view of lake capri, chalten

Patagonia Argentina: Calafate & Chalten

The Patagonia is a destination that I have always had on my wishlist and finally the opportunity knocked on my door! My boyfriend and I had a wedding in Tandil, south of Buenos Aires and in February: the best time of the year to visit the Patagonia. So we took advantage that we were going to be in Argentina and added a one week visit to Calafate and Chalten.

Before travelling, I read different blogs and forums in order to figure out exactly where to go, I wanted to go everywhere! Ushuaia, Puerto Madryn, Calafate, Chalten, but we had six days and had to choose.

We kicked-off the trip with friends and a wedding, and after that, flew from Buenos Aires to Calafate and began the long-awaited trip around the Patagonia Argentina.

Lago Nimez in el Calafate

Lago Nimez in el Calafate

We arrived at Calafate on Monday 1:30am and took the “Ves Patagonia” shuttle that leaves you at the door of your hotel. We planned part of the itinerary beforehand because February is high season and we didn’t want to risk not doing certain activities due to availability. I highly recommend those travelling to the Patagonia in high season to reserve Hotel and key activities in advance because there were lots of tourists.

We spent the first afternoon walking around the town and then rented bikes and went along the side of the Argentina Lake. It was a beautiful view, but it was extremely windy, so take your windbreaker and make sure you can ride your bike in the wind! It was a fun challenge to bike in the wind and a great way to see the lake and Calafate.

Lake Argentino in el Calafate

Lake Argentino in el Calafate

The next day was our expedition to Big Ice! This is a 10km (aprox) trek within the Perito Moreno glaciar. The trek has a high physical requirement; one must be fit and ready to walk on the ice! We were really excited and the expedition exceeded our expectations, I highly recommend it. The photos speak for themselves.

The next day we went to Chalten. Initially we had planned to have 1 more day in Calafate but this is only worthwhile if you have any more paid activities planned. There was another expedition in Kayaks to explore the Upsala Glaciar but the tour was completely booked (we did not book this one in advance unfortunately).

View before arriving to Chalten

View before arriving to Chalten

Chalten is a small town within the “Parque Nacional de Glaciares” and is beautiful. We had 3 complete days. We were recommended three treks and were determined to do them. Chalten’s major attraction is to go on treks trips from the town. There are people who stay at camping sites but you can also do them for the day and return to sleep at a hotel (which is what we did). I saw around town other paid tours, but to be honest, the treks (that are completely free) are amazing; I have never seen such astonishing views.

The three treks that we did were:

  • Laguna Torre  9km one way (total 18km)
  • Loma del Pliegue Tumbado 10km one way (total 20km)
  • Trek to Fitz Roy 10 km one way (total 20km)

If you have one or two more days, I would recommend that you take it easy between these three treks. There are shorter and easier ones but we didn’t have time to lose so we did some of the hardest treks (all were medium to high level). It would have been great to take it slow in between, rest a little bit and enjoy more of the town of Chalten. The town has a really nice evening atmosphere with places to eat and have a great glass of wine but we always returned so tired that we had dinner and then called it a night.

A lot of people have asked me if you can go to Torres de Paine (in Chile) from Calafate and how close it is, and you can (it’s about 3 hours away and 1.5 hours to cross the border), but when I asked around and from the research I did beforehand, Torres de Paine also has a lot to offer and it’s better if you have a couple of extra days to include that into the trip. Doing a day trip might be a bit tight.

Useful Information:

Hotels:

  • La Cantera hotel boutique – El Calafate
  • Don Los Cerros – Chalen

Restaurants:

El Calafate

  • Isabel (it’s part of a Hostel) and its specialty is “cocina al disco”. Really good and homey!
  • El Cucharon

Chalten

  • Don los Cerros hotel restaurant, if you want a little more gourmet, the food was really good.
  • La Cervecería, amazing pizza and beer.

Transport

  • Chalten Travel: bus to Chalten and can drop you off at the airport on its way back to Calafate
  • Aerolineas Argentinas
  • Ves Patagonia: Shuttle to Calafate (http://www.vespatagonia.com.ar/)

 

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