We spent all of morning at the mechanic’s getting our car serviced. We were recommended this place by the man who sold us our car oil. Out of all the car shops we had been to on this trip this was the nicest one we’d seen. In fact it’s the nicest I’ve ever seen. It’s owned by this cute old couple and they were so nice. We had coffee and talked with the wife and met some of their family. It was very strange for us but it was a really great experience. So if you need a mechanic and you’re around El Calafate go to Cacho’s, they’ll take care of you!
After the mechanic we went to the famous Perito Moreno glacier in Parque Nacional Los Glaciares. It is about 80km from El Calafate; you can go by car or bus (if you don’t have a car). There are many tours that also take you to the park and even go to all of the glaciers by boat but we didn’t do a tour so I don’t have information on that. Our plan was to take the cheaper boat that just went to Perito Moreno and it was AR$120/person. We were told that there were two departures everyday at 11:30AM and 2:30PM. So we left at noon and got to the entrance of the park by about 1PM. You must pay a fee to enter the park and they had a few price levels depending on age and country of residence. Since we were from a MERCOSUR country (Brazil) we paid AR$90 each, but regular price is AR$120/person.
When you enter the park you have to drive around 20km more to get to where the attractions are. About 7km before the attractions there is the port where you can take the boat to the glacier. It was about 1:30PM by the time we got there and they said it was full but there was another boat leaving at 4PM. So really there are 3 departure times, 11:30AM, 2:30PM, and 4PM and despite what everyone said, I would suggest trying to make a reservation for the time you want so your schedule doesn’t get screwed up. So we put our names down for 4PM and went to the main part of the park to look around and kill time before our boat ride.
What happens is that you park at the bottom near the lake and there is a free bus that takes you up to the top of the mountain, it’s about a 10 minute ride. When you get there you are met with the most spectacular views of the glacier, it’s truly incredible. There is a general mirador that is shielded with glass to protect you from the very strong winds but the view of the glacier isn’t so good. There is a maze of walkways going down closer and closer to the glacier and that is what I recommend you do. You definitely can’t get close enough to touch the glacier because close to the water is very dangerous because of rupturing. But the walkways are in different levels so you don’t have to walk down to the last level if you don’t want to. We did because the view was stunning and I wanted to get as close as possible. It takes about 20 minutes to get to the to get to the bottom one (if you don’t stop for pictures). When you get there you won’t want to leave it’s so big and beautiful. We stayed for about an hour and a half admiring the greatness of this ancient glacier and watching the many small ruptures that were occurring which I assume was because it’s “summer” and so incredibly windy!
It was truly an amazing site to see and made me feel like I was on National Geographic. Also, this was definitely the most touristy place we’d be to so far, there were so many people from all over the world. We really didn’t realize how touristic Patagonia is but El Calafate and the surrounding areas were packed with tourists. After we admired the great views, we started to walk back and I noticed there was a “circuito inferior” that took you even closer to the glacier but it was closed for “security reasons” that we couldn’t figure out.
On the way back up to the main visitor center there is a “sendero de bosque” (walkway through the forest) that is very beautiful to walk through and shields you from the wind. By the time we finished our walk we established that the boat was unnecessary and overpriced because you get really close to the glacier on the walkways. So we saved ourselves AR$240 and were happy with our decision (plus if it was cold and very windy on land, imagine on the water).
So we headed back to town to make dinner and pack up for the next day. After dinner we decided we wanted ice cream and we went to Ovejitas Heladaria which also sells artisan chocolates. This ice cream was really good and it looked a lot better than the other places we saw around town. I recommend going there to have some delicious Patagonian ice cream!
- AR$400 = Hostel
- AR$450 = Oil Change @ Cacho’s
- AR$38.67 = ATM Fee
- AR$180 = Park Entry [AR$90/person for MERCOSUR citizens]
- AR$315 = Gas [AR$6.68/L]
- AR$150 = Market
- AR$59 = Shot glass
- AR$36 = Ice Cream
- Total = AR$1630