).

Patagonia itinerary for one week of travel: Perito Moreno and hiking in Los Glaciares National Park

Overview of this one-week Patagonia itinerary:

  • Day One: Buenos Aires to El Calafate
  • Day Two: Visit Glacier Perito Moreno
  • Days Three-Six: Hiking in El Chaltén
  • Day Seven: Return to El Calafate and fly back to Buenos Aires

Many of those travelling in Patagonia will be flying directly into the region from Buenos Aires, from where it’s possible to fly south to El Calafate.

Again, a one week Patagonia travel itinerary isn’t a huge amount of time for visiting, but you still have the chance to appreciate Argentine Patagonia’s absolute highlights.

Day One: Buenos Aires to El Calafate

Fly to Patagonia on an early morning flight from Buenos Aires to El Calafate (four daily, three hours 15 minutes, from $158 USD return).

There’s not much to do in town (except for shopping in overpriced hiking gear shops), so in the afternoon, rent a bike and cycle to Punta Walichu, a cave network that’s home to 7,000-year-old cave paintings.

An alternative is the fascinating Glaciarium, with a range of informative displays, focusing on the Southern Patagonian Ice Field (including the nearby El Perito Moreno glacier). Downstairs, they even have an ice bar – although visits are limited to 30 minutes!

It’s six kilometres west of El Calafate in the direction of Parque Nacional Los Glaciares, but a free, hourly minibuses shuttle visitors between the car park of the Secretaría de Turismo Provincial (1 de Mayo, between Av. San Martín and Julio Argentino Roca) and the museum.


Where to eat in El Calafate

For a combination of beautiful lake views and a feast of succulent, expertly-roasted Patagonian lamb, don’t miss Parrilla Don Pichon (Calle Puerto Deseado 242). 

The Glaciarium in El Calafate, Patagonia
Learn all about Patagonia’s icy history at the Glaciarium in El Calafate.

It’s a ten-minute walk from the centre of El Calafate, but Pura Vida (Av. San Martín 1876) has hearty meat stews and pies – perfect for cold El Calafate nights. They also have plenty of vegetarian options if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by all the meaty options. The atmosphere, with its roaring fire and chirpy waiters, is even more inviting than the menu.


Budget accommodation in El Calafate

The cheapest rooms in town are found in the no-frills El Ovejero (José Pantín 64, $5 USD camping, $9 USD dorm). There’s a very small kitchen and communal area for the dorms and space for over 60 tents outside next to a small stream, with access to hot showers and washing up and laundry sinks.

More spacious and considerably more comfortable is the Albergue & Hostal del Glaciar Libertador ($18-25 USD dorm, $62 USD double). Dorms are a bit cramped but the doubles are well-sized and there’s plenty of communal areas, including a large kitchen.  

Mid-range accomodation in El Calafate

A ten-minute walk or shorter bike ride and located in the converted main buildings of an old estancia, Kau Yatún ($77 USD standard double, $90 superior double) offers hotel facilities in a pretty, rural setting. Parts of the ranch are still in operation and you can take a free tour. 

For those wishing to self-cater, Linda Vista Apart Hotel ($165 USD double) has functional but pretty cabins, all with kitchens and living areas. 

High-end accommodation in El Calafate 

Hotel Posada Los Alamos ($270 USD standard double) is a four-star hotel with little character but everything you need, including a restaurant, pool and spa, nine-hole golf course and even a cocktail bar overlooking it.

With incredible views of the lake, a good restaurant and indoor swimming pool, Design Suites Calafate ($115 USD double) is the perfect getaway. It’s a 10-minute drive into town (but there’s a shuttle bus for guests, but with access to a couple of short hikes and those views, you’ll be more than content staying on the ground.


Day Two: Glacier Perito Moreno

At dawn, take a walk over to Reserva Laguna Nimez, where flocks of flamingos, black-necked swans and over 70 species of birds nest and are most active in the early morning.

Glacier Perito Moreno in Los Glaciers National Park is a good day trip from El Calafate for a one-week Patagonia itinerary
Glacier Perito Moreno in Los Glaciers National Park.

Today’s the day for appreciating one of Patagonia’s greatest highlights: Glacier Perito Moreno.

To get to Los Glaciares National Park and the glacier, if there’s more than two of you, rent a taxi for the day for an agreed fee or take the bus from the main bus terminal (one hour thirty minues, $24 USD return). Cal-Tur and Chaltén Travel offer run this route and often offer hotel pick ups – check this when you book. 

Entry into the park is around $25 USD (cash only), but worth the expense, as you can walk up to the snout of this huge glacier thanks to a boardwalk that sits only a few hundred metres away.

You can take a one-hour boat tour up to the snout of the glacier (it’s impressive but I wasn’t sure it was worth the expense as the view from the boardwalks is fantastic already) with Southern Spirit ($20 USD per person, leaving from the boardwalk in front of the glacier).

Hielo y Aventura also run one-hour tours ($20 USD, leaving from Puerto Bajo de las Sombras, a port six kilometers before you reach the main car park).

From the same port, they also run ice trekking (“Mini Trekking”, one hour, thirty minutes on the ice from $110 USD; “Big Ice”, three hours 30 minutes on the ice, $215 USD).

Mil Outdoor also run kayaking tours (two and a half hours of paddling in double kayaks, $195 USD) and while you can’t get as close to the snout as the boat does due to safety concerns, it’s a far quieter and back-to-basics way of appreciating the glacier. 

Get more information about visiting El Calafate in our complete guide to the Perito Moreno Glacier

Days Three-Six: El Chaltén

Board an early bus to El Chaltén (three hours, $22 USD) from the bus station. When you arrive in El Chaltén, it’s a good idea to buy your bus ticket back to El Calafate if travelling in Patagonia in high season.

Spend the next three days of your one week Patagonia itinerary in El Chaltén, Argentina’s self-designated hiking capital.

Set on the northern edge of Los Glaciares National Park, this town is within striking distances of plenty of Patagonia’s most famous hikes.

Fancy a truly unique experience of Los Glaciares National Park? Check out the tours operated by Runcation, a trailblazing company leading trail-running retreats in and around El Calafate and El Chaltén. Worldly Adventurer readers get a 5% discount off their scheduled tours by using the code WORLDLYADVENTURER! Find out more here.

A lake in Los Glaciares National Park, a good day trip on a Patagonia itinerary for one week or two weeks
Hiking in Los Glaciares National Park.

These include to the bewitching Laguna de los Tres (a personal favourite) and the flatter and less challenging routes to Laguna Torre, both of which give astounding views of the iconic Cerro Torre (the inspiration for the clothing brand, Patagonia’s, logo).

The shorter trail to Mirador Los Cóndores and Mirador Águila is also worthwhile, with dazzling views of El Chaltén and the national park beyond.

For full information about the trails you should check out, visit this website entirely dedicated to self-guided hikes from El Chaltén.


Where to eat in El Chaltén

Off the main road, so offering a great place to escape the crowds, La Ruca Mahuida (Lionel Terray 55) has huge pizzas and calzones that are big enough to share between two. Prices – and food – are superb and they have a beer garden in summer.

A pizza at La Ruca Mahuida in El Chalten, Argentine Patagonia and a must-visit place on any Patagonia itinerary
Expect delicious pizzas at La Ruca Mahuida.

You can’t miss sampling wine in Argentina, so head to the poky La Vinería (Av. Lago de Desierto 265), with really knowledgeable staff and plenty of cheese and meat sharing platters to nibble on as you sip.

Go for unfiltered blonde or bock on tap at the popular La Cervecería (San Martín 320) which has hearty Patagonian dishes on offer too, including their famed locro soup (a spicy meat, maize and vegetable stew). 


Budget accommodation in El Chaltén

Camping El Relincho ($7 USD camping per person, $10 USD dorm) has huge grounds with plenty of space for tents, hook-ups for camper vans and motor homes with a large, heated toilet block with hot showers and a wooden cabin open to guests. There’s one tiny – and barely furnished – dorm room, too. 

Probably the best dorm options in town are at the popular Patagonia Travellers’ Hostel ($25 USD dorm, $75-$105 USD double). It has a friendly, backpacker vibe, hot showers and is right on the main street. 

Mid-range accommodation in El Chaltén

Offering truly excellent value for money, the friendly and cosy Nothofagus B&B ($49-$65 USD) also has wonderful Mont Fitz Roy views from some of its upstairs rooms. There are also plenty of living spaces around the guesthouse, plus a small cafeteria-style breakfast room downstairs.  

For self-catering, you can’t go wrong with Latitud 49˚ ($100 USD double apartment) and their modern apartments, complete with living room and kitchen. Owners Florencia and Lucas live next door and also have encyclopedic knowledge of El Chaltén, its restaurants and activities.

High-end accommodation in El Chaltén

Rooms are large at Infinito Sur ($144 USD double), with stylish, modern furnishings and a living room look right out across to Monte Fitz Roy. They can also arrange lunch boxes for hikers, for an additional fee. 

Quite possibly the best views in town are from the plush sofas of the Los Cerros Boutique Hotel ($187 USD standard double, $220 USD superior double), part of an Argentinean chain of hotels. Rooms are somewhat characterless and ask one with an even number for the best mountain views. There’s a jacuzzi and sauna plus bar and restaurant. 


Day Seven: Return to El Calafate

Take the bus back to El Calafate and then fly back to Buenos Aires.

A hiking trail in Parque Nacional Los Glaciares, El Chalten, Patagonia
Keep an eye out for wildlife on the trails in Parque Nacional Los Glaciares.

Changes you can make to this one week Patagonia itinerary:

  • If you’d rather visit Torres del Paine National Park rather than El Chaltén, swap the time in the latter town for a day trip or two from Puerto Natales instead – although you will spend a lot of time travelling between the two places.
  • Buses leave in the morning and afternoon from the bus station in El Calafate ($25-32 USD, five to nine hours – depending on how long the border crossing takes). It’s recommended to book these tickets a day or two in advance as they can get booked up in high season. Bus SurCOOTRA and Turismo Zaahj run this route. 

Patagonia itineraries for two weeks of travel

Two weeks is a much more manageable time in Patagonia and means you’ll spend a lot less time travelling between destinations and more actually exploring the area.

In fourteen days in Patagonia, you can hike the O Circuit in Torres del Paine, explore the lesser-known but spectacular Carretera Austral and cover most of the region’s highlights. 

Moon Chile guidebook next to a cup of tea

Need more inspiration?

You’ll find even more detailed itineraries, off-the-beaten-path gems, hiking routes and accommodation, restaurant and tour recommendations to suit your travel style in my brand-new guidebook, Moon Chile.

Patagonia itinerary for two weeks of travel: Highlights of Patagonia

Overview of this two-week highlight of Patagonia itinerary:

  • Day One: Buenos Aires to El Calafate
  • Day Two: Visit Glacier Perito Moreno
  • Days Three-Six: Hiking in El Chaltén
  • Day Seven: Return to El Calafate and onwards to Puerto Natales
  • Day Eight: Puerto Natales and bus to Torres del Paine National Park
  • Days Nine to Twelve: Hike the W in Torres del Paine National Park
  • Day Thirteen: Bus from Puerto Natales to El Calafate
  • Day Fourteen: Fly back to Buenos Aires

Many travellers want to see Patagonia’s “highlights”, which involves combining both of the two itineraries above.

These include hiking the W trek in Torres del Paine National Park (Chile), visiting El Perito Moreno Glacier (Argentina) and exploring the hiking routes of Los Glaciares National Park (Argentina). 

Day One: Buenos Aires to El Calafate

Fly to Patagonia on an early morning flight from Buenos Aires to El Calafate (four daily, three hours 15 minutes, from $158 USD return).

There’s not much to do in town (except for shopping in overpriced hiking gear shops), so in the afternoon, rent a bike and cycle to Punta Walichu, a cave network that’s home to 7,000-year-old cave paintings.

An alternative is the fascinating Glaciarium, with a range of informative displays, focusing on the Southern Patagonian Ice Field (including the nearby El Perito Moreno glacier). Downstairs, they even have an ice bar – although visits are limited to 30 minutes!

It’s six kilometers west of El Calafate in the direction of Parque Nacional Los Glaciares, but a free, hourly minibuses shuttle visitors between the car park of the Secretaría de Turismo Provincial (1 de Mayo, between Av. San Martín and Julio Argentino Roca) and the museum.

Where to eat in El Calafate

For a combination of beautiful lake views and a feast of succulent, expertly-roasted Patagonian lamb, don’t miss Parrilla Don Pichon (Calle Puerto Deseado 242). 

It’s a ten-minute walk from the centre of El Calafate, but Pura Vida (Av. San Martín 1876) has hearty meat stews and pies – perfect for cold El Calafate nights. They also have plenty of vegetarian options if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by all the meaty options. The atmosphere, with its roaring fire and chirpy waiters, is even more inviting than the menu.


Budget accommodation in El Calafate

The cheapest rooms in town are found in the no-frills El Ovejero (José Pantín 64, $5 USD camping, $9 USD dorm). There’s a very small kitchen and communal area for the dorms and space for over 60 tents outside next to a small stream, with access to hot showers and washing up and laundry sinks.

More spacious and considerably more comfortable is the Albergue & Hostal del Glaciar Libertador ($18-25 USD dorm, $62 USD double). Dorms are a bit cramped but the doubles are well-sized and there’s plenty of communal areas, including a large kitchen.  

Mid-range accomodation in El Calafate

A ten-minute walk or shorter bike ride and located in the converted main buildings of an old estancia, Kau Yatún ($77 USD standard double, $90 superior double) offers hotel facilities in a pretty, rural setting. Parts of the ranch are still in operation and you can take a free tour. 

For those wishing to self-cater, Linda Vista Apart Hotel ($165 USD double) has functional but pretty cabins, all with kitchens and living areas. 

High-end accommodation in El Calafate 

Hotel Posada Los Alamos ($270 USD standard double) is a four-star hotel with little character but everything you need, including a restaurant, pool and spa, nine-hole golf course and even a cocktail bar overlooking it.

With incredible views of the lake, a good restaurant and indoor swimming pool, Design Suites Calafate ($115 USD double) is the perfect getaway. It’s a 10-minute drive into town (but there’s a shuttle bus for guests, but with access to a couple of short hikes and those views, you’ll be more than content staying on the ground.  


Day Two: Glacier Perito Moreno

At dawn, take a walk over to Reserva Laguna Nimez, where flocks of flamingos, black-necked swans and over 70 species of birds nest and are most active in the early morning.

Today’s the day for appreciating one of Patagonia’s greatest highlights: Glacier Perito Moreno.

To get to Los Glaciares National Park and the glacier, if there’s more than two of you, rent a taxi for the day for an agreed fee or take the bus from the main bus terminal (one hour thirty minues, $24 USD return).

Cal-Tur and Chaltén Travel offer run this route and often offer hotel pick ups – check this when you book. 

Entry into the park is around $25 USD (cash only), but worth the expense, as you can walk up to the snout of this huge glacier thanks to a boardwalk that sits only a few hundred metres away.

You can take a one-hour boat tour up to the snout of the glacier (it’s impressive but I wasn’t sure it was worth the expense as the view from the boardwalks is fantastic already) with Southern Spirit ($20 USD per person, leaving from the boardwalk in front of the glacier).

Hielo y Aventura also run one-hour tours ($20 USD, leaving from Puerto Bajo de las Sombras, a port six kilometers before you reach the main car park).

From the same port, they also run ice trekking (“Mini Trekking”, one hour, thirty minutes on the ice from $110 USD; “Big Ice”, three hours 30 minutes on the ice, $215 USD).

Mil Outdoor also run kayaking tours (two and a half hours of paddling in double kayaks, $195 USD) and while you can’t get as close to the snout as the boat does due to safety concerns, it’s a far quieter and back-to-basics way of appreciating the glacier. 

Get more information about visiting El Calafate in our complete guide to the Perito Moreno Glacier

Days Three-Six: El Chaltén

Board an early bus to El Chaltén (three hours, $22 USD) from the bus station. When you arrive in El Chaltén, it’s a good idea to buy your bus ticket back to El Calafate if travelling in Patagonia in high season.

Spend the next three days of your two week Patagonia itinerary in El Chaltén, Argentina’s self-designated hiking capital.

Set on the northern edge of Los Glaciares National Park, this town is within striking distances of plenty of Patagonia’s most famous hikes.

These include to the bewitching Laguna de los Tres (a personal favourite) and the flatter and less challenging routes to Laguna Torre, both of which give astounding views of the iconic Cerro Torre (the inspiration for the clothing brand, Patagonia’s, logo).

The shorter trail to Mirador Los Cóndores and Mirador Águila is also worthwhile, with dazzling views of El Chaltén and the national park beyond.

For full information about the trails you should check out, visit this website entirely dedicated to self-guided hikes from El Chaltén.


Where to eat in El Chaltén

Off the main road, so offering a great place to escape the crowds, La Ruca Mahuida (Lionel Terray 55) has huge pizzas and calzones that are big enough to share between two. Prices – and food – are superb and they have a beer garden in summer.

You can’t miss sampling wine in Argentina, so head to the poky La Vinería (Av. Lago de Desierto 265), with really knowledgeable staff and plenty of cheese and meat sharing platters to nibble on as you sip.

Go for unfiltered blonde or bock on tap at the popular La Cervecería (San Martín 320) which has hearty Patagonian dishes on offer too, including their famed locro soup (a spicy meat, maize and vegetable stew). 


Budget accommodation in El Chaltén

Camping El Relincho ($7 USD camping per person, $10 USD dorm) has huge grounds with plenty of space for tents, hook-ups for camper vans and motor homes with a large, heated toilet block with hot showers and a wooden cabin open to guests. There’s one tiny – and barely furnished – dorm room, too. 

Probably the best dorm options in town are at the popular Patagonia Travellers’ Hostel ($25 USD dorm, $75-$105 USD double). It has a friendly, backpacker vibe, hot showers and is right on the main street. 

Mid-range accommodation in El Chaltén

Offering truly excellent value for money, the friendly and cosy Nothofagus B&B ($49-$65 USD) also has wonderful Mont Fitz Roy views from some of its upstairs rooms. There are also plenty of living spaces around the guesthouse, plus a small cafeteria-style breakfast room downstairs.  

Monte Fitz Roy as seen from the trail to Laguna de los Tres in Argentine Patagonia
Monte Fitz Roy as seen from the trail to Laguna de los Tres.

For self-catering, you can’t go wrong with Latitud 49˚ ($100 USD double apartment) and their modern apartments, complete with living room and kitchen. Owners Florencia and Lucas live next door and also have encyclopedic knowledge of El Chaltén, its restaurants and activities.

High-end accommodation in El Chaltén

Rooms are large at Infinito Sur ($144 USD double), with stylish, modern furnishings and a living room look right out across to Monte Fitz Roy. They can also arrange lunch boxes for hikers, for an additional fee. 

Quite possibly the best views in town are from the plush sofas of the Los Cerros Boutique Hotel ($187 USD standard double, $220 USD superior double), part of an Argentinean chain of hotels. Rooms are somewhat characterless and ask one with an even number for the best mountain views. There’s a jacuzzi and sauna plus bar and restaurant. 


Day Seven: Return to El Calafate and onwards to Puerto Natales 

Take the bus back to El Calafate. Change buses at the terminal and board one to cross the border to Puerto Natales ($25-32 USD, five to nine hours – depending on how long the border crossing takes).

As these tickets often sell out in high season, you may want to buy this a few days in advance to ensure you get a spot on the bus. Bus SurCOOTRA and Turismo Zaahj run this route.

Where to eat in Puerto Natales

For a truly unique Patagonian dining experience, book a table at the matchbox-size Lenga (Bories 221) which uses fresh, local ingredients, such as eel cheeks, sea asparagus, guanaco and lamb, turned into mouthwatering, modern twists on traditional Patagonian dishes. 

For a heartier dinner, opt for La Mesita Grande (Arturo Prat 196), a Puerto Natales institution named after the long, communal tables where diners eat together and known for its excellent pizzas, many of which are named after hiking routes in Torres del Paine.


Budget accommodation in Puerto Natales 

The cheapest accommodation in Puerto Natales is camping at Jos Mar II ($6,000 camping per person ($9 USD)), who have eight grassy spots with picnic tables, plus a shower block with hot water and a small indoor kitchen with fridge.

For upmarket lodgings – at very affordable prices – stay at the characterful, vintage-style Vinnhaus ($13,000 dorm ($20 USD), $38,000-$50,000 double ($58 USD-$77 USD), where a 1920s house has been converted into smart, modern accommodation, with a comfortable attached cafe and grassy patio.

Mid-range Accommodation in Puerto Natales

Comfortable beds, quirky, modern décor and access to a number of snug communal areas with squishy sofas and wood burning stoves makes Amerindia Hostal ($48,000-$55,000 double ($74 USD-$84 USD)) a great choice for couples or single travellers who don’t want to stay in dorms. 

Views Seno Ultima Esperanza at sunset from the terrace of Simple Hotel Patagonia an unmissable stop on a one or two week Patagonia itinerary
The view of the Seno Ultima Esperanza at sunset from the terrace of Simple Patagonia
Luxury accommodation in Puerto Natales 

As I found during my stay, sunsets across the Seno Última Esperanza are nothing short of spectacular from the vast windows of Simple Patagonia ($127,000 double ($195 USD)), four kilometers north of Puerto Natales.

Set within what looks like an original granero (barn), it combines modernity with astonishing views from the bedrooms (eight and 11 have the best) and living and dining area. They also offer up three-course dining in the evening, using local Magellanic ingredients to produce delicious, top-quality dishes.


Day Eight: Puerto Natales and bus to Torres del Paine National Park 

Use the morning in Puerto Natales to buy food and organise your hiking gear (visit my complete and 2020/2021 season guide to trekking the W in Torres del Paine National Park for all the information you need, including routes and packing lists).

Take the afternoon bus at 2.30pm ($15,000 CLP ($23 USD) return, two hours 15 minutes (to Laguna Amarga) four hours 15 minutes (to the Catamaran stop) to Torres del Paine National Park and camp up either at Paine Grande (for the W trek hiking west to east) or Torres Central (for the W trek hiking east to west). 

JB Buses Patagonia, Transport Maria José, Buses Juan Ojeda and Buses Gómez run this route. 

Days Nine to Twelve: Hike the W in Torres del Paine National Park

Get all the detailed information about preparing for the W trek without a tour you need, plus a complete guide to booking campsites and refugios in Torres del Paine National Park

Expect to stare across huge, sparkling glaciers, catch a glimpse of condors floating on thermals above and, in the light of dawn, admire the rearing silhouettes of the granite needles that give the park its name.

Return to Puerto Natales by bus on the final day of your hike. 

Day Thirteen: Puerto Natales to El Calafate

Return by bus to El Calafate (again, it’s wise to book this ticket in advance). 

Day Fourteen: Flight home

Fly from El Calafate to Buenos Aires and catch your return flight home. 

Patagonia itinerary for two weeks of travel: The Carretera Austral

Overview of this two-week Carretera Austral Patagonia Itinerary:

  • Day One: Fly from Santiago to Puerto Montt
  • Days Two-Three: Board the Navimag or Naviera Austral ferry
  • Day Four: Exploring Río Tranquilo and the marble caves
  • Days Five-Six: Hiking in Parque Nacional Patagonia
  • Day Seven: Bus from Parque Patagonia to Coyhaique
  • Day Eight: Bus from Coyhaique to Puyuhuapi
  • Day Nine: Parque Nacional Queulat
  • Days Ten-Twelve: Hiking and thermal springs in Parque Nacional Pumalín
  • Day Thirteen: Bus and boat from Chaitén to Puerto Montt
  • Day Fourteen: Fly back to Santiago

This two-week itinerary covers a lot of ground: almost the entire length of the Carretera Austral – aka Chilean Patagonia’s ultimate road trip.

This 1,240km/770-mile road slices through the heart of northern Chilean Patagonia and offer dazzling natural landscapes at each adn every turn.

Although two weeks is a little on the short side for seeing this part of Patagonia (I would recommend three weeks if you don’t want to feel rushed), it is possible to see the highlights in this period of time.

A sign for the Carretera Austral, Chilean Patagonia's most adventurous road and a possible trip on a one-week Patagonia itinerary
The Carretera Austral – Chilean Patagonia’s most adventurous road.

For more information about the highlights of this Patagonia itinerary, check out my guide to visiting the Carretera Austral.

Required equipment for this two-week Patagonia itinerary

To get the most out of this two-week Patagonia travel itinerary, I would recommend bringing camping equipment with you to give the extra freedom that this backpacking route offers.

If you’re not sure what equipment is necessary or where to get hold of it from, read this article which includes my full packing list for Patagonia.

If you would prefer to take this itinerary as a road trip, I would recommend reading this article about driving in Patagonia, which offers essential guidance about car rental, border crossings, insurance and other essentials for would-be road trippers

Day One: Santiago to Puerto Montt

Fly from Santiago to Puerto Montt (at least 11 flights per day, one hour 45 minutes, from $34 USD return).

From the airport, take the bus right outside the terminal ($2,500 CLP/$4 USD, every 30 minutes) to the bus station in the centre of Puerto Montt.

From here, a 20-minute local minibus ride gets you to Puerto Varas – one of Chile’s most picturesque towns. Spend an afternoon soaking up its lakeside vantage point and – if the weather’s sunny – the views across the water to Volcán Osorno from the beach.

Saltas de Petrohué, near Puerto Varas a good stop on a Patagonia itinerary of one week or two weeks
Saltas de Petrohué, near Puerto Varas.

If you’ve got time in the afternoon, take a minibus from Puerto Varas’ main bus stop on the corner of Martinéz and San Bernando ($2,000, one hour 15 minutes) to visit Saltas de Petrohué, a set of dazzling waterfalls set in the shadow of the volcano.

Where to eat in Puerto Montt

Eat overlooking the late at Mesa Tropera (Santa Rosa 161), a chic pizzeria serving up their own locally brewed craft beer. For some of the region’s freshest fish, book a table at La Olla (just before the road bends north out of Puerto Varas, Ruta 225) for traditional Chilean seafood.


Budget Accommodation in Puerto Varas

Stay overnight in Compass del Sur (dorm $14,000 CLP ($21USD), double room $39,000-$46,000 CLP ($60-70 USD)), possibly my favourite hostel in Patagonia thanks to its huge rooms, kitchen and delicious, home-made breakfast. They’re also experts on the region so have plenty of hand knowledge. 

Mid-range accommodation in Puerto Varas

Set in a traditional German mansion Estancia 440 Hotel Boutique ($72,000 CLP ($110 USD) double) marries elegant rustic decoration with absolute comfort, plus plenty of communal spaces, from a small kitchen, to a terrace with sun lounger, hot tub and sofa room.  

High-end accommodation in Puerto Varas

Set right on the shores of the lake (you will need a car to get here or to arrange transport) AWA ($400,000 CLP ($613 USD) double  is a five-star option with swimming pool and an excellent restaurant that’s also open to the public. All bedrooms have mesmerising views of the volcano. 


Days Two-Three: Navimag or Naviera Austral

Take a bus back to Puerto Montt and board the Navimag to Puerto Chacabuco*. Be aware that the boats don’t necessarily leave at the time they ought to (the Navimag left 12 hours late when I sailed in April 2016) so leave room in your Patagonia itinerary for this eventuality.

Boats theoretically should leave at 8am (requiring you to be at the port around 6am in the morning, so double check this the day before in case you need to stay the night in Puerto Montt instead).

The Navimag Ferry from Puerto Montt to Puerto Chacabuco makes a great short ferry trip if you only have one week for your Patagonia itinerary
Views at sunrise from the Navimag ferry.

Sail along the coastline of Chile, catching glimpses of sea lions, dolphins, penguins and even southern right whales if you’re lucky. If the weather’s in your favour, you can watch Chile’s incredible shoreline of dense Valdivian temperate rainforest scattered with volcanoes and glaciers as you pass.

Dock at Puerto Chacabuco, where you’ll find a local minibus that can drop you off at one of the bus companies in Puerto Aysén. Board a bus to Coyhaique (one hour 30 mins) and buy tickets to visit Río Tranquilo for tomorrow.

There’s not a whole lot to do in Coyhaique, but if your boat arrives in the morning as it should, you’ll have time to head out to Reserva Nacional Coyhaique, three miles away from the centre of town by taxi or hitchhiking. There are a number of short walks (from 30-minutes to a couple of hours) with views across the town and the region.

Where to eat in Coyhaique

Run by the same owners as Mesa Tropera in Puerto Varas, Casa Tropera (Calle Camino Aeródromo Teniente Vidal – check out their Facebook Page for a map) has excellent burgers and their range of craft beer.

For vegetarian or lighter fare, Basilic Bistrot (Gral. Parra 220) has a wide selection of dishes, ranging from tabbouleh-style salads, through lentil and chickpea or roasted red pepper and sweet pickle burgers, thick vegetable soups, cakes and pudding – the majority of which can be made vegan on request. 


Budget accommodation in Coyhaique

Tiny but an excellent find for backpackers and budget-minded travellers, Patagon Backpackers ($10,000 CLP ($15 USD) dorm, $32,000 CLP ($49 USD) double) is run by a welcoming, good-humoured mother-daughter team. You can use the kitchen and dining area downstairs.

Mid-range accommodation in Coyhaique

Rooms are dated and it’s a 10-minute walk to the Plaza de Armas, but the English-speaking owner at Aumkenk Aike ($34,000 CLP ($40 USD double0) is very knowledgeable and friendly. There is laundry service, a bar and games area and kitchen access.

High-end accommodation in Coyhaique 

Coyhaique’s smartest option and offering exceptional value for money, Raices Bed and Breakfast ($82,000-$92,000 CLP ($126-$141 USD) double) is run by friendly, bilingual Cecilia who’s always on hand to help you out with restaurant and activity recommendations. 


Day Four: Río Tranquilo and the marble caves

From the bus terminal in Coyhaique, hop on a bus in the morning (most leave at 8.30am or 9am) to Río Tranquilo (five hours, $10,000 CLP ($15 USD)) and organise a tour from one of the agencies along the lakefront to visit the marble caves.

Speedboat tours last for around 1.5 hours and cost $10,000 CLP ($15 USD) per person. 

These rock formations contain marble in all colours of the rainbow and are made even more picturesque thanks to the turquoise of the waters of Lago General Carrera.

The mineral enriched waters of Lago General Carrera are home to the equally colourful marble caves, another unmissable destination for a one or two week Patagonia itinerary
The marble caves near Río Tranquilo.

If you pay a further $10,000 CLP, you can take an extended, three-hour trip across the lake to Puerto Sánchez, where there are further caves – and fewer tourists – and they’re more accessible by boat.

Whichever tour you choose, go in the early morning for the best lighting, although departures depend on weather conditions, as waves in the lake can be fierce.

Where to eat in Puerto Río Tranquilo

There are only a handful of restaurants in the town. Hands down the best is Mate y Truco (Carretera Austral 121), a tiny restaurant with thin-crust pizzas, whipped up on demand using whatever ingredients they have in stock, fresh gnocchi and pastas, and a handful of other traditional Chilean dishes. 

If you’ve got cooking gear and are on a budget, you’re better off buying food from the Unimarc supermarket in Coyhaique, where it’s cheaper and there’s more choice.


Budget accommodation in Puerto Río Tranquilo

Accommodation options are fairly limited. The best budget choice – and popular with backpacker – is the family-run Bellavista ($5,000 ($8 USD) camping, $12,000 CLP ($18 USD) dorm, $25,000 CLP ($38 USD) double) which has a small kitchen and simple but clear rooms. 

Mid-range accommodation in Puerto Río Tranquilo

El Puesto ($110,000 CLP ($168 USD) double) is somewhat over-priced but is the smartest option in the town and has pretty wooden bedrooms with white linens.

High-end accommodation in Puerto Río Tranquilo

50 kilometers south of the town, Mallin Colorado Ecolodge ($101,000 CLP ($155 USD) double, $158,000 CLP ($242 USD) two-person cabin) is a lovely lodge with pleasant views across the lake, a restaurant on-site for guests and even their own hiking trails starting from the property. You will need a car to get here. 


Days Five-Six: Parque Nacional Patagonia

Take the bus to Cochrane leaving between noon and 12.30pm (three hours, $10,000 CLP ($15 USD)) and ask to be dropped at the turning point to enter Parque Patagonia, El Cruce Entrada Baker (three-four hours from Río Tranquilo), 17km/10.5-miles before you reach Cochrane.

From here, you’re 11 kilometers from the entrance to the park, so either hitchhike (particularly during summer when there should be more traffic) or walk. Find out more about getting to Parque Patagonia here.

As one of Chile’s newest national parks (created only in 2018), Parque Nacional Patagonia is a truly under-visited gem in Patagonia.

Infrastructure is excellent, including various day and multi-day hiking trails. You can find all the information about the park in English on their website


Where to eat and stay in Parque Nacional Patagonia

The park has excellent facilities, including an expensive but good cafe/restaurant/bar, El Rincón Gaucho, various campgrounds and a luxurious lodge. 

There are three campsites in the park, the most central being Los West Winds campground ($8,000 CLP ($12 USD)), which has covered picnic areas and basic toilet facilities, including solar panel showers (but bring your own toilet paper and soap!). It’s one kilometre from the Visitor’s Centre and restaurant.

The only other lodgings in the park is the beautiful The Lodge at Valle Chacabuco (from $350 USD in high season and you will need to book in advance), with sweeping views across the steppe of the valley and a living area with floor-to-ceiling windows and a terrace for appreciating the scenery. 

Day Seven: Parque Patagonia to Coyhaique

Buses leave daily from Cochrane at 6.30am (passing the entrance to the park around 30 minutes later), which you will need to flag down on the main road or hitchhike back to Coyhaique (nine hours).

Buy tickets from the bus station in Coyhaique to go to Puyuhuapi the next morning.

Day Eight: Coyhaique to Puyuhuapi

Board the bus to Puyuhuapi (five hours, $8,000 CLP ($12 USD)), which either leave at 2pm with Terraustral or at 8am Tuesdays and Saturdays with Buses Becker.

If you’ve got camping, cooking gear and food (you can buy the latter from the Unimarc supermarket in Coyhaique), get the bus to drop you off at the entrance Parque Nacional Queulat and camp overnight in the campground ($5,000 CLP ($8 USD). 

Or, continue onto Puyuhuapi and spend the night at the grand, Germanic Casa Ludwig ($30,000-$50,000 CLP ($46-$77 USD) double), a landmark in the village and run by friendly English, Spanish and German-speaking host Luisa Ludwig. 

For dinner, Misur (Av. Otto Uebel 86) is surprisingly good, with fish caught from the fjord served as beautifully-presented ceviches and risottos or oven-baked with chorizo. Cash only.

Day Nine: Parque Nacional Queulat

Hitchhike or jump on a local bus to visit Parque Nacional Queulat and the incredible Ventisquero Colgante (possibly the most beautiful glacier I’ve ever seen).

Turismo Experiencia Austral (Otto Uebel 36) in Puyuhuapi have 8.30am departures daily ($5,000 CLP ($8 USD) return), leaving from the car park of the park at 6.30pm. 

The cobalt blue ice of the Queulat Hanging Glacier, a destination you can reach as part of a Patagonia itinerary for one week or two weeks
The Queulat Hanging Glacier or Ventisquero Colgante near Puyuhuapi.

There are a few short hikes in the park to keep you busy for a day. Get the bus back in the afternoon to Puyuhuapi or, in the shoulder or high season, it shouldn’t be a problem hitchhiking (get some tips on how to hitchhike in South America safely).

Days Ten-Twelve: Parque Nacional Pumalín

Take the bus from Puyuhuapi to Chaitén (three hours, $6,000 CLP ($9 USD)) operated by Buses Becker Tuesdays at around 2pm or by Terraustral (tel. 67/2325 131), the latter leaving from outside the Nido de Puyes minimarket Mondays, Wednesdays and Friday at 6am.

Stock up with cooking supplies and food in one of the small shops in Chaitén and then hitchhike to Parque Nacional Pumalín.

If you’ve not got camping gear, there are lodgings in the park but camping is the better option (see the full list here).

There are twelve trails in the park, most of which do require you to pack up camp and move around a bit, however, it’s fairly easy to hitchhike between campgrounds with the cars travelling along the main road that cuts through the park.

Again, this brand-new national park was only founded in 2018 and you can find all the information you need about it on their English-language website

Hitchhike back to Chaitén and book tickets to catch the bus in the morning back to Puerto Montt.


Budget accommodation in Chaitén

Hospedaje Don Carlos ($30,000 CLP ($41 USD) double) is a great choice. Their 23 rooms vary significantly in size; opt for the newer wing on the west of the house for substantially larger and superior rooms, all with private bathrooms and central heating. Rooms are plain but spotless, but wooden floors do mean you can sometimes hear your neighbours.

Mid-range accommodation in Chaitén

Hotel Mi Casa ($57,500 CLP ($79 USD) double) sits on a low hill above the town with beautiful views of the bay from the breakfast rooms – but none from the guest rooms. Rooms are a mishmash of modern decor but double-glazed windows and central heating ensure the hotel is welcomingly warm.


Day Thirteen: Chaitén to Puerto Montt  

Hop on the 8am or 11am bus back to Puerto Montt (10 hours, $20,000 CLP ($31 USD)).

It’s a long journey, but luckily the scenery as you pass through Valdivian Temperate Rainforest and take ferry crossings through silent Patagonia fjords, more than makes up for the time.

You can get out of the bus during the ferry crossings (included in the price of the ticket) and it’s worthwhile bringing your own lunch (although there is a small cafe serving food and hot drinks on board). 


Accommodation in Puerto Varas/Puerto Mont

I would recommend spending the night in Puerto Varas again or you can stop overnight in the wonderful Austral View Hostel ($15,000 dorm ($23 USD), $30,000-$45,000 CLP ($46-$69 USD) for double/cabin/dome) in Puerto Montt. The owner is exceptionally friendly (she lives in the house) and it’s very comfortable and with splendid views all the way down to the water and beyond. 


Day Fourteen: Back to Santiago

Take the bus to Puerto Montt bus terminal and then onwards to the airport for your return flight. Alternatively take a taxi directly from Puerto Varas – a more expensive option.

Changes you could make to this Patagonia itinerary for two weeks of travel:

  • *If you’ve got more time, it’s worth considering the Naviera Austral rather than the Navimag Ferry – read this article discussing whether the Navimag Ferry or the Naviera Austral is the better option.
  • Consider renting a car from Coyhaique and driving to Parque Nacional Patagonia instead. This will give you a lot more freedom and allow you to really enjoy the experience of the Carretera Austral. I recommend booking with Rental Cars as they provide your insurance details in English but double check that your insurance includes driving on the Carretera Austral (sometimes it doesn’t!!). Read this article about renting a car and driving in Patagonia before you arrange your plans.
  • Consider renting a car from Puerto Montt and doing this whole trip by rental car. You can take a car on the Navimag Ferry for a fee. As above, I recommend booking with Rental Cars and check what your insurance covers. Make sure you read the article above about renting a car in Patagonia and taking a road trip (it also has additional Patagonia road trip itineraries!).
  • If you want to visit San Rafael, a hanging glacier that is receding so quickly that experts are concerned it’ll soon disappear completely, spend an extra day in Río Tranquilo and organise a tour from an agency located there. These tours are very expensive – but reportedly worth it.
  • If you’re really into long-distance hiking, there’s a 50km/31-mile hike that starts in Parque Patagonia and crosses into Argentina.
  • If you have more time, consider travelling the Carretera Austral from north to south and crossing into Argentina from Chile Chico.

Patagonia itinerary for two weeks of travel: The O Circuit, Torres del Paine National Park

Overview of this two-week Torres del Paine National Park itinerary:

  • Day One: Fly from Santiago to Puerto Natales
  • Day Two: Explore Puerto Natales
  • Days Three-Eleven: Hike the O Circuit in Torres del Paine National Park
  • Days Twelve-Fourteen: Off-the-beaten-path in Cabo Froward

If you want to spend less time on buses and more time trekking in the Patagonian Andes, this travel itinerary is likely more your style.

Although plenty of visitors to the region trek the five-day W, far fewer attempt the O Circuit, a nine- or ten-day trek that winds through wilder parts of the national park and gives a better sense of what Patagonia once was before tourism arrived.

Four hikers pose in front of Glaciar Grey in Torres del Paine National Park, a must-visit destination for any Patagonia itinerary
Yup, that’s me, my dad, brother and family friend Betsy posing in front of Glaciar Grey on the O Circuit.

Although it is challenging if you’ve not tried multi-day hiking before, there are ways that you can prepare for the experience: read about 14 essential things to know before you hike the O Circuit.

Required equipment for this two-week Patagonia itinerary

Although camping equipment isn’t entirely necessary for this two-week itinerary, it can work out cheaper than renting all of your gear in Puerto Natales. You will also need a cooking stove, plus pots and pans.

Read my packing list for Torres del Paine National Park to give you some ideas of the equipment that you will need.

Day One: Santiago to Puerto Natales

Fly to Patagonia with from Santiago to Punta Arenas (three hours 35 minutes, every two hours, from $80 USD return).

If you’re planning a trip to Patagonia, Chile between December and February, LATAM offers flights directly to Puerto Natales from Santiago (around four, three hours 10 minutes, from $80 USD return).

Campamento Dickson, one of the refugios and campsites along the O Circuit in Torres del Paine National Park, a key feature on a two-week Patagonia itinerary
Campamento Dickson along the O Circuit, Torres del Paine National Park.

From the airport in Punta Arenas, board a bus to Puerto Natales (three hours 30 mins, around $8,000 CLP ($12 USD)). Check out Bus-Sur, Buses Pacheco and Buses Fernandez who run this route.

You must buy your ticket on the internet because they do not sell bus tickets to Puerto Natales in the airport.

Where to eat in Puerto Natales

For a truly unique Patagonian dining experience, book a table at the matchbox-size Lenga (Bories 221) which uses fresh, local ingredients, such as eel cheeks, sea asparagus, guanaco and lamb, turned into mouthwatering, modern twists on traditional Patagonian dishes. 

For a heartier dinner, opt for La Mesita Grande (Arturo Prat 196), a Puerto Natales institution named after the long, communal tables where diners eat together and known for its excellent pizzas, many of which are named after hiking routes in Torres del Paine.


Budget accommodation in Puerto Natales 

The cheapest accommodation in Puerto Natales is camping at Jos Mar II ($6,000 camping per person ($9 USD)), who have eight grassy spots with picnic tables, plus a shower block with hot water and a small indoor kitchen with fridge.

For upmarket lodgings – at very affordable prices – stay at the characterful, vintage-style Vinnhaus ($13,000 dorm ($20 USD), $38,000-$50,000 double ($58 USD-$77 USD), where a 1920s house has been converted into smart, modern accommodation, with a comfortable attached cafe and grassy patio.

Mid-range accommodation in Puerto Natales

Comfortable beds, quirky, modern décor and access to a number of snug communal areas with squishy sofas and wood burning stoves makes Amerindia Hostal ($48,000-$55,000 double ($74 USD-$84 USD)) a great choice for couples or single travellers who don’t want to stay in dorms. 

Luxury accommodation in Puerto Natales 

As I found during my stay, sunsets across the Seno Última Esperanza are nothing short of spectacular from the vast windows of Simple Patagonia ($127,000 double ($195 USD)), four kilometers north of Puerto Natales. Set within what looks like an original granero (barn), it combines modernity with astonishing views from the bedrooms (eight and 11 have the best) and living and dining area. They also offer up three-course dining in the evening, using local Magellanic ingredients to produce delicious, top-quality dishes.


Day Two: Puerto Natales

Spend the day getting your food and your hiking gear sorted if you’ve not brought camping equipment for the O Circuit with you.

If you’ve got a bit more time to spare, consider going horseriding on the outskirts of the national park or horseriding and a barbecue and estancia experience at the incredible Estancia La Peninsula.

Days Three-Eleven: Hiking the O Circuit in Torres del Paine National Park

If you’re wondering where to hike in Patagonia, look no further than the O Circuit, a nine-day trek through the pristine scenery of Torres del Paine National Park.

This trek is much quieter than the W and promises even more spectacular scenery, including views of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field from the trek’s highest point, Paso John Gardner.

Get planning with this complete guide to the Torres del Paine O Circuit.

Days Twelve-Fourteen: Cabo Froward

Head back to Punta Arenas and hire a car for the next three days (I recommend Rental Cars as they give you your insurance documents in English).

Stock up on food and water in one of the supermarkets in the city – UNIMARC generally has the best food (and wine!!) selection.

At the end of the road at Cabo Froward, one of the southernmost points of the South American continent and an unmissable part of a Patagonia itinerary for two weeks
Walking along the coast near to Cabo Froward.

From Punta Arenas, it’s only an hour’s drive to the end of the road near Cabo Froward (the southernmost point of the Americas).

While the trek to reach the cross that marks this point is a five-day round trip, you can instead spend an afternoon wandering along the beach to stare across the Strait of Magellan at the looming peaks of Isla Dawson and Tierra del Fuego beyond.

Be aware of the tide, as it can turn quickly and catch you out.

There’s also plenty of wild camping spots (unfortunately most covered in rubbish) and a beautiful little campsite “A Las Perras” that you’ll find signposted a short distance before you pass through San Juan. Alternatively, if you haven’t got camping gear, return to Punta Arenas for the night.

The Magellanic Strait as seen from the shore near Punta Arenas in Chilean Patagonia
Drive along the Strait of Magellan to reach Cabo Froward and receive beautiful views like these.

The next morning, drive back along the road towards Punta Arenas and visit Pali Aike, a barely-known national park that is home to strange volcanic landforms, plenty of guanaco and rheas and the possibility of seeing Chilean flamingos and even pumas.

There are a number of hikes around the park and you can stay overnight in the cabañas (cabins) found at Hostal San Gregorio ($15,000 CLP/$22 USD p/p) in Punta Delgada. They also serve a tasty and inexpensive dinner menu and breakfast (both of which are enormous).

Changes you could make to this Patagonia itinerary for two weeks of travel:

  • If you like penguins, swap the visit to Cabo Froward for a drive over to Tierra del Fuego to visit the king penguin colony at Parque Pinguino Rey, Bahía Inútil. It’s open from 11am-6pm with last entry at 5pm and entry is $12,000 CLP ($18 USD). Tour groups arrive normally at around 1pm and 2pm so try and avoid these times. You now need to reserve a ticket via their online system. 
The King penguin of Bahia Inutil, an unmissable stop on your two-week Patagonia itinerary
The king penguin colony at Bahía Inútil.
  • If you’ve a couple more days to add to the trip, miss out Cabo Froward and drive directly to the penguin colony and continue onwards to Lago Blanco, where you can stay overnight in the extremely comfortable cabañas at Hosteria Las Lengas (four-person cabin $83,300 CLP/$125 USD, double room $134,470 CLP/$202 USD). They do offer food, but your best bet is to bring food with you as they have fully-equipped kitchens and BBQs.
  • If you want to visit El Calafate and El Chaltén, swap the O Circuit for hiking the W and use the additional four days to visit these two towns.

Did you find these Patagonia itineraries for one and two weeks of travel useful? Pin them for later!

South America's top adventure playground: Patagonia is an unmissable place to visit in South America. Plan your perfect trip to the region's top hiking and outdoor destinations with these four Patagonia itineraries for one and two week trips. #Patagoniatravel #Chile #Hiking #Argentina #NationalParks #adventure #travelDesinations #travelitinerary #southamerica #chiletravel #argentinatravel #thingstodoPatagonia

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