One of the highlights to see in El Calafate are the glaciers. The excursion to Upsala and Spegazzini glaciers is one of the visits not to be missed.
Although the Perito Moreno is the most recognized of all the glaciers in southern Argentina, we must not forget that it is within Los Glaciares National Park and that, therefore, there are other glaciers to visit in El Calafate.
One of the most demanded excursions by those who visit the Argentine Patagonia is the lake excursion to visit the Upsala and Spegazzini glaciers , among others, that unfortunately are in constant retreat but that even today it is possible to enjoy its magnitude
Who makes the excursion to the Upsala and Spegazzini glaciers?
There are many agencies that sell this excursion to Upsala and Spegazzini glaciers, among others. They can be booked in the city of El Calafate as well as booking online. Normally, the tour is the same and includes a Spanish/English guide.
Depending on the agency you hire, it may or may not include the transfer from the hotel in El Calafate to Puerto Bandera or Puerto Soledad, entrance fee to Los Glaciares National Park, drinks in the catamaran and a gourmet lunch.
Check here the Glaciers National Park tour to visit Upsala, Spegazzini and other glaciers. Included: Pick up and drop off at hotel (optional), English speaking guide, boat tour of the glaciers of Argentino Lake. Not included: Food and entrance to Los Glaciares National Park.
How is the excursion to the Upsala and Spegazzini glaciers?
Itinerary of the excursion
The excursion to the Upsala and Spegazzini Glacier starts from Puerto Bandera or Puerto Deseado (they are very close to each other) , about 48 km from El Calafate, and slowly sails among the icebergs of the northern arm of Lake Argentino, stopping to take pictures. Afterwards, it reaches the Upsala glacier, where the boat approaches to observe the imposing ice field.
Then, the catamaran continues sailing along the Spegazzini Channel, passing by the small glaciers Seco, Peineta and Heim, until reaching the imposing Spegazzini Glacier, whose ice walls are more than 100 meters above lake level.
Some excursions include on the way back to the starting port, a stop at Puesto de Las Vacas, a bay where a guided walk takes place to view the Spegazzini glacier from another point.
Check here the Glacier cruise tour that includes lunch on board. Included: Pick up and drop off at hotel (optional), English speaking guide, transport by bus, boat tour of the glaciers of Argentino Lake and lunch on board. Not included: Entrance to Los Glaciares National Park.
Duration of the excursion
The excursion to the Upsala and Spegazzini glaciers lasts practically the whole day, starting from the hotel at around 7 or 8 am and returning around 4 pm.
Recommendations for the excursion
Do not forget warm and waterproof clothing, sunscreen and sunglasses due to the reflection generated by the ice masses.
Although the catamaran has a bar where you can buy drinks and some food, you can bring your own food to lower the cost of the excursion if it is not included in the tour.
Frequency of the excursion
From September to April the excursion takes place every day. From May to August, it is necessary to consult with the agencies, since there are not excursions every day.
Admission fee to visit the Glaciers National Park
- Foreigners (adults): AR$ 800 (US$ 15)
- Argentines (adults): AR$ 410
- Children from 6 to 12 years: AR$ 200 (US$ 4)
- Residents in the Province of Santa Cruz: AR$ 80
- Tertiary or university students from Argentina: AR$ 80
- Residents in El Calafate, Argentine retirees and pensioners, children from 0 to 5 years old and disabled: free of charge.
Due to high inflation in the country, prices may increase. To see the updated prices, go to the official National Parks webpage.
Other options to see the Upsala Glacier
The Upsala Glacier can be done in conjunction with a visit to Estancia Cristina, an inhospitable place that can only be reached by boat. Once there, depending on the excursion contracted, you can have lunch at the estancia, make a 4×4 ride through the area to the viewpoints of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field and even a trekking of several km.
Check here the tour to Estancia Cristina and Upsala Glacier. Included: Hotel pick up and drop off (optional), English speaking guide, 3 hour boat ride around Glacier Upsala and jeep ride (optional). Not included: food, drinks and National Park entrance fees.