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Questions about Patagonia – Confused about where to go and how to get there?

Questions about Patagonia – Confused about where to go and how to get there?

Old Nov 3rd, 2008, 10:53 AM
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Questions about Patagonia – Confused about where to go and how to get there?

We are thinking about taking another trip to Argentina in December (I know – such short planning –not my usual style!) after having such a fabulous experience last year (we spent time in the north) but we are confused about how to get to the glaciers in Patagonia and what the best way to explore this region is? We won’t have a lot of time but we figured we would spend a few days in BA and the rest of the time in Patagonia… I think we would fly to El Calafate (this seems to be right?) but then I am not really sure what to do after this? My friends tell me the most important thing in Patagonia are the guides you have and they recommended Explora – but this seems like a FORTUNE and I can’t imagine there aren’t other good guides down there and other options other than Explora? How many days is realistic to do excursions in Patagonia? Is it true that once you land in El Calafate you need to drive over 5 hours to get to the national park? If somebody could help out in explaining the distances and some of the answers to my questions and the best way to see the glacier and other treks in Patagonia, I would greatly appreciate it! Thanks!
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Old Nov 3rd, 2008, 12:55 PM
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Hi, jodicook!

I'm glad you are planning to return to Argentina!

I have been to Bariloche several times, but no further South than that.

I imagine you should fly down to El Calafate, where the Perito Moreno glacier is located and then, I'm at a loss about what to suggest.

I'm not sure whether or not LAN flies to El Calafate (they DO fly to Bariloche), but check out http://www.lan.com/country_selector.html and you'll soon know.

You could get some ideas in the TA Argentina forum http://tinyurl.com/nw9f4
where there is more volume than here.

Another thing you could do is research Isabel, the local travel agent I usually recommend, by typing her name both in TA and Fodor's search feature.

If you like what you read about her, write to her and ask her for help.

Have a great time in our country.
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Old Nov 3rd, 2008, 04:07 PM
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I haven't been yet, but I am planning a trip for March. Yes, LAN does fly to El Calafate, we have booked our tickets with them. According to everything I have read the drive from El Calafate to the National Park is about 1.5 hours. In addition, there are many tour guides available to do the glacier tours with. Many people wait until they get there to book or ask their hotel to help them book shortly before they arrive.

I have been using Isabel and can recommend her, particularly if you are planning on short notice.
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Old Nov 4th, 2008, 01:53 AM
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Hi jodicook,

it's about a 15mi drive from the airport to "downtown" El Calafate, and another 50mi from there to the Perito Moreno glacier.

There are many tour operators in the area, and which one is best often depends on the actual guide you will get. Generally speaking, given the region's dependence on foreign tourist, the quality of the tours is pretty good. Prices for everything tend to be quite a bit higher than in the rest of the country too.

Aside from Los Glaciares National Park, a trip to either El Chalten (Fitzroy, Cerro Torre), or Torres del Paine NP are well worth it.

I would try to plan 2-3 days for each spot. Weather is a bit of an unknown in this region, so it would be good to have some flexibility.

If you have at least a week, and are up for an adventure, go to Torres del Paine and from either Puerto Natales or Punta Arenas, take a boat trip down to Ushuaia. From there you can either go back to El Calafate by bus or rental car, or schedule the flight so you can return to BA from there.

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Old Nov 4th, 2008, 05:15 AM
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We're also going to this region in March, as of now, LAN only has one flight at 5:30 AM, which we didn't want to do as we are only arriving in BA the day before. That being said, we're taking AA to El Calafate and then going directly to El Chaltan for two days. The to El Calafate for two days with tours. From what I've read about this area, that is plenty of time. We're staying at Los Cerros for a treat in El Chaltan, then in El Calafate for two days, did not want to splurge for the Explorer either, just couldn't justify the expense.
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Old Nov 4th, 2008, 11:57 AM
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Thanks everyone for all the replies - i'm still confused - ack! So, some of you are saying that maybe I should skip BA this time pretty much all-together and spend more time in the south ... a week perhaps between El Calafate and the glaciers and then onto Torro del Paine ... hmmm... that is an option perhaps... but, i guess between El Calafate and El Chetan there would be enough to see and do for a few days and still spend some time in BA as well. I will look up Los Cerros as well as an option. Has anyone heard of or stayed at Hotel Kosten Aike? I have been reading some reviews and sounds like a good option but i would love anyone who has stayed there to give an opinion - thanks!
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Old Nov 6th, 2008, 09:34 AM
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Owlwoman. . .looking at a trip in November of 2010. I'll be picking your brain! Take good notes!
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Old Nov 6th, 2008, 02:13 PM
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Suggest you fly to El Calafate, take a taxi or tour bus to Perito Moreno glacier, see the Upsala glacier boat tour on day 2 and then on day 3 take the bus to Puerto Natales Chile (about 5 hours but a good bus). Torres del Paine is incredible, you can spend days or a week there if you like to hike. Bariloche is also nice in which case you could start in Bariloche, fly to El Calafate and then to Torres Del Paine.
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Old Nov 6th, 2008, 07:54 PM
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We spent a few days in El Calafate a few years ago, and loved the boat trip to Uppsala Glacier, and especially the stop at a place where a short walk through a beautiful forest took us to a tiny lake where three glaciers meet, Lake Onelli, I think. In March, the autumn colours of the bushes and stunted trees are stunning, in the snow too.
We also did a bus trip to Perito Morino. It was great too, but we both thought we could have done it better by hiring a car and doing it ourselves. Bus trips are so limiting.Time at the glacier watching and listening is so well spent, that we were very reluctant to give it up for a boat trip up close to the glacier to view it from the water. From the viewing point on land, one is already very close, but the boat trip is a different experience. We would like to have had more time there. The bus trip there did not take more than a couple of hours, and did not include the entry fee to the National Park, which surprised us,as we thought it was an inclusive tour.

In El Calafate, we also enjoyed just walking around this frontier town at the time, and watching the flamingoes on the local lake.
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Old Nov 7th, 2008, 05:47 AM
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Hi Shillmac,
I always do, AR is to me what Costa Rica is to you...this will be our third trip down there!

Jodi, I also recommend you get to the TDP while in this area, I believe there are buses that run between the two places. We've used a local travel agent to make all our arrangements, I highly recommend you do the same, takes all the confusion out of planning!
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Old Nov 15th, 2008, 05:21 PM
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Owlwoman,
Looking forward to hear all about your next trip to Argentina (the third? fourth? I lost count) – I just started to read everything I can for a Feb 2010 trip, and El Calafate and the glaciers are on the short list. Really interested to know how this compares to Torres del Paine.

Shillmac, you too? On your way to AR? Happy planning, see you around.
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