Table of Contents
This year I combined my business trip to Argentina with a visit to Patagonia. I visited El Calafate and El Chaltén which were my base to explore the Los Glaciares National Park (Glacier National Park). In El Calafate, I visited the Perito Moreno Glacier the first day and the second day I did a luxury gastronomy cruise over the Patagonian glacier lakes with Cruceros MarPatag. I had an amazing five-star lunch just in front of the glaciers which experience I will share with you. I’m sure you will want to go too! Later I will cover my hike on top of the Perito Moreno Glacier.
El Calafate is located almost 3000 kilometers from Buenos Aires which also shows the size of Argentina. The easiest way is to fly to El Calafate International Airport from Buenos Aires. I recommend hiring a car there because from El Calafate to the places of interest it’s still over an hour by car. I also needed a car to go to El Chaltén the other day.
El Calafate is a small town and I recommend to stay at the boutique hotel La Cantera; make sure to read my review of La Cantera Calafate. El Calafate has one main street where most of the action takes place. You will find there also the office of MarPatag. When I passed by it caught my eye as it looked luxurious and I was right. I booked for the next day the gastronomy tour which is a full day cruise including a five-star lunch in front of a glacier. First, let me introduce you to Los Glaciares National Park.
Los Glaciares National Park
Los Glaciares National Park is a huge park in Argentina and consists of the third largest ice cap in the world. The park has more than 200 glaciers from which the Perito Moreno, Uppsala and Spegazzini Glacier are the most famous. The park is covered for a third by ice and is bordered by two large lakes in the south and north: Lake Argentina and Lake Viedma. The park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1981 because of its unique nature and wildlife.
With a rather arid weather pattern the remainder of the park consists mainly of steppe. You won’t see that many trees but if you are on the cruise you will notice several hills covered with trees. The reason for this is that these hills receive much more rainfall than the other parts. There are two places from which you can explore the park: El Calafate and El Chaltén. At El Chaltén there are beautiful hiking trails which I will share with you later and in El Calafate you can do the cruise with Cruceros MarPatag and hike the Perito Moreno glacier. Let me show you why you must do the luxury gastronomy cruise by Cruceros MarPatag.
Luxury Gastronomy Cruise by MarPatag
The cruise starts at the private docks of MarPatag called La Soledad as you can see in the photos above. They offer a shuttle from El Calafate but I opted to use my own car to be a bit more flexible plus the fact that driving myself would be quicker. I also wanted to make photos on the way back. I drove from La Cantera Boutique Hotel to the docks in just over an hour but arrived quite early. To my surprise they would take the big boat to cruise today which also has rooms for their overnight cruises. The groups MarPatag takes are always small but as I visited in low season it was extremely small; just about 14 people.
The cruise starts by sailing north over Lago Argentina towards Punta Avellaneda. From there the trip continues through the narrow devils’ mouth: Boca la Diablo. It takes about two hours before the boat arrives to the Uppsala Glacier. The views during the trip are amazing; every second I was looking outside and making photos (see gallery below). Uppsala Glacier is a huge glacier but is rapidly retreating during recent years. Today it covers almost 800 square kilometers and is over 50 kilometers long.
While you get closer to the Uppsala Glacier you will notice more and more icebergs in the waters. I visited just after winter and there were quite some big ones in the waters which the captain maneuvered professionally. No Titanic disaster 🙂 At the Uppsala Glacier the ship made a full stop to admire the beauty and to make photos. The fact that the ship stopped was perfect for me to make panoramic photos. These are photos consisting of dozens of other photos increasing the resolution up to 500MP or more. Steady shots are very important for this as you can see in the following photo which original is over 300 mega pixels. See also my guide to basic photo editing; which covers some basics about my editing techniques.
After a short stop at the Uppsala Glacier the captain set sail towards the Spegazzini glacier. While sailing the Spegazzini canal lunch was served. Four delicious courses of which the first three were served while sailing. At the time the boat arrived to the Spegazzini glacier it was time for dessert but first more photos. The Spegazzini glacier is very impressive as it has walls rising almost 150 meters from the water. I saw several blocks of ice falling in the water but of course always too late to get it on a photo. After dozens of photos I went back inside to have dessert. In the following picture you can see the dishes I had and the view while enjoying them!
After lunch it was time to sail home to El Calafate but first a short stop in a bay at a small house on the shores of Lake Argentina. In this small house a Finnish immigrant lived for many years. He had a lot of cattle from which the descendants still live there today. You will see wild cows and horses. At the time the national park became a UNESCO World Heritage Site his house became heritage with it as he had to move to El Calafate where he still lives today. It’s nice to stretch the legs and see the trees getting new leaves in spring. The house is well-preserved and after the group explored for an hour we continued our way.
It took just under two hours to sail back to the harbor. A great day came to an end. If you visit El Calafate I highly recommend doing a cruise with MarPatag as they are the best. It’s luxury in every way: small groups, five-star lunch and great service. Of course, the tour ended with a glass of bubbles. In the Glacier National Park there is much more to do and later I will share with you what you can do more in Patagonia. For now, you can read my stories on Buenos Aires, Mendoza, Cordoba and the tropical Iguazu Waterfalls.
Stay tuned for more stories and subscribe to the newsletter or follow CTB on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram including Instagram stories; on all social media you can find CTB @christravelblog) to get updated information.
COVID-19 (Corona virus) update for Patagonia: Make sure to check IATA list of affected entry and transit restrictions for this country. Also check with your airline for options to re-book or re-route. The Corona virus will go away eventually for sure. Make sure before travelling if Patagonia is a COVID-19 (Coronavirus) area and if restrictions apply before travelling.
Did you visit Patagonia too or do you have questions? Please leave a comment at the bottom of the page. Love to hear from you!
Gallery Patagonian glacier lakes
Click an image for a full screen gallery of more photos taken during this trip. If you like to use any photo for commercial, private or editorial use please contact first for permission and/or pricing.