El Calafate & Southern Patagonia

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The southern reaches of Patagonia are most famously associated with the rugged peaks, blue lakes, forest and ice fields of the Glaciers National Park, accessed from the small town of El Calafate, on the shores of Lake Argentino. The big draw of course is the impressive Perito Moreno Glacier, one of very few advancing glaciers worldwide. It forms a vast ice bridge across the lake at its lower end that periodically collapses dramatically every couple of years into the lake waters below. Admire this natural wonder from a land viewpoint or at closer range, by walking along parts of it with crampons on your feet, if you’re feeling adventurous. Or perhaps if you like a more leisurely pace of travel, board a luxury small cruise vessel to explore the park and glaciers in style.

Southern Patagonia is, of course, all about the great outdoors and breath-taking big vistas. Head beyond El Calafate and you start to get a glimpse of the real rural life of the rugged Patagonian steppe. Explore the valleys beyond the tourist hub to ride with gauchos across the vast plains and see how sheep farming has shaped life in this southern wilderness. Cross the lake and stay at a traditional estancia where you can hike to a glacier viewpoint with no-one else in sight and then enjoy a hearty Patagonian lamb asado barbeque back at the ranch. And if you like nothing better than grabbing a backpack and boots and heading off into the hills, then do make time for a stay in El Chalten to the north. Simple local style lodges form the base for some iconic trekking around Mount Fitz Roy and Viedma Glaciers. You can also travel overland into Chile to Torres del Paine National Park from here.

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