Hi, I'm currently living in Buenos Aires and potentially have the oppurtunity to take a 7-10 day trip to Patagonia in November. I've never been further south than Bariloche before and am looking for some ideas for an itinerary. Have seen return flights to El Calafate which seems like the obvious starting point for around £160 which seems OK. I want to see the glacier of course and walk on it if possible. Would also like to do some multiday trekking, have heard great things about the W trek over in Chile but looks like this would take 5-6 days by itself and not sure how easy it is to get to from Argentina. Anyone got any other good suggestions of good treks around that area. Anyone been to El Chalten? Any help would be much apreciated. Cheers, Ed
I would recommend the flight from BA to El Calafate, the bus ride there is a super long one, and with your timeline it may eat into your short trip greatly. El calafate is ok, super touristy town, a thousand shops to sell trinkets to tourists. And no shortage of pizza places to eat at ! haha. But the glacier trip from there is incredible , sooo worth it. one of my favorite things i did in SA. You can book your glacier experience in el calafate, trekking on it, or just a day trip visit, its all for the taking. Besides that glacier i was not a fan of that town. We hopped the bus to El chalten after the glacier. Chalten is a much nicer spot. Its actually Argentina answer to torre del paines. they are trying to market that place for hiking and all that, It seems they are marketing it more towards the upper class right now, lots of high end food places, and expensive hotels. but you can still find deals. AND the hiking is free, you can still camp for free on the trails (unlike torre del paines). Its a really small town, on the verge of becoming a major boom town in the years to come. Well worth the 4 hour bus ride from El calafate.
After El chalten you have to take the bus back to El calafate to catch the bus to puerto natales (maybe 10hour ride?) Natales is the hub for getting into torre del paines. Rent your gear, or beds at refugios from this town. The W is great, so awesome. But you can do shorter versions if time is a problem. In NAtales you can make any trip you want, they will bus you in, have a bed, lunch ready for you, ride a horse, stay one night, then hike out, many options. The W will take yo at least 4 days. But weather is always an issue so be prepared to add a day to that.
We are thinking of travelling next year and will include South America into our itinerary.
We are from Wales, in the UK, and our country has links with Patagonia and hope to visit the region. We had planned on flying from Buenos Aires to Trelaw, but after reading your post and doing some research, El Calafate looking incredible!
Thanks for that, having looked more at Torres del Paine, I would really like to fit that in if i could, especially the W trek. i best buy book and get doing some more research. Thanks again, Ed
In 6 months travelling SA the W trek was potentially my favourite. I went from Bariloche over the Andes to Puerto Varas. Both of these places are beautiful so worth a stop over. Outdoor activities are a plenty, food and drink is fantastic and there is a plethora of great places to stay.
Anyway, from PV we went to Puerto Montt where we took the Navimag ferry (3.5 days) all the way down the coast to Puerto Natales. The ferry was awesome (we also had cracking weather - mid Jan). Learned loads on the way and we met heaps of great like minded people as you are only on that ferry if you are going to the Torres del Paine really.
From PN you can organise everything you need for the W trek.
I'd echo the 4 days for the W trek. I actually pretty much ended up walking the whole thing twice, once in each direction. So beautiful, so many memories. You MUST go there once in your life. The colour is stunning.
Please beware the strength of the sun though. Factor 30-40 really is necessary despite the fact you may be cold now and again.
I blogged my times under Sailing South and The W Trek if you are interested in any details. It's almost 2 years ago now but the memories will live with me forever. I can't wait to go back one day.
tricky - the ferry sounds wonderful. what kind of ferry is it? is there plenty to do during the 3 days?
The navimag is a fairly big ferry. I was in C Class which was absolutely fine. 4 bds (2 bunks) per small dorm but they were some of the best nights sleep I had in all my travelling.
There are some talks during the trip about various elements of Patagonia, be it wildlife, the people, the area etc etc. 3 meals a day (decent food) are provided within the cost.
It's a nice time to relax esp if the weather is nice. I spent most of the time just watching the coastline really. Lots of it reminded me of bonny Scotland but on a grander scale. Of course you go through the fjords etc and are only really out at sea on one night of the three.
It was on the Navimag that I saw my first glacier. Ultra impressive. You stop at port Eden (I think) and have a chance to get off. It's a small place with circa 200 inhabitants.
Great chance to meet travellers going to the TdP for trekking and swap notes etc. Very social bar on board but you can take your own booze on. It's a bit more expensive on board than on shore obviously so if you are budgeting take your own.
Think it would be advisable to book the trip in advance. If I remember right it sails on a Monday from PM down south to PN.