One of Argentina’s Patagonian gems is El Calafate, a charming town of about 10,000 permanent residents (according to our chatty taxi driver) in Santa Cruz Province. El Calafate reminded me of a ski town, but instead of skiing, it’s is hiking: hiking on ice, in fact.
El Calafate is beloved tourist destination because of its proximity to Los Glaciares Nacional Park, which contains Perito Moreno Glacier, one of the most visited glaciers in the park. An elaborate set of bridges allow tourists to walk near the glacier and view the vast and striking ice formation from different angles. The real adventure to be had, though, is hiking the glacier, crampons strapped on and the whole deal.
My mom and I participated in the glacier hiking tour (“Mini Trekking”) through Hielo y Aventura, which I highly, highly recommend it. The tour takes trekkers on, up and across a good portion of the glacier, and it is phenomenal.
If you travel to El Calafate, you are going to see Perito Moreno glacier, as that’s the biggest draw. In my (strong) opinion, go all the way with your trip and spring for the ice trekking tour, because climbing on such an impressive natural wonders is really unlike anything else.
Also recommended in El Calafate
Eating at La Tablita, where everyone will direct you anyway. It’s the nicest dining spot in town, with delicious, no-nonsense Argentine fare (meats and pastas) perfect for the chilly Calafate temperatures. It gets crowded, so make reservations! Also, don’t miss the lamb cooking on a glassed-in spit by the kitchen.
Staying at Hotel Edenia. The simply decorated but very comfortable hotel (heated bathroom floors!) is a little outside town on the opposite side of the bay, which makes for some spectacular views of the town and surrounding mountains.
Visiting the hiker’s dream town of El Chalten. (You can read more about El Chalten and see photos in the next post.)
If you’re interested in seeing more photos of Arctic wonders or reading about what it’s like to go even farther south, check out Tara’s posts about her trip to Antarctica.