Tag Archives: Parque Nacional Los Glaciares

El Calafate, Argentina – Impressions

Just one border crossing and a five hour bus ride north from Puerto Natales is El Calafate, nestled on the edge of Lago Argentino. Named after the yellow-flowered, blueberry plant found everywhere in Argentina, El Calafate is the major access point to all ends of the vast Parque Nacional Los Glaciares.

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El Calafate was a pleasant place to spend a couple of days. I stayed at I Keu Ken hostel slightly up the hill with excellent views of the lake. Having the new La Anonima, Argentina’s biggest supermarket chain, only two blocks away was a bonus. I was also lucky enough to arrive the night of an asado, an Argentinian BBQ, something they have every Friday night. They served the best blood sausage I’ve ever tasted and the meat just kept coming.  There was so much, in fact, I just couldn’t eat it all. It was a great dinner and cheap at 90 Argentinian Pesos (AU$18), which included beer and wine. I Keu Ken also had the best internet in Patagonia, allowing me to post the backlog of my blogs and photos.

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While the streets around the hostel aren’t sealed, the lower portion of the city has a certain beauty. In a bare countryside with yellow, over sheep-farmed fields, the garden town was filled with trees and flowers. The main street had the usual adventure stores and tour operators seen so commonly throughout Patagonia.

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My trip to El Calafate was merely a two-day stop off on the way to El Chaltén, a township at the northern end of the national park. After 12 days in Antarctica, and 9 days of hiking around Torres del Paine, I enjoyed a restful couple of days.

Things to do near town are:

  • Walk across the 30km long Perito Moreno Glacier
  • Sail through icebergs on Lago Argentino
  • See the rock paintings in the Walicho Caves
  • Explore the petrified forest of Bosque Petrificado La Leona

A lovely place to spend a few days and with an airport, it’s a centre point of travel through lower Patagonia.

The Lone Trail Wanderer.

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El Chaltén, Argentina – Impressions

El Chaltén is a small town at the northern end of Parque Nacional Los Glaciares in Argentina. It’s a town bred purely from the tourism generated by the National Park and Mt Fitz Roy.

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El Chaltén was quaint and had plenty of hostels, although many were aimed more towards the hotel end of the market than to backpackers. There were plentiful tour operators and adventure stores selling the big named adventure gear for both hiking, ice climbing and glacier expeditions. There was also a small cafe/bakery scene in the town which was great, as the hostels don’t provide breakfast.

I stayed at the Hostal Pioneros del Valle. This large and fairly cheap hostel had plenty of rooms, most set up with 6 beds. But as it was low season when I stayed I had the room to myself. Splendid!

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High season is December to the end of March and outside of these times more than half of El Chaltén’s businesses close down. The several restaurants in town are reasonably priced restaurants, including the local micro-brewery, which is good considering the town doesn’t have good facilities for buying your own food. While there are supermarcados, they aren’t very ‘super’.

The National Park had great day walks and several longer hikes – some very intense indeed. Being short on time, I only did a 3-day hikes. It doesn’t have an official name but I called it the Mt Fitz Roy Triangle. The other great advantage of the Parque Nacional is it’s cost. It’s free. Something different in a land of expensive national park entrance fees.

Here are some of the other walks:

  • Cascada Margarita
  • De las Vuetas River Canyon
  • Piedras Blancas Glacier
  • Punta Norte – Hito Limítrofe

Next, I head back through El Calafate to Puerto Natales in Chile to catch the Navimag Ferry

The Lone Trail Wanderer