Day 1. Chile Chico.
Upon arrival at Balmaceda Airport in Chile, your trip leader will transport you to the north shore of Lago General Carrera, offering dramatic views along the way of the peaks of Cerro Castillo and the raging Ibáñez River. Following lunch in the village of Puerto Ibañez, we’ll board the ferry Tehuelche for a 2.5-hour ride to the windswept yet charming village of Chile Chico and the Campamento Ñandú Hostel.
Day 2. Hiking the Luna Valley.
After a relaxed breakfast, we depart to the Lunar Valley for a 5-hour hike that highlights surreal geological formations formed 350 million years ago, well before the Andes range. Here we are also treated to a visit to the Cueva de Manos to view evocative, ancient cave art dated to 9,000 years ago. Night in Chile Chico.
Day 3. Trek to Glacier Hut.
From Chile Chico, a 1-hour drive across the Patagonian plains and along the Jeinimeni River (the geographical border between Chile and Argentina) will put us at the north entrance of Patagonia Park. Here we will check in, shoulder our packs and start our 16-mile hike along the vibrant turquoise waters of Jeinimeni Lake. The trail crosses wide, shallow rivers with lots of milky glacial silt and river debris, heading over La Gloria Pass, with gorgeous views of Jeinimeni and Verde lakes. A number of steep inclines follow before reaching Glacier Hut Camp, where a roaring fire, hot shower and welcome drink await.
Day 4. Trek Glacier Hut Camp to Lago Superior Circuit.
We will embark today on a more technical trek of the Lago Superior circuit, stopping for lunch at the hanging glacier of Punta Guanaco peak. The hike is steep, ascending eroded rock and gullies until it reaches the dramatic landscape of Baguales Glacier, named after the wild horses the original settlers found there. Enjoy exhilarating views of glacial lakes and cascading waterfalls before returning via the same path to Glacier Hut Camp for dinner.
Day 5. Trek to Renoval Hut.
Leaving early, we’ll begin our trek with impressive views of the Jeinimeni, El Tronador and Las Llaves mountain ranges. Leaving the open alpine terrain, we’ll enter a lush evergreen forest, descending to the Avilés Valley and passing by small lakes and a stand of ancient beech trees, until reaching the Renoval Hut Camp. Along the way, we will see gaucho-dwelling shelters, giving us a glimpse of the past.
Day 6. Trek Mount Tronador Lookout Circuit.
This morning we’ll hike up the north Aviles Valley through beech forest, on the search for Magellanic woodpeckers and the endangered huemul deer, until we reach Mount Tronador, which we can view along with its glaciers. Night at the Hut Renoval Camp.
Day 7. Trek from Aviles River to Chelenco Lake — Chile Chico.
The last day of the trek takes us across the wide rivers of the Avilés Valley. Depending on weather conditions, we’ll take part in a river crossing undertaken with a rope-and-harness system, which is normally the most exhilarating part of this day’s journey. This route follows cattle trails that gauchos have used to get their animals to summer pasture, with picadas (narrow cut trails) beside a canyon and corrals, ending at the old mining town of Fachinal in Lake General Carrera. Concluding our hike, our van will bring us back to Chile Chico.
Day 8. Wildlife Conservation and Land Restoration in Patagonia Binational Park.
This morning we will cross the border to the Argentine town Los Antiguos, followed by Monte Zeballos and Patagonia Park. We reach the border again at Baker Pass Entrance, then drive along the park with a stop at the restored house of the British pioneer of the region, passing guanaco herds and lakes dotted with flamingos. This once overgrazed sheep and cattle ranch now protects an abundance of Patagonian steppe grasslands and rebounding wildlife. The binational restoration project here is one of the largest of its kind in the world. We will visit the information center, then continue our drive to our cabin along the most voluminous river in Chile: the Baker.
Day 9. Departure, Carretera Austral.
Drive back to the Balmaceda Airport via the Carretera Austral, Chile’s internationally renowned scenic highway. After breakfast, a bumpy ride along the Baker River follows, with its hypnotic turquoise waters that rush through dense southern beech forests. The drive continues with dramatic views of Lake General Carrera and the Patagonian Andes. After stopping for a picnic lunch, arrive at the airport for trip to Santiago. End of Services.