El Chaltén to El Calafate 

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Argentinian Patagonia comes with beautiful landscape but also higher prices. As soon as you cross the border from Chile money becomes an issue – the ATMs are often empty and prices are elevated to about double to Chile. 
Nevertheless it is worth a visit. The designated Capital of Hiking in Argentina El Chaltén is a touristy mountain village surrounded by stunning scenery. It offers kms of hiking trails as well as a fun bar and restaurant scene. Usually tourists reach it via South – we did it the other way crossing over from Chile Chico to Los Antiguos. We recommend this only by car as the public transport is basically inexistent and we were forced to walk in the heat from border to border for 4km.

El Chaltén’s signature mountain is the Fitz Roy named after a famous explorer and scientist that travelled through Patagonia together with Charles Darwin. We took the classic hiking trail and overnighted at the base camp of Fitz Roy. It’s an easy walk up to the camp (with great views) followed by a steep climb to the glacier lake. The next day we hiked to Lago Torres and to another beautiful viewpoint of the mountains. This was a quick trial for our upcoming W trek and went smoothly. We suggest to split the trek into 2 nights spending the 2nd night at Lago Torres since this day is quite long(7-8hrs walking) otherwise. 

There are various connections to El Calafate by bus every day offered by different companies. The 4 hours bus ride will cost you around 450 ARS – don’t fall asleep since this is one of the most scenic drives in Patagonia. 

El Calafate – welcome to Disneyland!

We came here like the other thousands of tourists to see the one big highlight – Perito Moreno Glacier. We were a bit shocked that the entrance prices of the park had been doubled in the last months and it costs now 500 ARS (35 USD) cash only + 450 ARS for bus going and return. We still went for it and had an amazing time. We took the afternoon tour, strolled over the many paths and enjoyed the sun while listening to the ice crack. We waited and waited to witness a big chunk of ice fall but nothing happened until the last hour – where the various towers of 50-70mts of the glacier collapsed into the lake. Boom – this was awesome!

Otherwise El Calafate is not a place to hang around too much. It is the most popular and therefore pricey destination in Patagonia as it is easily accessible by plane and close to Torres del Paine. 

Tips: 

  • Patagonia Hostel El Chaltén – nice place with dorms and doubles. If double go for private bathroom, price difference is small and breakfast is included 
  • Cerveceria brew pub – good beers and wine. Yummy empanadas and potato wedges
  • If you can shop food before El Chaltén – all 4 mini markets are owned by the same person and mostly out of stock of everything 
  • Calafate Hostel – big Hostel very well located with kitchen and chill out area. Restaurant and bar. Don’t buy any activities from them without comparing rates 

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