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Trekking Patagonia: Prospectus

2 February 2017

Trip Prospectus

3–18 March 2018
Trip #1807

Join leaders Sarah Keats and Rami Haddad on a 15-day adventure to remote southern Patagonia, land of superlatives—majestic pinnacle peaks, immense glaciers, fierce winds and exotic animals. Explore some of South America’s finest national parks including the Los Glaciares National Park, home to some of the world’s most stunning ice formations, and Torres del Paine National Park famous for its granite pillars, lakes and mountains.

Patagonia is the geographical region that lies at the southernmost tip of South America, lying in both Chile and Argentina. Patagonia has a well-deserved reputation for outstanding natural and scenic beauty. Spectacular treks will lead us to iconic massifs: Fitz Roy, Cerro Torre, Cuernos and Torres del Paine, and other dramatic sights. Join us on this exciting adventure to see jagged peaks, massive glaciers, icebergs, blue-green lakes and much more. A combination of day hikes, backpack with full-service backcountry refugios, and guided tours will provide us a unique opportunity to experience this rugged and beautiful area.

Accommodations & Meals

Meat: plenty of it in Patagonia. Mostly lamb.

The accommodations provided on this trip are a mix of small hotels, hostels, & backcountry full-service huts (called refugios). Accommodations will be mixed gender in some of the hostels and refugios. All meals on the “W” backpack are included. Most breakfasts are included.

Itinerary Summary

Day Activities Meals Included
Saturday 3 March 2018 Leave US
Sunday 4 March 2018 Arrive El Calafate, Argentina, airport (FTE); transfer to local accommodation
Monday 5 March 2018 Visit Laguna Nimez bird sanctuary; explore the town Breakfast
Tuesday 6 March 2018 Guided tour to Perito Moreno Glacier; travel to El Chaltén Breakfast
Wednesday 7 March 2018 Day hike to Laguna Torre for views of Cerro Torre and massive glaciers Breakfast
Thursday 8 March 2018 Day hike to Laguna de los Tres for excellent views of Mt Fitz Roy Breakfast
Friday 9 March 2018 Guided Viedma glacier ice trekking Breakfast
Saturday 10 March 2018 Private charter van excursion from El Chaltén to Puerto Natales Breakfast
Sunday 11 March 2018 Tour to Milodon Caves in the morning, time to do laundry, repack Breakfast
Monday 12 March 2018 Take the bus to Torres del Paine National Park where we will start the world-famous “W” trek; hike to refugio Grey and spend the night Breakfast & Dinner
Tuesday 13 March 2018 Hike to the mirador beyond Grey and Hike to Paine Grande lodge for the night Breakfast, lunch, & dinner
Wednesday 14 March 2018 Hike to Refugio Cuernos; optional side trip up the French Valley, weather permitting Breakfast, lunch, & dinner
Thursday 15 March 2018 Hike to Refugio Chileno along beautiful Lago Nordenskjöld for our last night in the Park Breakfast, lunch, & dinner
Friday 16 March 2018 Up early to hike to Mirador de Las Torres area, and return to Hosteria las Torres to meet our private transport to Puerto Natales Breakfast & lunch
Saturday 17 March 2018 Bus to Punta Arenas airport (PUQ) for afternoon flights home Breakfast
Sunday 18 March 2018 Arrive US

Air Transport

Perito Moreno Glacier

Please arrive at El Calafate, Argentina, airport code FTE, by late afternoon on Sunday 4 March 2018.

The trip ends at Punta Arenas, Chile, airport code PUQ, on the morning of Saturday 17 Mar 2018.

Your transportation to El Calafate, Argentina & back from Punta Arenas, Chile are your responsibility. They are not included in trip fee. You can use frequent flyer miles, a travel agent, an airline, or any discount wholesaler (Orbitz, Travelocity, Expedia, Kayak, Excite, Priceline, etc). The leaders will try to assist you as needed.

Experience & Risks

Although the hiking will be at a moderate pace, this is not a trip for beginners or people who have not backpacked for several years. Several of the days are long (up to 15 miles) & strenuous. Be prepared for very high winds and the possibility rain. You should be in excellent physical condition at the time we depart. Since it will be winter in the US and late summer there, you need to be prepared to commit yourself to keeping in shape between the time you sign up for the trip and the time you depart. At six weeks prior to the trip you should consult your physician to see what, if any, vaccinations are recommended for travel to South America.

Laguna De Los Tres was tempting for a plunge.

When you participate in this activity, you should be prepared both physically and mentally, and equipped with the appropriate gear. You should always be aware of the risks involved and conduct yourself accordingly. We are not responsible for your safety—you are.

Nonetheless, it may happen on any trip that a trip member is or becomes unable to participate in one or more of the planned activities. Leaders in their sole judgment have the right and obligation to refuse participation in any activity to any group member for reasons of group or individual safety. Illness, injury or lack of proper gear or fitness for a particular activity are examples of some conditions that might result in a participant’s being unable to perform one or more activity. Leaders may try to find a substitute activity for the trip member, but this may not always be possible.

Prior to your being accepted as a participant in this trip, you will be asked to discuss your capabilities and experience with us. Please do not be offended by our questions.

Weather is likely to be temperate & sunny, although there is always a possibility of some precipitation. That said, mountain climate is unpredictable and can range from 30–80ºF. Snow can fall in every month of the year.

Typical Participant

You should enjoy traveling and be comfortable traveling in areas that are unfamiliar to you. You should recognize that you may find yourself in closer quarters or be less comfortable than you are used to at home. You should make it a priority to help others on the trip and contribute to their having a great time. If you do that, we guarantee that you will have a great time. This trip is designed for experienced hikers. You must be able to hike for up to 8 hours a day, not counting breaks, at a moderate pace, with moderate elevation gains (not higher than 3,000 feet), while carrying enough equipment to keep you safe in the event of bad weather or injury.

Inside a refugio (@BenAshmole)

To participate in this excursion, you must consider and agree to the following:

  • Group dynamics: you must participate as part of a group and abide by the leader’s decisions. You must work towards the group’s having a good time, be prepared to help your fellow hikers and spend time with other participants on the trip. By doing so, you will enjoy the trip to the maximum.
  • Group safety: this is our number 1 priority.

Group Size

The trip is priced for 10 participants & 2 leaders. We fully expect that the trip will fill up as it has every time it has been offered. Apply early to avoid disappointment.

Itinerary Details

All distance & elevation information are approximate based on representative maps.
The leaders reserve the right to change the itinerary for reasons such as weather, trail conditions, availability of accommodations, group preference, etc.

Day Activities Trail
Saturday 3 March 2018 Leave US (if coming direct). You may leave Friday evening to spend an extra night in El Calafate or en route in Buenos Aires.
Sunday 4 March 2018 It is likely that you will connect via Buenos Aires: allow plenty of time (4–5 hours) to transfer from Ministro Pistarini International Airport (EZE) to domestic Jorge Newbery Airport (AEP). Arrive El Calafate and transfer to our local accommodation by taxi. The name & address of your hostel (shared two-bed rooms) in El Calafate will be provided. The town has many restaurants. There is a supermarket nearby to shop for lunches, trail snacks & fruits. We will have our first evening meal together with all participants on either the first or second night depending on when trip members arrive.
Monday 5 March 2018 Buffet breakfast in our hostel opens at 6:00. There is an interesting National Park in town and a wonderful bird sanctuary, Laguna Nimez, which we will visit. If your luggage or your flight are delayed, you can use today to catch up. Free exploration or catch-up day in El Calafate.
Tuesday 6 March 2018 Check out of the hostel. Travel to Perito Moreno glacier, passing Lago Argentino, accompanied by a local naturalist. We will continue travel by the same charter van to our hostel in El Chaltén with stops for breath-taking photography opportunities. Stay in the same hostel for 4 nights in shared twin bed rooms with breakfasts included. Inside the National Park, we will wander long and wide catwalks, arranged in three levels, to be dazzled by the spectacular views of the Perito Moreno Glacier, further enhanced every now and then by the calving, sometimes significant, of its front wall.
Wednesday 7 March 2018 Day hike in Los Glaciares to Laguna Torre, with magnificent views of the extraordinary rock spire of Cerro Torre and a sprawling mass of intersecting glaciers. We may take a side trip to Mirador Maestri for more views of Cerro Torre and Cordón Adela, a serrated ridge of snow-capped peaks between Cerro Grande and Cerro Torre. Distance ➡️21km, elevation ⬆️450m, book time 🔄6:00 hours, without the side trip.
Thursday 8 March 2018 Day hike to Campamento Poincenot & Laguna de los Tres, the lake at the foot of iconic Monte Fitz Roy. At Campamento Poincenot we will look directly up at the spires of the Fitz Roy massif. Rewarding views of Fitz Roy from Laguna de los Tres and its surroundings. ➡️22km, ⬆️1,100m, 🔄8:00hr
Friday 9 March 2018 If the weather forecast is good in El Chaltén, we will take a guided Viedma Glacier ice trek adventure. Board a boat which takes about an hour to reach the glacier. The whole trip is about 6 hours. If the weather is not suitable for the boat ride, this day will be a free day for short hikes to nearby waterfalls and other attractions. Scramble over some cliffs. Hear a geological history of the glacier. Put on provided crampons. Venture out onto the glacier for about 2 hours to see some amazing features.
Saturday 10 March 2018 Private charter van excursion and many magnificent viewpoints again along the way from El Chaltén in Argentina to Puerto Natales, Chile, the jumping off place for the Torres del Paine trek.
Sunday 11 March 2018 Visit the historic Milodon caves outside of Natales. Milodons, giant, extinct prehistoric sloths used to roam this area. Who knows, we might see a puma! You will have time in the afternoon to repack and get ready for TdP. Our luggage not used in the 5-day “W” backpack will be stored at our hostel in Puerto Natales. The caves and surrounding trails are fascinating and picturesque.
Monday 12 March 2018 Take a public bus to Pudeto pier on Lake Pehoe in Torres del Paine National Park. We will take a scenic catamaran ride at noon to Paine Grande Lodge and hike from there to Refugio Grey where we spend our first night. ➡️11km, ⬆️350m, 🔄4:00hr
Tuesday 13 March 2018 Trek to viewpoints beyond Refugio Grey to take in views of the snout of Grey Glacier, the largest in Torres del Paine before we return to Paine Grande for our second night. Paine Grande is the largest refugio in the Park and sports a full bar and lots of lounging areas. ➡️14km, ⬆️350m, 🔄6:00hr
Wednesday 14 March 2018 Trek from Paine Grande to Albergue los Cuernos. If the weather and Park conditions permit we will explore the remote French Valley from Campamento Italiano. The French Glacier clings to the mountain here and we may see and hear cascading avalanches of snow and ice as we hike up the opposite side of the valley. Trek back down the valley and continue on to the Albergue Los Cuernos. If we are able to do the French Valley, this is a full day’s hiking with fantastic views of granite peaks as well as the waterscapes below including lakes Pehoe, Skottsburg, and Nordenskjöld. We spend the night at the beautiful Albergue Los Cuernos on the shore of Lago Nordenskjöld. ➡️25km, ⬆️900m, 🔄9:00hr, including French Valley spur. Otherwise, ➡️14km, ⬆️300m, 🔄5:00hr
Thursday 15 March 2018 Some ups and downs and ups, hiking to the refugio Chileno, which lies at about 400m. We continue trekking northeast along the tranquil shores of Lago Nordenskjöld and on to our hut. Get ready for an early start the next day! ➡️15km, ⬆️750m
Friday 16 March 2018 Hike to the much photographed Torres del Paine lookout (Mirador). We can take just our day hiking gear with us and leave our overnight gear at the hut. We will pick up all our gear and hike down to Hosteria las Torres where we catch a private charter van back to Puerto Natales. We will have our farewell dinner here. Round trip to Torres del Paine: ➡️10km, ⬆️550m, 🔄4:00hr. Continue to Hosteria las Torres: ➡️5km, ⬆️75m, 🔄2:00hr.
Saturday 17 March 2018 The 9:00 bus to Punta Arenas, on the Straits of Magellan will drop us at the airport (PUQ) just before noon in time for afternoon flights home (or to your next destination). Most of us will probably fly home via Santiago, Chile from Punta Arenas.

Those wishing to visit Punta Arenas may stay on the bus and spend a day or two for a tour of a penguin sanctuary. There is easy transport back to PUQ airport from the city. This extension is not part of the AMC trip but the leaders are familiar with this option and will gladly advise you about it.

Sunday 18 March 2018 Arrive back in the US


The final trip cost will be adjusted in accordance with the best final arrangements we can make and currency fluctuations. Any savings we achieve, as well as any cost increases, will be passed back to you. Our cost estimates are conservative, and so a refund is considerably more likely than a price increase.

Cost of $3,450 include:

  • All accommodations 4–17 March 2018
  • All breakfasts from 5–17 March 2018
  • All meals on the “W” backpack from dinner on Monday 12 March through Friday 16 March 2018
  • Welcome and farewell dinners
  • Local ground transportation as part of trip itinerary, from 5 March through 17 March 2018
  • Hut and backcountry permits
  • Park admission fees
  • Guided Viedma glacier tour, ice trek and boat ride
  • Guides in Chalten and Torres del Paine
  • Milodon Cave tour
  • AMC Adventure Travel fee
  • Emergency medical and evacuation insurance coverage

Not included in price of trip:

  • Airfare
  • Transportation to & from airports
  • Airport departure taxes (usually included in your airfare)
  • Dinners & lunches when not in Torres del Paine and not the farewell and welcome dinners, as listed in Summary Itinerary
  • Alcohol
  • Personal expenses
  • Insurance for travel delay, interruption, cancellation, or for baggage loss. If the possibility of such problems concerns you, individual travel insurance is suggested. The AMC has a recommended vendor whose material will be sent to you if your application is accepted.


We expect a group size of 12 people, including the 2 leaders. This trip is likely to fill quickly. If you are interested, you should apply as soon as possible. When registration is complete, we will send all participants the names, addresses, and phone numbers of all those going on the trip.

To apply, you must download, complete, and submit the application documents which consist of:

You will not be accepted and your check will not be deposited until the leaders have determined by telephone conversation with you that you and the trip are a good match. Deposit checks from wait-listed applicants will not be cashed until a spot is available, the applicant is accepted onto the trip, & they confirmed their continued interest.

Participant Cancellation Policy

Cancellation will not be allowed to raise the cost to the other participants or to the leaders.

The minimum cancellation fee is $1,000 once the trip has been declared a go. If actual costs (expenses already incurred on your behalf, and any unavoidable future expenses that will be incurred as a result of your registration & cancellation) are higher, they will be assessed instead, unless they can be applied toward another acceptable participant.

Trip Cancellation Policy

In the unlikely event that the trip is cancelled, everything you have paid to AMC for this trip will be refunded in full.

Participants are responsible for their own airline tickets & other external expenses. Most airlines no longer give refunds for cancellations; instead, they issue coupons for a future trip with an administrative charge and an expiration date. Trip cancellation insurance is advised—policy information will be supplied to all participants.


AMC Adventure Travel trips are run on a nonprofit basis. Leaders are not compensated except for their travel and administrative costs associated with the trip. A program fee is assessed toward AMC Adventure Travel program and administrative expenses.


Contact either leaders from trip announcement page.

Sarah Keats

Sarah Keats is currently one of the Co-Chairs of the Maine Chapter Young Members and she leads AMC Maine and New Hampshire Chapter trips. She has explored numerous beautiful places out West, including the Olympic Peninsula, Lake Tahoe, Central Cascades, Canyons and National Parks. Sarah has been hiking mountains over 4,000 feet since she was 12 years old, and has completed the Adirondack 46, New England Hundred Highest, Winter NH 48, and Northeast 111/115. She has been an August Camp hike leader in both Oregon and Washington for the past two years. For Adventure Travel, Sarah has co-led a cross-country skiing trip to Austria and a canoe trip on the Buffalo River in Arkansas.

Rami Haddad

Rami is an active AMC leader with Adventure Travel, Bicycle, Ski, & Family committees. He travelled throughout the Alps region on several trips for hiking, bicycle touring, sight seeing, & Ironman Switzerland. He has been on extended trekking & bicycle tours through the Pacific Northwest, Pacific Coast, Rocky.

Packing List

Imported items are prohibitively expensive in Patagonia area. Prices are even higher in El Calafate & El Chaltén. Study this list carefully. When in doubt about an item, contact the leaders.


Actual list, with details of every single item from a previous trip, is a good reference how to balance required & optional items in a very small pack.

  • Passport: must be at least six months from expiration
  • Backpack: 38–58 liters capacity
  • Waterproof pack liner or both a liner & a pack cover. A pack cover will not keep water out in very high wind, but can keep the outside of the pack dryer. Stuff essential items in individual dry sacks, or inside one large construction-grade garbage bag.
  • Sturdy, comfortable, waterproof hiking boots
  • Sleeping bag 0–10°C for “W” trek. Go cheap & low maintenance with synthetic insulation. Or, go light & small with down.
  • Synthetic hiking clothing: tops & bottoms
  • Waterproof rain gear: tops, bottoms, & socks. Expect plenty of rain.
  • Sweater or jacket, wool or fleece.
  • Long pants, wool or fleece.
  • Bottles or reservoir: at least 2 liters capacity
  • Sun hat or bandanna.
  • Warm hat or neckband
  • Gloves or mittens: light ones for morning chill.
  • Two pairs of hiking socks, toe liners, waterproof socks.
  • Sandals, flip-flops, or slippers to wear in lodges.
  • Headlamp or flashlight with fresh batteries.
  • Sunglasses.
  • Sunscreen.
  • High-energy trail snacks: purchase these locally. Most food restricted to bring into either countries.
  • Whistle.
  • Knife: not in carry-on luggage.
  • Camp towel or light weight bath towel: there are showers in some huts.
  • Toiletry bag: tooth brush, tooth paste, floss, soap, shampoo, clothes pins, nail clipper, & tweezers.
  • Outside toilet: wipes, toilet paper, waste bags, & trowel.
  • Lock for cabinet or locker at hostel.

First-aid Kit

Bring your personal first-aid kit with items that you expect to need on the trip. Use past experience & the list below.

Assemble your own kit rather than purchasing one: include the items you need, get familiar with the kit, & avoid the bulky bag.

Many of the items are available at REI, or shop for them at your local pharmacy.

Recommended & Optional Gear

  • Small daypack, waist pack, & money belt: for sightseeing, day hikes, walk around town, & keeping valuables.
  • Gaiters: for rain & debris. Should be short & waterproof.
  • Hiking poles: stream crossings & save knees on descents. Not in carry-on luggage.
  • Waterproof matches: not in carry-on luggage.
  • Casual clothing.
  • Camera, spare batteries, & charger.
  • Battery. Mountain huts do not usually have accessible power outlets for charging devices. Carry extra USB battery bank to charge phone & GPS watch. A battery with 7,800mAh will last 3–4 days. Keep the phone on airplane mode to conserve energy. Turn on wifi when needed.
  • Voltage converter. Electricity is 220 volts. Most electronic devices & USB adapters in the US work with dual 110v & 220v. Check yours.
  • Adapter for electricity outlets. Outlets vary depending on the area & facility. Three flat Australian pins. Two round European pins.

From → Hike

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