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Car rental question

Level Contributor
21 posts
2 reviews
Car rental question

We are coming to El Calafate in November for 3 days. We plan to go to El Chalten for 1 night. So we are renting a car to give us the most flexibility. Most of the cars listed are manual transmission. Anyone know of a company offering automatic transmission? Also do we need a truck/SUV or is a small car ok? I've read that some of the roads are not paved. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

16 replies to this topic
Munich
Level Contributor
10 357 posts
5 reviews
1. Re: Car rental question

Have I understand you right: you will drive from El Calafate to El Chalten for onlyone night?

In my opinion this is not worth the money. You'll need a full day in El Chalten, also 2 nights.

You don't need a SUV, nor even a 4x4. Any car big enough for your passengers are good.

Asti, Italy
Level Contributor
1 082 posts
125 reviews
2. Re: Car rental question

How told from ReiseBeate better a night in El Calafate and two in El Chalten but we need to know your scheduling. Which time do you arrive with your flight in El Calafate and when do you need to leave ?

In any case the road El Calafate - El Chalten is all paved and you need 3h from the airport to arrive in El Chalten, any cars is good for this trip. (better a bit more of 3h.... you need a few stops for photos !!)

If you arrive from Torres del Paine you need a full day for the trip TdP - EL Chalten is 9h or less if you don't lose too much time at borders. (11h / 12h with the breaks for photos)

Don't miss El Chalten.

California
Level Contributor
3 454 posts
156 reviews
3. Re: Car rental question

Hello. Most of the cars in the El Calafate area are manual transmission. I just did a quick search of cars available at the El Calafate airport from November 11-13 and see one automatic transmission car available through Localiza (we never used them). Select the More tab to the right of the Top Filters tab and then select automatic transmission. You can also contact Dubrovnik Car Rental in El Calafate to see if they have any automatic transmission cars available.

https:/…2017-11-15

http://www.rentacardubrovnik.com/

I agree that you should spend as much time in El Chalten as possible so that you can hike the wonderful trails there (see the link below). If you can’t find an automatic transmission car, you can take an early flight from Buenos Aires to El Calafate and then use Las Lengas for a direct transfer to El Chalten. That afternoon, you can go on a short hike in El Chalten. The following day, you can go on a longer hike and either take the last bus back to El Calafate at about 18:00 or use Las Lengas for a direct transfer from your El Chalten hotel/hostel to your El Calafate hotel/hostel. I’m assuming you want to visit the wonderful Perito Moreno glacier. You can then use your third day to take buses to and from the glacier boardwalks. To go on an ice trek through Hielo y Aventura, you would need a very late flight from El Calafate back to Buenos Aires. I don’t know the exact bus schedule between El Calafate and the glacier in November, but there are usually buses that leave El Calafate at about 08:00 or 09:00 and buses coming back at about 14:30 (for an arrival in El Calafate about 1 ½ hours later). You can check the bus schedule before your trip by using the Plataforma10 bus schedule link below (be sure to enter Glaciar Perito Moreno, not the town of Perito Moreno, which is not near the glacier). These bus schedules are usually available through Plataforma10 about 30-45 days in advance.

www.elchalten.com/eng/actividades/index.php

transportelaslengas.com/en/…

transportelaslengas.com/en/…

hieloyaventura.com/HIELO2015/preguntas-frecu…

https://www.plataforma10.com.ar/pasajes-micro

The road between El Calafate and El Chalten was just fine for our regular compact car. So was the road between El Calafate and the glacier boardwalks. As mentioned above, your itinerary depends upon the exact times of your flights landing in El Calafate and then leaving El Calafate. Good luck.

Edited: 24 August 2017, 20:45
Level Contributor
21 posts
2 reviews
4. Re: Car rental question

Thank you so much for the help. Here are more details. Please tell me if you think we should just stay in El Calafate. We arrive at 11 am at FTE from Buenos Aires on November 26. We then have 3 nights stay. On November 29th we are traveling from El Calafate to the Explora in Torres del Paine park. We have a transfer arranged by Explora that leaves the morning of the 29th. So I was planning to do the following:

26th –arrive at FTE, rent car, drive to El Chalten and enjoy afternoon there. Spend night.

27th—get up very early and do hikes to a good viewpoints of the Fitz Roy and Cerro Tore. Then we would drive back to Calafate (or could spend second night in Clalten).

28th—go to Perito Moreno Glacier and do mini ice trek.

29th-morning leave for TdP

I think we may be trying to do to much by going to El Chalten, but I was also unsure of what else we would do in Calafate other than see the Perito Moreno glacier and minitreking. I like the idea of doing a boat ride to see the other glaciers, maybe?

Would it be good to have our own car for Perito Moreno? I am not hugely concerned about cost. I want to give us the most flexibility to enjoy these 3 precious days. Thank you for any advice.

Asti, Italy
Level Contributor
1 082 posts
125 reviews
5. Re: Car rental question

A few ideas for El Chalten (of course you need a good weather):

Hard solution if you are very fit:

https://www.wikiloc.com/wikiloc/view.do…

On this solution you can cut from km 8.2 until km 16.2 the path until Fitz Roy, you start from El Chalten going to Cerro Torre and after to Fitz Roy, :

https://www.wikiloc.com/wikiloc/view.do…

Easy solution, from Loma del Pliegue Tumbado you can see Cerro Torre and Fitz Roy :

https://www.wikiloc.com/wikiloc/view.do…

Buenos Aires...
Level Contributor
2 999 posts
142 reviews
6. Re: Car rental question

I find your itinerary kind of weird for the only reason you'll be pressured for time. Let's see if you can realise:

- 26th Nov: flight from BUE to FTE and then drive up to El Chaltén where you are going to spend the night. OK. That day you can gather some information at the tourist office set off in the Bus Terminal. Try to choose the most suitable trail for next day.

- 27th Nov: This is the most crucial day. If you claim to do both Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre, I'd recommend spending another night in El Chaltén to complete the two trails. However, if the next day you're eager to pay a visit to Glaciar Perito Moreno plus the minitrekking, there's no choice to spend the night in Calafate because most tours begin really early in the morning. Taking into account that have a rented car, what you can do is to skip the minitrekking and get as much advantage of admiring both the Fitz Roy Mountain and Cerro Torre in El Chaltén, spend the night there and then on 28th Nov you could go at your own pace towards Los Glaciares National Park. Distances are really long in Patagonia, yet it doesn't seem.

- 29th Nov: Departing from FTE to TDP by bus? by car? OK

California
Level Contributor
3 454 posts
156 reviews
7. Re: Car rental question

Hello. You can possibly visit El Chalten and take some nice hikes using a rental car. After you arrival at the El Calafate airport, you should be able to pick up your rental car by about noon at the airport (add about 30 minutes to this if you have to take a taxi to town to pick it up) if your flight isn’t late. There is a small café there for you to get something quick to eat. We used Sixt car rental in December. They met us at the airport and gave us a car in good shape (this is not always the case in El Calafate). Most cars are manual transmission only, and ours was manual transmission. You could arrive in El Chalten by about 4 PM, including a stop at the historic La Leona Roadhouse (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid hid out there) for a quick bathroom and food break.

http://laleonacountrylodge.com/home.html

After checking in to your hotel, you could try to do the Laguna Capri trail (about 4 hours roundtrip) if you have time or go to the visitor center (where you can see both Cerro Torre and Cerro Fitzroy on clear days, although Cerro Torre often hides behind the clouds) and hike the shorter Mirador Condor trail . Since there are quite a few hotels and bars in El Chalten, you should be able to find a place for a late dinner.

elchalten.com/eng/actividades/lagunacapri.php

elchalten.com/eng/actividades/miradorescondo…

The following day, you could get up early and try a longer hike like the Cerro Torre trail (8-9 hours roundtrip). The Laguna de Los Tres trail is just wonderful, but you should allow about 10 hours total, including time to enjoy the beautiful Fitzroy massif at the top of the trail. You would then drive back to El Calafate for the night. You should check sunset in El Calafate by going to www.sunrisesunset.com and selecting El Calafate from the Predefined Locations link. Don’t expect the internet to work well in El Chalten. As mentioned by Giorgio, you need both days in El Chalten not to be rainy so that you can see the peaks.

elchalten.com/eng/actividades/lagunatorre.php

elchalten.com/eng/…lagunadelostres.php

You’re so lucky that you can stay at the Explora Lodge in TdP, with wonderful views of the Cuernos peaks and turquoise Lago Pehoe in the middle of the park. Hopefully, you can go on the Towers hike or the French Valley hike on day trips, as well as a possible boat trip on Lago Grey if that sounds fun to you. If the driving plan above to El Chalten sounds too rushed and difficult, and if you plan to go on several hikes in TdP, you may decide to just spend your time in El Calafate instead. Besides the Perito Moreno minitrek for one day trip (recommended), you can also go on the Rios de Hielo boat trip to the Upsala and Spegazzini glaciers or the more expensive (and longer) Marpatag trip to the same area. You can also go on the popular, but expensive, Upsala Kayak Experience. Of course, you would need to return your rental car to the airport or town some evening if you do these long day trips.

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Revie…

patagoniachic.com/en/…

patagoniachic.com/en/…

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Revie…

crucerosmarpatag.com/en/glaciers-experience/

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Revie…

The afternoon that you arrive in El Calafate, you can visit the Glaciarium or walk in the Laguna Nimez wetlands on the outskirts of El Calafate (bring binoculars to see the birds better; we found that binoculars made our Patagonia trips even more impressive since we could also see close-ups of the mountain peaks and the fabulous Perito Moreno glacier).

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Revie…

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Revie…

Good luck, and have a great trip!

Level Contributor
21 posts
2 reviews
8. Re: Car rental question

Thanks so much for the advice. Based on it, we've decided to stay in El Calafate and not try to do both it and El Chalten on this trip. Hopefully some day we will come back.

Level Contributor
21 posts
2 reviews
9. Re: Car rental question

CaliforniaElizabeth,

You are truly wonderful! Thank you for these links and recommendations. I have two follow up questions. First, given that we will have 2 full days in Calafate (per prior post, not going to add Chalten given time constraints), I was planning for 1 day of the minitreking and then another day do one of the cruises you suggested. Question 1 – do you have a suggestion on which order we do those in? minitrek on day 1 and then cruise or flip it? Question 2—I am trying to book the cruise. I looked at the links you sent and there are 2 sites that the MarPatag Gourmet Glacier day trip. They seem to be for the same excursion, even the same boat but with slightly different departure times and a big price difference. One states the price is $249 and the other $345. Is this the same trip just different tour companies charging different prices? I am trying to see if I need to book the $345 one or if I can save $90 and book the $249 one. Here are the 2 links:

patagoniachic.com/en/…

crucerosmarpatag.com/en/glaciers-experience/

Thanks so much!

Meagan

Buenos Aires...
Level Contributor
2 999 posts
142 reviews
10. Re: Car rental question

The basic boat trip is called Rios de Hielo, translated as Ice Rivers. If you add the gourmet service on board, it turns into MarPatag. Hence, depending on the service you are seeking, you could choose either one or the other. Take into consideration you can combine ríos de hielo in the morning with a visit to the walkways in front of perito Moreno glacier in the afternoon; that's to say 2 by 1, both at the same day.

It makes no difference whether you do the mini trekking first and then make the boat trip across Lago Argentino. Both tours are amazing.

As for the websites you mentioned, try to book it through PatagoniaChic. I made use of that service when i made my trip.

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