Best of Argentina – Torres del Paine or Cerro Torre and Mount Fitz Roy?
How best to visit Argentina obviously depends on how much time you have available to travel. Most visitors will arrive in Buenos Aires and begin their trip from there. It seems although many profess wanting to tour Argentina one of the first places they wish to visit is Torres del Paine National Park. There is no question that Torres del Paine is a spectacular park, but the fact is it is in Chile and not Argentina.
Though to fly from Buenos Aires to El Calafate, in the heart of Argentine Patagonia, and overland from there, is geographically straight and shortest way to get to Torres del Paine, the transportation to the park is not exactly overabundant. There is public bus from El Calafate to Puerto Natales and Punta Arenas one can catch and hop off it at the park’s entry, and private transfers are available as well though not plentiful nor cheap.
Without a doubt the best access to Torres del Paine is from Punta Arenas, the focal point of Chilean Patagonia. Of course this poses a bit of a dilemma if starting from Buenos Aires. To get to Punta Arenas can be done either by flight via Santiago de Chile or by going to Bariloche in the heart of Argentine Andes first and from there overland across the Andes Lakes District to Puerto Montt and fly to Punta Arenas from there.
If going to Punta Arenas via Santiago may seem like a cumbersome detour, then add a stop and break up the trip by visiting Mendoza first. Mendoza is an easy flight from Buenos Aires and on the way to Santiago. In Mendoza you can tour the best wineries of the region, sample local dishes, lodge at some wonderful hotels, and after three or four days continue on to Santiago.
Another alternative is to forget Torres del Paine altogether, tailor it into your itinerary on a future trip focusing on Chile only, and instead proceed from El Calafate to El Chalten, a base town for treks into the wilds of the incredible Cerro Torre and Mount Fitz Roy. If you may be on a limited time, from El Chalten you can head back to El Calafate and return to Buenos Aires from there. With two weeks to spare you can visit both Fitz Roy and Torres del Paine and you can even add Southern Patagonia, Argentina’s legendary Tierra del Fuego.
Following are the very best three options for experiencing Best of Argentina on 15-days, starting from Buenos Aires.
Option one is to fly from Buenos Aires to El Calafate, overland to El Chaltén, then to Ushuaia and finish with Iguazu Falls. This Best of Argentina itinerary allows for tango in Buenos Aires, seeing the spectacular glaciers, hiking in Fitz Roy National Park, sailing the Beagle Channel, and in the end marvel at the impressive Iguazu Falls.
Another Best of Argentina itinerary on 15 days is a variation of the above with the inclusion of a visit to Mendoza, so in summary the itinerary packs in Tango, Wineries, Glaciers, Tierra del Fuego, Beagle Channel, and Iguazu Falls.
And one more Best of Argentina tour on 15 days can be designed to include Peninsula Valdes, in other words, Buenos Aires, Whales & Penguins, Glaciers, Ushuaia, and Iguazu Falls.
Some would argue I left out Salta and the northwest of Argentina but for logistical reasons best to leave that part for another trip.