- Route plan

   We’ve been after traveling to Patagonia for several years now and we’ve been delaying it for multiple reasons but, finally, it’s going to happen.

   One of the points that was clear soon was when to go, since one of the main attractions of this travel is watching the fauna there, and graphics for the different species in Patagonia show all of them are only available between October and November. The reason for this is, mainly, whales leave in November and penguins start to come in September.

   Along these last years we’ve been thinking about different options, thought in order to reduce the cost for domestic flights as much as possible, since they were expensive due to the monopoly Aerolineas Argentinas seems to have in the country. Among all these options, the one that seemed we were going to take was changing the name of this travel to “Chile” instead of “Argentina”, since flights between North and South were way cheaper in Chile, so we could go to Argentinian Glacier area by car. That was solving the problem for Patagonia but was making going to Iguazu too expensive. This option was finally discarded, and Chile will have its own dedicated travel in the future.

   Fortunately, it seems that monopoly for domestic flights we mentioned above is no longer there and we could find reasonable rates for domestic flights, as you’ll see in the next section, where we explain everything about our flights.
Domestic flights in Argentina

   Argentina is a vast country, with a tropical North and with the nearest cities to Southern Pole on its South. So, we needed to discard a lot of it for a two weeks trip and focus on the places that are a must in our list. With this, we discarded areas as Bariloche, with wonderful mountain and lakes landscapes, but it’s a type we’re familiar with. The Pampa, big cities – except for Buenos Aires, which is a needed stop as it is the hub for flights –, and some more isolated zones.

   Based in the number of days and how expensive were domestic flights we selected only five areas of the country for this travel: Iguazu and El Calafate are the top touristic places in Argentina, Buenos Aires is an unavoidable stop, Peninsula Valdes was chosen because of our wish of watching whales since we couldn’t do it in New Zealand, and Salta for those dry Andean landscapes with llamas, vicunas and alpacas.

   It was when choosing the flights that we had to make a change since there are no flights linking El Calafate with Valdes Peninsula (Trelew) so, as we had to pass by Ushuaia, we’ll spend a couple of nights there and remove Salta from the list. We’re looking forward to seeing these landscapes in future travels to Chile or Peru.

   At the end of the day we’ve got a tight trip, with the minimum days for Iguazu and Peninsula Valdes. Three entire days in El Calafate for the tours to Perito Moreno, sailing by the glaciers and go to El Chalten, one day and a half for Ushuaia and two days for Buenos Aires.

   Although all these trips are going to be by plane, we plan to rent a car in Trelew to move around Peninsula Valdes at our will.

   So, finally, the definitive route plan (number of day and where we sleep) is the following, starting by October 19th of 2019:

1: Flight
2: Buenos Aires
3, 4 and 5: El Calafate
6 and 7: Ushuaia
8 and 9: Peninsula Valdes

10 and 11: Iguazu
12 and 13: Buenos Aires

- Flights

   The first thing to do is always purchasing the flights, since day and time of arrival and leaving affects to the route. In this case, besides, when we detected a good offer to Buenos Aires we could check good rates for domestic flights with Aerolineas Argentinas as well. This happened 7-8 months in advance.

   When we detected a flight between Barcelona and Buenos Aires with United Airlines by 640€ for dates in the range we wanted we went for them. These flights had the singularity of having two long connections (+15 hours) in New York in both directions. That time was during the day, so we weren’t going to be able to rest in a hotel, but we could afford it by removing one day to Buenos Aires.

   Somehow, two days later, when holidays at work were confirmed, a better offer appeared: cheaper and without these long connections. British Airways allowed us to fly via London leaving in both direction by noon and arriving by the next morning, so we got them at once.

   These are finally the return flights to Buenos Aires with British Airways by 617€ per person:
Flights between Barcelona and Buenos Aires
19/10/2019   DUB 15:40     LHR  17:05                 (BCN 12:25)
19/10/2019   LHR  22:25    EZE    8:20 +1
02/11/2019   EZE  14:20    LHR    6:35 +1
03/11/2019   LHR   8:20     DUB   9:45                  (BCN 13:30)

   As mentioned above, domestic flights with Aerolineas Argentinas, the ones around Patagonia, were at that moment at the best rates I had ever seen in the previous years, so we got them too. These are the flights with Aerolineas Argentinas:

   Flight Buenos Aires - El Calafate by 109€ per person:

21/10/2019   EZE  11:55       FTE  15:10

   Flight El Calafate - Ushuaia by 70€ per person:

25/10/2019   FTE    9:35      USH  10:55

   Flight Ushuaia - Trelew by 84€ per person:

27/10/2019   USH  10:50      REL  13:00

   Flight Trelew - Buenos Aires by 75€ per person:

29/10/2019   REL    7:10      AEP    9:00

   Flights to Iguazu from Buenos Aires should wait for a few more months because the low cost company we were planning to purchasing them from, Flybondi, wasn’t still selling for October. It wasn’t until May that we could purchase them but, by then, we had a better price with LATAM and JetSmart. This last one allows us to spend the night in Buenos Aires the last day in Iguazu, although it is using a different airport in Buenos Aires: El Palomar. These are our final flights between Buenos Aires and Iguazu by 70€ per person:

29/10/2019   AEP  14:00      IGR   15:50
31/10/2019   IGR   21:30     EPA   23:25

   With this, the total cost for flights is like this: 617€ from the flights to Buenos Aires + 408€ from domestic flights = 1025€ per person.

- Hotels

   We’ve focused mainly in location when looking for hotels for these five areas of this travel. These have been our choices from Booking:

   For Buenos Aires we wanted to use the same place for our two stops: the first night in Argentina and the last two. The neighborhood we’ve chosen to look for allocation is Recoleta, close to the places to visit but, overall, looking the safest place in this city. We’ve booked three nights at Up Recoleta Hotel, which costs us 59€ for the first night and 64€ for each of the last two. Total cost for all three nights then is 187€.

   El Calafate is the place where we’re going to spend more time. We need allocation for 4 nights there and we have chosen Posada  Karut Josh for them. We’ll pay 324€ in total.

   We only need to spend two nights in Ushuaia for our stop there. The most centric place we’ve found available is Paisaje del Beagle. The cost of these two nights here is 87€.

   The next stop following this chronological order is our visit to Peninsula Valdes. As our priority there are the whales, we had the idea of taking two nights at Apartahotel Raíces, which is in the same beach where the boats for whale watching leave. The rate is 63€ per night there but, finally, we only could take one because of our early flight next day and having no option of delivering the rented car if we’re not in Trelew the previous evening. So, for our second night on this area we’ve booked at Patagonian Suites Express, by 60€ per night.

   The last place we’re going to visit is Iguazu, where we had in mind to spend three nights, but finally we’ve booked two due to our night flight to Buenos Aires for the last day. We’ve chosen Hotel Posada La Sorgente in Puerto Iguazu for this by 96€ in total.

   With this, the total cost for hotels on this travel is 820€.

-Car rental

   We don’ know if we’ll ended by renting a car in El Calafate to go to El Chalten. We’ll decide this once there.

   The one we’ve booked is the car for Peninsula Valdes. We’ve chosen Rentacar for this, which quote is 6824 AR$ for two days. We’ve already paid a deposit of 1137 AR$.

   Somehow, once there, it was a local agency: Delsur DS. Our experience with them has been great and they explained to us the deposit we paid in advance is the comission for the website we used and we could save it by contacting them directly.

-Other expenses

   From the tours we want to do in El Calafate we’ve already booked and paid the trekking on Perito Moreno and transfer by 6500 AR$ per person. We’ve done it through Calafate.com. This is the only tour we’ve taken in advance as it is the most demanded, so we’ve assured it for the first day. Once there, we plan to take the sailing tour by the glaciers and whether to take a tour to El Chalten or renting a car to go on our own.

   We’ve reserved in advance too the whale watching tour in Peninsula Valdes, following the recommendation from our Hotel as these tours get full pretty quick. We’ll pay 2475 AR$ once there, with the discount already applied for going through the hotel.

   The only other activity we’ve paid in advance is the ballet for our first day in Buenos Aires at Colon Theater by 650 AR$ per person.

   Detailed plan, then, is like this:

Day Night Morning Afternoon
19 In flight Flight Flight
20 Buenos Aires Buenos Aires Buenos Aires
21 El Calafate Flight El Calafate
22 El Calafate Perito Moreno El Calafate
23 El Calafate Glaciers El Calafate
24 El Calafate El Chalten El Calafate
25 Ushuaia Flight Ushuaia
26 Ushuaia Ushuaia Ushuaia
27 Puerto Piramides Flight Peninsula Valdes
28 Trelew Peninsula Valdes Peninsula Valdes
29 Puerto Iguazu Flight Puerto Iguazu
30 Puerto Iguazu Iguazu Iguazu
31 Buenos Aires Iguazu Flight
1 Buenos Aires Buenos Aires Buenos Aires
2 In flight Buenos Aires Flight