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With a dismal weather forecast ahead for Torres Del Paine National Park I decided to skip more hiking there and take my chances on better weather in Argentina. The border coming back into Argentina from Chile is easy and quick. They don’t scan your bags, it’s just a quick in and out stamp which is the bus organizes for you. As a bonus, while waiting for my entry stamp I saw this beautiful fox right outside the immigration station and we had a photoshoot! So amazing!
I stayed at American Del Sur Hostel in El Calafete which is the best hostel I’ve stayed at yet in Patagonia. The staff are great, you can book tours there, social vibe, beautiful views of the lake, and they have an onsite restaurant and bar with delicious food. The steak and wine dinner is amazing!
The main attraction in El Calafete is the Perito Morino glacier, which is a massive 30km long beautiful glacier!
The cheapest option to visit the glacier is to arrange your own transport there and just pay the park entrance fee (500 pesos, only valid for one day). Once at the park you can view the glacier from the balconies or pay for a boat ride to get closer. I opted do to he mini-trekking tour with Hielo Adventura which was incredible!
The tour starts with pick you up at your accommodation in El Calafete. The park is about an hour away from the centre of town. Once you arrive at the park, you continue a stunning 20-minute drive through gorgeous scenery to the boat dock. From the dock, you take a 20 minute boat towards the glacier. There you meet your guides for the trek, put on the cramp-ons (for walking on the ice) and head to the glacier. You trek in total for about 1 1/2 hours through the glacier.
On the trek the guides will stop for photo ops and to introduce you to the fascinating landscape of the glaciers: streams, small lagoons, gullies, cravasses and plenty of ice formations of the most incredible blues. The guides will provide explanation about flora, fauna and general glaciology of the region.
The car/boat ride to the glacier is with a large group but before the hike they divide everyone into smaller groups of no more then 15. Somehow I ended up in a group of very excited Uruguayan men which was a hilarious experience. I’ve never saw so many grown men taking selfies of themselves! At the end of the tour they give you a glass of scotch on the glacier which is a really nice touch.
As a bonus, at the end of the tour we got to go inside an ice cave which was carved by a river that flowed through the glacier. It was so magical inside, with blue natural fluorescent light and ice formations that looked like pieces of art.
After the trek the guide will take you a spot for lunch near the ferry dock, where you can admire the glacier from a distance. It is incredible to watch pieces break off from it. As the large chunks fall off it creates a huge wave through the water!
After lunch you take the boat back and head to the balcony section. The balconies provide some impressive views of all sides of the glacier.
El Calafete is a town built around Glacier tourism but it’s a pretty cute one to be in. During my time in El Calafete it was St. Patricks day so me, some fellow Canadians and a German decided we had to drink in celebration. The night started off at a local restaurant called La Zaina where we all shared a (few) delicious bottles of red wine and a lamb dinner. Afterwards we headed to La Lozza where they were selling green beer (yay!) but not playing any Irish music. We requested that they put on Shipping out to Boston which you’d think would get any bar in the world stoked on St. Patricks, but instead it was just the four of us getting pumped and everyone else in the bar staring at us in horror, hahaha. It was the least Irish st. Patricks day I’ve ever had, but we had a good time!