Travelers will get very close to Southern Elephant Seals, huge Southern Sea Lions and hundreds of thousands of Magellanic penguins. They will hike some of the 50 glaciers and marvel at the 10,000 foot-tall stone "pillars" in the stunning Torres del Paine National Park. And at night, they will stay in some of the world's most luxurious and eco-friendly lodges and estancias and dine very very well.
For example, INCA offers a private16-day "Patagonia Spring" itinerary that includes two nights in Buenos Aires, three days on the Peninsula Valdes to see whales, seals and penguins, three days in Glacier National Park, two days in Calafate at the Perito Moreno Glacier and five days in Torres del Paine National Park and starts at $8,995 per person, double occupancy.
Surrounded by the Pampas and the Andes and considered the end of the world for centuries, Patagonia has lured explorers and scientists for more than four hundred years. Even today, Patagonia remains largely unknown. Jagged mountaintops reach to the sky and glacial lakes are an astonishing turquoise. Guanacos, fox and the elusive puma roam and 400 species of birds – condors, flamingos and rheas – soar overhead.
Hotels are a highlight of this adventure with INCA and all lodges are ecologically sustainable. After seeing the sights in Argentina's capital – touring the Evita Museum, catching a tango show and shopping in boutiques or the traditional Sunday Market – guests will be pampered at the luxurious Four Seasons Hotel Buenos Aires. At the eight-room Estancia Rincon Chico on the Península Valdés , a UNESCO World Heritage site and a Biosphere Reserve, guests can hike, ride horses, dive, birdwatch and explore the estancia's nine miles of coastline. The hosts are descendants of two the earliest pioneer families and five generations have lived here going back 120 years. The Lodge was built in the style of the old English houses imported in the late 19th century and The Cottage was brought over from England in 1897. Nearby, are colonies of the Southern Elephant Seal and the Southern American Sea Lion. Argentina's chief pinniped expert has been researching the elephant seals here for 16 years.
Sitting on Lago Viedma in Los Glaciares National Park , The Lodge Helsingfors overlooks Mount Fitz Roy and the Andes Mountains. In the early 1900s, a group of Scandinavians were captivated by the landscape and settled here. Eventually their descendants built the nine-room estancia where guests stay today. Hiking, trekking, horseback riding and fishing are offered.
In Patagonia, INCA's guests have a choice of three different lodge experiences staying at explora, Tierra or Awasi lodges. With dramatic views of Torres del Paine National Park, the 49-room explora Patagonia sits on the shores of turquoise Lake Pehoé, the only luxury lodge in the Park. With its own stable of 26 horses and a wealth of trails, Explora offers more than 50 "explorations" on foot or by horse. After a rigorous day's hike or ride, guests can relax in the spa enjoying the heated pool, sauna and jacuzzis.
Tierra Patagonia Hotel Boutique & Spa sits on a bluff "where the pampas meets Lake Sarmiento" blending with the geology of the landscape. With magnificent views of Torres del Paine, the 40-room lodge has a library and the Uma Spa with indoor and outdoor pools, sauna and steam.
On a private reserve overlooking Lake Sarmiento and close by Torres del Paine, Awasi Patagonia's twelve villas were inspired by old Patagonia shelters and built on stilts for minimal environmental impact. At Awasi, all excursions are bespoke and guests can opt for hiking, fly fishing, riding or simply relaxing and enjoying the cuisine at this Relais & Chateaux.
INCA recommends the 16-day "Patagonia Spring" be booked in October and November when it is summer there and whales and marine life are most accessible. Included in the $8,995 per person, double occupancy cost are all hotels; land and boat transportation; restaurants; all guides; all tours and fees to museums and archeological sites; most transfers; tips for hotel services, baggage handling and storage, and sightseeing arrangements as specified on the itinerary. Not Included are: airfares, airport taxes, tips to guides or naturalists, laundry, alcoholic beverages, excess baggage charges, or other items of a personal nature.
For further information, visit INCA's website, or call 1-510-420-1550.