Often compared to a vast turquoise sea, the Perito Moreno glacier is one of nature´s greatest wonders. One of the few advancing glaciers on earth, it is around 30km long and in places up to 60m high.
The pleasant town of El Calafate provides a perfect base from which to head out and discover the glaciers of Patagonia. You’ll find all you need within easy reach, with a few good restaurants, a bakery or two, a supermarket, ATMs and a post office. However, you won’t be spending more than an evening or two in town, as its real reason for being is to host visitors who come to see the immense vistas of the incredible Los Glaciares National Park. Many of the main glaciers of the National Park are within easy reach of town and day trips can be comfortably enjoyed without too much driving or rush. One of the most popular outings takes you on a boat trip to the Upsala Glacier. Along the way you’ll pass glowing blue icebergs and catch a glimpse of distant mountains across a hazy landscape of snow and ice. The absolute highlight of the region, and perhaps even of Argentina as a whole, is the mighty Perito Moreno Glacier.
Exceptional natural beauty, mountains and glacial lakes
Within the Los Glaciares National Park itself, the tiny village of El Chalten is little more than a scattering of insignificant little buildings dwarfed by the immensity of the Patagonian landscape. The town serves as a base for walkers and climbers heading out into the stunning surrounding mountains and it is the last outpost of civilization before the wilds of Patagonia take over entirely. Well signposted trails lead out from the village directly into the mountains, and though keen hikers can head out with camping gear for several days of hiking, there are plenty of different walks to be enjoyed within an easy day’s hike. Upon first sight the town can appear windswept and even a little bleak, but the laidback locals are welcoming and there are a great variety of restaurants serving up hearty Patagonian dishes. The overall atmosphere is relaxed and friendly, probably because it takes a certain kind of person to live out there, and because the hikers who visit are so delighted with what they find!
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WHAT NOT TO MISS IN PATAGONIA GLACIER NAT’L PARK
Perito Moreno Glacier
The outstanding star of Lago Argentino is the Perito Moreno Glacier. Not only because it’s a miracle of nature but also because unlike other glaciers, it’s right there, only 50 miles (80km) away from El Calafate and visitors don’t need to make much of an effort to observe, get close, or if you’re feeling slightly adventurous, there are mini treks, as well as advanced glacier hikes.
The hiking routes around El Chalten are unbeatable, taking you through beautiful forests and along mountain paths with views of glaciers and jagged peaks. El Chaltén is often referred to as Argentina’s, National Capital of Trekking, and the nickname is not exaggerated. This is probably the place with the most trekking trails in the country.
Glacier Ice Trekking
An easy mini-trekking tour takes you to walk on top of a glacier, where you will be able to see some features that cannot be appreciated from far away: turquoise water ponds, cracks, cascades and crevices. An expert guide provides you with crampons, so you can step safely and then leads you around the vast icy landscape for about an hour.
If the Perito Moreno Glacier is impressive with its 75 sq.mile (195 sq.km) surface, how should we describe the Upsala Glacier…it’s three times larger? En route you’ll pass glowing blue icebergs and catch a glimpse of distant mountains across a hazy landscape of snow and ice. These glaciers are both massive and astounding.
Visit an Estancia
Torres del Paine
|Buenos Aires, CABA, Argentina||Argentina’s cultured capital, is many people’s favorite city in Latin America. With its thriving arts and music scene, feisty Latin character, fascinating history and, stunning architecture; the city is filled with a rich past and an equally as captivating present…Read more…|
Patagonia Glacier National Park
|Parque Nacional Los Glaciares, Santa Cruz, Argentina||This UNESCO World Heritage Site has some of the region’s most dramatic scenery. Embark on a boat trip passing shimmering icebergs or, hike across the mighty Perito Moreno Glacier in South America’s kingdom of ice and glaciers! Read more…|
Iguazu Falls (Puerto Iguazu)
|Unnamed Road, Misiones, Argentina||Named one of the New 7 Wonders of the World, Iguazu hosts over 250 separate falls thundering down from heights of up to 269ft. (82m), a truly inspiring experience. These giant falls can be visited from both Argentina and Brazil, both offering their own unique perspective.Read more…|
|Península Valdés, Chubut, Argentina||This area of Patagonia is haven for a whole host of marine wildlife and birdlife. Its sheltered bays offer a safe breeding and feeding ground for fascinating wildlife, including sea lions, elephant seals, penguins, dolphins and, most impressively of all, the giant Southern Right Whale.Read more…|
|Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina||The last point of civilization before the frozen stretches of Antarctica take hold, Ushuaia is an attractive and colorful coastal town at the end of the world. Be spoiled by its surrounding beautiful landscapes and the vast National Parks of Southern Patagonia. Read more…|
|Mendoza, Capital, Mendoza, Argentina||This corner of the world is the perfect climate for wine growing, especially the Malbec grape. You won’t want to miss at least a few days visiting some speciality boutique vineyards, or more renown brands. There’s also plenty of adventure outdoor activities abound.Read more…|
|Salta, Argentina||Salta’s attractive colonial architecture effortlessly lives up to its nickname, La Linda, meaning ‘the beautiful’ in Spanish. It’s without a doubt one of the most well-preserved colonial cities in Argentina and the perfect base to visit the rest of northwest highlights of Jujuy & Cafayate.Read more…|
|San Salvador de Jujuy, Jujuy, Argentina||Jujuy Province (pronounced hu-hui) has some of the most stunning landscapes in all of Argentina. One day’s drive will take you through 400 year old cacti forests, beautifully preserved colonial villages, expansive salt flats and rocky mountain faces swirled with a rainbow of colors.Read more…|
|Cafayate, Salta, Argentina||Home to the Torrontes vineyards, Cafayate is unique in its production of a refreshingly light white wine. This charming colonial town has a lovely laid-back and small-town feel with a pleasant central plaza where you can dine al fresco on regional specialties.Read more…|
Lake District & Bariloche
|San Carlos de Bariloche, Río Negro, Argentina||Salta’s attractive colonial architecture effortlessly lives up to its nickname, La Linda, meaning ‘the beautiful’ in Spanish. It’s without a doubt one of the most well-preserved colonial cities in Argentina and the perfect base to visit the rest of northwest highlights of Jujuy & Cafayate.Read more…|
Depending on your client’s preferences, we can help you determine the best experiences tailored for your clients. From where to visit, when to go, what to do and how to get there safely, our travel experts will help you create an experience your clients will love.
Best times to visit Patagonia’s Glacier Nat’l Park
The Patagonia winter runs from June to August and at its peak it is harsh to say the least! This is not the time to be heading out on leisure cruises around the glaciers, and the towns of the region all but shut up shop. Having said that, the winter can be exquisitely beautiful and seeing Patagonia with no one else around is a very special experience. The best time to visit is late spring, summer and early fall, from around September through May. The school summer holidays in Argentina fall in late December and continue into early January and at this time the region is understandably busy with families, especially the Perito Moreno Glacier and the glacier cruises. If you travel just before or just after this period you are most likely to enjoy blue skies and fewer crowds. Our all out favorite time of year to visit is September when winter is still in the air but the crowds have yet to arrive.
HOW TO GET THERE
Daily flights from Buenos Aires arrive at the El Calafate Airport, located 14 miles (23km) away from the city. Another option is flying to Río Gallegos and then taking a four hour bus (this was the only way of getting there until 2000, when the El Calafate Airport was opened).
Arriving by bus is another alternative, but distances are big, so trips are long (over 20 hours).
The best way to see the attractions is by taking guided tours that not only take you to the place, but also explain (in Spanish and English) what you are about to see. You may also take regular buses to each highlight spot.
Moving around by car or 4×4 trucks is also possible. The most important car rental agencies have an outlet in El Calafate.
To get to El Chaltén, you can take regular buses that leave El Calafate every day. Trips last around four hours. It is also great idea to hire a car and drive through the stunning landscapes independently.
WHERE TO STAY
As a relatively new tourist center, El Calafate has growing and modern offers in lodging, including five star hotels, boutique hotels, and B&Bs. There’s also the chance of staying in one of the estancias (ranches) in the outskirts of the city.
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