Drive to Bariloche airport. The airport is conveniently located on the near side of Bariloche as you approach from Villa La Angostura, so there is no need to go into the city.
However, we recommend you depart in good time and allow a couple of hours for the 90km drive to the airport and vehicle handover.
Fly to El Calafate, gateway to Los Glaciares National Park in southern Patagonia. The town is on the southern shore of Lago Argentino. Tourism in the last 20 years has transformed it into a bustling entrepôt for access to the nearby scenery of glaciers, lakes and impossibly steep peaks. You will be met and taken to pick up your hire car from the rental car office. You will receive a Fly and Drive kit with maps and useful information about the area and highlights to visit. The vehicle is a compact VW Gol 2WD (or similar) and includes unlimited kilometres' travel, but not fuel. A tax of around US$10-15 will be payable locally upon collection.
The self-drive adventure in the south explores one of Patagonia’s finest national parks: Los Glaciares, featuring Mount Fitz Roy. Besides scenic drives all round, each offers uniquely different experiences once you’ve parked the car. If the sun shines, Fitz Roy’s walking trails which offer glimpses of glistening glaciers and turquoise lagoons are an unforgettable highlight. Meanwhile, the walkways which face the Perito Moreno glacier offer ample opportunity to linger and observe a spectacle which, in itself, rewards the long journey to Patagonia. There’s about 700km of driving. Much of this is on paved stretches of the Ruta 40 highway but there are also some journeys on ripio (gravel) road.
Today, it’s 100km (2 hrs) to the south-eastern shore of Lago Viedma and your first overnight stop at Estancia la Estela, which has homely, if simple, rooms and great views towards the lake.