El Calafate

Located on Redonda Bay in Argentino Lake, El Calafate (named after the barberry bush, calafate in Spanish), a typical plant in Southern Patagonia is the gateway to the majestic world of glaciers and its frozen magic. Founded in 1927, this oasis of poplars, willows and pine trees located at the edge of the Patagonian steppe is the biggest city next to Los Glaciares National Park, where the renowned Perito Moreno Glacier awaits for the astonishment of every visitor. To the mountainous west, the snow covered peaks of the Andes offer their majestic beauty to this paradise of ice and white lakes, on which surface the sliding motion of the ice floats resembles a fine painting. The less visible glaciers, Spegazzini, Onelli, Bolado Agassiz and the great Upsala offer an open invitation to sail the Argentino Lake and be discovered.

Travel to El Calafate

El Calafate is located in Redonda Bay at the edge of Argentino Lake. The town was named after a small local bush of Southern Patagonia (barberry) and is the gateway to the majestic world of glaciers. It is the urban center of Los Glaciares National Park, founded in 1927 and it has experienced amazing growth in the last years due to tourism. El Calafate is a haven of poplars, willows and pine trees at the edge of the Patagonian steppe. Its climate is dry with an average maximum temperature of 66º F in spring and 28ºF in winter. Daylight times vary during the different seasons – in summer the sun comes out at 5:30 AM and sets at 11:00 PM. During winter, days are shorter with only 8 hours of daylight.

The barberry bush is present all around the glacier area. It has tiny leaves and a thorny stem and has inspired the name of the town. According to the legend, if you eat this berry your return to the area is granted.

Handicraft Market & Regional Museum

Located in the downtown area, the Handicraft Market offers Argentine and Latin American handicraft. It opened in October 2000 and was entirely built using local wood and stones. You will also find the Regional Museum, an old Patagonian style house, where you can be held in time enjoying old items and photographs which take you back in history. You can also watch the legacy of the indigenous culture and the first settlements in the area.

Perito Moreno Glacier

The main attraction in El Calafate is Perito Moreno Glacier. This huge mass of ice is considered one of the natural wonders of the world. It was discovered by Chilean Captain Juan Rogers in 1879 and in 1899 it was given the name of Perito Moreno as tribute to the great Argentinian naturalist and explorer who strangely enough never been to the glacier.

The waters of the glacier cover 1,500,000 acres of Los Glaciares National Park, where the glacier tongue is located. Both the glacier and the park have been declared World Heritage. Perito Moreno Glacier is the most renowned of the 365 glaciers making up Los Glaciares National Park.

The glacier is a stunning tongue of ice coming down from the mountain chains of the Andes Mountain Range as far as Argentino Lake. The snow accumulated at the upper watersheds compacts itself eliminating the air and turning into the blue mass of the glacier that travels towards the front, slowly leaving some of its pieces in the waters of the lake.

The glacier travels through a valley surrounded by mountains and creating a tongue of ice reaching 155 miles towards the mountain range. The advance of the glacier towards the shore of the lake produces the noisy calving of blocks of ice on the front part, which fall down and float in the Témpanos Channel. The front walls of the glacier reach a maximum high of 197 ft and the width of the front part is 14,700 ft approximately. In the surrounding area, you can find Antarctic, Dombey’s and lenga beeches, as well as bushes such as barberry which blossom during summer. In order to have an idea of the scale of Perito Moreno Glacier, its area is similar to the City of Buenos Aires which is 74 sq miles, whereas Capital Federal is 77 sq miles.

For a long time, it was believed that Perito Moreno Glacier was one of the few Glaciars in Southern Patagonia which continued to grow. Today that theory is uncertain since there is definite proof that the glacier is retreating, just like all glaciers in the area, due to global warming in the planet. The balcony in the Magellan Peninsula offers many viewpoints with excellent views of the different parts of the front and the side of the glacier.

Perito Moreno Glacier Calving

Many tourists from all around the world come to watch the show of the calving of the front walls falling down abruptly on the channel waters. This phenomenon is originated by the pressure of the rising water on the lateral channels - a consequence of melting increasing the level of water. When water level on both sides of the lake is over 26 to 33 feet, the water starts filtering until it destroys bit by bit the front walls of the glacier which slowly start to fall down. This is a very stunning natural event occurring periodically, although there is no observed pattern. This is the cause for the glacier to advance on the channel in a slow and progressive way, reaching the opposing shore and creating a dam of ice that covers the waters of Brazo Rico in Argentina Lake. 

What Is the Calving Process Like?

Let’s attempt a more graphic explanation of this process: Argentino Lake has different arms, such as Brazo Sur (Southern Arm) and Brazo Rico (Rico Arm) located behind the Magellan Peninsula and flowing into the lake, in the Tempanos Channel precisely. Perito Moreno Glacier flows into this lake and as the glacier advances over the lake it starts to come up into the coast of the peninsula, but in order to prevent an ongoing advance, there is a natural gate on the Sur and Rico arms which increase their flow due to the melting of snow received, elevating the water level and causing remarkable pressure that ends up blowing up when the filtered water advances over the ground, creating underground tunnels below the layers of ice.

What is the Reason behind the Ongoing Calving?

Perito Moreno Glacier is considered one of the glaciers that have advanced in the last years. This fact cannot be positively proven; however the glacier is in balance as opposed to the vast majority of ice masses which are retreating as years go by, as a result of global warming, as the ozone layer has deteriorated especially in the South Pole and specifically in Antarctica. The other glacier that is in balance is Pio XI Glacier which flows into the Pacific Ocean and originates in the Southern Continental Ice Fields.

Calving of the Perito Moreno Glacier occurs because it has taken away part of Frias Glacier's watershed, a result of earthquakes which modified the sub-glacial separation of these two glaciers favoring Moreno Glacier. This is a proven fact since Frías Glacier is retreating at a great scale, while changes at Perito Moreno are even and it has also advanced during several years. There is also the fact that during the last winter seasons a great amount of snow has fallen down on the watershed providing water to these glaciers.

Other Glaciars: Upsala, Spegazzini

When sailing from Puerto Bandera you search the stunning Upsala and Spegazzini Glaciers, dodging large sized icebergs. The view is indescribable. The Uspsala Glacier is a great mass of frozen water with an extension of 230 sq miles and surrounded by floating ice blocks. From its source in Mariano Moreno mountain range, it runs along 37 miles until it flows into Argentino Lake. In front of the glacier wall you can observe a great number of ice blocks with odd shapes, floating adrift, which prove the current retreat. The Upsala Glacier is one of largest and most beautiful glaciers in the world and you can visit it when sailing the Argentino Lake on the way to Estancia Cristina, from where you can hike to get closer to the glacier.

The size of the glacier is three times the area of the City of Buenos Aires. It was named after the Upsala University (Sweden) which performed the first research about glaciers in Argentina.

The Spegazzini Glacier is a turquoise frozen mass fed by three smaller size Glaciars, such as Mayo Glacier, Spegazzini Central Glacier and Peineta Glacier which descend from the right side like a waterfall on the central corridor. It covers an area of 25 sq miles with walls reaching 443 feet and 66 feet below surface level. On the right section there is a deep forest where coniferous trees abound. The Spegazzini is named as a tribute to botanist Carlos Spegazzini, a researcher of flora at the National Park and the first director of the Botanical Garden in the City of Buenos Aires.

Argentino Lake

This lake covers an area of 617 sq miles to the west of the Province of Santa Cruz and it is divided into two arms or sections, north and south with a maximum width of 12 miles. The lake was discovered and named after “perito” (specialist) Francisco Moreno and explorer and sailor Carlos Moyano, who together corrected an error by the last expedition which had mistaken this lake with Viedma Lake. One of its great attractions is the Témpanos Channel opposite to Perito Moreno Glacier, which is covered by large blocks of floating ice.

When leaving El Calafate to the west, you will leave behind Redonda Bay. The gentle slope of the road offers the possibility of enjoying an excellent panoramic view of Argentino Lake.

Boca del Diablo (Devil’s Mouth): Before returning to the largest stretch of Argentino Lake, you will sail through a 2,600 ft wide neck called Boca del Diablo (Devil’s Mouth.) From here you can see the building of the old Avellaneda headquarters of the National Parks. In the past, this facility was used to supervise the sawmill at Avellaneda Peninsula but it is currently closed. In Boca del Diablo, the final section leading to Puerto Bandera starts.

Los Glaciares National Park

The Park was created in 1937 and its area of 1,500,000 acres is home to almost 364 glaciers of different sizes. In 1981, the park was declared World Heritage by UNESCO in order to preserve for future generations this true legacy of the Quaternary Period, when large white masses dominated the geographic scenery on Earth. Besides the renowned Perito Moreno Glacier, the park has other ice formations such as Upsala, Viedma, Marconi, Onelli, Agassiz, Spegazzini and Mayo. The forest area of the park is favored with the presence of coniferous trees (nathofagus) such as lenga and Antarctic beech and cypress.

Patagonian “Estancias”

In the area surrounding El Calafate you can visit Patagonian “estancias” (farms) such as Alice, Nibepo Aike, near Argentino Lake, and La Franka, Tapi Aike or Cancha Carrera, closer to the border with Chile. Estancia Alice is located on the southern coast of Argentino Lake and it is a typical farming facility of Southern Patagonia. This estancia offers ecotourism and farm tourism such as horse rides and bird watching in Los Pájaros Lagoon . On the surrounding slopes you can see large rock blocks which are remnants of the glacial age. You can watch sheep shearing as well as sheepdogs herding.

Estancia Nibepo Aike was founded in the 20th century and it is located on the Rico arm of Argentino Lake. Its main activity is cattle breeding but it also offers accommodation, Patagonian “asados” (barbecues), horse rides, hikes and boat tours. Its natural environment surrounded by water and mountains make it one of the most beautiful spots in El Calafate.

Estancia La Franka has excellent views of Argentino Lake and the origins of Santa Cruz River. The landscape surrounding this pioneer farming facility, not open to visits, is typical Patagonian steppe. The road ascends up to 3,300 FASL and allows a view of Argentino Lake and the origin of Santa Cruz River which runs across the whole Patagonia from west to east to flow into the Atlantic Ocean. Crossing packs of guanacos and rheas are usual.

Estancia Tapi Aike is a classic Patagonian estancia covering an area of almost 150,000 acres and devoted to sheep and cattle. It was founded by German immigrant Mauricio Braun and today it is run by his granddaughters. It is the epitome of the Patagonian estancia, in the midst of an extensive plateau from where you can have a wonderful view of Torres del Paine. Estancia Cancha Carrera, close to Torres del Paine National Park, has a characteristic English style displayed on its beautiful main buildings. It is located almost at the road leading to the border with Chile.

Excursions to El Calafate

Visit to Perito Moreno Glacier

Early in the morning we make our way to the most famous glacier in the world. It was declared as a Heritage Humanity in 1981 by UNESCO and it is considered unique for many characteristics such as its continuous advance, its comfortable access to its best viewpoints and the possibility to walk over it. The name was given in honour of the great explorer of the Patagonian area, Perito Francisco Moreno.

We walk along the edge of the southern side of the Argentino Lake, before crossing the rivers Centinela and Mitre, at the same time we discover post card views of the pre Andean Mountain Chain. We arrive to Brazo Rico and enter Los Glaciares National Park. While we tour along the Rich Lake we see the huge blocks of ice drifting along and walk until we have a full panoramic view of this giant glacier. If the weather conditions are favourable, we can have the privilege of attending this unique spectacle in the argentinean Patagonia... the ice landslides from the southern falls in which huge ice floes cover the homonym channel as they are accumulated there or in the Brazo Rico.

Here it is possible to get to know the glacier from different panoramic and viewpoints by walking the footbridges whilst we are informed about its history, characteristics and settings. In the afternoon we return to the Hotel.

Note: The Perito Moreno is a glacier in continuous advance; this is different to the great majority of such giant glaciers that are in a severe regression. In its advance it surrounds the cold waters of the Brazo Rico, that are origined from the Argentino Lake which causes some pressure over the ice that make the level of water increase in that part of the lake and has the effect of generating a tunnel of almost 45 metres through which flows from the Brazo Rico and in to the Argentino Lake. The continuous erosion by these waters causes parts of the dome to collapse producing fantastic spectacles.

Navigation across the Rich lake – Nautical Safari

We leave from the 'Bajo de las Sombras' Port to begin this navigation that complements the visit by the footbridges to the Perito Moreno Glacier and has a time lapse of one hour. There we can see well the southern edge of the glacier. The same as for the Brazo Rico and the Brazo Sur of the Argentino Lake, they are transformed by the glacier into dykes. We navigate the Rich Lake marveling at the imposing face of the glacier that reaches up to 60 metres high. Here we get closer to the confluence between the colossal ice structure and the Magellan Peninsular before continuing, for approximately 3 kms, the length of the southern wall.

This is the major attraction spot and the most awaited moment by all the visitors: the landslides of enormous blocks of ice during the summer season that are related to other typical formations such as crevices, 'seracs' and their bluish tints. We have the opportunity to take photos and capture this emotional experience.



Mini trekking to the Perito Moreno Glacier

To undertake this brief hike we need to cross the Rich Lake and then we arrive to the south east coast after a few minutes of navigation, which is in front of the southern wall of the glacier. Here we disembark and we go to the refuge where we are organized in groups. We begin our short 15 minutes walk going around the lake until we arrive to the glacier. Here we prepare our specialized equipment for trekking on ice. We suggest using hiking boots with thick socks, preferably woolen (it is not possible to use rubber boots because they are too slippery.

The track takes less than two hours to walk at a normal rhythm and we can discover a great variety of types and sizes of crevices, sump holes, small lagoons, and 'seracs' that are great blocks of ice divided by fissures caused by internal movements. We learn about the local flora and wildlife of the place and some other features of the glaciers: for example the continuous and incredible advance of the glacier leaving behind giant pieces of ice. We start our return through an Andean Magellan Forest covered in plants and typical trees of the southern Patagonia.

Note: This tour is available nearly all year round except for June and July. The people suitable for this expedition are those between 10 and 65 years old approximately. It all depends upon the physical condition of the person. It is forbidden for pregnant women, people with illnesses related to heart, movement or coordination. We do not recommend this tour for overweight people. Smoking is not allowed throughout the programme.



Journey to the centre of the most famous glacier in the world (Big Ice)

If we have already visited the glacier from the outside, this is the opportunity to discover it from the inside. Like Jules Verne's 'Journey to the centre of the earth' book, this is a trip to the centre of the most famous glacier. For four hours we walk on top of the frozen surface with the object to arrive to the 'seracs', giant ice structures, where the ice folds.

We begin our crossing between the ice structures on the Port 'Bajo de las Sombras' in order to sail along the waters of the Brazo Rico until we arrive at the western coast. Before we start the adventure we receive instructions from the professional mountain guides who explain how to use the materials and help us to obtain the necessary equipment. We advise using sun glasses.

We are now ready to take the path that takes us to the southern moraine of the Perito Moreno Glacier (the area where the ice and ground join together). After an hour of walking we reach an astonishing place: a viewpoint where we have an impressive view of the glaciers and their surrounds. From here, we enter to the interior of the glacier to discover new landscapes such as grand sumps, white caves, very deep crevices and blue lagoons. We find a place which gives us unforgettable images and postcards of the journey to the centre of the glacier. During the excursion, we learn about glaciology, wildlife and native flora thanks to the participation of the guides who are specialists in these subjects. Around midday we have time for lunch and admire the landscapes that surround us.

We continue the trail to the moraine, walking for another hour until we finish our hike. We then embark in order to get closer to the southern wall of the Perito Moreno. Late in the afternoon we return to El Calafate.

Important Note: This excursion is only available from middle of September to the end of April. It is a demanding excursion where the terrain is irregular and only persons between 18 and 45 years old and in good physical shape can do it. Pregnant women are not authorized. The entrance fee to the National Park is neither included, nor for personal equipment, or the box lunch (is the responsibility of each person). We advise the use of sun glasses and sun protector of a minimum of factor 30, light clothing but warm, a sun visor, rain proof jacket, gloves, hiking boots (not rubber boots), rucksack of 40 litres, water bottle and lunch box for personal food.



Navigation across the Argentino Lake

Today a navigation between giant ice structures in Los Glaciares National Park is waiting for us. We firstly travel to Punta Bandera (Flag point) in order to make an early embarkation to start our trip on the Argentino Lake, the biggest and most southern of all the Patagonian lakes in the argentinean region. It covers an area of 1466 kms2 and has a depth ranging from 150 to 500 metres.

We begin our navigation by the north branch of the lake, visiting the Spegazzini, Onelli, Bolado and Agassiz Glaciers, these last ones located in the Onelli Bay, moreover we get closer to the Upsala Glacier. This glacier integrates an area surrounded by other glaciers which covers 850 km2 and its walls reach until 80 metres high. Its name comes from the University of the same name in Sweden that was the first one in starting a study about the surrounded area, in the twentieth century. On the other hand, the Spegazzini Glacier is the highest inside the national park at 135 metres and is located on the homonym branch of the Argentino Lake.

We disembark in the Onelli Bay, only if the ice conditions allow us because the large icebergs can block the entrance to the boat and it is always risky for the crew. Onelli leaves us amazed with the presence of an ancient Patagonian forest populated with different species of trees such as ñires, canelos and lengas. We might be lucky if we watch the giant condors that inhabit the Andean Mountain Chain. Meanwhile, we make a walk to a unique place where the confluence of the Agassiz, Bolados and Heim Glaciers into the Onelli Lagoon takes place. In our return we see the front of the Spegazzini Glacier.

Please note: There could be ice falls from the Upsala Glacier that leave giant icebergs which could block the navigation to the Onelli Bay. This natural hazard could make difficult the landing. When this happens the boat crosses the waters of the Ice floe Channel to go on the northern position of the Perito Moreno Glacier.



Navigating by the outskirts of the Upsala Glacier in the direction of the Cristina Estancia

We dedicate the day to the Cristina Estancia. We leave in the morning in a boat from the Punta Bandera Port in the direction of the Estancia and on the route we pass great icebergs and the incredible landscape of the western face of the Upsala Glacier before we enter into the Cristina Canal and disembark at the Estancia. We visit the Costumbrista Museum which was the old sheep shearing works and after we make our Patagonian journey by a 4x4 up mountainous tracks until we reach the Continental Ice Camp Site where we begin a short hike over the surface that has been eroded by the glaciers. Later we go until the appearance of the Cañadón de los Fósiles (the waterbed of the fossils) where there is a reservoir of marine fossil remains.

Note: This program is over irregular ground and involves a reasonable amount of effort and is not suitable for children less than 12 years old.



Navigation Vip across the Argentino Lake to Puerto Vacas

We present ourselves at the La Soledad private port in Tranquila Bay, Punta Bandera, in order to embark on the cruiser that takes us to see the region of imposing glaciers in the Los Glaciares National Park.

In the middle of the morning we cruise to the northern sector, leaving on the way the Punta Avellaneda and Boca del Diablo(Devil's Mouth), being the widest part of the Argentino Lake, with an extension of some 800 metres. We cross green and turquoise waters full of icebergs that drift across our passage. The sensation of navigating between icebergs is really unforgettable and unique and here we are witnesses to the diverse forms, colours and sizes of what nature has authorized.

We follow the Brazo Norte for about one hour seeing lumps of ice with such distinct characteristics of opaque colours and translucence inviting us to imagine the forms of the objects. The ice blocks indicate to us that we are close to the Upsala Glacier. There we have a front wall of ice that actually cuts the passage until the Upsala Canal, without doubt, with good weather we can perceive the glacier of the same name from afar. It is so impressive due to its dimensions and there the walls are up to 60 metres high.

Continuing with the navigation chart of the Argentino Lake we are directed now to the south, towards the Spegazzini Canal, that is close to our next stop to appreciate its glacier. We are treated to a great mass of ice that rises up to between 80 and 135 metres, being a river of ice that descends a rocky slope and abruptly falls into the lake. This icescape is our place to have lunch, having a privileged view whilst enjoying the delicious food offered in the cruiser.

In the afternoon we arrive at the Puesto de las Vacas, a peaceful bay that is in the Spegazzini Canal, there we enjoy a rest in the middle of the silence, listening only to the sound of the water and we can take a short walk in the surroundings to feel the sensation of such quietness and appreciate the different forms and sizes of the icebergs that fall. From this place we have some spectacular views of the Spegazzini Glacier. Immediately after the walk around the bay we embark again to have a snack there in preparation for our trip to Argentino Lake. Our final stretch is to cross the Argentino Lake back to the La Soledad Port in order to toast the successful end to this marvelous adventure. We disembark after 16 hrs to be taken back to El Calafate.



Navigation across the Rich lake – Nautical Safari

We are departing from the port "Under the Shadow" to begin this navigation that complements the visit to the Perito Moreno Glacier footbridges, for a period of time of 1 hour, and you can see very well the southern edge of the glacier. Both the Rico and South Arm of Lake Argentino, are the two arms of the lake Perito Moreno Glacier transforms them into docks. We sailed the Lake Rico appreciating the imposing south of the glacier that lies before us until the face 60 meters high.

We approached 200 meters from the confluence of this colossus of ice and Magallanes Peninsula and then continue about 3 km along the south wall. This is the point of greatest attraction and the most anticipated moment for all visitors: the detachment of huge blocks of ice during the summer in harmony with typical formations such as cracks, seracs and striking blue tones. We take this opportunity to take pictures and capture an exciting time.

Note: It is a constantly advancing glacier, unlike the vast majority of these giants that are in severe decline. In its advance cornered the cold waters from the Brazo Rico of Lake Argentino, this causes pressure on the ice originates because it increases the water level in the lake. This creates a tunnel about 45 meters which flow the waters of Brazo Rico Lake. The continuing erosion exerted by the water drops the vault creating a fantastic show.



A day in the country inside Los Glaciares National Park (Nibepo Aike)

In the morning we drive to the estancia Nibepo Aike Estancia located within the Perito Moreno National Park. There and enjoying a wonderful view of the Cordillera de Los Andes will receive us with coffee, tea or mate cooked with dry cookies. Then we will walk through the South arm of lago Argentino where we will observe different folds in the Earth's crust demarcated by the variety of sediments that gave origin. Also walk trails among forests of beech and ñires in which inhabit a very varied fauna. Towards noon we will enjoy a great show of Creole skill test of reins and meekness of Criollo horses, then we will see a demonstration of sheep shearing and walk through the historical case of the stay will be where us stories of the first settlers in the area, to finish this tour with a visit to the Organic Orchard. After these activities, we will have opportunity to enjoy a typical lunch with grilled Patagonian lamb, sausages, chorizo steak, variety of salads and dessert. Then and now with new energies we will make a tour to the Crystal Hill in a way winding up and as we gain altitude will have a large panoramic town of stay, South, Rico arm arm and the Rock Lake, to finally take back to the city.



A day in the Los Glaciares National Park, El Chaltén

We start this excursion from El Calafate taking the Route Number 40 bordering the Argentino Lake and giving us beautiful views on the way. We cross the Santa Cruz River and are reminded of the histories of Darwin and Fitz Roy who navigated the same. We continue until the La Leona River following its river bed to a hotel on the La Leona Pass where we have breakfast with homemade cakes.

We then retake the road to continue to the Viedma Lake where we have the view of the imposing Andes Mountain range until we reach El Chaltén, a small mountain town but with great attractions to offer, and this is why it is known as the Trekking Capital. Here we make a stop to appreciate the panoramic views up to the mountain range and the Viedma Glacier. We also visit the Interpretation Centre of the National Glacier Park.

Once in El Chaltén, we have various options to appreciate the day and see its landscapes. One of these is to continue until the Salto de Chorillo where we can take a short hike with a professional guide until the trails that lead to the great landmarks such as the Fitz Roy Mountain. On these trails we are taken to the most spectacular viewpoints of the named Mountain or the Torre Mountain where there are postcard views of the Capri lagoon and the Torre viewpoint. In the late afternoon we return to the hotel in El Calafate.

Note: This program is offered only Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays and therefore, depending on the day, we rearrange the elected itinerary.



A day in the Torres del Paine National Park, Chile

Breakfast at the hotel. We will leave the city of Puerto Natales to go to the north to 24 km so we can visit the Milodon´s Cave which is on our way to the main place: the Torres del Paine National Park. There are 3 caves and a group of rocks that are known as the Devil´s Chair which were discovered at the end of the XIX century and it is the place where the remains of a huge herbivore mammal were found at the end of the Pleistocene. The most important cave is 30 metres high with a 75 metres front and 195 metres deep. Its origin it´s due to the erosive effect of the mud which comes from the Puerto Natales basin when the ice blocks gone in the quaternary age. We will get to the Milodon´s Cave, an anthropologist treasure which is considered as the place where the first men of the Patagonia lived. We will continue our tour to get into the Torres del Paine National Park that covers an area of 240.000 he.

While we get closer to the park we will see a mixture of lakes, glacier lagoons, hills and splendid vegetation. Inside the Torres del Paine National Park we will be able to visit the Nordenskjold Lake which emerald waters get to the mountain´s base which at the same time it fuels the Salto Grande that origins a very peaceful lake like the Pehoé lake. We will start a trekking very near the Pingo River through a path that crosses the river, then we go through a sand area that limits the lake´s bank which are surrounded by ice in the coast of the lake and a unic scene as the Grey Glacier next to many hills, woods and the Paine mountain chain. Then we will return to Puerto Natales.



La Leona Petrified Forest

We depart from the city of El Calafate to go to the Huyliche Estancia, climbing the mountains and arriving at the El Calafate Balcony, a panoramic point from which you can see the city, the Argentino Lake and the reliefs that surround it. Depending on the weather it is possible to observe the El Chaltén massif and the Fitz Roy and Torre Mountains. We continue the journey passing some magnificent views such as the ski run.

After visiting the Labyrinth of Stones, a Cretaceous formation of more than 85 million years, we arrive at the highest terrace at some 1200 metres, a natural viewpoint found behind the India Dormida formation, where we have have some postcard views of the Perito Moreno Glacier, the Pietrobelli Mountain, the Torres del Paine, the Baguales Cordon and the Fitz Roy and Torre Mountains. We carry on seeing rock formations that have been there for centuries due to the erosion of each area in order to form unique landscapes, moreover, we have the privilege to see the giant condors gliding over the highest mountains. We descend by the gully of the Portezuelo Stream to see the River Centinela Valley. We return to the hotel later in the afternoon.

Note: The lunch with steaks, vegetables and a drink is included. This excursion is available between the months of October and May.

La Leona Petrified Forest

We leave in the morning in order to spend the whole day in the steppes of Patagonian discovering new places and enjoying the free air and adventure. We take the Route 5 to the east and then join the mythical Route 40 along which we have magnificent views of the Argentino Lake, the Santa Cruz River, La Leona and its attractive valley, and having as a back drop the Mountain Range of the Andes and the Fitz Roy Mountain. We stop for a few minutes in the La Leona Hotel, considered an historic site, and then go west, guided by the edge of the Viedma Lake until we get to the slopes of the Los Hornos Mountain.

Close to midday we arrive to the foot of the Los Hornos Mountain where the Route finishes. Here we find a great depression in the land and that is where we can see the petrified tree trunks and begin our trek to explore them. We take some time to have lunch and during this time we can see many petrified tree trunks, some of them up to 1.20 in diameter, that reveal how different the climatic conditions were for millions of years that supported a flora so abundant and great. Here it is possible to also discover some fossil remains of the dinosaurs. This steppe zone has a very dry climate and generally is very warm. After walking the area we make our return to the hotel.

Note: this program is available from October only when the meteorological conditions permit. The walk is of moderate difficulty and for this a good physical condition is required. Children less than 6 years old cannot undertake this activity.



Balcón del Calafate 4x4: Laberinto de Piedras & Piedra de Los Sombreros

We leave behind the city of El Calafate in order to climb up to 1,000 metres to enter the first Balcony. We will keep in our mind the classical postcard view taking notice of the city and the Argentino Lake. Depending on the weather conditions, it is possible to see the Fitz Roy and Torre Mountains and see the odd condor flying over the Andino Mountain chain. The trail continues until the Laberinto de Piedras (Stone Labyrinth) watching the fossil remains of the Cretaceous Period. We now continue descending until we arrive at the Piedra de los Sombreros (Hat Stones), where we have an optional lunch and take a good rest. We follow on with our return to El Calafate by descending to the northern area, with the presence of the Argentino Lake on the way.

Note: This program is available between September and May.



The Route of the sleepy India

We depart from the city of El Calafate to go to the Huyliche Estancia, climbing the mountains and arriving at the El Calafate Balcony, a panoramic point from which you can see the city, the Argentino Lake and the reliefs that surround it. Depending on the weather it is possible to observe the El Chaltén massif and the Fitz Roy and Torre Mountains. We continue the journey passing some magnificent views such as the ski run. After visiting the Labyrinth of Stones, a Cretaceous formation of more than 85 million years, we arrive at the highest terrace at some 1200 metres, a natural viewpoint found behind the India Dormida formation, where we have have some postcard views of the Perito Moreno Glacier, the Pietrobelli Mountain, the Torres del Paine, the Baguales Cordon and the Fitz Roy and Torre Mountains. We carry on seeing rock formations that have been there for centuries due to the erosion of each area in order to form unique landscapes, moreover, we have the privilege to see the giant condors gliding over the highest mountains. We descend by the gully of the Portezuelo Stream to see the River Centinela Valley. We return to the hotel later in the afternoon.

Note: The lunch with steaks, vegetables and a drink is included. This excursion is available between the months of October and May.



Mount Frías 4x4

From the way to the Perito Moreno Glacier we get to know the Cerro Frias (Frias Mountain) and its environment on the Patagonian Steppes. It is attractive because it is in the middle of the steppe and is not connected to any mountain range and therefore permits some impressive panoramic views of the Torres del Paine, the Fitz Roy Mountain, the cordon of the Crystals, Brazo Rico, Brazo Norte, Lago Argentino, the Magellan Peninsular, amongst other grand attractions that mix the colours of the forests of lengas y ñires, the lakes, the flora and its fauna. Here we have a beef steak barbecue accompanied by vegetables cooked in a mud oven, together with local bread.

Option: trekking with ropes or a 4x4

We make a trek by a well marked trail, through a forest of lengas and ñires and crossing rivers, guided by a map that shows the heights, viewpoints, rest areas and observation points for the flora and native animals and the panoramic landscapes of the Torres del Paine, Fitz Roy and the Lago Argentino amongst others. We take the time to have lunch and afterwards to continue our way until the summit of the Cerro Frias to obtain the most incredible postcard views. We combine the trekking with a traverse of a rope bridge, shifting between two cables that are joined at fixed points but with a certain height difference so that we can slide by gravity. We walk until the initial point at an altitude of 562 metres on the southern slopes of the Cerro Frías.

The trip is fantastic with the views of the Torres del Paine, Centinela Valley, Lago Roca (Red Lake), etc. Once we make the crossing of nearly 470 metres hanging by the cable we arrive at the point of the trail that takes us back to the Estancia. Another option is to travel over the zone in a 4x4. On the journey we cross over a swamp and climb by the lowest part of the Cerro Frías. Following on we have a tremendous view of the environment. We go close to fields where there are cows, guanacos, maras (Patagonian hares) and horses. It takes close to two hours to reach the summit with its magnificent panoramic views and later we make our return to the Estancia for lunch.

Notes for your consideration: This adventure program is recommended for people between the ages of 10 and 60 and we do not advise for those that are overweight (more than 110 kgs) or expectant ladies or those with heart problems. You need to take hiking boots and suitable clothes for the activity.