Exploring the Patagonia region of Argentina
Patagonia.....Famous for Malbec, melt in your mouth steaks and of course the most incredible glacial region outside of Antarctica.
Most people find themselves staying in the town of El Calafate, a rather touristy town on the edge of Lake Lago. The town is full of hiking and tourist shops as well as bars and restaurants - would suggest a visit to Buenos Cruces Restaurante for amazing Patagonian lamb. As a warning, this town is far from traditional and is extremely expensive as once you are there you are trapped and have no choice but to spend the money!
One place to visit if you have a spare hour or two is the Laguna Nimez reserve, an excellent bird sanctuary down towards the lake.
Photography tip: The landscape here is fantastic and presents one of the best opportunities for a panoramic shot. Try it out!
Perito Moreno Glacier
A day trip out to the Perito Moreno glacier is an absolute must see and there are plenty of tour companies who can take you there although we chose to use Amayco Turismo y Expediciones. They drive you out to the glacier and even play the very dramatic Star Wars theme tune as you get your first glance of the glacier.
The National Park area around the Glacier has all the facilities. you could need and the paths have been replaced with boardwalks and steps and slopes and so the area us easily accessible by any one. There are a number of routes you can take around the park which lead to different terraces providing you with a different viewpoint of the glacier so you can have a view from below and above.
I would suggest bringing a packed lunch with you and spending half an hour on the terrace in front of the glacier enjoying the view.
Another glacier worth visiting is the Upsala glacier although this one can only be reached by boat. You will take a ferry from the port out to the glacier via the iceberg lakes. There are some beautiful icebergs on the lake and you can clearly see how much the ice is constantly breaking off the glacier due to the blue colour of the bergs which indicates fresh snow and ice.
The glacier itself is melting at an outstanding rate and pieces of snow and ice are constantly falling from the front glacier. Given the number of trips per day, the boat captains are able to predict exactly when the ice will fall from the main glacier and so stop the boat in front of the glacier for around half an hour to allow you to take photographs or videos of the ice as it falls. Although amazing to witness it is also a sad reminder of climate change and the impact this is having on the glacial regions.
We were lucky enough to get invited into the captain's room as we had spent some time chatting to our tour guide. We were the only people allowed in and so got a perfect view of the glacial collapse in the warmth of the room without fighting other tourists to the front. As such, make sure to make friends with your guide in the hope you get to experience this too!
Photography tip: As the boat leaves the Upsala Glacier, head to the back to get a great view of the Glacier.
A lot of people miss this little gem but if you have the time it is well worth visiting the ice bar and museum. First, make sure not to miss the 'weather stone' just outside the glaciarium which will give you a little chuckle.
You do not need to visit the museum but definitely ensure you spend time in the ice bar which is exactly as the name suggests - a bar made completely of ice. First, you get dressed in a cape with a hood which helps protect you from the elements and then are allowed into the bar for 30 minutes. During this time you can sit and have a drink in the bar on the seats made of ice whilst clutching a glass made of ice (don't worry they give you gloves). You are able a variety of drinks including cocktails and can drink as much as you want or can during your time slot so make sure you make the most of it! This is well worth a visit and there is a free shuttle from El Calafate centre to make life easier for you.