Calafate and El Chalten Tours
One of the most beautiful landscapes in the Western Hemisphere is found in the Andes of Patagonia Argentina. For this reason a chain of Argentine and Chilean National Parks protects this natural beauty. Numerous lakes fed by glacial run-off reflect the majesty of the snow-capped peaks. The mountainsides are covered by primeval forests of sub-antarctic beech trees many of which change color spectacularly in autumn.
Surrounded by this magnificent vegetation are the immense glaciers, most likely the highlight of any trip to this region. Between the 48 and 51 South parallels, the Andes Range is covered by a large extension of permafrost known as the Patagonian continental icecap, which stretches for 560 miles from north to south. So large it is, that it is also called "the third pole" after its huge concentration of ice. It is the origin of 47 major glaciers, such as the famous Perito Moreno glacier. But it is also known all over the world for its dramatic steppe at the foot of the imposing Fitz Roy and Torre Mountains, a "mecca" for climbers from all over the world. These areas allow for hiking, trekking, horseriding, overlanding and overnight in remote and isolated estancias by turquoise lakes.
Calafate With Ice Trekking
Day 1 Arrival in El Calafate.
Meet & greet at the airport and transfer to the hotel. Accommodation.
Balance of the day at leisure to get acquainted with the small village, walk along its recently inaugurated coastal park. There will be opportunities for a panoramic 4WD or a horseback ride to Cerro Frias that -weather permitting - will let us see the Paine Massif. A new Museum recently opened in El Calafate is not to be missed: The Glaciarium Museum, a modern exhibition center where visitors will experience and learn about the impressive ice fields as well as global warming issues.
Accommodation: Hotel de Campo Kau Yatun / Kosten Aike Hotel
DAY 02 El Calafate
Transfer to Los Glaciares NP, in the sub-Antarctic Continental Ice-cape, known as the "Third Pole", which extends over 60,000 sq.km (23,000 sq. miles) and gives birth to several major glaciers along the Patagonian Andes. We will board boats to cross Argentino Lake in front of towering ice walls of the Perito Moreno glacier and will navigate around the ice blocks, which are constantly calving from it. We will land on an uninhabited beach and hike on the glacier. (Neither additional equipment nor previous experience needed). The wildlife of the area includes Andean condors, buff-necked ibis, black-chested buzzard eagles, ashy-headed geese, etc. It is a moderate hike and the ice surface where you will walk is irregular, but firm and safe. At the end of the hike, you will go back to the shelter walking through the exuberant Magellan forest. Arrival and embark to cross the lake. Once you arrive at the pier, you will travel for 6 km to reach the catwalks, in front of the Perito Moreno glacier, from where you will have different and amazing views of it.
Note: In order to do this excursion clients should be between 10 to 60 years
DAY 03 El Calafate
Morning transfer to the airport and board the flight to Buenos Aires.
Sample price per person in US$ : (price varies according to dates. Can use other hotels such as Kosten Aike, Los Ponchos, Rochester, Xelena)
or you can add or substitute the following tours:
Standard tour: (subtract $156 per person from above prices if you do this tour instead of mini-trekking, as on day 2 above.)
Early morning pick up and transfer to the pier to start full day Perito Moreno Glacier tour in which the road leads to the most famous glacier in South America. Entrance fees are included.
Perito Moreno glacier is the park's most famous and imposing glacier. It is permanently advancing along its 3-mile-wide front, which is a wall 200 feet high over Lake Argentino. Visitors invariably observe great blocks of ice breaking loose from this wall and falling thunderously into the lake, making huge waves, later surfacing to form icebergs. The first views of Moreno glacier are breathtaking vistas down a narrow arm of Lago Argentino with the imposing Andean Mountains as a backdrop. As spectacular as it is, it pales compared to a close approach where the constant sounds of this "living" glacier shake the air. Gigantic blocks of ice, frequently break away and crash into the lake, sending spray hundreds of feet into the air and sound like distant artillery fire. The startling contrast of color, sound, motion and size creates a continuously changing mosaic of indescribable beauty.
We will enjoy spare time at the catwalks to simply enjoy, be mesmerized by the constantly calving of ice of this amazing glacier. Different blue colors, altitude, capricious formations, the roaring of the calving are all part of this experience. Afternoon return to El Calafate.
Big Ice - This incredible experience starts at the small pier "Bajo las Sombras", where you board a small boat - the Tehuelche - to cross the Rico Arm of Lake Argentino. After a 10 minutes navigation you meet the guides on the opposite bank of the lake and you start hiking in the beech forest till you get to the lateral moraine of the Perito Moreno glacier. You put on our grampons, get a brief instruction on ice climbing and hiking and off. Once on the glacier, the world changes dramatically, deep blue lagoons, profound crevasses, huge cesspools, amazing ice caves and that special feeling of being right in the heart of the ice mass. You will explore this "unique world" hiking for about 3 hours led by expert mountain guides. You will stop for lunch (not included) - an opportunity to rest and enjoy the most of this experience, being the first and few in the area. You then hike back (about an hour) to the small pier to board our boat and navigate back to the coast with our souls fulfilled of this amazing experience unique in the world. This tour has a demanding schedule, due to the uneven terrain. Therefore it is only advisable for participants between 18 and 45 years old with a good physical condition, taking into account that the trail demands a 7 hour walk on ice and loose pebbles.
add to substitute for regular Perito Moreno tour
HD Mount Frias Horseback ride W/ lunch - Meetings at the starting point to begin a great full day ride to Mt. Frias. Following a valley to Mt. Frías, at 1100 m. up a canyon, through a Nothofagus forest, we reach the ridge with spectacular views to Lakes Roca and Argentino. If the weather is fine we will be able to see as far as the Torres del Paine in Chile. Return to the ranch, for a cup of tea and cakes and having experienced the typical patagonian steppe, with the possibility of wildlife watching (guanacos, pumas, and condors).
Includes full equipment, lunch and assistance of qualified bilingual guides. 4x4 drive to Mount Frias also available for same price.