Argentina – PatagoniaBack to Story

Patagonia - the ultimate outdoor experience

This is a vast region with so much to offer.  The agenda is outdoor focused because it’s all about the scenery.  It rivals all of the mountainous areas I’ve seen and reminds me a lot of New Zealand.  Time constraints meant we had to pick one spot to experience thoroughly.  After consultation the choice was made to see El Calafate and probably more importantly the Perito Moreno Glacier.

It’s a 3.5 hour flight down from Buenos Aires reminding you just how big Argentina is. Once you get off the plane you also notice the differences in landscape and climate of this part of Argentina.  The land is very barren out here and the wind carries a chill even in the early stages of summer.  It reminds you not to mess with nature and not to take its consistency for granted.

El Calafate

El Calafate has been described by some as a ski town.  Having grown up near ski towns I do see some parallels but more in the sense of the obvious reliance on tourism.  This is not a town that merely supports the surrounding agriculture but one clearly supported by an almost year round stream of visitors.  The town sort of has a western feel to it.

Los Alamos seems by far the best in town.  The bar and restaurant delivered excellent food if not a little old fashioned.  The décor is a very dated ski lodge but that doesn’t detract from the charm.

Probably the most notable change for me, compared to the rest of Argentina, is the food. Fresh salads have crept onto the menu and they have the intense taste that only a cool climate can deliver.  The meat seems to come grilled on open spit fires here and tastes delicious.  In yet another parallel with New Zealand lamb features on the menu almost as much as beef and it’s some of the tastiest this lamb lover has ever eaten.

Perito Moreno Glacier

The glacier itself is a good 40 minute drive though some spectacular landscape.  Hope for a lovely day so you can see the snow capped mountains across the plains.  Farms border the road and we can see sheep and cattle grazing on the pastures.

The lake appears before we know it and it has the turquoise colour of a glacier feed lake.  It also looks like the weather could change very quickly.  Almost as we reach the hotel we can see the glacier looming at the end of the lake.  Its enormous – no photo can prepare you for the scale of the ice.

It’s well worth spending a bit of time looking at this marvel from a few different angles if you’ve got the time. Let’s face it you’ve spent all this time getting there – make the time.  The glacier has moved down the valley and cut the lake in two giving the perception of there being two lakes. On one side you can take a boat and float out around the icebergs and get a closer look.

The blues are such an amazing colour.  Its so vivid – a refraction of light and not the colour of the ice.  You can see the caverns and caves that open up as the glacier has moved.  Because you are on the water it looms above you so you get a very real sense of the size of this wonder.  More than the visual splendor is the noise that surrounds you.  The movement creates a ghostly howl and the ice creaks, growns, cracks and, if you’re lucky, splashes into the water before your eyes.

On the other side you can catch another boat and actually walk out onto the glacier (weather permitting).  It’s basically a day trip from Calafate but you’re only on the ice for a few hours. You walk up to the edge of the ice and put crampons on your feet.  Feeling like a real adventurer (ok, so lets face it if you haven’t done it before, it’s a terrifying first experience, but you’ll get used to it).  Before you know it you too are scaling up the side of the ice and staring into deep ice pools.  My travel buddies squeal with excitement to see the whisky reward on a table served with the purist glacier ice.

To make sure you make the most of the experience it is ideal to stay on the lake at Los Notros.  To date the only lodge along the lake gives this hotel a well deserved edge, which they surprisingly don’t over exploit (except maybe a little in the price).  Many of the rooms (if not all) have a wonderful  view out across the lake and over the glacier.  Forget the romantic notion of being right on the edge of the glacier or even on the waters edge of the lake but that doesn’t detract from the experience.  The lodge is appropriately simple but homely and food lives up to the hype.  The Patagonia Pinot list kept the Pinot fans (that’s me) very happy.

Travel photographs from Patagonia in Argentina. Images from Glacier Perito Moreno and the road from El Calafete. Including ice climbing and Los Notros and Los Alamos the boutique hotels.

Back to Story

ZeeGlobe Feedback