by Guadalupe Corvalan
Travel Specialist in Trips SouthAmerica
My Trip to the Land of Glaciers
In this episode we’ll be traveling to the south, to the Land of Glaciers, in Santa Cruz province, Patagonia region, my trip experience may give you some ideas for your next adventure…
I personally visited this destination in December, the last month of Spring in South Hemisphere, period in which weather is very nice. The only “issue” is the wind, reason why is recommendable to have a coat, and even better, a windbreaker jacket.
Moreover, direct flights between Patagonia destinations do not operate either (e.g. El Calafate-Ushuaia or El Calafate-Bariloche). That is why connectivity is a bit complicated. You need, at least, a stopover in Buenos Aires or Córdoba.
My Travel Tip: When to go
You can visit the Patagonia the whole year, although, we do not recommend winter (June/July/August). Even so, cold is “dry” in this area and it’s quite bearable if you have the appropriate clothing. The inconvenient is that some activities do not operate in winter, such as navigations and trekkings over the glacier.
There are only hotels in El Calafate. Hostels do not exist.
But, there are options for all publics, from 3* hotels and “hosterias”, to 5* options. The last ones are not too many, there are more 4* or Superior hotels. We recommend Rochester Calafate as a 3*, Alto Calafate as a 4* and Xelena as a 5*.
My Travel Tip: Where to stay
Many people prefer to stay in a hotel near the downtown, to be closer to restaurants and shops, but staying in front of the Argentino Lake has no waste. The views are amazing, and you can have a walk at the lakeshore.
The downtown is small. There are some restaurants, food shops, chocolate shops. The last ones also sell a “calafate” liquour. The Calafate is a typican fruit of the area, which gives the name to the town.
My Travel Tip: Typical food
If you go to the downtown you need to try a Patagonian lamb dish. It is very traditional in this destination. You can eat it grilled “a la estaca”, or as a stuffed pasta (e.g. ravioles), among others. Suggested Restaurants: La Tablita and Casimiro Biguá.
Now we continue with the most important: What to do in El Calafate?
Perito Moreno Glacier the main attraction.
There are different kind of activities: the traditional tour allows you to use the catwalks, and you can also add, as an optional activity, the Nautical Safari, a short navigation of approx 1 hour; and for adventurous people: minitrekking, Big Ice (both are trekkings over the glacier), or kayaking.
Upsala and Spegazzini glaciers, other stars in the Los Glaciares National Park.
Perito Moreno is not the only one in Los Glaciares Nacional Park. You can also see the Upsala and Spegazzini glaciers, during Ríos de Hielo (Ice Rivers), a navigation of about 5 hs, or during Todo Glaciares (All glaciers), in which you will see Seco, Heim Sur and Peineta glaciers as well.
A third option is the Gourmet Glaciers Experience, on board of the exclusive María Turquesa Cruise, that also offers a box lunch or gourmet lunch, depending on your preference.
Other activities to do in El Calafate
Estancia Nibepo Aike
If you are interested in farm life, you should visit Estancia Nibepo Aike. You can do some trekking too, or a horseback riding (additional cost), surrounded by the incredible Andes. At the end of the excursion, you’ll enjoy an exquisite Patagonian lamb.
Nibepo Aike keeps the essence of the original Patagonian estancias.
Full Day in Chaltén
El Chaltén is a small town at 3 hours from El Calafate, under the famous Fitz Roy Mount. This town is known as the “Argentinian capital of trekking”. You’ll find there different self-guided trails, of different lengths and durations. I highly recommend the one to Capri Lagoon, which takes from 4 to 6 hours, depending on your rythm.
My Travel Tip: Trekking Trail
I highly recommend the one to Capri Lagoon, which takes from 4 to 6 hours, depending on your rythm. This beautiful trek takes you to a lagoon of blue waters surrounded by native forest. From here you can see a fantastic view of the Fitz Roy massif.
My Travel Tip: Length of stay
If you more than 3 nights, I suggest you to stay 2 nights in El Chalten at mínimum, instead of doing the Full day trip from El Calafate. This way, you will be able to do the Fitz Roy and De Los Tres Lagoon trekking, which takes about 10 hours. It’s exhausting and demanding, but it’s definitely worth it.
If you wish, you can pay for a guide service, of course, but the paths are perfectly signaled. For further information, you can enter to the official website of El Chalten. It’s both in Spanish and English.
We thoroughly enjoyed our trip and and it lived up to all our expectations. In case that you need more info or alternative activities in El Calafate, do not hesitate in contact us!
We look forward to receiving you in South America!!
Travel Specialist, Trips SouthAmerica.