I visited Argentina and Antarctica in Dec 2014 and it was probably the best trip of my life. I am slowly writing the trip reports and would post them as they are done. I have had quite a few friends and family requesting an optimized itinerary since meticulous planning allowed us to cover a lot of ground in the short time.
Please note the following about the itineraries presented are:
a. Optimized for specific flight timings between cities keeping in mind that Argentinean flights are unreliable.
b. Extremely hectic. I would suggest cutting out at least one city from the list or adding more days.
c. Best suited for Argentinean summer/North American winter with a heavy emphasis on Argentinean Patagonia.
d. Suited for those who are not comfortable with driving in Argentina.
One crazy week in Argentina
|0||Iguazu Falls||Fly directly into Iguazu Falls if you can.|
|1||Iguazu Falls||Half day sightseeing of the Brazil side of the Falls. Transfer to Argentinean side|
|2||Buenos Aires||Full day sightseeing of Argentinean side of the Falls. Late night(10PM) flight to Buenos Aires.|
|3||El Calafate||Whole day tour of Buenos Aires. Eat a memorable dinner at an authentic parrilla and board a late night(10PM) flight to El Calfate|
|4||El Chalten||Book Big Ice trek in advance and tour the famous Perito Moreno glacier. If not trekking, take a boat ride and enjoy the glacier and return to El Calafate town. Evening (630 or 8PM) shuttle to El Chalten|
|5||El Chalten||Hike Laguna de los Tres/Laguna Torre/Loma del Pliegue Tumbado. For an easy hike consider Laguna Capri. For a stroll, shuttle to Lago del Desierto and hike to Huemul Glacier. If you can, climb up Condor Mirador and Eagle Mirador (1hr) for amazing views of town and of Fitz Roy at Sunset.|
|6||Ushuaia||See sunrise at El Chalten and catch early morning shuttle to El Calafate airport.Morning/midday flight to Ushuaia. Sit on left side window for spectacular views as you descend into Ushuaia. Options for the day:
|7||Buenos Aires||Choose between:
Night (820PM) flight to Buenos Aires.
I sincerely hope you have extra days and some breathing room in this crazy itinerary. I would suggest eliminating Ushuaia from the itinerary and adding the extra day(s) in Buenos Aires if you love cities and culture or El Chalten to hike the trails with magnificent views of Fitz Roy.
Rushed two week Highlights of Argentina trip
|1||Buenos Aires||Arrive Buenos Aires. If you have free time, watch a tango Show for free at San Telmo or roam around the various neighborhoods. Eat a memorable dinner at an authentic parrilla|
|2||Villa Angostura||Morning flight to San Martin de los Andes. Enjoy lunch and a stroll through San Martin de los Andes. Evening bus to Villa Angostura.|
|3||Bariloche||Ferry to Bosque de Arrayanes. 12 km hike back or ferry back to Villa Agnostura. Evening bus to Bariloche.|
|4||Bariloche||Bariloche town/ Cerro Otto and Circuito Chico in the afternoon. Or Circuito Grande for the whole day|
|5||El Chalten||Morning flight to El Calafate and shuttle to El Chalten from airport. Climb up Condor Mirador and Eagle Mirador for amazing views of town and of Fitz Roy at Sunset.|
|6||El Calafate||Laguna de los Tres/Laguna Torre/Loma del Pliegue Tumbado. For an easy hike consider Laguna Capri. For a stroll, shuttle to Lago del Desierto and hike to Huemul Glacier. Late evening bus/shuttle to El Calafate (Confirm the 930PM service)|
|7||El Calafate||Bus to the famous Perito Moreno glacier. Trek on the glacier if you can. If not, take a boat ride and enjoy the glacier and return to El Calafate town.|
|8||Ushuaia||Morning/midday flight to Ushuaia. Sit on left side window for spectacular views as you descend into Ushuaia. Options for the day:
|9||Buenos Aires||Choose between:
Night (820PM) flight to Buenos Aires.
|10||Salta||Whole day tour of Buenos Aires. Late night(830PM) flight to Salta|
|11||Salta||Tour to see Salinas Grandes,Seven Colours Hill, Quebrada de Humahuaca or Cafayete region.|
|12||Iguazu Falls||Sightseeing around Salta. Evening(645PM) flight to Iguazu Falls.|
|13||Iguazu Falls||Whole day sightseeing of Argentinean side of the Falls.|
|14||–||Half day sightseeing of the Brazil side of the Falls. Evening flight to Buenos Aires or flight back home from Iguassu Airport.|
Options with extra vacation days
According to your interest, extra days can be added in any of the cities mentioned:
|El Chalten||Watching Fitz Roy at sunrise/sunset. Multiple hike/backpack options (http://goo.gl/AGiOYh).|
|Bariloche area||Hiking in the mountains around the lakes (www.trekbariloche.com).|
|Ushuaia||Backpacking remote Tierra del Fuego National Park http://www.trekbariloche.com/|
|Road trips||El Calafate||Travel to Torres del Paine (Chile).|
|Bariloche||Ruta 40 bus from Bariloche to El Chalten|
|Puerto Iguazu||The impressive Jesuit Missions|
|Ushuaia||The remote and beautiful archipelago of Tierra del Fuego|
|Salta||Purmamarca and Cafayate region|
|City breaks||San Martin de los Andes||One night in tranquility, gobbling up chocolates.
Lanin National Park
Ferry to Chile
|Bariloche||Boat trips in Nahuel Huapi National Park.
Day trip to Cerro Tronador with unique black glacier.
|Buenos Aires||Spend more time in the city or travel to Tigre/Rosario/Colonia (Uruguay)|
|Mendoza||Beautiful wine country and Mt. Aconcagua|
|Salta||Deserves 5-6 days. Beautiful multi-colored landscapes|
|Cordoba||Scenic hills around city, undiscovered by Western tourists|
|El Bolson||Hippie town with a great weekly crafts market|
|Wildlife viewing||Puerto Madryn||Penguins at Punta Tombo or Peninsula Valdes. Southern Right Whale if in season|
|Ushuaia||Penguin rookery. Whales, dolphins, sea lions in Beagle Channel|
|Bahia Bustamante||Often touted as the “Argentine answer to the Galapagos”|
|Beaches||Mar del Plata, Puerto Piramides, Miramar, Camarones||Relaxing after a busy vacation|
Consider adding Salta and/or Mendoza region to the itinerary only if you have 3 weeks or more.
What should you skip if short on time?
If you are short on time skip:
|Ushuaia||If you just want to see penguins, consider Puerto Madryn instead.|
|Bariloche||May skip if pressed for time and you have seen the lakes district in other regions like Switzerland/Italy border.|
|Salta||Not pleasant in Argentinean summer.|
Useful planning resources
The forums at tripadvisor.com,Lonely Planet throntree.
Let me know if you have any suggestions to improve the itineraries or if you have any questions.
Acknowledgment: Debjeet Sen