by Gabriela Brizuela
Travel Specialist in Trips SouthAmerica
One of the trips on the bucket list
Since the pandemic began, I started to dream of what would be the next destination I would travel when everything calmed down. Without hesitation, the destination I chose was El Calafate.
Knowing the Perito Moreno Glacier was one of the priorities on my bucket list. As soon as I had the chance, I booked my flights and anxiously awaited the arrival of the day when I could travel again.
Finally, the Argentine government announced that tourism within the country would be enabled from December 2020 with the corresponding protocols. Among the necessary requirements to travel again, the importance of wearing a chinstrap, temperature control and hand sanitization with alcohol in all public places was highlighted.
With those things in mind, after waiting several months I was able to finalize my trip at the end of February 2021.
A few minutes before arriving at El Calafate airport, I looked out the window and knew it would be an unforgettable trip. From the plane you began to see the Argentino Lake and the Santa Cruz River with a fascinating turquoise color. This special color is the product of glacier water that, with mineral sediments, reach this atypical color and is called glacial milk.
After getting our luggage, we went to look for a car that we had previously rented. That day, as soon as we left the airport, we headed towards Route 40 to El Chaltén. There we would spend ours first two nights.
Between El Calafate airport and El Chaltén there are 200 km of distance that are covered in approximately 3 and a half hours, although the landscape is so beautiful that it can take a little longer if you make a few stops to take the first photos.
We arrive at El Chaltén, a very cozy town that is located within the Los Glaciares National Park at the foot of the famous Mount Fitz Roy. El Chaltén is known as the national capital of trekking due to the many trails that can be done there. There are trails of different duration and difficulty that you can choose according to your physical condition and taking into account the number of days of your stay.
In our case, we decided to do a full day trekking and the rest of the time we used it to walk around the town and explore the surroundings by car since we would only be there for a day and a half.
The first day, after leaving our luggage at the hotel, we wanted to take advantage of the time we had left in the afternoon and visit the Lago del Desierto, which is located 40km from the center. We took the car and began to skirt the Rio De Las Vueltas. Getting to the lake takes about an hour because of the gravel road.
For those who want to hike in this area, a few kilometers before reaching the lake they will find the entrance to the Huemul Glacier, a low-difficulty trek that takes 2 hours round trip, ideal for those who have little time and a vehicle. We decided to continue on the road and stop to enjoy the afternoon in front of the lake.
Laguna de los Tres
The next day, we made the walk to Laguna de los Tres. This trek takes you to one of the most impressive views of Fitz Roy. It is a path that lasts approximately 8 or 9 hours (25km. Round trip) and is of medium difficulty. It takes a bit of effort, but it’s really worth it.
Halfway there is the Capri Lagoon, a beautiful landscape where you can take your first break. It is also a good option for those who are only going to spend the day in El Chaltén, since getting there only takes two hours.
The next day we said goodbye to this charming place and returned to El Calafate. After settling into our new room, we borrowed bicycles from the hotel and went out to explore the city. El Calafate has a main street with shops and bars to go for a walk in the afternoon on your arrival day or after an excursion. After visiting the city center, we toured the waterfront where we could delight in the beauty of Lake Argentino. Finally we return to the hotel to rest and prepare for the long awaited visit to the glacier.
Early in the morning they picked us up for the excursion to the Perito Moreno Glacier. We opted to take the tour that combines the visit to the footbridges and the walk on the glacier. To get to the catwalks, the transfer from the city takes approximately 1: 15hs (80km). When we arrived we had some free time to contemplate the wonderful glacier. I must say that it is one of the most beautiful landscapes that I have been able to observe. I definitely recommend visiting it at least once in your lifetime. Is magnificent!
After being able to see the glacier in a panoramic way, we headed towards the Bajo Las Sombras port to embark on a catamaran that allowed us to cross the Rico arm of the lake. After this 20 minute navigation we got off the boat to get ready to start the mini trekking on the glacier. We put a helmet and crampons on our shoes, and after an informative talk we went onto the ice. The route over the glacier is approximately an hour and a half during which you will be able to see crevices, sinkholes and small lagoons. It is a unique and very fun experience! To finish we made a toast with a glass of whiskey with ice taken directly from the glacier.
The walk is simple but it is necessary to do it carefully, protecting your hands with gloves
and following the guide’s instructions to avoid falling or being injured by the ice. It must be taken into account that it can only be performed by people between 8 and 65 years old who do not have respiratory or cardiovascular diseases.
This activity last approximately
an hour and a half.
ImportantProtect your hands with gloves,
be careful to avoid falling or being injured by the ice.
You must be between 8 and 65 years old and not have respiratory or cardiovascular diseases.
Laguna Nimez Reserve
To end our stay, on the last day we decided to take a walk through the Laguna Nimez Reserve where we could see different types of birds in the area.
Undoubtedly the destination met all my expectations.
Nature surprised me at every moment of the trip.
We look forward to receiving you in South America!!