Patagonia in natura: three adventures in El Calafate
Eduardo do Valle
Shutterstock; Calafate Mountain Park
Mountains, glaciers and lakes filled with icebergs in southern Argentina
On two wheels
Even people who are not mountain bikers can go down Cerro Huyliche on two wheels. Vans take visitors to the base of the mountain, where there’s a cable car to the Calafate Overlook, close to Calafate Mountain Park.
There, at an altitude of 1,150 feet [350 m], the view includes Lake Argentino, the Andes and Los Glaciares National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The 8-mile [13 km] way down is leisurely covered in around three hours, stopping to appreciate the surrounding nature.
Kayaking on ice
For many years, being face to face with the Upsala Glacier was an extremely hard task: the access route, surrounded by icebergs, was restricted. These days, boats leaving from the port of Punta Bandera, some 30 miles [50 km] from El Calafate, take visitors there.
Aboard a ferry, they get instructions, food and hot beverages. Then the groups go kayaking on the icy waters of Lake Argentino. The cold experience is rewarding: the scenery between Onelli Bay and Upsala Channel is impressive, surrounded by mountains and glaciers as tall as 200 feet [60 m]. The ride lasts around two hours, with stops for explanations about the local fauna and flora.
Walking in the cold
The most popular attraction in El Calafate is the famous Perito Moreno Glacier. The tour starts at the pier of Bajo de las Sombras Port, stopping in a shack to provide visitors with instructions and gear. There, the adventure is divided in two: the three-and-a-half-hour mini trekking, with a moderate level of difficulty, and the big ice, a seven-hour hike for more experienced tourists.
In both cases, the grandiosity of the landscape is the highlight: Perito Moreno is a unique glacier, with impressive cyclical ruptures. Walking on the white and blue ice, exploring its caves and peculiarities is challenging but worth every second!
LATAM has direct flights to El Calafate departing from Buenos Aires and Ushuaia.