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doltra Calafate - A travel report by Daniel
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Calafate,  Argentina - flag Argentina -  Santa Cruz
3488 readers

doltra's travel reports

Astonished by the Glaciers

  19 votes
I arrived to El Calafate in February 2005 with my girlfriend. We spent two days visiting the glaciers and I'm sure I'll never forget it. Those two days were worth the trouble of a whole three weeks journey trough Patagonia and Buenos Aires. report of the month contest
Apr 2005

Flower of a Notro with Perito Moreno Glaciar in the background
Flower of a Notro with Perito Moreno Glaciar in the background
El Calafate is a little town lost in the huge Argentinean “estepa”.

Arriving by plane from Bariloche is a two hours flight with no more signal of man activity in the land that some dirt roads. The journey by car must be an experience.

Then you land an airport in the middle of nowhere, with nothing at sight. There is no cheap way to get to the city 40km far from the airport. We found no regular bus, so the options were, taxi or remise (special taxi with fixed-price trip). Some hotels include the transport, so try booking in advance and check if they offer the service.

My first thought arriving to the “city” was, "Hey, we're in a town from those western movies". Just one main road with travel agencies, bars, shops and banks, and very few else. I was really disappointed by the city, nothing to offer, and, by far, the most expensive in Argentina. Even with the actual exchange rate so good for Europeans it was pretty expensive (nothing compared with Europe, but that's Argentina)

Favourite spots:
Perito Moreno from
Perito Moreno from "The beach"
In Perito Moreno I loved the guided long walk we did with the forest guard volunteers. This is a free tour around the lake they do twice a day. The sights of the Glacier from the stone beach made by the ice are amazing (photo).

Do not missed the scratches in the top of the surrounding mountains. Some 800 meters above the actual level of the lake they are supposed to be made by the glacier long ago.

During the visit to the Upsala glacier we spent some hours in Onelli Lake. With no wind you could see all the three glaciers around reflected on the water as well as all the little glaciers (see photo).

The forest between the "harbor" and the lake was so calm that we could listen silence for a while. This is no so common in Europe where there are people all around.

What's really great:
Big iceberg from Upsala
Big iceberg from Upsala
The Perito Moreno can be viewed by ship (in 30 minutes trips) or from the mountain in front of it, in the footbridges installed.

I've never felt anything like the ice loosenings of a Glacier.

During 8 - 10 hours we attended to at least 5 great ones. I can not transmit into words the amazing show. It isn't just a matter of the inmense size of the blocks, that it's. But the sound it mades.

Imagine a thunder, a very little lossening was pretty similar to it (I'm talking about parts of ice sawn as only dust falling from the front of the glaciar). Now, think about being present when a block of 40 meters high, 15 meters wide piece of ice falls...

It was also impressive to see the icebergs floating. This time ice coming from Upsala glaciar. With a sunny day the color blue turns into something completly new, at least in nature. When sailing between icebergs, getting closer to the front of the Uspala glaciar, all this ice changed its color while we left them back.

Afternoon at Perito Moreno
Afternoon at Perito Moreno
The only interesting point of the city is the Lago Argentino close to the town, with great views, and birds to see. The whole lake has a special green color.

But El Calafate has something you can't find in many places, it is close to Glaciers. And more. You can get really close to them. So close, you can even trek them in a one day excursion (around 90€, we had no time to do it, but everyone who made it told us that it is spectacular).

I also found espectacular the view of the fog coming up from the lake. We were going by bus to the glaciers from El Calafate and a 50 meters high wall of fog appeared in front of us when leaving Lago Argentino on our right hand to get the road to Perito Moreno.

5 kilometers far from the fog we had a sunny day, so you could see the brown ground with the green lake on the right, then a thin grey line (the fog) above them and behind it, the white mountains and the blue sky, all with so intense colors that seemed to be painted.

Lago Onelli
Lago Onelli
Check my travel trips.

In my opinnion the best place to stay in the area is, no doubt, the Camping Bahía Escondida inside the National Park 7km from Perito Moreno.

I mean, we did not visited it at all, but we went trough it when arriving to the glacier and got really disapointed for not having booked it instead of the hostel in El Calafate.

Unfortunately there is no such a place near Upsala icebergs.

If you prefer to stay in the city book in advance during summer it's allways crowded.

Avoid the Hostel Ahijuna, we booked a room (confirmed by internet), phoned from the airport, and when we arrived there where nobody waiting for us.

After 20 minutes we left the place, which, in the other hand, had nothing special at all. Try any other, there were at least 3-4 other hostels much more well-looking.

General view of Perito Moreno
General view of Perito Moreno
Almost every activity in El Calafate starts with you getting up at 6AM so we had no free time for Clubs/Pubs... Anyway, we neither saw any of them, maybe they are out of the main touristic points.

I am using this area to post some links I found usefull when visiting Argentina and El Calafate.

General info fom Argentina.

More specific info for El Calafate

Hostels in Argentina

Another view of the forest of Lengas
Another view of the forest of Lengas
As a touristic town El Calafate has a complete offer of restaurants. Most are located in the main Avenue Libertador San Martin. Walking it you will find all kind of restaurants, from argentinean "parrillas" with roasting lambs exhibited in the main windows to pizzerias and new style restaurants.

We tried “La Tablita” in our first night and loved so much that repeated once again two nights afterwards (see my travel tip).

We also went to a pizzeria (even high quality Argentinean meat, with three weeks eating only beefs would raise our cholesterol) in the cross between "Libertador San Martin" and "9 de Julio" but found it so disgusting that repeat the already known “La Tablita” next night.

Other recommendations:
Another view of the Lengas
Another view of the Lengas
El Calafate is a strange city where Visa is not well accepted. For instance, we had to pay all the main services cash. The bus to Perito Moreno (temporarly out of Visa sistem..), the ship to Upsala (the owner of the ship doen't like cards so there is no other way than cash for this) and even the hotel.

Try to get to the city plenty of cash (weekends cashiers tend to get out of money).

As there are very few different ship companies to sale the glacears visit the tourist office in the bus station first. Decide the kind of trip you want to do and book it directly with the owner of the ship in its agency, you will save some 5-10$ fee.

For the visit to the Perito Moreno I would recomend the trip by bus, with no excrusion. You get much more time in the glacier. We saw people in organized tours arriving for just a couple of ours. Beleive me, it can sound enough, but when you are in front of the ice time seems to stop. The more the time, the better. You will allways want more.

Published on Sunday April 10th, 2005

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Wed, Feb 14 2007 - 08:44 PM rating by travler

After reading this report I can understand why it was a report of the month.

Mon, Dec 12 2005 - 10:44 PM rating by delfster

superb... i love the photos, and also very informative.
i wish you have more reports, i bet they will be lovely to read.


Mon, May 23 2005 - 01:10 PM rating by spaceout

congrats on the report of the month. Keep sharing your great trips! VK

Mon, May 02 2005 - 09:35 AM rating by mistybleu


Congratuation of Report of the Month, this is a lovely report with great pictures.


Tue, Apr 12 2005 - 10:37 AM rating by ravinderkumarsi

wonderful report indeed

Tue, Apr 12 2005 - 08:26 AM rating by gloriajames

bravo! good report. how about a slideshow on the glaciers?? would be great. keep up the good work! 5*

Tue, Apr 12 2005 - 08:14 AM rating by magsalex

Love the glacier photos.

Mon, Apr 11 2005 - 10:03 AM rating by bootlegga

Great report! I wished you hadn't used the same pics twice though. That glacier looks amazing!

Mon, Apr 11 2005 - 09:40 AM rating by bear495

Very nice. The oictures on this report are much better than those that you posted earlier. Try posting these.


Mon, Apr 11 2005 - 05:44 AM rating by davidx

I've been waiting to see a report from you since that tip you did on Sintra - and it was worth waiting for! Terrific photos.

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