Best things to do with Kids in Puerto Madryn, Patagonia

Best things to do with Kids in Puerto Madryn, Patagonia

Puerto Madryn is a major wildlife destination in Argentina. A mid-sized town, located on the east coast, in the province of Chubut – in the heart of Patagonia – this is one of the best places to visit in the country with kids.

At any time of the year you can find a lot of family-friendly attractions and activities. Besides seeing animals such as seals, penguins and southern right whales, you can practice outdoor sports such as kayaking, snorkeling or mountain biking. Here below you will find our favorite activities to do in Puerto Madryn:

Take an exceptional Whale Watching Tour – Once-in-a-lifetime experience!

*Whales are present from June to early December only.

The waters around Puerto Madryn, and in particular around Peninsula Valdes, are one of the best places in South America to witness this spectacular species up close. From May to December southern right whales ply the coast off of Patagonia, on their annual migration to breed and calve.

It’s entirely possible to see the whales from the beach, with hundreds of them coming into the bays. But for a real fascinating opportunity, head out on a whale watching tour, which is by far the most popular of all the things to do in Puerto Madryn.

Floating out at sea the southern right whales often breach and play right next to the boat, offering a sensational chance to see these 50-tonne creatures like never before.

Southern right whales are present from June to December only. You can expect pretty much guaranteed sightings during August, September and October.

Orcas are present along the coast all year round. However, they are most commonly seen beaching in March and April, when the sea lion pups are just beginning to explore their surroundings and are at their most vulnerable.

Go Walking With Penguins in their natural habitat – A must visit!

This could just be one of the cutest things to do in Puerto Madryn. Actually, this could just be one of the cutest things to do ever!

The area around Puerto Madryn is home to huge colonies of Magellanic penguins, with the largest being in Punta Tombo*, and another popular spot being at Punta Norte in Peninsula Valdes. In these two places you can walk amongst hundreds of Magellanic penguins, following a marked path down to the beaches. The penguins wander freely, so you need to be careful not to step on any of their nests or get in their way. Just be sure not to touch them, or harass them in any way.

*Between September and April, a large number of Magellanic penguins come to Punta Tombo to incubate their eggs and prepare their offspring for migration - the largest such colony in South America. Couples stand in front of their nests, protecting the eggs from birds and other predators, and occasionally one adult goes to the sea for food. What makes this such a unique experience is that you can get incredibly close to the penguins. They aren’t shy at all, so you can get right up to them for photos.

Other wildlife encountered in the area includes sea birds (mainly seagulls, chimangos and cormorants), rheas and guanacos.

We organize day tours to Punta Tombo and Punta Norte from Trelew and Puerto Madryn. Our engaging and knowledgeable guides will lead an unforgettable tour and share very interesting facts and information about wildlife in this region of Patagonia.

Snorkeling With Sea Lions

Just a short boat ride away from downtown Puerto Madryn is Punta Loma, which is home to a stable population of 600 sea lions. Unlike other places in the world, these sea lions are always present in Punta Loma as they are protected from threats such orcas (which also patrol the waters near Puerto Madryn). This means that visiting the sea lions is possible 365 days a year. It’s one of the popular Puerto Madryn attractions among animal lovers.

For 45 minutes you can snorkel around while the sea lions dive and jump around you . Being this close to them in their natural environment is truly incredible.

There’s also no need to be scared, because while the sea lions can be a bit aggressive on land, they are perfectly placid and curious in the ocean. They will come right up to your cameras, dance around you and even brush up against your bodies.

Snorkeling with sea lions in Puerto Madryn is something you’ll never forget. It’s also possible to go diving with them, but check what visibility and sea conditions are like before booking this.

Nature on two wheels – A guided Mountain bike tour in Patagonia

This bike tour is a combination of adventure, physical activity and contact with nature. Going along paths in the Patagonian steppe and ride along the ocean front it is an amazing experience at any age. Together with your local guide, you will ride unconventional roads, go up and down gullies, interpret intertidal areas, follow country footprints, interpret local flora, reach a panoramic view in “Avanzado Mountain”, ride along gullies, watch and interpret marine fossils, have a snack and visit the Provincial Reserve Punta Loma (where you will stop to watch sea lions on the beach).

Sea Kayaking & Canoeing with Sea Lions

Kayaking with sea lions in Puerto Piramides will be one of the highlights for you during your trip to Patagonia. There are half day and full day tours. Groups are kept small to offer personalized attention, safety and minimize the impact on the environment. Specialized guides run each trip, enabling one to fully take advantage of the tour.

Visit Puerto Piramides

Chill out by the gorgeous beach, relax in the retro cafes or simply use it as a base for all your marine life excursions – The famous Punta Norte located only one hour away. The best thing about Puerto Piramides is the southern right whales that come into the bay, meaning you can launch off on any number of boat tours, or even spot them from your balcony! If you have time on your way out there, stop by the museum on the road to Puerto Madryn to see a fossil of a southern right whale, and the skull of an orca. It’s definitely one of the things to see in Puerto Madryn.

Enjoy The Beach

Puerto Madryn has a long, sprawling beach and a very pleasant place to hang out. In the afternoons you can find crowds of people playing football on the sand, families relaxing and everyone more or less just enjoying the sunshine.

When the wind is up (which is often) you can even go windsurfing or kitesurfing. Rentals are available at a number of places. If you’re looking for the best free things to do in Puerto Madryn, this is right up there!

Walk along the Coastal Walk in Puerto Madryn

Puerto Madryn Coastal Walk is a 5.5 mile trail which offers scenic views and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options.

Do a Dolphin Watching Tour

While you’re falling in love with all the marine life around Puerto Madryn, make sure you head out to see the local Commerson’s dolphin population near Puerto Rawson.

These beautiful dolphins have distinct black and white colorings, which has also earned them the nickname, ‘panda dolphins’. They can only be found in this part of the world, and an 1984 survey estimated there were about 3400 of them.

Going out on a whale watching tour in Puerto Rawson allows you to see these small, extremely agile mammals playing around in the boat’s wake. These tours usually last for around an hour, and the guide onboard will give heaps of information about these rare dolphins.

Visit a charming Welsh Village in Distant Patagonia

Back in the late 1800s a group of Welsh immigrants moved to Patagonia and setup a small community just south of the largest city in the province, Trelew. Bringing their language and culture with them, they built up the small village of Gaiman to have a population of nearly 6,000 people, and today they still maintain a lot of their distinct values.

Today you can visit Gaiman and marvel at this fascinating little Welsh village. The streets are pleasant and there’s a distinct architecture that is unseen in other parts of the country. It’s one of the best places to visit in Puerto Madryn!

If you’re hungry and up for a real Welsh experience, drop into Ty Gwyn. This vintage tea house serves up an elaborate Welsh tea service with huge platters of cakes, breads, jams and tea for a set price and one portion could easily be enough for two people. It is truly a special experience.

Argentina’s SCUBA Diving Capital

While staying at Puerto Madryn, Mecca of Argentinian SCUBA diving due to the wide range of proposals and quality of service offered, we did not hesitate to dive into the crystal-clear waters and discover a new submarine paradise. There are multiple and varied sites for diving, as well as a large number of operators organizing this activity. It is difficult to describe the feeling of diving in low temperature waters.

Everything is slower and brighter; the algae are greener and everything is translated into so much peace and harmony that it is hard to leave this place.

Have a Dino Family Adventure in Trelew

Patagonia is home to some of the most remarkable dinosaur fossils discovered, and the best place to see them all is at the Museum of Paleontology Egidio Feruglio.

The MEF concentrates the most important fossil findings in Patagonia. This museum is a great place to introduce kids to Patagonia's giants. Recently the largest dinosaur ever discovered was found just outside of Trelew, and depending on the timing of your visit you can see the exhibition here in the museum. (The new dinosaur is a type of sauropod similar to Argentinosaurus also found in Patagonia in the neighboring province of Neuquen). Also, Kids can look into a real lab used for analyzing fossils, to get an idea of the technical side of work done by paleontologists.

Last but not least…

We highly recommend 4 days-3 nights in Puerto Madryn to cover all the highlights and once-in-a-lifetime experiences in this region of Patagonia. There are daily direct flights from Buenos Aires city to Trelew. The flight duration is 2 hours. Do you want to travel to Patagonia? We’re regional IDEAS experts and pride ourselves in designing tailor-made trips that are a perfect fit for our travelers. If you’re interested in planning an adventure combining several regions in Argentina or Chile, don’t hesitate to reach out to our Trip Specialists for a free consultation. We are glad to help you with your lifetime trip to Patagonia.

What to do in Calafate and El Chalten

Adventure Trips

What to do in Calafate and El Chalten

El Calafate is one of the three main cities in the province of Santa Cruz due to its population, behind Río Gallegos and Caleta Olivia. Located on the southern shore of Lake Argentino, it was officially founded in 1927, in order to populate the region. Staying in El Calafate is a good idea if you want to visit the Perito Moreno Glacier and “Los Glaciares National Park”.

Perito Moreno Glacier

Those who travel to El Calafate generally want to visit the Perito Moreno galcier, located about 80 kilometers from El Calafate town, is the most famous of all glaciers.

On the brand-new catwalks - everyone builds their own route. In addition to the walk itself, I suggest including the navigation through the southern arm of the Canal de los Témpanos -one hour of duration- to have different views of the Perito Moreno northern wall.

One activity that we highly recommend is the Mini-Trekking on the Perito Moreno Glacier. It covers all the highlights and you will spend enough time walking on the glacier and won’t get exhausted (as long as you have no disabilities, you will be fine).Bear in mind that this tour is very popular and there is a limit of people who can do this activity per day so it is key to get your tickets way in advance. Don’t wait to be in El Calafate to book your places.

More Ice

You can also signed up for an excursion called “Todo Glaciares” (All Glaciers). Departing by catamaran from Punta Bandera - almost 50 kilometers from El Calafate - you navigate between icebergs and the Upsala, Hein, Peineta, Seco and Spegazzini glaciers. The new Spegazzini base is ideal for walking and taking photos. On board the boat, there is a cafeteria, photographers service and everything you need to have a spectacular time. It is a tour that we highly recommend doing.

Something different is the 4x4 tour that borders the shore of Lake Argentino until you reach the viewpoint of the Punta Bonita Cliff, which offers unforgettable views at sunset. The tour continues to the Walichu Caves within the property of a Patagonian ranch. There, there are cave paintings and a delicious dinner is eaten inside a heated cave.

A comforting walk within the city is the Laguna Nimez Reserve a few meters from Lake Argentino. The reserve is an important refuge for birds, some of them migratory. Flamingos, black-necked swans, geese and bandurrias stand out. The walk can be done in an hour and something and then indulge in something delicious in one of the restaurants on the waterfront. The entrance is very cheap and you can rent glasses for bird watching.

There are many things to do in the city, such as visiting the Glaciarium Interpretation Center. It provides an enriching experience with exhibits, interactive screens and modern technology. The Glaciarium’s goal is to raise environmental awareness and to grow understanding of glaciers of Patagonia. The facilities include a café, an ice bar and an Ecoshop, which sells a wide choice of objects made from discarded materials, recycled and with low environmental impact.

The food in El Calafate is really good too. If you eat meat, you can’t miss “La Tablita” and “Casimiro Bigua” for their Patagonic Lamb and other delicious local meals. Vegan and tacc-free offer is really wide in El Calafate too. And if you dare to leave the usual circuit, Rancho Apart is a closed-door restaurant that encourages sharing with others a communal table and delicious home cooking.

How many days should you stay in El Calafate? If you want to cover all higlights you need at least 4 full days.

Mountains Vacations

What to do in El Chalten

El Chaltén, the national capital of trekking is the base to explore. The Mount Fitz Roy, the Tehuelches called it Chaltén, a mountain that smokes from the clouds that crowd at the top.

It is in a privileged place on the edge of the northern area of Los Glaciares National Park and has become a tourist mountain village, adored by visitors from different parts of the world interested in hiking the Fitz Roy, Cerro Torre and the many needles of granite.

El Chaltén was founded in 1985 in order to promote population settlement in the mountain range of the province, with sectors in dispute with Chile. The first settlers were public employees. It is 220 kilometers from El Calafate and the journey to the town is rich in landscapes.

There are daily long-distance buses that depart from El Calafate Bus station to El Chalten. It usually takes 3.5 to 4 hour-drive with bus. You can hire a private driver or rent a car to do it on your own though we recommend you don’t drive if you don’t know the route. It is much better to have a local driver who knows what to do in case you have a flat tire or if you need help. There are no services along the road and you will not have internet nor phone signal along the way.

Is there WiFi in Patagonia?

There is almost complete coverage in large towns and cities across Patagonia, but when travelling between cities, cruising in the fjords or hiking in national parks there is little to no signal, and cell phones are not recommended as a reliable form of communication.

There are many treks you can do from El Chalten. You can find our tips and recommendations in this article.

This summer the photo of “Laguna de los Tres” has gone viral on social media, due to its spectacular views. The reviews say that it is a medium / high demand hike, although, honestly, it is difficult to say what is low or high demand for each one.

The only premise –something difficult to comply with when social media tips work almost like a mandate– is that there is no obligation to do anything. The fact that a photo is reproduced on Instagram in a certain place does not imply that one has an obligation to visit it or that they feel bad if they do not. Not all people have the same physical condition, nor the same desires.

Some things to keep in mind if you go trekking:

On difficult trails, clothing can be severely damaged; My jacket testifies to the intervention of the Calafate skewers, as does my scarf, which was curled up in a bush. Clothing as well as trekking boots can be rented. I walked in sneakers that also suffered severe damage. You have to bring lunch: a sandwich, apples, bananas, cereal bars and water. These are many hours of intense physical wear and tear. Most hotels prepare them.

There are almost no toilets on the trails and no cell phone signal. Under normal circumstances, you bump into a lot of people, but it all depends on the weather and the circumstances.

Important: the strong season in Chaltén begins in October and ends in April. The days are longer, the activities are operational, and the temperatures are kinder. In winter, there are some isolated activities, but it is suggested to consult a local operator ( like us )

In El Calafate most of the excursions are still operational in low season.

The current requirements at the time to enter the province of Santa Cruz are:

Negative Covid certificate (PCR or antigens)

• Covid insurance

• Certificate of circulation in circulation Santa Cruz

Please check a local operator such as Ideas South America LLC about the requirements to enter Argentina and Patagonia. Since the requirements are very dynamic and they change fast. Let us know if you are happy to receive emails from IDEAS including the latest travel guides, tips and information.

Places to visit in Patagonia

Places to visit in Patagonia

Due to Patagonia’s size and its endless highlights, many people may find it intimidating to plan a trip to this vast region. As a professional local tour guide who travelled Patagonia extensively, I have learned a lot about Patagonia. For this reason, I want to share some useful information that will help you plan a trip of a lifetime.

Tailor-Made Trips

Here are some considerations to bear in mind when planning your trip:

#1 -Patagonia is twice the size of Italy and depending on the time of the year weather fluctuates greatly.

Firstly, Patagonia is a vast region (over 350,000 sq miles) that stretches across two countries: Argentina and Chile. With 9 National Parks, Patagonia is characterized by its diverse landscape and the presence of four well-differentiated seasons. Depending on the city or national park you decide to travel, be aware that the geography, the climate and the attractions will vary.

Never forget to check the average temperatures and the rain season of that particular area you want to visit.

patagonia-fitz-roy travel

#2 – The time of the year you go to Patagonia matters.

The best time to visit Patagonia is in late Spring, Summer ( between October to March) and early autumn (April-June), due to the pleasant temperatures. However, the region’s diverse offerings mean you can find something to enjoy at any time of year.

In order to make the right decision, you need to decide which activities you want to do. If you want to see Penguins, you need to book your trip at the time of the year when penguins arrive along the Patagonian coast. Or if you want to trek on glaciers, then you need to book your trip between October and early March before it gets too cold to do that activity. During Winter, most National Parks in Southern Patagonia close.

Mountains Vacations

#3 - Patagonia presents two regions

The Andean Patagonia

The Extra-Andean Patagonia

The Andean Patagonia stretches along the Andes Mountains and its rich in pristine lakes, glaciers, permanent snow-capped peaks, flora and fauna conservation areas; and the extra-Andean Patagonia spreads over a plateau gently sloping towards the sea, creating a wide underwater platform.

We suggest that you focus on one region and explore it deeply. If you have 15 days available to travel, then you can combine both regions and visit the lake district, the glaciers and the east coast to visit the penguins. Or you may want to combine National Parks by the Andes Mountains, organize some trekking days and end your trip in Punta Arenas in Chile.

IDEAS Travel South America

#4 - Bariloche is the gateway of Patagonia (and a “must” to include in your trip to Patagonia).

One of the best known destinations of Río Negro province is Bariloche (a renowned ski resort located in Northern Patagonia). Winter as well as spring and summer are great times of the year to visit it. The pristine lakes are surrounded by the Andes Mountains and it’s a great place for doing outdoor sports and trying the famous Patagonian food, including trout, Patagonian lamb and other delicious meals typical of this region. Near Bariloche, in the state of Neuquén you can find different attractions: hot springs such as Copahue and Caviahue, ski destinations such as: San Martín de los Andes (Cerro Chapelco), Villa La Angostura (Cerro Bayo), Villa Pehuenia (Batea Mahuida), as well as the peculiarity of a National Park (Los Arrayanes) within another National Park (Nahuel Huapi).

Chubut has a ski center (La Hoya) very close to Esquel, Los Alerces National Park, an old train heated by firewood and with wooden seats (La Trochita) traveling through part of the plateau.

#5 –August through November are the best months for whale watching in Peninsula Valdes.

In the province of Chubut, right by the Atlantic Ocean, you can visit Peninsula Valdes and walk among huge colonies of southern elephant seals and Magellanic penguins. You can snorkel with sea lions or navigate next to Southern right whales. Bird-watching is also a very popular activity since there are over 180 local bird species. The coastline is stunning too. Near Valdes, the Welsh culture can be appreciated in Gaimán ( charming town by the Atlantic coast) and Trevelin town. If you are looking for beach resorts, then you should head towards the thriving city of Las Grutas or San Antonio Oeste known as beach destinations. (Both beach resorts are located facing the Atlantic Ocean).

#6 – Perito Moreno Glacier is the highlight of Santa Cruz Province

Santa Cruz, on the other hand, is the land of stunning glaciers (Perito Moreno, Upsala, Onelli.), lakes (Argentino, Viedma, San Martín, Pueyrredon, Buenos Aires, among others), plateau and Cueva de las Manos (Hand Caves), an Unesco World Heritage. It is an archeological site with stenciled outlines of human hands located over the cave cliffs along the Pinturas river canyon, on the northeast of Santa Cruz province.

#7 – Head to El Chalten for the best treks in Patagonia

The Andean town of El Chaltén is the National Capital of Trekking in Argentina and it is located at the base of Mount Fitz Roy. In this stunning natural scenery you have multiple and varied options for walking, climbing, going on excursions and expeditions.

Most activities are free and do not require previous hiking experience in the mountains, however for the most demanding treks you can hire a guide for peace of mind and to learn more in detail from each place.

You can reach belvederes with breath-taking panoramic views using little time and effort!

patagonia-trekking-perito moreno

#8 - Torres del Paine National Park is the highlight of Chilean Patagonia.

This spectacular Chilean national park offers some of the best trekking in the world. Here, you will spend up to 8 hours a day hiking in the wild, but with some of the world’s most stunning viewpoints, there is no way you’ll get bored. For the W trek some hiking experience is highly recommended. (This is the big difference with the treks to Fitz Roy Mountain where there are many trekking opportunities for people of all ages and no experience is needed).

The best time to visit Chilean Patagonia is November to early March (summertime in the southern hemisphere). Although you'll compete with heavy crowds during this peak season, the weather is ideal for exploring Torres del Paine National Park and Tierra del Fuego. The W Trek in Torres del Paine is undoubtedly one of the best treks in Patagonia. This “W” shaped hiking trail highlights the best of Torres del Paine National Park, including Grey glacier, the French Valley and the Towers’ Base Viewpoint.

Adventure Trips

#9– Ushuaia: A trip to the End of the World

Ushuaia is one of Argentina's top destinations, and for good reason. This beautiful city, perched dramatically between the Martial mountains, the bay and the Beagle Channel, is popular for its absolute beauty, spectacular marine wildlife, and because it is regarded as the southernmost city of the world. You can navigate the Beagle Channel in one day, explore Penguin Colonies or do outdoor sports in the southernmost national park of the world. Also all cruise ships and expeditions to Antarctica depart from Ushuaia’s port.

In this part of the world, you will learn about explorers Magellan, Sir Francis Drake, Captain Fitzroy and Darwin and you can also view whales, dolphins, penguins, condors, and elephant seals.

#10– Ushuaia to Punta Arenas: 4-Day Cruise to explore Fjords

Built in 2010 with a capacity of just 210 people, the Stella Australis cruise ship offers a comfortable, yet adventurous experience for all passengers. There are options for relaxed or more vigorous excursions to suit different activity levels. A professional expedition team leads small groups on nature walks, Zodiac tours and offers onboard lectures that make every moment of this Patagonia small ship cruise a memorable adventure.

Itineraries vary among the 5 and 9 day programs, and include both one-way and round trip options. You can choose to sail round trip from either Ushuaia or Punta Arenas, or you can take a one-way cruise between the two and combine Chilean Patagonia with Tierra del Fuego and other areas in Southern Argentina. Let us know your travel schedule and we will help you find the best option that works with your itinerary.

Whether you choose to visit the lake district or the Penguin Colonies in Chubut, Patagonia will make an indelible mark on your memory.

Bear in mind that If you are thinking of traveling during the high season, you need to start booking your trip with at least 10-8 months in advance.

Things to see and Do in Santa Cruz (Southern Patagonia)

patagonia-trekking-perito moreno

Things to see and Do in Santa Cruz (Southern Patagonia)

Paine and Fitz Roy are the best two hikes in Patagonia. Torres del Paine is located in Chlean Patagonia while Fitz Roy Mountain is found in Argentine Patagonia. Both are spectacular and different. In this article we are going to focus on the self-guided treks that you can start from El Chalten, Argentina. If you are interested about the differences between Fitz Roy Mountain and Torres del Paine, read this article.

Great Treks and Places to visit in Southern Patagonia (Argentina)

patagonia-treking tour

Laguna de los Tres: Cerro Fitz Roy

Santa Cruz province is located in the southern part of Patagonia and it is the second largest state of Argentina but with the smallest population per square kilometer. Most of Santa Cruz is dry grassland or semidesert, with high meseta ( plateau ) interspersed with protected valleys and covered with large sheep estancias. To the west, the Andes at these latitudes are lower than in the center and north of Argentina, but still have year-round snow. An immense ice sheet feeds the numerous glaciers.

patagonia-fitz-roy travel

From the center to the Atlantic coast in the east, plateau of descending height dominate the landscape. The Atlantic coastline is a mixture of beaches and cliffs. In Gran Bajo de San Julián, the Laguna del Carbón is 105 meters below sea level, and is the lowest point in the Western and Southern Hemispheres.

patagonia-fitz-roy-caminata

Tours and Best Treks in Argentine Patagonia

Trek to Fitz Roy Massif

If you visit El Chalten in Patagonia, you should not miss one of the most impressive peaks in the Andes, Monte Fitz Roy ( 3,406 meters/11,175 ft ). In good weather, Fitz Roy can be seen from El Calafate. ( 136 miles, 219 km south from Fitz Roy mountain ).

The trails to the Fitz Roy Massif are the most popular ones among travelers seeking for outdoors activities that wish to go one step beyond a moderate trek. No previous technical requirements are necessary. In Fitz Roy area you can trek from north to south visiting Fitz Roy massif and Cerro Torre (probably two of the most beautiful mountains on Earth) and end your hiking up to Paso del Viento to have a good look to the Patagonian Ice Field. With the extra bonus of one day of glacier hike in the Cerro Torre glacier.

The best starting point for visiting this part of the Parque Nacional Los Glaciares is the village El Chalten, 56 miles west, off RN40, above the western end of Viedma lake. The village of El Chalten nestles in a hidden bowl at the foot of the mountain, with its glacier coming down off the Southern Patagonian Ice Field. The village has expanded rapidly in recent years due to its ever-growing popularity with visiting trekkers and mountain climbers.

patagonia-treking tour

Trek to Laguna Los Tres

The trek to Laguna Los Tres allowed us to have the best available view of Mount Fitz Roy. We followed the Fitz Roy Trail up to Rio Blanco, passing Poicenot, the mountaineering camp. Finally, a short but steep trail will take us to Laguna de Los Tres. The turquoise-blue of the Lagoon is a stunning sight and this is of course magnified by the accompanying view of Fitz Roy’s spires and glaciers. The group returned to El Chalten in the afternoon.

patagonia-barco trip

Pre-Columbian Cave Paintings in Santa Cruz

South of the Perito Moreno town in Santa Cruz province, is the Cueva de las Manos (Cave of the Hands), a national historical monument and World Heritage Site located in a beautiful canyon 56 km ( 35 miles ) off RN 40 from must north of Bajo Caracoles. Pre-Columbian cave paintings are found all over Santa Cruz, but those at Cueva de las Manos are the finest. The walls here are covered by paintings of hands and animals, principally guanacos (relatives of the llama ), which are thought to be anything between 3,000 and 10,000 years old. Numerous lakes straddle the Argentine-Chilean border in the region.

Parque Nacional Perito Moreno ( not to be confused with the town of the same name ) is the next major stop, 72 km ( 45 miles ) to the west of RN40. In the distance is Monte San Lorenzo, the highest peak in stana Cruz at 3,706 meters ( 12,150 ft ). Within the park are lakes Belgrano and Burmeister. Near the latter is the Casa de Piedra, a strange rock formation with ancient paintings.

Upsala Glacier

The second major trip from El Calafate is a visit to the Uspala Glacier, at the far north west end of Lago Argentino. Ships leave every morning from Punta Bandera ( 40 km/25 miles ) west of El Calafate. In early spring, they cannot get near Upsala because of the large field of icebergs, so may visit Spegazzini and Onelli glacier. On the way back, we strongly recommend a stop at Estancia Alice on the road to El Calafate. Asados ( barbecues ) and tea are available here and shearing demonstrations are held in season. You may also see black necked swans and other birds.

It is only a short distance across the Sierra Los Baguales, Argentina, to Parque Nacional Torres del Paine, in Chile. From some spots near El Calafate, the Paine Mountians can be seen.

patagonia-trekking-perito moreno

Enjoy the unique experience of kayaking in the Perito Moreno Glacier.

You can also kayak through Los Glaciares National Park and discover this unique natural environment. It'll take your breath away! This kayaking activity is of medium difficulty so no previous experience is required. What's more, you'll be accompanied by an instructor at all times and all the necessary safety measures will be in place.

Requirements for this activity are the following:

• Children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult in the same kayak.
• To do this activity you must be able to swim.
• You will have to pay the entry fee to the Los Glaciares park. Payment is made in cash in local currency at the ticket offices.

Covid-19 Measures

• All of our providers comply with local legislation and applicable health recommendations regarding protection and safety, to help avoid the spread of Covid-19. Specifically, the provider of this tour will apply the following measures:
• A safe distance of one metre between clients will be maintained whenever possible.
• The use of masks is obligatory. The client must bring their own mask.
• Alcohol gel will be available before, during, and after the service.
• All those running the service (guide, driver etc...) will wear a mask throughout its duration.
• Handing out of printed material such as maps or brochures will be avoided.

Carretera Austral: Explore Chilean Patagonia

argentina-patagonia

Carretera Austral: Explore Chilean Patagonia

How to Explore Chile’s Aysen Region: A land of gigantic mountains, pristine lakes and awe-inspiring glaciers. Winding for 800 miles through the Aysen region, the Carretera Austral showcases some of Chile’s most spectacular scenery. Running between the towns of Puerto Montt and Villa O Higgins, the Carretera takes you through Aysen, a little visited region of Patagonia located between the Lake District and Torres del Paine Park in the south. More than 41,000 sq miles of mountains, fjords and archipelagoes. Remote, diverse, and stunningly beautiful, Aysen is a destination for those seeking the best of Patagonia without the crowds.

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Reasons to visit Carretera Austral in Chile
• The Carretera Austral is a world-famous road, perfect for a road trip or slower bicycle tour; • Get an insight into the gaucho culture and traditional warm hospitality that has dominated here for centuries; • Discover each of the three contrasting landscapes: listen to birds call in the temperate rainforest, hike peaks in the mountains, and gaze at sunset over the steppe; • Spot the wildlife: The untouched nature of the Aysen region means wildlife has flourished. • Close to Coyhaique you can visit a condor nursery, where condors fly within meters of you. • In the Chacabuco Valley, puma numbers are steadily increasing due to an abundance of guanacos, and in the Tamango area of the Patagonia National Park there is a higher density of the endangered huemul deer than almost anywhere in Patagonia.

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Carretera Austral: Plan your Next Road Trip
A number of companies offer nonstop flights from the US to Santiago. There are connections available from Santiago de Chile to Balmaceda, Aysen’s regional airport, with Latam and Jetsmart. You can rent a 4x4 at the airport (essential for tackling Aysen’s roads) or you can hire a local professional driver and/or local guide. It is essential that you bear in mind that cell-phone reception is almost nonexistent along the Carretera Austral. Remember that Carretera Austral is a 1,240-kilometre, mostly unpaved route that winds itself from the Chilean Lakes District deep into the heart of Aysén, Chile’s least populated region. The biggest challenges you face driving is the state of the road; most of the Carretera Austral are unpaved gravel, which can be dangerous to drive on if you take it too fast. Punctures are also a possibility, while flying gravel can chip and even crack windscreens. We strongly recommend that you hire the services of a local professional driver who knows the road and knows what to do in case a problem arises.

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Top Things to See and Do on Carretera Austral

Coyhaique

The regional capital is a 45-minute drive from the airport, and every visitor to Aysen will pass through it. It is worth stopping at the Museo Regional Aysen which tells you all you need to know about the region’s fascinating history and ecology. The best hotels in town are the Nomades Boutique Hotel and El Reloj.

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Queulat National Park

As well as hikes to the Hanging Glacier, there are kayaks for rent on the lagoon, and you can take boat trips to get close to the glacier. Don’t miss the Puyuhaupai Lodge and Spa, a secluded hot-springs resort on the far shore of the Puyuhuapi fjord.

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Cerro Castillo

The rugged landscape around the mountain, an easy 90-minute drive south of Coyhaique, is arguably the most dramatic in the region.

Lake General Carrera

The Carretera Austral follows the shores of the vivid blue Lake General Carretera, so as you drive south, you will have plenty of time to take in the scenery. Millin Colorado Ecolodge has beautiful wooden cabins on a hillside overlooking the lake and its own secluded stretch of shoreline for anyone brave enough to take a dip in the glacier water. The Hacienda res Lagos has rooms on Lago Negro and a private pebble each with a sauna and hot tub. You can book excursions on and around Lake General Carerra with one of several activity companies in Puerto Rio Tranquilo. You can go kayaking to the Marble Caves and hiking.

Tortel

This enchanting village, constructed from wooden boardwalks winding their way around the bay at the mouth of the Baker River, was our southernmost stop along the Carretera Austral. It is a long climb-up moss-covered steps to the Entre Hielos Lodge but it is worth it for tis stylish tranquility.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us and we will answer to asap .

Trek on the Perito Moreno Glacier in Santa Cruz, Argentina

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Trek on the Perito Moreno Glacier in Santa Cruz, Argentina

Mini trekking or Big Ice Trek?

The trek on the Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina’s Patagonia is one of those epic, once in a lifetime experience that you can’t miss. My colleagues and I went on two different treks and in my opinion, it was worth every single penny. Each of them are great options but they involve different amounts of time in the ice and physical conditions. If you have never done a trek on a glacier before, this is the perfect place for splurge while in Argentina. Read the following information in order to understand what each of them implicate.

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Perito Moreno Glacier Hikes

There are two Perito Moreno Glacier hike options: The Big Ice Trek or Minitrekking. Both are full day excursions from El Calafate but involve different amounts of time on the ice.
• The Big Ice Trek is more demanding with nearly seven hours of trekking (3.5 hours of which are spent on the ice) .
• The Minitrekking involves three hours of trekking total, both on and off the ice. The groups are a little larger and it’s more age inclusive.

You get to go on the glacier with both treks but mini trek you are closer to the edge of the glacier, while the big trek you hike over an hour before going on the ice (so you are towards the middle of the glacier).

With the Big Ice there are more running streams and crevices you can explore, deeper blues in the water. You also get to see the deeper end of the glacier that you can’t see from the edge.

The groups are split you into smaller groups and have a pair of guides that are very skilled and helpful. You will feel safe and thoroughly enjoy your time. Three hours on the glacier may sound a lot but it will flow by because it is an unforgettable experience.

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Mini trekking or Big Ice Trek?

Mini Trekking

We highly recommend the trekking on the glacier if you want to truly experience the beauty and vastness of the Perito Moreno glacier.
We took two tours to the glacier- mini-trekking and it really covered all the highlights. You get to spend enough time walking on the glacier to enjoy it, and not get exhausted. Your guide will also take you to a vista where you get to see how enormous the glacier is. Mini-trekking was not very exhausting, so as long as you have no disabilities, you will be fine. Bear in mind the requirements: age between 10 and 65 years and fitness (good coordination and balance)

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Big ICE ....
Big Ice Trek is a very demanding tour that will take a walk of 4 hours on the glacier. The tour begins at the pier "Under the Shadow" from where you cross by boat the Brazo Rico of Lago Argentino. From there you will walk up the side of the glacier where you put the crampons for walking on the glacier. You will enjoy a unique experience watching crevasses, caves, blue lagoons, sinks and other glacial formations.

*Requirement of the tour: age 18 to 45 years and excellent physical conditions.

If you are less than 45 years old and you can handle a multi-hour hike on flat land normally - you'll be fine! By far the hardest part was climbing uphill along the moraine of the glacier for just north of an hour until we finally put the crampons on and started climbing into the heart of the glacier. Once on the glacier, it's easy. Make no mistake, this is not a stroll through the park, or a photo safari.

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Mini-treking-tour

VERY IMPORTANT!
Due to the level of effort and difficulty present in this activity, is not suitable for people with the following conditions:

• Overweight.
• Pregnancy.
• Physical or mental disability that affects attention, march or coordination.
• Peripheral or Central Cardiovascular diseases, use of stent, by-pass, pace-maker or other prosthesis.
• Use of anticoagulants or varicose veins degree III (tick and multiples).
• Respiratory diseases (COPD, asthma, emphysema).

Many clients in their 50s and 60s are very fit and want to do the Big Ice on the Perito Moreno Glacier. But the Big Ice Trek is only authorized up to 45 years old. Even when you are really fit (marathon runners) or if you have done the Machu Picchu Trek or the W Trek in Torres del Paine, there are no exceptions. Your documents will be requested and if you are older than 45 you won’t be able to do the Big Ice Trek regardless your excellent physical condition.

For those of you who can't do big Ice, Mini trekking on the glacier is available for a wider age range and fitness levels and it is a fantastic experience. And if you can't do either - or aren’t interested in either, sitting at the rails and watching the glacier calve would be plenty of entertainment for a day!

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The Mini Trekking or Big ICE tours can be arranged for smaller groups of travelers who may not want to join a group tour, but would like to be led by our expert guides on an amazing and highly stimulating journey.

Book excursion early, there is only one group that goes on big ice per day and only one operating tour group (I think the national parks limits it to help preserve the glacier) and it makes the experience even more special because you feel like you are the only ones on the glacier!

Please do not hesitate to contact us for further information on this excursion. We are glad to clarify and answer to any doubts you may have.

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