Tag Archives: El Calafate

Visiting El Chaltén, Argentina

A three-hour bus ride from El Calafate is the teeny hikers’ and climbers’ town of El Chaltén. While very (very very) small, the town of El Chaltén with the jagged Cerro Torre and Cerro Fitz Roy mountains rising up behind is an iconic image of Argentine Patagonia.

Welcome to El Chaltén!

Getting there

The most common way to arrive in town is to take three-hour bus ride from El Calafate. Some people choose to stay overnight, but if you are a more casual hiker—file me under that—it is very doable to just go for the day. Catch the first bus of the day out of El Calafate and then last one out of Chaltén back to Calafate at the end of the day, and you will have had time for some scenic hikes and relaxing meals.

My shot of the playground in El Chaltén

In fact, unless you are planning some intense climbing or trekking expeditions, I would not recommend staying overnight, as the town is even smaller and more quiet than El Calafate. Still, it is gorgeous and I do recommend scheduling a day to visit.

Residences in El Chaltén

What to do

Stop in the town’s tourism office to grab a trail map and get hike recommendations. My mom and I did about two hours of hiking total, which took us to two different, yet equally stunning, viewpoints.

Made it up to Mirador Las Águilas in Chaltén

Bus ride from Chaltén to Calafate, by Karina

Mom hiking back to town, with Cerro Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre in El Chaltén

Also, grab a meal at La Cervecería, an artesanal beer/food joint in town that was one of the tastiest and most comforting meals I had had in some time. (The Argentine stew locro is the house specialty.) Be warned, though, that because this is almost exclusively a tourist town—tourists being the hikers and climbers—many establishments close for the low-season months beginning in April, the Cervecería included.

Our lunch at La Cervecería in Chaltén

Otherwise, wander town, grab some Patagonian chocolates and take lots of pictures!

See more for Argentina’s Santa Cruz province in this TKGO post about visiting El Calafate and Perito Moreno glacier.

Karina

Visiting El Calafate and Perito Moreno

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 from the Hotel Edenia, by Karina

View of Perito Moreno from the airplane, by Karina

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.

"Mini Trekking" on Perito Moreno, by Karina

Perito Moreno from the bridges, by Karina

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.

The Mini Trekking tour ended with whiskey and alfajores

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.

Karina