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tripplanner001 Feb 20th, 2017 03:14 AM

please help with Argentine Patagonia planning
For our next big annual trip we're headed to Antarctica and the sub-Antarctic islands on an expedition vessel. We sail from Ushuaia on December 15 and will take advantage of being on Argentine soil to visit Buenos Aires and a bit of Patagonia.

We will be in:
Buenos Aires for 5 nights
Bariloche for 4 nights
El Calafate for 2 nights
Ushuaia for 3 nights (2 pre-cruise and 1 post-cruise)

With 3 days in Bariloche, we are thinking about doing some hikes / walks in the area and taking 1-2 day trips. We're thinking about the Circuito Chico and perhaps Los Arrayanes? The route of the 7 lakes sounds appealing but we assume doing it as a day trip would be too rushed. Are there other excursions that we should consider given our interests in hiking and wildlife? Are there small group or private tour operators in the area that you have used and would recommend for any of the trips we have in mind?

Our only goal in El Calafate is a visit to Perito Moreno Glacier, given that we only have one full day. Any small group or private tour operators you would recommend?

What about Ushuaia? We're interested in a visit to Tierra del Fuego NP and not sure what else.

I know our time in Argentine Patagonia is short. Thanks for your suggestions and feedback.

odie1 Feb 20th, 2017 03:26 AM

If you have interest in hiking and wildlife, have you considered swapping Bariloche for El Chalten? The hiking there is outstanding and it would be one less plane trip as it is accessed from El Calafate. There is not a lot of wildlife to be seen in Patagonia (not like some of the US national parks), though around El Chalten we did see rheas, foxes, condors, magellanic woodpeckers and guanaco. We have been to Patagonia twice and El Chalten is by far our favorite place. I have two trip reports here on them with links to my travel blog that gives great detail and photos of the hikes.

tripplanner001 Feb 20th, 2017 06:29 AM

Odie1, thank you for your suggestion of El Chalten. With our flights and accommodations booked, looks like we need to save it for another visit. I just read your report and looked at your photos and am pleased to know that you enjoyed Lirolay Suites in Bariloche. We're scheduled to stay there for 4 nights.

yestravel Feb 20th, 2017 09:53 PM

Hi TP! We loved our trip to Patagonia and have a long TR that includes our time there. You are correct the 7 Lakes drive would be too rushed for one day for me. The road is completed since we drove it, but I still don't think a one day trip would be worthwhile.

We arranged our day on Perito Moreno when we got to El Calafate. We did a group tour so can't advise on a private tour guide. Most of the tours we looked into were all the same. We did the trek on the ice and then walked the platforms around the glacier. It was pretty cool.

We stayed outside the town in Bariloche. I recall there being some hikes but we didn't do any while there.

We skipped Ushuaia because all I heard was it was a jumping off point for cruises.

Love BA and have been 3 times including the trip to Patagonia. TRs
on those trips also available. Where are you staying?

tripplanner001 Feb 21st, 2017 12:26 AM

Yestravel, thanks for taking the time to respond on your vacation. How big was the group on your tour to Perito Moreno? We too would probably not be in Ushuaia if we were not going on a cruise. In BA, we are staying at the Poetry Building in Recoleta; we booked a 2-bedroom apartment. I will take a look at your reports.

odie1 Feb 21st, 2017 08:20 AM

We absolutely loved Lirolay. It was fantastic!
On our previous trip, we trekked on PM in a group of about 15. It was perfectly fine. We would definitely do it again. Private, if offered would be nice but we did not feel like we lost out being in a group.
Seven Lakes was beautiful but I don't know that I would do it if I wasn't headed to San Martin or Villa. The nature around Bariloche was gorgeous and so I think I would use that day for getting into the woods.

mlgb Feb 21st, 2017 01:05 PM

The national park in Tierra del Fuego was pretty but I was there in austral autumn when the trees were turning red and the peaks had dustings of snow. Beautiful reflections as the cruise ship was leaving port! Yes There are some big trees and forested areas in the park. we had some good birding there (yes Magellanic woodpeckers, Austral pygmy owl, Austral parakeet,steamer ducks, great grebe and black-necked swans. We went to Bahia LaPataia, Laguna Verde and tromped across some of the meadows near the train tracks.

You can rent a car in Ushuia to reach the park, I don't think a guide is a requirement.

tripplanner001 Feb 21st, 2017 01:29 PM

Yestravel, just read your report from 2011. I also appreciate your take on Santiago and Valparaiso.

Odie1, thanks for your suggestions for Bariloche. A group of 15 for Perito Moreno is manageable, especially given that we are 4; I was thinking of the tours being big bus in style.

Mlgb, we will be at Tierra del Fuego during the height of summer so unfortunately there won't be leaves turning color - at least that we expect. Hoping for some fauna action though.

yestravel Feb 21st, 2017 02:31 PM

I agree about the number in the tour for PM. I am not a group tour person, but the number in our group was fine.

mlgb Feb 21st, 2017 03:52 PM

For Patagonia, the mammal viewing was pretty good in Torres del Paine, not sure what is possible around Ushuaia. In he national park there we only saw horses and heard how bad the beavers have been.The park was pretty crowded but we were traveling around Easter and more at the end of the cruise season so could be a lot of local tourism.

I had been to Torres del Paine in so-called summer and really wanted to see the trees turning so was pleased with our luck this trip. I wouldn't mind repeating that cruise (Norwegian Sun discounts it heavily if you can do a drop and go with miles). They don't offer Antarctica as an excursion but you get Falklands thrown in which we loved.

Have a great trip.

tripplanner001 Feb 22nd, 2017 12:16 AM

Yestravel, thank you.

Mlgb, thank you too. Our Antarctica cruise is already booked. We are going with Hurtigruten. We wanted to go with an expedition ship for landings in Antarctica and it was one of the least expensive available options. The Falklands are on the itinerary as well as South Georgia.

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