After spending Christmas in Punta Arenas, we all piled into the van for our grand road trip adventure. The first leg of our trip involved driving from Punta Arenas to El Calafate, crossing the Chile-Argentinian border. We started driving at about 8am and arrived at the border about 4 hours later. After another 3 hours, we finally reached the town of El Calafate.
El Calafate is a town near the edge of the Southern Patagonian Ice field and is primarily known for being the gateway to the Los Glaciares National Park, home to the Perito Moreno Glacier.
We stayed at Cabanas Nievas, which is located on the end of the main tourist street in the town. We had an entire cabin to ourselves – two couples to each side of the cabin. The location was great because we were able to walk up and down the main street to purchase groceries, souvenirs, and snacks. It was also super easy to find the bank and numerous restaurants.
The main reason for staying in El Calafate was to visit the Los Glaciares National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site (1981). The Park’s name comes from the giant ice cap in the Andres, which is the largest outside of Antarctica and Greenland. It contains 47 large glaciers, some of which melt and flow into the Atlantic, while the others flow towards the Pacific.
We spent the majority of our time visiting the Perito Moreno Glacier, which is one of the most important tourist attractions in Argentinian Patagonia. The glacier is special because it is advancing, instead of retreating like most of the other glaciers in the world. The ice field around the glacier is the world’s 3rd largest reserve of fresh water.
The Park is great because there are many paths that lead from the parking/entrance towards the Perito Moreno Glacier. Each path (color coded) takes a varying length of time, has a different difficulty level, and offers a slightly different view of the Glacier.
To reward ourselves for a long day spent at the Park, we had dinner at La Tablita, one of the best restaurants in town. They specialize on meat, meat and more meat! X and I opted to split a steak and a single portion of their spit-roasted Patagonian lamb. The steak was good, but the lamb was phenomenal! The meat literally fell right off the bone!
El Calafate was one of my favorite parts of the trip because the town was so charming and visiting the Perito Moreno Glacier was an experience of a lifetime. I loved just strolling through the town at night (Remember, it’s still light out at 10pm!) and ducking in and out of all the shops.