Day 1 in El Calafate
Welcome to El Calafate! Upon arrival at the airport, you will go through customs and immigration. Should you opt to purchase a transfer to your hotel; a representative will be waiting for you as you exit immigration. Arrive at your hotel, check in and get out to explore the region! There is so much for you to see and do!
We recommend you get acquainted with the town, take a stroll along the main street of Avenida del Libertador San Martin, which is lined with restaurants, cafes, bars and shops. Stop into one of the eateries and enjoy some lunch and refreshments, then do some shopping and grab an ice cream or some fresh chocolates at one of the many shops.
After lunch, rent a bicycle and peddle your way around town to see some more of the sights. Cycle along the lakefront promenade and take in the spectacular surroundings of the nearby mountains and glaciers. Make your way to El Calafate Mountain Park, which stands 3,444 feet above the city on top of Cerro Huilliche. Ride the cable car to the summit for outstanding panoramic views of the region below as well as Los Glaciares National Park and the magnificent Mount Fitz Roy in the distance. The park is popular for outdoor activities including mountain and quad biking and skiing and snowmobiling in the winter. The lakes in the region are great for kayaking and rafting tours.
Visit the beautiful Laguna Nimez Nature, an important conservation area where over 80 species of birds can be seen. Look out for the fantastic Argentinian Flamingos and black-necked swans, walk or cycle along the trails that run for about a mile through the reserve and lead to beautiful blue lagoons.
Next, visit one of the two interesting museums in town; El Centro de Interpretacion Historica is filled with plenty of information on the natural and human history of Patagonia with great displays and exhibits that include fossils, dinosaurs, glaciers, and other archaeological discoveries.
The Glaciarium is a fun museum and research center on ice and glaciers, here visitors will find all the basic knowledge necessary to understand and enjoy the great glaciers of the region. There are videos and displays explaining how the glaciers formed along with the geology and the region and climate change. Head to the `Ice Bar` located in the museum`s basement which is complete with an actual ice bar, ice furniture and drinks served in real ice glasses.
As evening time approaches make your way back into Downtown El Calafate to enjoy dinner at one of the many upscale restaurants found in town. Try some Patagonian lamb which is the local specialty, costillas de cordero (rack of lamb) or bife de cordero (lamb steak) are two of the popular dishes. Sample a delicious glass of world-class Argentinian wine with your dinner, the Malbecs from Mendoza are simply amazing.
After dinner, if you fancy a drink and wish to enjoy the diverse nightlife that El Calafate has to offer visit one of the many bars or pubs found in the downtown area or try your luck at the casinos.
Day 2 in El Calafate
Today head out to explore the Amazing Glaciers of the Patagonian region, El Calafate is the gateway to Los Glaciares National Park. There are many tour groups that offer half or full day excursions to the glaciers, many, start off early in the morning (pick up at 7 am) with a boat ride and trekking.
The most popular glacier to visit is the breathtaking Perito Moreno Glacier, the massive glacier measures 19 miles long, 3 miles wide and reaches heights of 240 feet above the surface of the lake with a total depth of 558 feet. This magnificent glacier is one of the few found in Patagonia that is actually advancing rather than retreating.
Visitors can see the glacier up close and personal from viewing walkways where they may be able to witness `calving` where large chunks of ice break off the glacier and come crashing down into the water, sending waves across the lake. There are also options to walk on the glacier or take a catamaran ride across the milky turquoise waters to get a closer look.
Other glaciers in the region worth visiting are the spectacular Spegazzini Glacier, which is the highest in Los Glaciares National Park. Spegazzini sits on Lake Argentino with glacial wall towers that rise up 440 feet making it an impressive sight. Upsala Glacier is the largest glacier of its kind in South America and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it measures 35 miles long and 6 miles wide. Upsala possesses one of the most significant medial moraines in South America. The best way to see all of the glaciers in their glory is by boat where visitors will cruise past the floating icebergs and get up close and personal to the glaciers for breathtaking views.
Please Note: Best time to visit is during the summer months (December - February) boat tours and other excursions do not operate in the winter months. Kayaking is only available from November to April.
If time allows, visit La Leona Petrified Forest, a paleontological site in a huge, natural depression. The fascinating forest features dinosaur fossils, odd rock formations, and petrified tree trunks some dating back over 70 million years ago. Volcanic eruptions and the changing climate left the forest buried and preserved underground and erosion over the years has exposed the remains.
Viedma Glacier and Viedma Lake are located near the border of Chile and Argentina, the glacier is the largest in Argentina and the lake measures 50 miles long and 10 miles wide. The lake was formed by melting glacial ice whose waters feed the glacier.
After a busy day exploring the spectacular Patagonian Region make your way back to town and enjoy a relaxing meal by the lake where you can taste fresh fish and seafood accompanied by a glass of Argentinian wine.
Additional Days in El Calafate
If you are able to spend additional days in El Calafate take a helicopter tour to get a birds-eye view of the National Park and the stunning glaciers.
Visit El Chalten, which sits at the base of Cerro Torre and Mount Fitz Roy, two of the most spectacular mountains in the region. El Chalten is the hiking and trekking capital of Argentina dotted with mountains, lakes, and trails that take you through natural landscapes. Hiking season is from December through March, the town shuts down from April to October due to extreme weather.
Visit the Walichu Caves that date back 4,000 years ago and feature paintings and amazing rock formations. The prehistoric caves were used as shelter by men as early as the Upper Paleolithic Era (Late Stone Age). Perito Moreno discovered the caves in 1877 after they were left forgotten for years.
Your Last Day in El Calafate
Depart from your hotel to the airport for your return flight home. We recommend that you purchase a private transfer to the airport if so the representative will meet you at your hotel with plenty of time to get you to the airport for your flight out.