Condor Patagonia 14 day Hiking Quest

Condor Patagonia 14 day Hiking Quest

Southern Patagonia, for hikers in particular, is always near the top of the bucket list. Immense craggy mountain ranges erupt straight up from colossal boulder fields, vast rivers of ice calve into deep blue lakes, and its intricate coastline is strewn with uncharted fiords and inlets. It’s the type of scenery that leaves an indelible impression in your memory – one that photos will never quite manage to replicate. On the ‘Condor’, you’ll visit some of the most amazing places on Earth, by foot, kayak, bike and boat. You’ll enjoy incredible views as you hike in the Fitz Roy area of Argentina, trek in Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park, bike near Laguna del Desierto and sea kayak amongst icebergs on Grey Lake. If you have a passion for the outdoors, then the ‘Condor’ is the trip for you! Combine the ‘Condor’ with the 14-day ‘Puma’ for the ultimate Patagonia Adventure (8-day option available).

Overview

Southern Patagonia, for hikers in particular, is always near the top of the bucket list. Immense craggy mountain ranges erupt straight up from colossal boulder fields, vast rivers of ice calve into deep blue lakes, and its intricate coastline is strewn with uncharted fiords and inlets. It’s the type of scenery that leaves an indelible impression in your memory – one that photos will never quite manage to replicate. On the ‘Condor’, you’ll visit some of the most amazing places on Earth, by foot, kayak, bike and boat. You’ll enjoy incredible views as you hike in the Fitz Roy area of Argentina, trek in Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park, bike near Laguna del Desierto and sea kayak amongst icebergs on Grey Lake. If you have a passion for the outdoors, then the ‘Condor’ is the trip for you! Combine the ‘Condor’ with the 14-day ‘Puma’ for the ultimate Patagonia Adventure (8-day option available).

Highlights

  • Visit Magdalena Island penguin colony or Cueva del Milodón
  • Multi-day ‘W’ trek in Torres del Paine National Park
  • Kayak and boat cruise on Grey Lake
  • Hike to the base of Monte Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre
  • Visit Perito Moreno Glacier
  • Hike Los Glaciares National Park
  • Bike Laguna del Desierto
  • Hike Lomo del Pliegue Tumbado

“If our set departure dates are not convenient for you, you may choose Private departures by selecting your own convenient tour date. These types of departure are best suited to couples, families, charity and small groups of friends. Customised itineraries are available as per your travel need.“

January

Trek Start
Trek Finish
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22/01/2020
04/02/2020
14 Days
Condor Patagonia Hiking Quest
LOCALLY LED
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$8,899

Trek Booking

Pay Only Deposit: $500.00 Per Person

Minimum Persons
Total Deposit: $500
Category:

Day 01

Arrive in Patagonia

Welcome to Chilean Patagonia! The windswept plains of this southern region stretch on for miles, joining Chile’s rugged coastline and majestic mountain peaks into one of the world’s most awe-inspiring mountain environments, perched on the edges of the icy isthmus and fiords of the southern Pacific Ocean. If you plan on arriving early today, chat to us about for suggestions for your first day in Patagonia! This evening you’ll meet your trip leader and head out to a local restaurant for your first taste of Patagonian cuisine.
Hotel Rey Don Felipe, Punta Arenas (Dinner)

Day 02

Cruise and hike Magdalena Island penguin colony, or explore Cueva del Milodón

This morning we’ll take a cruise, weather permitting, across the Magellan Strait to Magdalena Island. The Island is protected, and uninhabited by humans, and is home to the largest penguin colony in Southern Chile, with around 60,000 breeding pairs of Magellanic penguins. Alternatively, if the Magellan Strait, which is subject to high swells, is uncrossable, we’ll head instead to Cueva del Milodón (Cave of the Mylodon). In this case, after breakfast, we’ll take a scenic drive through the fertile Patagonian lowlands to Puerto Natales, and on to the cave system. Alongside a local guide, we’ll explore all three caves, spread across an area of a few square kilometres, culminating in the lair of the mystical mylodon – a gigantic, and now extinct member of the sloth family, which survived in the region up until around 5,000 years ago. You’ll want to get your photo taken next to the life-size replica of this ancient beast at the cave entrance! Afterwards we’ll explore the nearby interpretation centre, then head back to Puerto Natales for dinner together.
Hotel Natalino, Puerto Natales (All meals)

Day 03

Start ‘W’ hike, Torres del Paine National Park

Today we’ll begin the legendary four-day ‘W’ hike, an amazing trek among sheer granite peaks, snow-clad mountains, glacial lakes and the thick Magellanic forest. We’ll follow the Rio Ascensio Valley as it winds its way up to the park’s namesake. As we reach the top of the boulder field near the end of our hike, we’ll come face to face with one of the most famous mountain landscapes in the world – above you, three mammoth granite peaks rise like tombstones from the rugged hills and snow-coated mountains of Patagonia to pierce the sky – Torres del Paine (‘Towers of Blue’). At a height of about 900 metres (3000 feet), they are believed to be the highest natural cliff faces in the world. Tonight you’ll sleep well at a cosy refugio (mountain lodge), a welcome sight after a full day’s hike.

Refugio, Torres del Paine (All meals)

Day 04

Hike to Los Cuernos, Torres del Paine National Park

It’s an easier hike today, as we contour around the northern shore of Lake Nordenskjold, a glacial lake in the heart of the national park. As we head around the lake, we’ll start to see glimpses of Los Cuernos – Spanish for ‘The Horns’ – three fantastically sculpted grey and white sedimentary and granite peaks rising 244 metres (800 feet). The intense turquoise hue of the lake and starkness of the mountains make for spectacular photo opportunities. This evening, we’ll stay in the shadow of the mountains at Refugio Los Cuernos.

Refugio Los Cuernos, Torres del Paine (All meals)

Day 05

Hike French Valley, Torres del Paine National Park

We’ll rise with the sun this morning to begin our hike up French Valley for a closer look at Los Cuernos. This ravine is probably one of the most beautiful places you’ll ever see, with multiple glaciers cascading down its steep sides, creating a patchwork of ice and rock. The track steepens as we ascend a ridge line to the upper French Valley past waterfalls and mountain tarns. At the top, we’ll have incredible views of a massive natural amphitheatre, filled with the awesome French Glacier, the Paine Massif and Cuernos granite towers. This afternoon, we’ll hike to Refugio Paine Grande.

Refugio Paine Grande, Torres del Paine (All meals)

Day 06

Hike to Refugio Grey, kayak Grey Lake

Grey Glacier is a 200 metre (650 feet) high wall of ice that marks the northern end of Grey Lake. This is one of the largest calving glaciers in the world, with giant ice cliffs that plummet into the depths of the lake. Our hike finishes at the lake, where we’ll meet our specialist kayak guides. They’ll match you with a kayak and provide all the necessary equipment for a unique way to explore Grey Lake and enjoy amazing views of the glacier and icebergs. When we return to shore, we’ll head to Refugio Grey, where we spend our last night in Torres del Paine National Park.

Refugio Grey, Torres del Paine (All meals)

Day 07

Hike to Grey Glacier, scenic cruise across Grey Lake

This morning we’ll hike a bit further up the valley to a magnificent lookout over the Grey Glacier.

Optional: Ice-hike (add US$199)

An alternative option today is to strap on crampons, pick up an ice axe and hike on the glacier! Led by specialist glacier guides you’ll take a private boat across to Nunatak Island where you can safely access the glacier. You’ll hike through these amazing ice formations checking out the crevasses, seracs, tunnels and pools of glacial meltwater. At the end of your hike on the ice you’ll return by boat again to your group.

Optional: ‘Touching the Ice’ hike (add US$110)

Another less strenuous glacier hiking option is the ‘Touching the ice’ trip. On this activity you’ll take a 15-minute boat trip across the glacier’s terminal lake, to a point at which we can access incredible close-up views of the glacier. Then it’s a guided hike to areas where the glacier’s retreat is strikingly clear, and up to the glacier’s edge. Afterwards we’ll head back to our ‘Zodiac’ boat and return to the shore. This is a shorter, less strenuous option that still allows you a unique view and access to the glacier.

Both of these ice hike options are extremely popular, so we offer advance reservations with the guiding company. At the time of booking, or up until one month before your trip, we can reserve a space for you, or you can leave your decision until the start of your trip and your guides will get you a spot, if it’s available.

After we’ve finished our morning’s activities we’ll regroup and catch the boat across Grey Lake, taking in views of the surrounding mountains. When we complete our boat trip, we’ll head back to Puerto Natales, where we started our hike four days ago, for a well-earned rest and another tasty meal together.

Hotel Natalino, Puerto Natales (All meals)

Day 08

Travel to El Calafate

Welcome to Argentina! Today we’ll cross the border to the home of Tango, Evita Peron and Diego Maradona. We’ll journey north to El Calafate and Los Glaciares National Park, one of the greatest wilderness areas in South America. It’s also one of the most diverse – in addition to the vast mountain ranges and glaciers, it’s home to forests of guindo, lenga (a type of beech tree) and ñirre scrub, as well as a multitude of lakes and rivers. We’ll arrive in El Calafate in the afternoon, so you’ll have the rest of the day to chill out on the shores of Lago Argentino, South America’s third largest lake, with a surface area of over 1,600 square kilometres (617 square miles). You can relax and enjoy your surroundings, or you can head off on one of the many hikes in the area. A particular favourite of ours is the short walk to Laguna Nimes, a renowned bird sanctuary where geese, ducks and flamingos make their home. For dinner tonight we find that most people want to explore their options or have an early dinner, though of course you’re welcome to join your guide for dinner too!

Patagonia Queen Hotel, El Calafate (All meals)

Day 09

Visit Perito Moreno Glacier

If you thought the glaciers in Chile were amazing, today will take your breath away. We’ll get right up close to the base of Perito Moreno Glacier with a local specialist guide to watch blocks of ice crack off the glacier’s imposing terminal face and fall into the pastel-blue waters of Lago Argentino. This icefield is part of the world’s third largest reserve of fresh water and forms a natural dam to the opposite shore that separates the two halves of Lago Argentino. With no escape route, the water level on the southern side of the lake can rise up to 30 metres (90 feet) above the level of the main lake.

Patagonia Queen Hotel, El Calafate (All meals)

Day 10

Hike Mirador Laguna Torre

This morning we’ll travel to El Chalten, a charming and remote mountain village, known for its amazing hiking and mountaineering opportunities that quite literally begin on your doorstep. From the heart of this rapidly-growing outdoor enthusiast’s paradise, you can see the tips of Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre peaks, as well as the lovely Rio de las Vueltas winding its way past town. We’ll hike through Patagonian dry lands and dramatic boulder fields to Mirador Laguna Torre (Spanish for ‘Tower Lagoon Lookout’) for heart-stopping views up the Fitz Roy valley to Cerro Torre, a spectacular granite spire looming over a sprawling mass of ice. Today is a relatively relaxing day, in preparation for tomorrow’s big hike into the heart of Los Glaciares National Park!

Hotel Posada el Barranco, El Chalten (All meals)

Day 11

Hike to Laguna de los Tres

Today we’ll journey a short way to the start of an incredibly scenic hike to Campamento Poincenot. From here we can look directly up to the towering Monte Fitz Roy. You’ll find it hard to imagine that the views of the brooding Fitz Roy massif could get any better, and you can choose to stay here and take in the views or make the steep climb up to Laguna de Los Tres, at the foot of the glacier. All of a sudden, if you’ve chosen to go on ahead, you’ll reach the crest and be greeted by stunning close-up views of Monte Fitz Roy looming above a glacial lake. Today is a real highlight and the views are amazing, no matter how far you get!

Hotel Posada el Barranco, El Chalten (All meals)

Day 12

Bike Laguna del Desierto and hike Los Huemules Reserve

Today we’ll journey north from El Chalten to Laguna del Desierto. We’ll take a great walk to a lookout beside the Lagoon to warm up the legs, and maybe get another view of Fitz Roy, before saddling up for an awesome bike ride that descends gently back toward El Chatlen along an unpaved road. We’ll be riding in the valley basin of the River de las Vueltas and in several spots the road runs alongside the river and past spectacular waterfalls. After regrouping for lunch at Los Huemules Reserve, we’ll switch back into our hiking boots for this afternoon and hike to the Blue & Green Lagoons.

Hotel Posada el Barranco, El Chalten (All meals)

Day 13

Hike Lomo del Pliegue Tumbado

Today’s hike will give you a new appreciation for the incredibly huge and beautiful steep peaks of Southern Patagonia. We’ll begin our hike on the Loma del Pliegue trail bright and early, embarking on a 900 metre (3000 feet) hike to the top of the rounded lomo (hill). First we’ll pass through the Patagonian beech forest then ascend onto the wide plateau, where the views start getting seriously beautiful. Upon reaching the summit, we’ll be greeted by one of the most incredible sights you’re ever likely to see – the towering peak of Monte Fitz Roy rising high above the Torre Glacier and Laguna Torre. Just make sure you’ve packed your wide-angle lens to take in all of this view! Later, we’ll descend the trail back down to El Chalten and head onwards to El Calafate, where over dinner we’ll celebrate one of the best hikes anywhere in the world.

Patagonia Queen Hotel, El Calafate (All meals)

Day 14

Depart for home

This is the end of your ‘Condor’ trip and you’ll go home knowing you’ve kayaked, biked and hiked your way around one of the most spectacular alpine regions on Earth. Your trip leader will arrange transport to the El Calafate airport for you, if you’re flying out today, and if you’re staying on, we can help you arrange extra hotel accommodation.

(Breakfast)

No Forced Single Supplement

Most other travel companies charge all solo travellers a single supplement fee. We don’t! When it comes to accommodation, our trip fares are based on a twin-share rate, which means we’ll match you up with another person of the same gender to share a room with. If there’s no one suitable to share with, there’s no forced single supplement! Having said that, if you specifically request your own room, you can opt to pay the additional single supplement fee.

Trip start

If you arrive on the first day of your trip, an Active Adventures South America representative will meet you at the Cuzco airport (CUZ) (flights to arrive by 11am) and take you to your accommodation. If you’re already in Cuzco, you’ll meet your trip leader and the rest of your group in the lobby of your joining hotel at 12 noon.

Trip end

On the last day of your trip we’ll fly you to Cuzco airport where your trip ends.

Recommended flights

You need to arrive in Cuzco by 10.30am at the latest on the first day of the trip. If you have extra time, we recommend heading to Cuzco early for more time to acclimatise to the high altitude, and to spend as long as possible in this incredible town! Most international flights get to Lima in the evening, so you’ll probably fly in to Lima at night and then on to Cuzco the following morning. On the last day of the trip, we recommend booking your flight to depart out of Cuzco any time after 6pm. If you are considering other flight times, let us know and we’ll see what we can do to make your trip run smoothly.

Accommodation

The ‘Jaguar’ is an active adventure trip around Peru. We’ve chosen the places we stay for their location, cleanliness and charm – not the number of channels available on the television! Many of the places we stay are off-the-beatentrack and set in amazing locations. For example, on both Inca Trail treks we’re under canvas, though it’s pretty fancy camping. Our porters carry tents and supplies, cook meals, boil drinking water for us and take care of everything around camp. On the nights where we stay in Cuzco we have chosen good lodgings, ideally situated close to the main attractions without being too central, in order to avoid the most touristy and noisy areas. It’s worth keeping in mind that Peru is a noisy place – people here have a festive way of looking at life and often enjoy beeping their horns and playing loud music! We have chosen the quietest areas practical in order for people to get the best sleep possible (although after hiking the Inca Trail trek most people find they have no trouble sleeping!), and earplugs are recommended in this energetic and lively part of the world. In contrast, the jungle lodges in the Amazon are very tranquil and quiet.

Fitness

The ‘Jaguar’ is an active hiking trip, and has options to suit a wide range of fitness levels and outdoor experience. If you keep reasonably active and like to give things a go, you’re likely to enjoy the trip much more. Typically, hikes on the ‘Jaguar’ trip range between three and six hours to complete, with longer hikes on the Inca trails. If you think you’d prefer a more relaxed pace, we recommend checking out our ‘Capybara’ trip. Please get in touch with us if you’d like to chat about the various options.