El Calafate is the town where you can head to El Chalten and Torres Del Paine in Chile easily. Flying to El Calafate was easy from Ushuaia or Buenos Aires.
The top attraction in El Calafate is the Perito Moreno Glacier. It is majestic and stunning and like nothing you’ve ever seen before. It’s just this huge piece of Glacier perched between mountains and the sea as there are so many things you can do to see it.
Take the transport from town to the National Park and walk along the trails. You can do all the trails in 4 hours with time to admire the calving while having a picnic on the bench of the trails. You can also take a boat to get close to it. Or if you have a bit more money and good shoes and a sense of adventure, ice hike. It’s a very unique thing to do here. If you rented your own car, go after 2pm as all the tour groups, like the one that I was on go in the morning and leave about 2.30pm. I went with Huellas Del Sur and my guide was very good and nice.
My favourite thing was to enjoy the views of the Glacier from the trails as you can do it in your own time and stop at any place you like to admire the Glacier quite up close. I was lucky enough to see the calvings happen up close just in front of me and it’s really quite an amazing thing to see. Even if you don’t see it, you can still clear it. I was also very lucky to see the iceberg tip over to reveal the bluest of blue like a crystal in the bottom part of it. It was just a marvelous work of nature. Do not forget to walk the path to the lake for a chance to touch some ice if it’s there at the car park area near the restaurant. It’s a short walk and gives you nice views too.
El Calafate is quite a lively town with a lot of restaurants and cafes and ice bars. There is also the large lake that you can admire the sunset from. The Glaciarium is a nice museum to visit to understand more about the glaciers. There is a free shuttle in town to the Glaciarium on the hour.
For food I really liked Mi Rancho, slight off the Main Street. The bread was nice and warm and they had a good selection of food. I had the delicious ossobucco and Malbec. The best Parilla in El Calafate is La Tablita. It’s a bit expensive but the beef short rib and grilled vegetables was really good. When I’m El Calafate, try the Calafate ice cream, yes it’s a berry! And the Bariloche chocolate ice cream from Tito on the Main Street.
I stayed at Hostel America Del Sur when I was there and the staff and facilities were very good. I had my bag broken into in The Glacier hostel so I do not recommend a stay there.
A bus takes you easily to El Chalten and it is a great place to hike and it’s a cute small town. Basically, everyone hikes there to see the beautiful Mount Fitz Roy.
Choose a sunny day to do the hike to Laguna de Los Tres to see Mount Fitz Roy in all its majesty. When I was there, it was cloudy and as I made my way to the summit, it started snowing. The final 1 km hike up and after, down, is the hardest as it’s made of rocks and it’s very steep, but it was an amazing hike with great views all the way. Usually, you can see the lake with Mount Fitz Roy as well. But as it was snowing on us, we only saw a frozen lake so my hiking buddy and me did yoga poses on the ice 😂.
To do a complete circuit, take a early shared bus ride for 150 pesos to Hostel El Pilar and start hiking from there to see the glaciers Piedras Blancas along the way.
ce you complete the hike to the top, head towards the right for El Calafate and choose to go to Laguna Capri at the fork when you return to El Chaltén. The lake has amazing views of Mount Fitz Roy. Do hike around it as you can also see the blue lagoon at the left side of you walk around the main lake. When I was there, the lake froze over as it was snowing. The snow clouds cleared as we descended and we got a magnificent view of Fitz Roy at the bridge and also Laguna Capri.
collect the water from the bridge to drink before and you hike to the summit because it is the cleanest and sweetest water you will drink in the entire Patagonia. I’ve tried different streams and the water is still the best and clearest from under that bridge near the final 1km. Do also bring food in your bag as you need to eat once you’re at the top. The hike is gonna take you a full day so buy your lunch box or buy supplies from the supermarkets.
her hikes you can do are
Laguna Torre – 11km hike to the lake with amazing viewpoint of the Cerro mountains and view of glaciers. Amazing terrain and we saw a huemule – Bambi, on the way back!
rador Condors – steep on certain parts but short, it’s the same entry to Mirador Las Aguilas.
rador las Aguilas – steep but you see the large lake and hopefully eagles
Chorillo Del Salto – the easiest, flattest 4km hike to the watefall and it’s the same entry/exit point to Lago De Los Tres
iegue Tombado – 11km hike and you see views of the 3 mountains and the lakes. I didn’t do this because it was too cloudy on day 3. You will need to choose a clear day for this else you see nothing. This hike is great for your butt as it’s all steps up and down 😂
Laguna Capri – half hike to Laguna de Los tres but also a beautiful place to chill.
I did the waterfall and the 2 Mirador Hikes on my last day before I took the 7pm bus back to El Calafate.
I really like the savory waffles from La Waffleria near Rancho Grande hostel which was where I stayed. They have an amazing Provolata cheese and sundried tomato waffle that’s so delicious I had it twice. The beef at La Oveja Negra is also delicious and the boys there are friendly and nice. If you are vegan, Curcuma has amazing dishes and they grow their vegetables in their backyard. The eggplant with Cous Cous and grilled veggies are Da Bomb!
es Del Paine is on the Chile side and I did a 4×4 tour on my first day with Patagonia Extrema. This bus takes you to the very nice waterfall called Salto Grande and you get to hike to a beautiful lake with amazing views of the Patagonian mountains in the Torres Del Paine National Park. It then drops you off at Laguna Armaga and you can then take the shuttle to stay at Refugio Torres Central near the visitor center.
aption width="4032" id="attachment_1746" align="alignnone"] The 4×4 bus that goes from El Calafate to Torres Del Paine [/caption]<b
commend you stay at least 2 nights to do the amazing hikes Torres Del Paine has to offer. If you want to do the entire W circuit, you will have to book the Refugios in advance in the different stations. The different stops are Torre Central, Chileno, Frances Seron, Grey. You can stay 5-7 days and hike the whole trail. I’ve only done the Las Torres (to see THE Torres Del Paine) and Los Cuernos trail (the lake is amazing) and part of the Camp Seron trail (I saw horses and the sun set behind the Torres). Do remember to wake up at least once for the sunrise at 5am as you can see the mountains turn pink and orange with the sun rise. It only lasts for 10 minutes so enjoy it.
Food at Refugio Torres central was the best food I had in my entire Hostel journey. It’s a 3 course meal and dinner includes pork with mushroom risotto on the first day and beef and pumpkin mash on the second. Super yummy! The bed was also the biggest I’ve had in the many hostels I’ve stayed at. If you want a camping option and bring your own tent, you can too!
When I went there in November, it was pretty warm in the day time when there is sunshine. However, it was raining for 3 days prior to my arrival so most part of the trails were wet and sometimes muddy, I was glad I wore my hiking sandals for the hikes. (I had to wear sandals as I can’t wear shoes due to my toenails being at risk of falling off from my fall in the sacred valley hike) You should make sure you have good hiking shoes, preferably water repellent for these as the hikes are not easy and are very steep and slippery on some parts. I also heard from hikers who did it the day before me that it was snowing at the summit. If you do stay at chileno, that’s the best place to hike to Las Torres to see the sunrise, if you fancy hiking in the dark at 3am! It’s also cold so do bring appropriate clothing and a torch that can be fixed to your head. Try to go in a group and not alone too if it’s in the dark. Plus going with a buddy means you can take funky photos 😂
Remember to keep your water bottle to collect water from the streams for refills. It’s so amazing you can just drink water while you hike from the streams and they taste so delicious. Just remember to collect it upstream. Rule of thumb, if it’s clear, it’s good. If it’s a bit brown, go further up and collect your water. There will be a lot of streams so don’t worry. Find one preferably with a lot of rocks as it’s then filtered properly.
If you love hiking, Patagonia is an amazing place. If you are an amateur hiking like me, you will also fall in love with hiking. Just make sure you have clothes that can be layered on and off as the weather changes very quickly throughout the day and altitude. I wore a long sleeved top and carried a wind breaker another jacket in my bag and gloves. Because it was sunny when I was there, I only needed to wear my top and the windbreaker when the wind gets strong at the summit. In the sunrise hike, I wore my windbreaker and the thicker jacket and gloves and scarf because it was very cold. I soon took all of that off as the sun warmed up the air. So wear your clothes like an onion 😂 You will also meet other hikers and do make friends with them and hike together with them. It’s real fun to hike in a group and everyone I met was very friendly and nice!
ou have time, you can also head to Puerto Natales. I’ve seen postcards and it’s beautiful. When I was in Torres Del Paine, Puerto Natales was flooded so they didn’t have clean water for 5 days but by the time you read this, it should have been fixed.
If you want to take the hassle out of booking everything yourself like me, I booked the Patagonia trip with Say Hueque and they’re pretty good. The hostels can also help with booking the trips or walk along the main streets of El Calafate and the tour companies can do the bookings too! The visitor center in Torres Del Paine Park can also help with the bookings of your Refugios and camping sites.
e photos do not do justice to the place as the place is huge and beautiful. You really need to be in Patagonia yourself to experience the beauty and majesty of the place so don’t believe what I say, go see and experience it for yourself.
For more photos and videos of the hikes, follow me @4toegraphs on Facebook and Instagram.