For the third year of my bachelor’s degree, I had the opportunity to go on exchange to Buenos Aires, Argentina. During the year I spent there, I did some of the best trips of my life so far. One of them was a 10-day road trip to Patagonia covering both Argentina and Chile. I have so much to share about it that in this article I will only write about my two days in El Calafate with my Swedish boyfriend, Jacob.
We landed at El Calafate’s tiny airport around midday, left our bags at the quite nice Hotel Kalken and went for a stroll in the city center. The town was almost completely empty (by midday all the travelers are out and about discovering the beauty of the surrounding national parks). El Calafate is a very cute little town, mainly consisting of wooden houses, with a friendly atmosphere where you could feel the holidays spirit, only 10 days away from Christmas.
After a quick hamburger on the terrace of a little wooden cafe, we left for our first excursion: a 2 hours horse-ride in the hills.
A small bus came to pick us up at the hotel and drove us, roughly 20 km from El Calafate, towards Cerro Frias, which is an ecological adventure park that offers a vast array of different activities within the stunning landscape.
As I am prone to vertigo and slightly frightened by horse-back riding I asked if I could have the smallest horse of the estancia. I spotted a tiny white and brown horse and asked if he could be my ride. Unfortunately, that horse belonged to our guide and instead I was offered a tall black one (suitably named Tornado). I was scared and I struggled the first minutes of the ride as Tornado only wanted to stop to eat (maybe not such a bad partner match after all). However, soon the beauty of the surroundings took over. The mountains, the turquoise lakes, the yellowness of the vast grasslands… It could not have been more perfect. I started to feel like a true gaucho in the middle of the pampas and it seemed like time and place had remained in the 19th century.
Immediately when the bus stopped we ran towards the wooden stairs and started going down to be met by the most magnificent view of Perito Moreno. It was absolutely breathtaking. Once in a while, maybe every 15 minutes or so, a piece of the glacier falls into the lake, creating dozens of icebergs floating around. The show is magnificent, the noise of the ice breaking resonates in between the mountains which
Words do not suffice to describe that magnificent show. We felt so small taking in the view and once more felt so amazed by the profound beauty and wonder of our planet.
We then boarded on a ferry to cross the Lago Argentino and arrive on the glacier side. The boat ride took 20 minutes and the view from there was equally breathtaking, we could see the glacier from its front wall and
Once on the glacier side Jacob and I realized that we did not bring food, a mistake not committed by our more organized co-visitors. Of
We started the trekking by walking through a small forest and a rocky beach for about 20 minutes before reaching a tiny wooden shed where all the gear and crampons (those weird spiky shoes) were stored.
When we all finally got our climbing-irons on we started the
The trekking was amazing and so much fun, as we could not walk regularly with the crampons but rather in a more penguins-
Walking on the ice, avoiding the crevasses and the small blue lagoons was fantastic. We were aware that tourists go up on the glacier almost every day in summer but you still feel like you are the first human to step foot on it and it is wonderful. We felt like explorers discovering Antarctica (although it is a few thousand kilometers away… but the closest we ever got to the South Pole) and stepping foot on an unknown land. It was magical. Once again, I lack the words to explain how amazing that moment was, truly one of the best experience of my life so far.
I felt proud of myself for accomplishing this challenge. Being strongly affected by vertigo, I never thought, a couple of years before that trip, that I would climb a glacier. Let’s be honest, it was closer to walking than climbing and the trek is even advertised to the aging clientele of Hotel Kalken so it is not as difficult as I make it sound. But for me, it was a personal challenge and it made me feel stronger, braver and ready to take on more adventures and to continue fighting my fears.
Finally, as a reward for our efforts on the glacier, when we reached the highest point of our small trekking, after walking for about an hour on the ice, we got a little surprise — a glass of
For more information :
(prices are from December 2015 so it might have changed since)
— Hotel Kalken: https://hotelkalken.com/index.php
We paid approximately 80€ for a standard double room for two people with breakfast included, it was already really expensive for what it is and now the prices have gone up even more.
— Cerro Frias: https://www.cerrofrias.com, they offer horseback riding, 4x4 drives, trekkings, and a zip line. We paid approximately 50€ for the horseback riding including the transfer back and forth
— Restaurant Kau Kaleshen:
Reservation is preferable as it is getting more popular. It is also a hotel, a fact that we wish we had known before as the rooms are probably very nice.
— Trekking on the glacier with Hielo y Aventura: https://www.hieloyaventura.com/HIELO2015/minitrekking-eng.html
We did the Mini Trekking, which includes the 20-minute boat ride and 1.5 hours of trekking on the glacier. We paid approximately 130€ for that excursion but it is so worth it. They also have a longer trekking for the entire day, that I wish to do next time we go to Patagonia. Also, do not forget to bring food!
PS: For the entrance at Los Glaciares National Park, do not forget your student ID if you have one, it is way cheaper.
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