Argentina . El calafate

Passports: anyone entering Argentina should have a passport valid for at least six months from date of entry, and ideally past the date the passport holder leaves the country.

Visas: nationals of Canada, most Western European countries, Australia and New Zealand do not need a visa to visit Argentina. Upon arrival, most visitors get a 90-day stamp in their passport. Canadians must pay a ‘reciprocity fee’ before arriving. Ideally it will be reminded when buying the airplane ticket: this fee is equal to what Argentines are charged for visas to visit those countries. The fee is paid online and with a credit card.

Customs Regulations: electronic items (laptops, cameras and mobile phones) can be brought into the country duty free, provided they are not intended for resale. If you have a lot of equipment, it is recommended to take an item list with the serial numbers and preferably the purchase receipts.

Electricity: Argentina’s electric current operates on 220V; 50Hz; plugs are C/I type. Adapters are readily available from almost any ferretería (hardware store). Most electronic equipment (such as cameras, telephones and computers) are dual/multi-voltage, but some equipment may require a voltage converter or you might short out your device.

Internet Access: Wi-Fi is available at most hotels, cafes, restaurants and airports, and it’s generally good and free. In remote spots like El Chaltén and other parts of Patagonia Wi-Fi service may be usually poor.

Mobile Phones: it’s best to bring your own unlocked tri- or quad-band GSM cell phone to Argentina, then buy an inexpensive SIM chip (you’ll get a local number) and credits (or carga virtual) as needed. All SIM Cards now must be registered to users before they can be activated. In theory, a foreigner can activate a SIM card with identification. Both SIM chips and credits can be bought at many kiosks or “locutorios”.

Money: ATMs are widely available and credit cards are accepted in most hotels and restaurants. ATMs can also be used for cash advances on major credit cards (not all foreign cards work in ATMs). They’re the best way to get money, and nearly all have instructions in English. Limits on withdrawal can be very low, though the withdrawal fee can be relatively high. Banelco ATMs tend to allow larger withdrawals. In some spots in Patagonia (El Calafate and El Chaltén, e.g.) and most touristic destinations they quickly run out of cash in high season.

Cash: the Argentine unit of currency is the peso (AR$). Notes come in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000 pesos. One peso equals 100 “centavos”; coins come in denominations of 25 and 50 centavos, as well as 1, 2, 5 and 10 pesos. Currently, US dollars are accepted by many companies dedicated to tourism, but it is always recommended to carry some pesos.

Credit Cards: many (but not all!) tourist services, larger stores, hotels and restaurants – especially in the bigger cities – take credit cards. The most widely accepted are Visa and MasterCard, though American Express and a few others are valid in some establishments. Important: many places will give a small discount if you pay in cash rather than use a credit card.

Money Changers: US dollars are by far the preferred foreign currency, although Chilean and Uruguayan pesos can be readily exchanged at the borders. Cash dollars and Euros can be changed at banks and “casas de cambios” (exchange houses) in larger cities, but other currencies can be difficult to change outside Buenos Aires. Passport is needed to change money; we strongly suggest avoiding any sort of street-tout money changer.

Tipping: restaurants and cafes: it’s customary to tip about 10% of the bill. Spa: 15% of the bill. Hotel staff, delivery people, hotel and bus porters and taxi drivers: give a few bills.

Opening Hours:
Banks 10 am to 3 pm Monday to Friday.
Bars 7 pm / 9 pm to 4 am / 6 am nightly.
Cafes 6 am to midnight or much later; open daily.
Clubs 1 am / 2 am to 6 am / 8 am Friday and Saturday.
Office business hours 9 am to 6 pm.
Restaurants Noon to 3:30 pm and 8 pm to midnight or 1am (later on weekends).
Shops 9 am / 10 am to 8 pm / 9 pm Monday to Saturday.


Mention Argentina, and people think about solitary gauchos or maybe tango dancers. It is country blessed with abundant natural resources and a highly educated population. The country boasts a wide variety of cultural attractions, but for many travelers, its natural wonders are the primary draw. From the northern deserts down to the southern Andean Cordillera, from the Iguazú Falls to the magnificent desolation of Patagonia, Argentina's geography is varied and stunning. For cosmopolitan types, there's the elegant capital, Buenos Aires. This fabulous city is renowned for its sophistication, although travelers expecting a more 'South American' experience are sometimes disappointed with its European touch.

It's a large country - the eighth largest in the world, and the second largest on the South American continent. It borders Chile to the west (separated by the Andean Cordilleras range) and Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil and Bolivia to the north and east (separated by rivers). It also shares the offshore island territory of Tierra del Fuego with Chile, and continues claiming the possession of the Malvinas Islands (Falkland Islands) and the Antarctic territory, where Argentina has installed several scientific bases, including the most famous: Marambio.

Argentina's topography is affected by both latitude and altitude, and is accordingly varied. The country can be divided into four major physiographic provinces: the Andes to the west (with arid basins, grape-filled foothills, glacial mountains and the Lake District), the fertile lowland north (with subtropical rainforests), the central Pampas (a flat mixture of humid and dry expanses) and Patagonia (a combination of pastoral steppes and glacial regions).


Population: 47 million (2022 CENSUS)
Capital city: Buenos Aires
People: 85% European descent, 15% mestizo, native and other minorities
Language: American Spanish, plus 17 native languages
Religion: 93% Roman Catholic, 2.5% protestant, 2% Jewish, 1.5% Ukrainian catholic, 1% Armenian orthodox


BIG ICE

This incredible experience, begins in the Port “Under the shade” at 9 AM. There the boat “Tehuelche” crosses the Arm Rico, and 10 minutes later disembark in the west coast. The mountain guides will still take then nearer the glacier to put the “crampons” and initiate the approaching. The footpath passes by the South “Morena” of the Perito Moreno Glacier, and in little more than one hour they will find an amazing viewpoint, by where they will get to the ice. Once in the glacier and with “crampones” on, the world takes a new perspective: blue lagoons, deep cracks, enormous drains, magicians caves, and the unique sensation to feel in the middle of the glacier. Always accompanied and instructed by expert guides, who next to you will explore, during three hours, the corners of the most special glacier of the world. During the route the guides will help you get to know the ice and its surroundings better. You will have half an hour to have your box lunches (NOT INCLUDED) on the white tablecloth and being surprised in a place of unequalled beauty. Once in the “Morena”, you will walk for another hour approximately in order to take the boat to return to the “civilization” at 3 PM., after having enjoyed one of the most spectacular treks on ice of the world. Recommendations: Age: Due to the physical requirement and difficulty of the land, this excursion is only able for people between 18 and 50 years of and that has an acceptable physical state, considering that you will walk for about 7 hours on ice and “pedreros”. (*) Clothings: Sunglasses, solar cream, comfortable and warm clothes, cap for sun, raincoat, glove, trekking boots, backpack of 40 lts approximately. Lunch: Passengers must bring their lunch boxes from Calafate. To smoke: It is forbidden to smoke during the course of all the excursion; either in the boat, the forest, the ice or in the refuge. Physical state: The passengers must know that they will walk slowly for about six hours approximately, by lands so varied and irregular as ice, forest and “pedreros”. It is light, but relatively more complicated for old people, with problems of vertigo or bad physical state (For example: overweight) (*) Restrictions: due to the effort and difficulty involved on this tour it is only suitable for people between 18 and 50 years in good physical condition, considering about 7 hours walking on ice and forest. Overweight people can not take this tour. Kindly note that overweight people are considered those that exceed this criteria: weight in kg. greater than twice the height in cm. minus 100 (e.g. 1.70 m height: 170 minus 100 = 70 x 2 = 140); pregnant; people with any degree or type of physical or mental disability that affects their attention or coordination; persons suffering central or peripheral cardiovascular diseases using stents, pacemakers and other prostheses; (e.g. medicated with anticoagulants, varices grade III -thick and multiples-, cardiac arrhythmias), people suffering respiratory diseases (COPD, asthma, emphysema, etc). Because of its responsibility and under current regulations, H&A (Hielo & Aventura) reserves the right of admission, exercised under the previous guidelines, when they result apparent.

BLUE SAFARI

The Blue Safari is designed for those who, in addition to sailing in front of the Perito Moreno Glacier, dream of touching it and enjoying it up close. In this new excursion we will get to touch the glacier with our hands! The tour begins in El Calafate when the bus leaves for Los Glaciares National Park. Once in Puerto Bajo de las Sombras, just 7 km from the footbridges, we will take a boat to cross Lago Rico and, after sailing 20 minutes, we will disembark on the opposite coast. We will walk for 30 minutes always with a view of the southern wall of the Glacier, in case we are surprised by some thunderous landslide and once next to the ice it will be time for an unforgettable experience... touching the Perito Moreno Glacier itself! There we will fully enjoy its intense and varied blues, whites and its capricious shapes. We will have time to take many photos and then we will return to the embarkation point always accompanied by an experienced guide. The total walk is approximately 1.30 hours through a natural terrain of sand and stones with some slopes and stairs. The route, one and a half kilometers long, will be along the shore of the lake and through a lush forest with a view of the Glacier. Finally, we will take the boat to appreciate from the water, and a few meters away, the entire southern face of the glacier and be able to see every detail of the marbled icy wall. Once in the port, we will take the bus to the footbridges, where we will have 2 hours to enjoy the incredible panoramic view. In addition, we will be able to take advantage of this time and have a box-lunch (not included).

EL CALAFATE / EL CHALTEN WITH LAGO DEL DESIERTO (GROUND SVC)

Departure from El Calafate by the route that goes to the airport to take National Route 40, a typical Patagonian steppe road where we will have the opportunity to cross with choiques (Patagonian ñandú), hares and guanacos. We will cross the bridge of the Santa Cruz River, which is born in the Argentino Lake and runs into the Atlantic Ocean, one of the best worldwide for Steelhead trout fishing. A few kilometers further on we will cross the bridge over La Leona River, continuing along a path that runs along it to the Parador called "La Leona" where we will stop for a few minutes to taste homemade sweet cakes. Returning to Route 40, we then join Provincial Route 23, which leads us exclusively to El Chaltén: as we advance, the complete figure of the Fitz Roy and Torre Hills will be enlarged at the end of the road and -at a distance- the panoramic view of the huge Glacier Viedma can be seen. Departing from El Chaltén, we start a route of about 37 km through the valley of the Rio de las Vueltas, surrounded by a beautiful Andean landscape, with mountains and forests of lengas and ñires, waterfalls and the imposing views of the North face of the Fitz Roy Mount. Three intermediate stops are made to reach the coast of the southern lakeshore of Lago del Desierto. For those who have more energy, it is possible to take a self-guided trek to the Huemul Glacier Lagoon (duration: 1.30 h round trip). This place is located within a private field and therefore a ticket is required (not included).

EL CALAFATE'S BALCONY

From the balcony of El Calafate (Balcon de Calafate), an imposing natural viewpoint, you can enjoy a panoramic view of El Calafate and the central part of Lake Argentino. The tour will offer views of the Andes Mountains and glacier accumulation zone, towards the Boca del Diablo (narrowest part of the lake, heading to the Upsala channel) and if it is clear we can observe the Fitz Roy and Torre mountains in El Chaltén. In addition, we will have the opportunity to see the flight of Condors. The excursion starts from the hotels of El Calafate and completes a journey of 35 kilometers on the line of hills behind the village. The trail takes us through landscapes that marvel at its varied vegetation of height. It reaches up to 1050 meters above the sea. There, the first stop is a natural viewpoint where passengers enjoy a panoramic view of El Calafate and the Argentino Lake. In the background, the unforgettable and imposing framework of the Andes Mountains, and time to time, during the route, clients will enjoy views of the accumulation zone of the glaciers, towards Boca del Diablo (narrowest part of the lake, towards the Upsala arm) . Sometimes it is even possible to see the Fitz Roy and Torre hills in El Chaltén and, with some luck, the condor, master of the Patagonian skies, may be seen in his long plan. We take a snack in the our restaurant Huyliche and from there we start the descent down the northern slope of the hill to the Mexican Hats. A curious iron concretions that are only found in four places in the world. After this trip to other eras of world history, we return to El Calafate with the view always in the omnipresent Lake Argentino.

EXPERIENCIA DARWIN

In this tour, we will visit the Patagonian steppe in a unique way, sailing in double kayaks along the Santa Cruz River from the famous site Charles Furh, located at the mouth of Lake Argentino, to Estancia El Rincon. We will make part of the journey that Charles Darwin made in the area of El Calafate sailing this river in the middle of the 19th century, which gives a touch of history to the adventure of kayaking in Patagonia. The activity begins when we pick guests up in 4x4 vehicles at the hotel in El Calafate and drive them to the Charles Furh area, located 40 km from the city. Upon arrival, we will get off the kayaks from the 4x4 and get ready to live the experience by performing warm-up exercises while the certified guides provide an explanation on how the activity is carried out. All the necessary equipment is included and provided (Gore Tex dry suits, life vest, boots and gloves). Once ready, the kayak begins along the Santa Cruz River and lasts 80 minutes, traveling 15 km until reaching Estancia El Rincon while we can admire the infinity of the Patagonian steppe in this very little explored area. Upon arrival at the estancia, we will be welcome by another of the guides who will offer lunch with a menu that includes grilled provoleta as starter, creole steaks as main course and chocolate mousse as dessert. Drinks are also included. After lunch, we start our returning back to the city in 4x4 vehicles, first driving on a gravel road in the heart of the steppe and then on the mythical route 40 towards El Calafate. Note: the tour offers the possibility that, if any of the passengers does not want to kayak, he can go as a companion in the vehicle. A guide will always accompany this person and he will meet in the estancia for lunch with the rest of the group.

LA LEONA PETRIFIED FOREST

This full day excursion in the steppe zone aims at all people who enjoy outdoor activities and adventure, ready to discover new places. The tour includes approximately 3 hours walking on discontinuous ground where wind and water were responsible for uncovering this place, which remained hidden for millions of years. Departure from El Calafate by Route 40, where we can see Argentino Lake, Santa Cruz and La Leona Rivers, a panoramic view of the majestic Andes mountains and Fitz Roy Mount. We will stop for about 15 minutes in La Leona hotel (historical site) and continue traveling along the southern shore of Viedma Lake to reach Cerro Los Hornos slopes (Estancia Santa Teresita). We will look for the first time the great depression of the land where the petrified logs are situated and will start our trekking exploration of fossils, which lasts about 3 hours, including the time for lunch. Throughout the walk we will see lots of petrified logs lying on the surface, some with a 1.2 meters diameter, testimony that during ancient times the climate was very different from today and allowed the existence of a full forest. There have also been uncovered fossils of different types of dinosaurs. This land is sheltered from the wind because it is a natural depression in the ground. This steppe area, therefore, is very dry and weather conditions are generally very nice. After the walk, we begin the journey back to El Calafate on the same path with another stop at La Leona hotel.

MARPATAG GLACIERS GOURMET EXPERIENCE

The Patagonian ice field is, after Antarctica, the largest concentration of ice on the planet. Its glaciers descend from 1,500 to 200 metres above sea level enabling unique access and viewing of the glaciers. Los Glaciares National Park offers a magnificent combination of forest, lakes, mountains, ice and steppes with over 200 glaciers. The most renowned being Spegazzini, rising 135 meters above sea level, Upsala covering an entire valley with an approximate extension of 765 Km2 and a length of 53km, and Perito Moreno Glacier, constantly advancing and causing the spectacular rupture of the wall of ice, providing one of Nature’s most impressive sights. Glaciares Gourmet is a full day journey to one of the most wonderful places in Southern Patagonia. Sailing aboard exclusive cruises will enjoy the highest standard of comfort and gourmet cuisine, for a truly memorable experience. Morning: Lago Argentino, on a northwest course to Punta Avellaneda and Boca del Diablo. Spegazzini Glacier, landing at Las Vacas Station, in the Spegazzini Canal Bay. Here our guides coordinate a trek with a view of the old Settlers’ Station identifying flora and fauna. Visit the Upsala Canal and navigate to Herminita Peninsula -limit of the navigation zone allowed by National Parks– panoramic view of the Glacier. Lunch during navigation. Afternoon: navigation to Canal de los Tempanos, visit to Perito Moreno glacier. Return to La Soledad private port. MARIA TURQUESA Cruise offers space specially designed for children.

MAYO SPIRIT TREK

The glaciers of Mayo Mount and Negro Mount are located in Mayo Canal in Argentina Lake and Los Glaciares National Park. The only way to reach them is by sailing along the lake. Toro Bay: starting at Argentino or Moreno dock; we sail along the De Los Tempanos Canal and we access Mayo Canal of Argentino Lake. We disembark at Toro Bay. Accompanied by a guide we start a walk through the Andean-Patagonian forest, where we will see cherry and cinnamon trees, lengas and ñires until reaching a 100-year-old sherry tree which has a trunk of more than three meters in diameter. Then, we walk across the forest until reaching a stream fed by a waterfall, which was originated due to landslide and where we will be able to observe a lime rock formation of approximately 180 meters high and 100 meters wide. We stay here until we return to the sailing boat will take us to our next stop or destination. Negro Mount: starting at Toro Bay, we sail along Mayo Canal in Argentino Lake and observe the glaciers of Mayo Mount and the hanging glacier of Negro Mount. After disembarking, and accompanied by a guide, we start 1 km walk towards the Andean-Patagonian forest. We will follow a stream which will lead us to the stone wall from where we can observe the Hanging Glacier and where we will be amazed by the 360º views of the landscape, including Mayo Mount and Blanco Mount. We stay for some time in this place before going back to the sailing boat which will take us to the north face of Perito Moreno Glacier. We will disembark at Moreno floating dock, situated at the foot of the walkway, to enjoy the view from the different walkways, and finally we will return to El Calafate * Daily departures; itinerary may change due to weather conditions.

SAFARI EXPERIENCE

An entire experience that combines a 4x4 expedition, a photographic safari and the possibility of a moment of relaxation in an authentic Patagonian estancia “post”. Leaving from El Calafate, a short route takes us to the entrance to Estancia Huyliche; after passing through its main house, we enter "Estancia 25 de Mayo" natural reserve. The first stop is an old stone post where the first family of the ranch used to live and we will have a brief explanation about these first settlers and the beginnings of El Calafate. We continue the tour in the vehicle until reaching the "section", an authentic ranch located in the immensity of Patagonia, where we will make the second stop, to begin to spot native fauna. We make this third stop front of the exuberant fauna after leaving the vehicle and walking towards the herds of guanacos, with a fantastic interaction with nature. Later, we travel about 4 km in the vehicle until we reach a fossilized oyster deposit -which is 23 million years old-, and we will learn about the paleontology and geology of the place, discovering that the desert where we are was once covered by the sea. Immediately we continue the trail south to the Mirador del Centinela -hill of 1,500 meters above sea level- from where we get a stunning panoramic view of endless basalt walls. Here the fifth stop is made, where the moment of relaxation arrives to feel the wind and the Patagonian immensity. Finally, we return to the "section" where lunch or dinner is served in an authentic ranch post, before returning to El Calafate. The house has a spacious living room with a beautiful view of the 25 de Mayo hill.

SOUTH GLACIER PIONEERS

Departure from El Calafate: we travel 50 km by the route through the farms (estancias) up to the Roca Lake at the southern end of Los Glaciares National Park. We leave back the arid steppe landscape to enter on the zone of the forest transition. At the end of the road we find the pioneer Nibepo Aike estancia/ farm belonging to the Jansma family. There after a hike through the head of the estancia/ farm, we attend to the lectures and demonstrations of shearing and equestrian, once finalized them, we enter to the comfortable barbecue area of the estancia/ farm in order to taste a typical Patagonian lunch which includes: a salad bar and vegetables along with the delicious lamb and others Argentinean cut meats to end up with a delicious sweet caramel (dulce de leche) crepes, all harmonized by fine Argentine wines and other beverages. Right after a pleasant lunch, we head up to our port to embark and start navigating to Playa de las Monedas (Coins beach) through the Brazo Rico, from there, we disembark and after a peaceful 20 minute walk into the forest of lengas trees, we get out to a lookout spot where you can appreciate the south side of the Moreno Glacier. We go back to the boat in order to continue sailing off the south side. Before leaving the boat, around 3.30 pm, the crew team "go fishing" an iceberg and we offer a whiskey with a glacier ice. Return: we disembark at the Bajo de las Sombras and by bus, the passengers are directed to the Glacier´s walkways by arriving at 4.00 pm, where they will remain there until 6.30 pm and right after, they will return to El Calafate by the traditional route. It is important to emphasize that the arrival on the walkways, by that time 90% of visitors who left in the morning from Calafate have already returned to the city.

TORRES DEL PAINE: OVERLAND 4X4 + TREKKING

After crossing the Patagonian steppe from North to South, you will arrive at the border post “Cancha Carrera” after a 2,5 hs trip. There, you will start to travel through the beautiful South Chile until you arrive at the “Torres del Paine” National Park (“blue” in Tehuelche language due to the predominant color). The trip from El Calafate to National Park Torres del Paine takes 3,5 hs. Once in the park, we will combine rides in our EXCLUSIVE OVERLAND TRUCK 4X4 and hikes, as there are many roads that go along the park and hundreds of hiking paths from one side to another. By default, the level of difficulty of the activities in our programs is low, having the chance to change it for a higher level is the group asks for it. Onboard of our OVERLAND TRUCKS (4X4), we will go to strategic places from where we´ll start the hikes that will allow us to get to the viewpoints where we will have most beautiful sights of the park. Around noon, we will offer you a picnic at the mountain. In case, the weather doesn´t allow it, we´ll use mountain shelters. In the afternoon, where ever the day finds us. Among the different places and viewpoints, you will be able to see: Sarmiento de Gamboa Lake viewpoint, Saltos del Rio Paine (Lunch & walking down beside the river 30’), Cerro Almirante Nieto. Cuernos del Paine – superior viewpoint; Laguna Amarga Las Torres Viewpoint; Salto Grande viewpoint (Big Fall); Viewpoint Nordenskjold Lake de los Cuernos del Paine (Trek by 1.5 hours to Pehoe & Nordenskjold Lake.) Important: the places and viewpoints that will finally be included depend on the weather conditions, the physical condition of the group, available time, the development of the excursion is left to the discretion of the guide tour.