El Calafate And El Chalten

One of the Most Popular And Must See Destinations in Argentina

The Patagonian Continental Ice Cap is a massive 17,000 Km2 mass of ice that forms some of the most dramatic glaciers in the world. The most famous glacier is the Perito Moreno Glacier which allows you to get up close on walkways, by boat or even strap on some crampons and walk on to the glacier itself on a special excursion.

The rest of the area is made up of expansive Patagonian steppe set against the backdrop of the dramatic Andes Mountains and makes for some of the most impressive scenery in Argentina. There are a number of Estancias set right in the heart of the wilderness where you can stay and go riding, trekking or mountain biking in the surrounding landscape.

The Area

Most visitors to the glaciers stay in the nearby small town of El Calafate, which is the main departure point for all the tours in the region. The alpine-like town itself has a nice avenue of shops and restaurants, as well as a couple of Museums.

Also in the area is the village of El Chaltén, which lies at the foot of the legendry Fitz Roy Mountain. The village is the starting point for walking enthusiasts and climbers to enjoy breathtaking views and challenging ascents in the surrounding landscape.

Best Time To Go

Spring and summer are the warmest times (Oct - Feb) where highs can reach 19°C in the sunshine, but the weather is always changeable. Expect cold weather in winter (below freezing) but the snowy landscape is equally as beautiful.

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Perito Moreno Glacier

The Perito Moreno glacier is an imposing wall of ice 30km long, and up to 70 metres tall. The best way to view the glacier is from the walkways at Península de Magallanes, which juts out into Lago Argentino and offers you a selection of different fantastic views. As you stand below gazing up at the massive rugged face, you become aware that the glacier is very much a living, evolving thing, as creaks and cracks like rifle shots preface the “desprendimientos”, huge chunks the size of houses which break off and fall in slow motion through the air into the black waters. They hit the surface with an almighty crash, submerging and rising up again to bob away as icebergs into the centre of the lake. Catching one on camera can be a bit of a challenge!

The biggest and most spectacular “desprendimientos” occur when the glacier has grown to form a bridge across to the promontory, cutting off the water flow between Brazo Rico and the Canal de los Témpanos. Increasing pressure builds up as water and ice accumulate on the Brazo Rico side and the water soaks into the ground at the point at which the ice touches the land, slowly creating a tunnel.

The tunnel becomes wider and wider until the pressure of the glacier moving forward means that the bridge fractures most dramatically at a given point. This spectacle brings people from all over the world to witness it and traditionally happens around every four years.

There are a range of ways to see the Perito Moreno glacier, including reaching it by boat, and even being able to strap on the clampons and walk on the glacier itself. Have a look at the area map for more details of trips available or speak to your Latin Routes Travel Specialist.

Upsala Glacier

It is argued that whilst the Perito Moreno Glacier is the most famous, the Upsala Glacier is the most beautiful and is also the longest glacier in the region stretching for nearly 50km. To give you an idea it covers an area three times larger than that of  Buenos Aires.  Named after the Swedish town whose university financed the first geological study of the region it is most commonly reached by boat as its location is a little harder to reach than the Perito Moreno. Have a look at the map for further details of trips available to see the Upsala Glacier or talk to your Latin Routes Travel Specialist.

Mount Fitzroy

The northernmost section of Parque National Los Glaciares is the area that contains the most dramatic mountain scenery. The village of El Chalten acts as a base for the area and from here there are a number of different trails that head off and explore the surrounding scenerey. The largest and most dramatic mountain in the area is Moutn Fitzroy which stands at 3405 metres above sea level. Known locally as the mountain that smokes due to the prescence of a scarf of cloud that looks almost attached to its summit, it gives the impression of a smoking volcano. The best time to view Mount Fitzroy is on a clear day at first light when the rock turns a firey pink colour. 

You can base yourself in El Chalten and take yourself off walking on the marked treks, or you can join an organised group. Take a look at the map for more information on organised trips that are available or talk to your Latin Routes Travel Specialist. 

If you would like to begin creating your perfect Argentina holiday, Simply complete the enquiry form to get in touch.

Alternatively call our Travel Specialists on 020 8546 6222.

Looking for inspiration? Check out some of our Argentina Itineraries.
 

Outdoor Adventure Activities

El Calafate and El Chalten is an outdoor lovers paradise and all of the activites below can be enjoyed in the area. Have a look at the area map for details of excursions or activites that we can arrange for you. Alternatively speak to a Latin Routes Travel Specialist for more information.

  • Trekking
  • Mountain Biking
  • Rock Climbing
  • Lake Cruises
  • Glacier Excursions
  • Glacier trek
  • Abseiling
  • Rafting 
  • Wine Tasting
  • Horse Riding
  • Fishing
  • Golf

If you would like to begin creating your perfect Argentina holiday, Simply complete the enquiry form to get in touch.

Alternatively call our Travel Specialists on 020 8546 6222.

Looking for inspiration? Check out some of our Argentina Itineraries.
 

History of the Perito Moreno Glacier

The Perito Moreno Glacier is one of 365 glaciers in the national park and was first sighted by Juan Thomas Rogers, an English captain serving in the Chilean Navy in 1879. The glacier was initially christened Francisco Gormáz, the name of the Director of the Chilean Naval Map Office who financed the expedition, only to be rechristened Bismark a few years later in honour of the Prussian Chancellor.

It was only in 1899 that it received its definitive name of Perito Moreno. Perito means researcher or expert. Perito Francisco Moreno was arguably the first great explorer of Patagonia, an enthusiastic natural scientist, anthropologist and geographer who helped to map much of the region and whose love for palaeontology laid the foundations for an extraordinary collection of fossils which later became the basis for the celebrated Natural Sciences Museum of La Plata. Moreno was convinced of the economic and strategic value of Patagonia and by the time he was 25 in 1877 had undertaken many expeditions into the area, then a totally unknown territory, befriended the powerful Indian chiefs and persuaded them to let him travel through their lands, searching for passes through to Chile and the Pacific Ocean and mapping lakes and rivers.

His work received due recognition and he was charged with the delicate task of negotiating the Argentine-Chilean border with the Chilean authorities, a complex task which involved tireless exploration and countless expeditions. His enthusiasm and dedication far outstripped that of his Chilean counterparts as it was he who advanced the daring but logical theory that the frontier should lie along the mountain peaks, supporting this claim with reports of astonishing detail made along the length and breadth of the mountain range and defending the rights of the Indian tribes and the Welsh colonies to remain under Argentine jurisdiction.

The National Park since created in the region in which he was most active, today bears his name, as does the glacier, and was declared a World National Heritage location by UNESCO in 1981.

If you would like to begin creating your perfect Argentina holiday, Simply complete the enquiry form to get in touch.

Alternatively call our Travel Specialists on 020 8546 6222.

Looking for inspiration? Check out some of our Argentina Itineraries.
 

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If you would like to begin creating your perfect Argentina holiday, Simply complete the enquiry form to get in touch.

Alternatively call our Travel Specialists on 020 8546 6222.

Looking for inspiration? Check out some of our Argentina Itineraries.
 
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