El Calafate and El Chalten in 4 days

Updated: Nov 15, 2019

Our 15 hour coach journey from Ushuaia took us across the Magellan Strait where we were treated to seeing a pod of dolphins and also via Rio Gallegos, a town Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid held up a bank in. We eventually arrived in El Calafate, we were knackered, arriving at our hostel at 1.30am.

Now being honest, we hadn’t even heard of El Chalten before we set off on our travels, but based on the advice of alot of people, we needed to go. So we squeezed it into our ever moving itinerary.

So here is how our 4 (very) full days in the two towns of El Calalfate and El Chalten went.

El Calafate

After our transfer the day before, we were up early, wolfed down our breakfast overlooking Lago Argentina which the Hostel America Del Sur offers as part of it’s many facilities and we were off. We definitely recommend staying here as part of your own itinerary btw.

Our first stop in our busy itinerary was the glorious Perito Moreno Glacier set in the Los Glaciares National Park. The excursion was easy enough to book through the coach company Marga Tacsa and their drop-off/pick-up time gave us ample time to explore the many walkways, to truly appreciate the entirety of this natural beauty. Make sure you take cash though, as we nearly got caught out paying the $AR 800 entrance to the park!

On our second day, we checked out Lago Argentina Nature Reserve (after nearly being held hostage by the local dogs). NB. packed lunches attract a lot attention from the neighbouring canines. We arrived at the reserve giving us some exceptional views of the lake, flamingos (who knew they were in Patagonia?!), and some much needed rest bite from the hounds! Worth the AR$350 just for that! If you’re on a tighter schedule than us, then we’d recommend spending the extra day in El Chalten, than the nature reserve. Our final recommendation in El Calafate is La Zorra (be careful with the translation of this), they do great beer (some of the best we’ve had) and food, it’s cheap too!

El Chalten

It’s a 3 hour journey from El Calafete to El Chalten, again we used Marga Tacsa. El Chalten is a unique town, at only 30+ years old the buildings themselves are quirky enough, we even saw one made out of a boat! Doesn’t take long to explore, there’s some really cool little pubs and restaurants, - our recommendation is a little deli type place called La Roti - Food Store.

The staff where we stayed (Los Nires Hostel) were really helpful and the breakfast even offered cake… winner! We even treated ourselves to a private room - luxury!

We did the 2 main treks in the area, which the staff recommended. The first was called Senda A Laguna Torre, which gave viewpoints over Cerro Torre and Laguna Torre. We also hit our daily step record at 38,000 steps. Not without it’s repercussions though, Sarah picking up a blister and Stu injuring his knee, resulting him using a ‘staff’ on the second day!

Day 2’s trek took us to views of the iconic Fitz Roy Mountain and Laguna Capri. Each trek offered the most breathtaking views over the mountain range, valleys, rivers, lagoon and glaciers. We’ll let the pictures do the rest of the talking on this ;)

Views of Fitz Roy Mountain across Laguna Capri
The valley leading upto Mt. Fitz Roy

Right, now back down South, but this time let’s see what Chilean Patagonia looks like! 4 buses, 8 hours, AR$ 2,100 (each), 2 countries and 1 border should see us arrive at Puerto Natales for the next stage of our adventure.

Cost for 4 days in El Calafate and El Chalten = £264 (inc. accom)

Cost for transfers (booked through Marga Tasqa)

Ushuaia - El Calafate = AR$ 3,600 each

El Calafate - Perito Moreno AR$ 1,000 rtn (each)

El Calafate - El Chalten = AR$ 1,600 rtn (each)

El Calafate - Puerto Natales = AR$ 1,560 (each)

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