Known as the land of glaciers due to its location next to the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, here is an itinerary of what to do in El Calafate in 3 days.
🔎 Check here the guide to travel to El Calafate.
El Calafate is a city different from others because of its geographical position. Situated on the Argentino Lake shore and surrounded by the Andes Mountains, its particularity lies in the large number of glaciers that can be seen in the surroundings, which makes it a must-see place for tourists who are travelling around Argentina.
Los Glaciares National Park is home to all these great masses of ice that seem to hang from the mountain or even descend between them like a waterslide. The highlight is the Perito Moreno glacier, which is connected by road with El Calafate, but you can also reach other glaciers such as the Upsala or Spegazzini by sailing across the lake.
To organize the visit, we have prepared a suggested itinerary on what to see in El Calafate in 3 days, a place where the walls of ice stain the landscape in white.
Table of Contents
Summary – Itinerary for El Calafate in 3 days:
- Day 1: Visit Perito Moreno Glacier.
- Day 2: Hike on the Perito Moreno glacier.
- Day 3: Excursion to the Upsala and Spegazzini glacier.
And if you have more time to explore this part of Argentina, it is worth visiting El Chaltén, the national trekking capital.
🔎 Check here the guide to visit El Chaltén.
Day 1: Visit Perito Moreno Glacier
The itinerary begins with the eye-catching attraction, the Perito Moreno Glacier. Its dimensions are impressive, 60 metres high and 5 kilometres long, making it one of the most important glaciers in the world. As if that were not enough, it is one of the few glaciers that continues to advance despite climate change.
There are several possible, and I would say obligatory, ways of getting to know the Perito Moreno glacier. The first is to walk along the footbridges inside the national park, where you will be able to see the imposing glacier wall up close. If you are very lucky, you will even be able to observe the breaking of the bridge that forms the glacier, an event that happens every few years.
Another way to visit the Perito Moreno Glacier is to take a boat trip on Lake Argentino. The boat approaches the wall of the glacier and you can listen to the roar of the big blocks of ice falling on the water.
You can also walk on the glacier, but as this is a full-day excursion, it is best to do it the next day.
📷 Book here the excursion to Perito Moreno with the option to do the Navigation. Includes: Hotel pick-up and return transfer, professional guide and boat trip (optional). Not included: entrance fees.
🔎 Check here the guide to visit Perito Moreno Glacier.
Day 2: Hike on the Perito Moreno Glacier
The most adrenaline-pumping experience is the walk on the glacier, where you can see small blue lagoons and deep crevasses sliding on the Patagonian ice. Here you can opt for a short one-and-a-half hour walk to the so-called Big Ice, a three-and-a-half hour trek that goes even deeper into the glacier. Needless to say, both tours are impressive and a must-do in El Calafate in 3 days.
Both excursions are done in small groups with a specialised guide. They also provide you with the necessary equipment such as crampons, harnesses and helmets. Due to the physical effort required for the hike, people over 65 years of age, pregnant women and people with heart problems are not allowed.
The Perito Moreno Glacier hike must be done between August and May, as it is not possible to do it during the winter months due to the weather conditions.
📷 Book the Perito Moreno glacier walk here, a unique experience of walking on the ice walls between small blue lagoons.
🔎 Check here our article with all the details to do the Perito Moreno trek.
Day 3: Day trip to Upsala and Spegazzini Glaciers for your 3-day visit to El Calafate
Within Los Glaciares National Park, it’s not all about Perito Moreno. Between the high mountains and the Argentino Lake there are other ice masses such as the Upsala and Spegazzini glaciers, which can be reached on a lake excursion.
The difference with the Perito Moreno glacier, and why it is worth the excursion, is to get a close look at the large ice floes that sail aimlessly over the lake and the magnitude of the Spegazzini glacier, which is 40 metres higher than the Perito Moreno glacier.
In addition, the scenery surrounding the boat at all times is a true marvel. The greenish waters of the lake, the mixture of the white and blue of the ice floes and the high snow-capped mountains in the background. Patagonia in its purest form.
📷 Book here the excursion to Los Glaciares National Park including lunch on board. Included: Pick up and transfer back to the hotel (optional), English-speaking guide, boat transport around the glaciers of Lake Argentino and lunch on board the cruise ship. Not included: Entrance fee to the National Park.
🔎 Check here the guide to visit Upsala and Spegazzini glaciers.
Where to sleep in El Calafate
The city of El Calafate concentrates the offer of accommodation near the Perito Moreno glacier (inside the national park you can only camp). There are many hotels and cabins with a marked Patagonian style to sleep in El Calafate.
🏨 Check here where to sleep in El Calafate and get your ideal accommodation.