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2 1/2 days in El Calafete/El Chalten

12 posts
2 1/2 days in El Calafete/El Chalten

Hello All,

We are exploring different options of our trip to this region in last week of december. We are a group of 5 hiking the W trail in TdP and the after that plan to take a bus to El Calafete. Depending on our schedules we might arrive the night we finish our W trek or the day after.

If we take the morning bus from Puerto Natales and arrive at El Calafete by noon, is it possible for us to see the Perito Moreno Glacier the same day for 1/2 a day?

We plan to head out to El Chalten the next day for 2 days to hike Cerro Torre and Fitz Roy.

Since we are 5 of us, we are likely going to rent a car for the 2.5 days . So does 1/2 day to see the glacier and maybe the cruise along it seem feasible ?



6 replies to this topic
Buenos Aires...
Level Contributor
2 999 posts
142 reviews
1. Re: 2 1/2 days in El Calafete/El Chalten

Hi Venkat S

There are some buses you may take at the bus terminal of El Calafate at 2 pm to Perito Moreno Glacier. If you are lucky and you bus arrives early, you could probably take the one toward the glacier. Otherwise, you can take a taxi. The national park closes at 6 pm.

If Im not wrong, there used to be a tour which included both the boat trip and the perito moreno glacier visit. I think the travel agency offering that was called Criollos: http://www.criollosturismo.com.ar/

London, England...
Level Contributor
107 posts
83 reviews
2. Re: 2 1/2 days in El Calafete/El Chalten

The Puerto Natales and El Calafete bus arrival times are a little uncertain because you're going over the border, so I'd recommend not booking tours from El Calafete which are dependent on everything working perfectly because you'll stress yourself out.

Perito Moreno is about 80km from the town and there are numerous tours, many of which are full day options which include a boat ride (which is well worth doing). Someone else will have to advise you about whether it works as an afternoon only option, since I did the full day tour.

El Chalten is a two and a half to three hour drive or coach ride from El Calafete. There are plenty of shorter (two-three hour) hikes near the town that you can do if you travel up in the morning.

Ideally you want a whole day for Fitz Roy. I'd strongly recommend taking the shuttle out to El Pilar and then doing the walk back to El Chalten from there via Fitz Roy rather than doing an out and back to Fitz Roy from El Chalten.

Washington DC...
Level Contributor
40 posts
3. Re: 2 1/2 days in El Calafete/El Chalten

In the last week of December, there is enough light for you to do Laguna Torre the same day you arrive in Chalten. I did big Ice, so I can't advise on the boat tour or doign the galcier in half a day (Big Ice is a full day). I am not sure what your W plan is, but we did 3/4 of the W in 3 days and 3 nights (left the morning after we got to Pudeto) and skipped Grey Glacier since we were going to Perito Moreno.

12 posts
4. Re: 2 1/2 days in El Calafete/El Chalten

Thank you all.

@writeread2018 - Thanks for this suggestion . We can likely do Laguna Torre and Fitz Roy for the first 1 1/2 days and do the glacier on the last day. We are doing a 4 night W from west to east .The original and current plan was to take the always glaciers bus after finishing the hike on the last day but we are still figuring out luggage storing logistics as we cant leave our bags in Puerto Natales in that case. IF we can figure out luggage storage options in the Park (Refugio Central says it can do but bus timings seem to be tough to coordinate) , we will take the bus from Puerto Natales to El Calafete the next AM after the hike

@phil s, thanks for the idea of the fitz roy hike. No we arent booking any tours. As of now we were just thinking of renting a car and doing the glacier stuff on our own , maybe get the boat cruise tickets.



Level Contributor
3 452 posts
156 reviews
5. Re: 2 1/2 days in El Calafete/El Chalten

Hello. If you’re not able to take a direct transfer from the TdP Amarga entrance station to El Calafate to avoid an extra night in Puerto Natales, you can take Cootra, Turismozaahj, or Bus Sur from Puerto Natales to El Calafate. Since the earliest bus seems to leave Puerto Natales at 07:00 (offered by Turismozaahj a few days per week in December) or at 07:30 and can take 5 ½ hours (it’s hard to say how long it will take to cross the 2 border checkpoints), you may not arrive in El Calafate until 12:30 or 13:00. Bus Sur even lists this one-way trip on December as taking 6 ¾ hours; I don’t know why this trip may be longer. Since the buses in the busy tourist season usually leave El Calafate in the afternoon at 13:00 or 14:00 for the Perito Moreno glacier boardwalks (about 1 ½ hours away), you may not make the bus to the glacier. Also, the new El Calafate bus station is no longer downtown. You would probably want to take a taxi downtown to get some lunch. You also need to get between 500-600 Argentine pesos per person in cash for the park entrance fee before you arrive at the glacier, so you would need time to do this in El Calafate if you haven’t already bought Argentine pesos in the area where you live.




Anyway, if you take a morning bus from Puerto Natales to El Calafate, you might want to take a taxi downtown to get some lunch and some Argentine pesos (get extra pesos since some restaurants in El Chalten are cash only and since the teller machines in El Chalten sometimes run low on cash, especially on weekends). You can then use Las Lengas for a direct transfer from downtown El Calafate to your hotel or hostel in El Chalten. There is also sometimes a TAQSA bus from El Calafate to El Chalten at 16:30 during the busy season, along with buses leaving El Calafate at 18:00. You can check the Ticketonline website about 45 days in advance to see the bus schedules.



Most cars for rent in El Calafate are manual transmission only, if that makes a difference to you. Also, it could be harder to find a car large enough for 5 people and their luggage.

If you only have 2 days to hike in El Chalten, you can use your first day to hike the wonderful Laguna de Los Tres trail and your second day to hike the Laguna Torre trail. If you get up early to hike the second day, you should be able to make the 18:00 buses to El Calafate.



The following morning, you can either drive your rental car to the Perito Moreno boardwalks and go on the Safari Nautico boat trip if you like or take the morning buses to the glacier boardwalks that usually leave at 08:00 or 09:00. In the past, the first buses returning from the glacier boardwalks left at about 14:30. Of course, you can also use Hielo y Aventura to go on ice treks on the glacier. The ice treks will be very popular at the end of December, so book these well in advance.




Good luck.

12 posts
6. Re: 2 1/2 days in El Calafete/El Chalten

Thanks a lot @CaliforniaElizabeth. This is a lot of good information to work with.

Manual transmission is no issue. Two of us in the group drive manual daily.

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