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El Calafate | Climate | Lago Argentino (Argentinian Lake) |

Glaciers National Park | Excursions | Videos

El Chaltén

Perito Moreno Glacier

Warmth among glaciers

The ancient Calafate village is today one of the most important and modern tourist centres in Patagonia that keeps its people's warmth and its picturesque buildings.

Its complete tourist infrastructure offers varied accommodation services: comfortable hotels, inns, hostels, bungalows, and campsites. There is a great variety of restaurants, grills, pizza restaurants, coffee houses, tea houses, meals houses. Not only is there nature recreation but also city recreation, there is the casino, the shopping mall and its dancing clubs.

El Calafate, located at the base of the homonym hill and at the bank of Argentinian Lake, is 315 km away from Rio Gallegos, the provincial capital of Santa Cruz. With accessible pavement roads, Río Gallegos is 4 hours by bus away from El Calafate.

Soon, there will be a bigger airport that will allow for direct flights from Buenos Aires. Its buildings with chalet-like roofs, the colours of its vegetation, where roses and a great variety of flowers and trees stand out, make up a contrasting feature in the landscape of this tourist village. 4,000 inhabitants with a sense of solidarity and communication make the visitors feel at home.

Climate

El Calafate is located 50º20' southern latitude (equivalent to London in the north hemisphere). Its climate is dry and there are mild temperatures: In summer, the maximum average is 18.6º C, and in winter, the minimum average is 1.8ºC. The length of the day varies according to the season: the longest day in the year is December 21 st , which offers 17.5 hours of light, dawning at 05:30 am and becoming dark towards 11:00 pm. The shortest day is June 21 st with only 8 light hours (from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm)

Winds. winds reach this western sector mainly in Spring and Summer at day hours.

Rains: in the continental ice area rains reach 8000 annual mm. Descending to 1000/1500 mm. In Los Glaciares National Park. Winds from the west carry little humidity to the steppe region. El Calafate receives 300 annual mm.

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Lago Argentino (Argentinian Lake)

Due to its surface, 1560 km2, Argentinian Lake is the biggest in Argentina and it is the third in South America. It is 185 m above sea level, it is 60 km long, and between 14 and 20 km wide.

Its depth varies between 35 and 1000 mts. Above the south coast and the centre; opposite Avellaneda Peninsula Santa Cruz River has its source and drains into the Atlantic Ocean.

The special colour of its waters is due to some fine dust, called glaciers milk, the result of the glaciers abrasion

Perito Moreno Glacier

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Parque Nacional Los Glaciares (Glaciers National Park)

The Glaciers National Park was created in 1937 and is located in the southeast of Santa Cruz province. 154.000 of its 600.000 hectares belong to the National Reserve.

It has 365 glaciers, from which 13 are the most important. It was declared  Natural Patrimony of the Humanity by the UNESCO in 1981 , with the aim of preserving this exceptional natural heritage for actual and future generations.

What is a glacier?

It can be said that it is a river with ice water; an ice mass in constant movement, with a certain speed, according to the degree and volume of the slope.

The process by which glacier ice formation – crystalline blue mass – results is by the accumulation of snows century after century, producing an air release from the interior of its own weight. The main conditions that exist in the formation of a glacier are great snows and an annual average temperature that keeps ice as it is.

Types of glaciers found in the area

Indlansis : These are huge horizontal Patagonian Continental ice surfaces, 7000 km2.

De Circo : They take the top parts of mountain ranges.

De Valle : They flow through a definite valley

Piedemonte : These are valley glaciers that when they reach the plain become their front in fanshape.

Compuestos : These are the ones fed by minor ones that become thicker in volume as from the sides.

De Calving : When the glacier front is in contact with water, it loses great part of its volume with the detachment of ice floes, like the Upsala, Moreno, Spegazzini in Argentinian Lake and Viedma in its homonym lake.

Perito Moreno Glacier

Excursions and activities

Perito Moreno Full Day
Departure : 09:00 am
Lasts : Full Day
Difficulty : None This visit to the Perito Moreno glacier starts in El Calafate, going through route 11, with Lake Argentino on our right and beholding the botanical transition between steppe vegetation to Andean-Patagonian vegetation, made of lenga and Ñires trees, Antarctic Beech and bright-colored flowers, among which the redness of Embothrium stands out. Already inside the National Park the Glaciers, we will enter long and wide catwalks, arranged in three levels, from where we will be dazzled by the spectacular views of the Perito Moreno Glacier, further enhanced every now and then by the rupture, sometimes significant, of its front wall. At the National Park, you can buy the optional nautical tour that take you on a tour along the northern wall of the glacier (MORENO FIESTA) from where you will be able to contemplate the glacier in all its beauty and magnitude. Visitors wishing to make this tour the day of arrival must also be done in a private service, without a guide, including the transfer in or out to the airport.
This option is ideal for visitors with limited time.


Minitrekking
Departure : 07:00 am
Lasts : Full Day
Difficulty : Medium
From El Calafate we undertake the trip to National Park, five kilometers before the catwalks is located the pier "Bajo de ls Sombras", where boats cross the Argentino lake. After 10 'of navigation we can see the the south wall of the Perito Moreno glacier, we landed and the mountain guides organize groups of up to 20 people. It begins the trek to the foot of the glacier, where guides will help place the necessary crampons for walking on the ice and give a talk explaining the phenomenon of the formation of glaciers. The ice trekking on the glacier is + - 1 ½ hours during which can be appreciated, seracs, sinks and small lakes. The hike is moderate, walking down an ice surface irregular, but firm and secure, only alowwed people between 10 and 65. Then we crossed back the lake and stay + - 1 ½ hours on the catwaks of the national park from where there are spectacular views of the Perito Moreno. Return to El Calafate.


Big Ice
Departure : Sep/april
Lasts : Full Day
Difficulty : Demanding
From El Calafate we undertake the trip to National Park, five kilometers before the catwalks is located the pier "Bajo de ls Sombras", where you board the ships to cross the arm Rico of Lake Argentino, you land at the southeastern shore after 20 minutes of navigation. Escorted by mountain guides approved by the Office of National Parks, you will start the walk on the path that will lead us to the margins of the glacier and after fitting the crampons, we start trekking on ice. Once we are on the ice surface we will walk for around 3.5 hours in all, during which we will see the incredible blue lakes, deep drains, seracs, amazing caves and other glacial formations which will make you feel you are in the core of the glacier. In the middle of the excursion, we will enjoy a unique picnic “on the ice”, surrounded by an amazing beauty. Once the walk is over, we will board again and return to civilization from one of the most unbelievable trekking expeditions in the world. The Big Ice is only for people between 18 and 45 years old with excelent physical conditions.


Upsala Glacier navigation
Departure : Everyday
Lasts : Full Day
Difficulty : Easy
Amazing navigation to the heart of continental ice cap, suitable for all ages. The tour begins at your hotel when we pick up to take you to the pier of Punta Banderas (47 km from El Calafate) where we boarded on modern ships and began to sail the northern arm of Lake Argentino towards the icebergs channel, where we will see huge icebergs arising from the ice cap. We continued sailing toward the Upsala Glacier, one of the biggest glaciers of continental ice cap. After this we visit the great Spegazzini glacier, perhaps the most beautiful and then we return to the Iceberg channel towards Punta banderas. The route of this navigation is subject to modifications by unfavorable weather conditions.


El Chalten full day tour
Departure : Oct/April
Lasts : Full Day
Difficulty : Easy
The tour begins at your hotel early in the morning we end the pick up and we take the Route 11 along the Lake Argentino and cross the Santa Cruz River to the east, to join then with the legendary Route 40 which will make some stops. The first stop is in the "La Leona Parador and Hotel" historic site where the Perito Moreno was attacked by a Puma, hence its name. Then continue on Route 40, cross "La Leona" river and joins the Route 23 and began the approach to El Chalten along Lake Viedma, to enjoy the second stop on a viewpoint from where you can see the lake and glacier Viedma and the mountain range to with the Fit Roy and Torre Mounts among the most featured. Once in El Chalten Passengers can make navigation on Lake Viedma (Viedma Light) for two hours, including a visit to the front of the glacier, or hiking the self-guided trails inside the national park, among which the best are: Viewpoint Fitz Roy and viewpoint Torre. The tour inclue a boxlunch. After the passanger make all the activities we return to El Calafate.


Chalten Ice Trekk full day
Departure : All year
Lasts : Full day
Difficulty : Easy
The tour begins at your hotel early in the morning we end the pick up and we take the Route 11 along the Lake Argentino and cross the Santa Cruz River to the east, to join then with the legendary Route 40 which will make some stops. The first stop is in the "La Leona Parador and Hotel" historic site where the Perito Moreno was attacked by a Puma, hence its name. Then continue on Route 40, cross "La Leona" river and joins the Route 23 and began the approach to El Chalten along Lake Viedma, to enjoy the viewpoint from where you can see the lake and glacier Viedma and the mountain range to with the Fit Roy and Torre Mounts among the most featured. We arrive to Túnel bay and we board the boat and we beging the navigation on the Viedma Lake. After 30 minutes we aproach to the glacier wall and we land in a rocky promontory besides the Viedma lake. The mountain guide The guides give an explanation on glaciers and how to walk on ice adn after we put on the crampons for walk in the ice and we start a + - 2 hours amazing ice trekking. Once we finished the Ice trekkk we board and start the way back to Túnel bay where we land and we return to El Calafate at night. The tour include a boxlunch.


Paine full day tour
Departure : Oct / April
Lasts : Full day
Difficulty : Easy
The tour begins at the door of your hotel, very early, when you are picked up by the tourist guide and start the tour. Torres del paine national park is located at 350 Km, which separate El Calafate from this spectacular National Park in the south of Chile, watching the local fauna, made up of guanacos, hares and occasional foxes, condors and eagles. Once you are inside the National Park, we will stop in many lookout points, from where you will be able to see the “Cuernos” and “Torres” del Paine, the lakes Sarmiento, Azul, Pehoe, Nordenskjold and the Salto Grande of river Paine. In the middle of the tour , there will be a short trekking to a lookout point, where the guide will give you the boxlunch to eat before starting your way back to El Calafate.


Paine Full Day 4x4
Departure : All year
Lasts : Full day
Difficulty : Easy
The tour begins at the door of your hotel, very early, when you are picked up by the 4x4 cars and you start to journey. Torres del paine national park is located at 350 Km, which separate El Calafate from this spectacular National Park in the south of Chile, watching the local fauna, made up of guanacos, hares and occasional foxes, condors and eagles. Once you are inside the National Park, we will stop in many lookout points, from where you will be able to see the “Cuernos” and “Torres” del Paine, the lakes Sarmiento, Azul, Pehoe, Nordenskjold and the Salto Grande of river Paine. In the middle of the tour , there will be a short trekking to a lookout point, where the guide will give you the boxlunch to eat before starting your way back to El Calafate.

Ways to Paine
Departure : Oct/April
Lasts : 2 days
Difficulty : Easy
2-day Tour to the National Park Torres del Paine This unique program allows to know the most interesting places of Chilean Patagonia, its magnificent mountains, lakes, forests subantarctic, also their customs and culture as well as across the Patagonian steppe, its trails Autant more typical. In the afternoon cross the border between Argentina / Chile to reach the estancia "Tres Pasos" where we invite our generous hosts to learn the secrets of their land. After tea you can enjoy a walk in recognition of the zone (option to do a horse) with a local guide of the place, who will help us understand the place, customs, history, geography, fauna and flora. At night, dinner and a rest. The next day we will visit the main scenic places and since some of them start walking approach, such as in Lake Grey, Salto Grande, Mirador Nordenskjold.

Balcon del Calafate
Departure : All year
Lasts : 3/ 4 hours
Difficulty : Easy
From El Calafate, we ascend to 1050 meters above sea level (SNM), arrive until the first balcony where passengers will enjoy a panoramic view of El Calafate and the east side of Lake Argentino, we'll see if that cleared the Mount Fitz Roy ( El Chalten), Mount Torre and we can contemplate the flight of the Condors. Continuing the ascent arrived at Maze Stone, this is a formation that has Cretaceous 85 million years where we can find fossils. From there begin to decline and reach the stone where the hats take a snack. Return to El Calafate by the north face cord without losing sight of the majestic Lake Argentino. Includes Stop with refreshments on the terrace. Three daily departures. See more info


Cerro Frias
Departure : All year
Lasts : 3/4 hours
Difficulty : Easy
We start the tour, going through a the steppe, we begin to climb the slope of the mountain. 30 minutes from start we can see spectaculars views of the Centinela Valley and the Torres del Paine. The tour continues to rise, reaching the field's highest hill, where there are cows, guanacos, hares and wild horses. From this field, has a stunning view of Lake Argentino, Torres del Paine, Anita Valley among others. After this we begin the descent, until we reach the “ quincho” where we will have the lunch and we return to El Calafate.
Estancia Cristina
Departure : Nov/ April
Lasts : Full Day
Difficulty : Easy
The tour begins at your hotel when we pick up to take you to the pier of Punta Banderas (47 km from El Calafate) where we boarded on modern ships and began to sail the northern arm of Lake Argentino towards the icebergs channel, where we will see huge icebergs arising from the ice cap We land on the western front of the Upsala Glacier in estancia Cristina. In the estancia you have three choices of activities, trekking the Upsala glacier lookout, museum, visit the canyon of the fossil and crossings in 4x4 vehicles. In the afternoon we started the way back to Puerto Bandera throughout the Ocebergs channel and then to El Calafate


El Galpon del Glaciar
Departure : Oct/April
Lasts : 4 hours
Difficulty : Easy
A wonderful personal welcome awaits our guests at our restaurant with delicious home made jams, cookies, scones, bread and hot tea or coffee. The adventure starts at the antique sheep shearing shed where the walking tour begins through trekking paths that lead to the lagoon "Laguna de los Pájaros" ( birds lagoon). The expedition to our nature reserve includes birdwatching of over 40 migrating species ..which visit us from the beginning of Spring and which often nest in the reserve by the lagoon. It is hard to imagine this trip without watching our Kelpie dogs mustering the flock from their pastures to the shearing shed. There you will see how sheep are shorn and how wool is baled. The tour ends with a delicious patagonic lamb barbecue, fresh salads and homemade desserts at our cozy restaurant.


Walichu caves
Departure : Oct/April
Lasts : 3/4 hours
Difficulty : Easy
Only 8 km. from El Calafate you will find this important archaeological site where the first cave paintings in the province were discovered. These paintings have been partly recreated to be better appreciated. Walichu Caves and Punta Bonita will take you back in time. Apart from their archaeological value, these caves on the pebble shore of Lake Argentino will surprise for the beauty of its environment. These remarkable works can be seen along the interpretation trail, when you will also learn about this culture. The tour have an aditional city tour.


Roca lake
Departure : Libres
Lasts : Full day
Difficulty : Easy
Departing from El Calafate, 50 km ahead on Provincial Route 15 (paved), either on your own car, a remis (call-taxi), a rented vehicle. This area offers some quiet and sheltered places, ideal for camping, rambling to the neighbouring mounts, such as Mount Cristal, or visiting cave paintings. You will be able to enjoy the typical Patagonian steppe landscapes, with its characteristic bushes (coiron, mata negra, calfate, etc.) and at the same time sightseeing important estancias, such as Huyliche, Anita, Alta Vista, Chorrillo Malo, Lake Roca and Nibepo Aike. As you enter the Glaciers National Park (Lake Roca Section), you will be able to observe the transition of the Patagonian wood, characterized by ñires. Lake Roca is an ideal place for fishing, where you will be able to catch marvellous brown and rainbow trout. You can buy a fishing permit at the camping site of Lake Roca.

Spirit of the glaciers
Departure : Oct / April
Lasts : 3 days
Difficulty : Easy
The tour begins at your hotel when we pick up to take you to the pier of Punta Banderas (47 km from El Calafate) where we boarded on modern ships and began to sail the northern arm of Lake Argentino sailing among icebergs to approach the glacier of the same name where lunch will be served to passengers. In the afternoon he goes to the Spegazzini Glacier where you'll enjoy the evening. Landfall in the Place where cows overnight. By nightfall passengers dine in front of an imposing frame. The next day after breakfast sail through the Canal of the Icebergs, up to the front of the Perito Moreno Glacier to observe different ice floes. It heads back to Punta Bandera, where it landed and the passengers transferred to El Calafate.

Options

Horseback ridings or walks

Upsala Galcier

 

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