Big Ice Trek: One of the Best Excursion in Calafate Argentina

Excursions in El Calafate Argentina

The Big Ice Trek excursion is a demanding guided hike of four hours of duration over the Perito Moreno Glacier. The excursion is a true trek, which you have to do with crampons; there is little time for photos, stops or lunch. But, for those of us who love trekking and being in contact with nature, the Big Ice Trek surely will be an unforgettable experience.

The tour starts at the Bajo de las Sombras Pier, 7km before reaching the walkways. After crossing the Rico Branch of Lago Argentino in a 20 minutes trip, starts the walk through a moraine to approach the glacier. When the path meets a terrific outlook, it’s time of strapping the crampons on and beginning the hike over the ice. The walk lasts for about 4 hours and you have 30 minutes for lunch. The best part is when you are in the center of the glacier, you will feel that your little group is alone in the world, and having a lunch there is an experience equal to no other.

How hard is it? The trek is hard, but not so hard. Even tough, the excursion is recommended for people whose age ranges from18 to 45 years old; the reality is that everyone with a good level of fitness could do it. Say, if you are able to walk 15km in a moderate pace, you will be ok on the ice.

What to bring? You have to bring your own lunch, water, sunglasses (with UV filter), sun block cream, warm hat and gloves, and a camera of course. With respect to clothes, even in summer, the weather during the trek could be (extremely) cold and rainy, so a rain jacket is essential and warm clothes a must. Don’t be mistaken for the weather in Calafate. The sky in Calafate could be perfectly clear and sunny, and over the glacier could be snowing with temperatures below 0 C. Robust trekking boots with ankle support are best for walking with crampons.

Minitrekking or Big Ice Trek? That depends in your fitness level. If you think you are fit enough to do the Big Ice Trek, then do it. The Big Ice Trek is more expensive, but the feeling of adventure is higher, the groups are smaller, and the contact with the glacier deeper. The Minitrekking, on the other hand, is a more touristy tour, sometimes crowded, but commendable for travelers that usually don’t trek and want to experience something of what Perito Moreno Glacier has to offer.

If you visit El Calafate (Argentina) and like trekking don’t miss the opportunity of fully feeling the Perito Moreno Glacier. The Excursion cost is around US$ 140

Time: full day
Tour Operator: Hielo y Aventura

Photo courtesy of: Diametrik
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How to Visit Perito Moreno Glacier from El Calafate - Argentina

Things to do in El Calafate - Argentina

Since the first time I have visited El Calafate, I’ve always been a fanatic of the Perito Moreno Glaciar. I consider it, a must see Argentine natural attraction, that no traveler must miss. Spending a full day at The Balconies, a series of walkways and viewpoints to the glacier, and having lunch in the picnic area with the impressive beauty of the glacier in front of you, is a unique experience that surely won’t disappoint the most exigent of tourists. In addition, the glacier has the advantage of having a relatively easy access from the city of El Calafate. In this post, I want to write about the different alternatives for visiting the Glacier.

There are three main ways to visit Perito Moreno Glacier’s walkways:

Caltur and Patagonia Ya! run regular buses departing from the city of Calafate at 9:30 and 10:30 am daily. The trip last for about an hour and has a cost of around US$ 10. The return is at 03:30 and 04:30 pm.

If you have a car (or have hired one), you have to take the Ruta provincial 11 (provincial road 11) to the west. For the first 40km, the route follows the southern shore of Lago Argentino (Bahia Redonda), the landscape here belongs to the sparsely vegetated Patagonian steppe, but after crossing Rio Mitre starts the so called Magellanic forest, mostly formed by deciduous southern beech species: Lengas, Ă‘ires, and Guindos. The last 24km over Peninsula de Magallanes are dirt road. An alternative route from El Calafate follows ruta 15 in the direction of Lago Roca. There is a turn-off when the route meets Estancia Alta Vista to the right leading back to the ruta provincial 11. This alternative route is entirely dirt road, but has more possibilities for seeing local fauna (birds) than the previous one; also it permits to appreciate same Estancias from the road.

For those who prefer knowing places through excursions, there are a number of regular tours to the glacier daily. Basically, all of them pick the passengers at the hotel, offer a guided trip to the walkways, and leave the travelers there for three hours to fully appreciate the Glacier. This basic regular excursion costs around US$45 and can be combined with the Safari Nautico or with the Minitrekking.

A thing to consider if you travel in a group of 3 or 4 persons (or can join one) is that remises (taxis) or renting a car could be cheaper and more flexible than the other alternatives. But whatever the way you choose to visit the glacier, don’t forget to bring a hearty picnic with you to fully enjoy the day.

Time: full day

The Photo of the Walkways is courtesy of: Tres

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Tours in El Calafate -Argentina- Safari Nautico

Safari Nautico - El Calafate - Argentina

This excursion offers one hour of navigation into the icy waters of the Rico Branch of Lago Argentino, where impressive views of the 70 meters high wall of the Perito Moreno Glacier can be seen.

The trip begins in the port situated at Bajo de las Sombras Bay, which lies on the northern shore of the Rico Branch of Lago Argentino, 63km west by road from El Calafate. The itinerary is really simple; the boat crosses the lake to reach the southern terminus of the Glacier sailing along its entire face. The sights from the boat are stunning; on one side huge icebergs float into the lake, on the other rises the terrific wall of the Glacier. Every couple of minutes a great crash from the wall announces the birth of a new iceberg to the fascinated passengers.

I think that the Safari Nautico is an interesting excursion to do together with the balconies of the Perito Moreno Glacier, because it shows two different sights of this impressive Argentine attraction. There are several departs per day so there is no need to book it. However, if you plan doing the Minitrekking or the Big Ice Trek, you may consider not doing the Safari Nautico, due to that both excursions follow a similar way to cross the lake.
Time: 1 hour
Tour Operator: Hielo y Aventura

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Best Calafate tours: Minitrekking over Perito Moreno Glacier

The Minitrekking is one of the most popular excursions that the city of El Calafate (Argentina) has to offer. It consists of a guided hike of about two hours over the impressive white vastness of the Perito Moreno Glacier.

The tour starts in Bajo de las Sombras port, 7km prior to reach the Glacier’s walkways, just opposite to Hosteria Los Notros on the northern shore of Rico Branch of Lago Argentino. There, the trekker takes a boat to sail the lake in a 20 minutes trip to the southeast shore of the Rico Branch, where excellent views of the southern wall of The Perito Moreno Glacier can be seen. In the Hut near the shore, the guides organize the groups leading them in a 20 minutes walk to a point near the glacier.

The Minitrekking really begins after putting the crampons on. The walk is not really hard. The terrain is a little irregular, but always firm and safe, perfect for walking with crampons. During the hike trekkers can see crevasses, holes, seracs, and ice caves. After hiking for about 2 hours the group returns through a forest to the hut to rest and lunch.

The next part of the tour is the return to Bajo de las Sombras port, to take a bus to the Glacier’s walkways, where the tourist has one hour to look at this fantastic Patagonian Landmark.

Time: full day
Minitrekking Operator: Hielo y Aventura
Photo courtesy of: Pululante

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