In his famous travelogue In Patagonia, Bruce Chatwin explored the large swaths of land west and south of Buenos Aires known as Patagonia. On the open plains of Patagonia, a few brave farmers and ranchers (gauchos) had settled down and made Argentina famous for its largest export: beefsteak. Many of these ranches, or estancias as they’re called in Spanish, are still in operation today, and its possible to spend the night (or a whole week) at an authentic estancia set amidst breathtaking scenery of the Andes. Many Patagonia Estancias Tours include full room and board (including delicious homemade meals!), as well as daily activities such as horseback riding, hiking, and glacier expeditions. A Patagonia estancia tour is a memorable way to experience the beauty of Patagonia.
One of our most popular Patagonia Estancias Tours is a 9 day tour that visits several different estancias in the southern Patagonia region. First stop at Puerto Madryn, south of Buenos Aires on the coast of Argentina, to explore the whales, penguins, and other wildlife on the Vales Peninsula. The Punta Tombo penguin rookery is home to millions of Magellanic penguins. The Vales Peninsula is a protected wildlife area, and whales come to breed in the bay at different times of the year. Head to Estancia San Guillermo, a traditional-style Patagonia ranch with gauchos who tend the cattle and sheep. Enjoy mini-trekking or horseback riding around the estancia. Also in Puerto Madryn, visit a sea lion rookery, a sea elephant rookery, and opt to go on a whale watching cruise as well (June-November).
Then continue south to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. Spend the afternoon touring the End of the World Museum, and then check into a beautiful 4* or 5* hotel. The next morning, visit Tierra del Fuego National Park, where you’ll see firebush, beech tree, ñires, box-leafed barberries, and other beautiful flora and fauna. In the afternoon, head to Estancia El Rolito, near Fagnano and Escondido Lakes. At this estancia, you can try your hand at more trekking, horseback riding, or simply explore the farm. The next day, activities include a visit to Shenolsh Hill to see condors soaring above.
Next, fly to Río Gallegos, and take the bus to El Calafate. From there, check into the beautiful Estancia Nibepo Aike, located within the Los Glaciares National Park. This estancia is located on the southern edge of Lago Argentino, and it is a working cattle ranch. Here visitors can see how the gauchos of traditional Patagonia herd cattle and work the land. The lodge has rustic, Patagonian decor, exposed wood beams, and an organic orchard and garden. Activities include guided hikes, climbing, fishing on Lago Roca, sheep shearing shows, and more. All meals are included at the estancia.
The Los Glaciares National Park is known for, well, its glaciers, especially the Perito Moreno Glacier. During your stay, take a catamaran cruise to the Upsala Glacier and Onelli Bay. Also spend a full day exploring the Perito Moreno glacier, known for its display of ice chunks that periodically break off and crash into the Lago Argentino.
You can opt to continue this Patagonia Estancias Tour with a trip to Torres del Paine National Park, Mount Fitz Roy, or Helsingfors.
Another popular Patagonia Estancia Tour is the 10 day “Heart of Patagonia” Eco-Tour. Arriving first in El Calafate and staying at the Estancia Nibepo Aire, travelers quickly adjust to the tranquility of the estancia and its surroundings. Enjoy hiking, horseback riding, ice trekking, and soaking in the sweeping views of Lago Argentino and the Pertio Moreno Glacier. Watch sheep shearing demonstrations or see how gauchos herd cattle in the traditional Patagonian way. Watch for steamer ducks, lapwings, and other shorebirds while heading to La Angostura or other trails.
Next, head to El Chalten, to hike around the Mount Fitz Roy peak and Cerro Torre. Spend the evenings at Hosteria El Puma, located at the foot of Mount Fitz Roy. Guest rooms in this comfortable lodge have exposed wood beams and brickwork.One highlight is the Laguna de los Tres trek, a full day hike that crosses beautiful scenery, including rivers, lakes, the de Los Tres Glacier, and the Sucia Lagoon.
Return to El Calafate and stay in the Hotel Kau Yatun for the final expedition to the Perito Moreno Glacier. Enjoy a full day tour and cruise of this impressive glacier.
Similar to the previous tour, this one includes El Chalten and El Calafate, but also includes a stay at the Estancia Helsingfors and tour of the Viedma Lake and Glacier, all of which are included in the Los Glaciares National Park.
First check into the Hosteria El Puma in El Chalten, and enjoy a trek to Laguna de los Tres. Then go to the Estancia Helsingfors, a cozy lodge near the shores of Lake Viedma. From the lodge, there are views of Monte Fitz Roy and the Andes Mountains. Each quaint guest room has a private bathroom – some with Jacuzzi tubs and Scottish showers – and views of the surrounding hills. The lounge room has an oversized stone fireplace, beckoning travelers to rest and relax. Activities include fishing, river rafting, hiking, boat cruise, or ice trekking on the Viedma Glacier and Cerro Torre.
After breakfast in Estancia Helsingfors, transfer to another estancia in the El Calafate region, the Estancia Nibepo Aike. Spend a full day at the Perito Moreno Glacier, watching as ice chunks “calve” off of the main glacial wall and crash into the lake below. Have a picnic or eat in the nearby restaurant.