Set in the middle of the Glacier National Park, reaching the charming Estancia Cristina is an adventure in its own right involving a four-hour boat ride along Lago Argentino past the vast Upsala Glacier and dodging icebergs on route.
After such an epic arrival, the estancia itself does not disappoint. There are 20 comfortable rooms housed in five refurbished ranch cabins. Meals are served in the cosy dining room complete with open fire, and as you might expect, local produce such as Patagonian lamb features heavily on the menu, complimented by fine Argentinian wines.
However comfortable the estancia, the real reason for being here is to explore the stunning surroundings, which are built on an epic scale. Boasting exclusive access of the most imposing view of the Upsala Glacier, the landscape surrounding the estancia is a mixture of beauty and tranquillity that offers trekking, horseback riding, fishing, bird watching, historical tours and 4x4 touring. Fishing is possible on the Caterina River or Laguna del la Pesca. Caterina River is only 5 miles from its source - Lake Anita - to its mouth, Lake Argentino. It is ideal for rainbow trout fishing and in February salmon migrate to the river.
Along the way to Laguna de la Pesca you can enjoy the flora and fauna of Los Glaciares National Park, and here you can also fish for rainbow trout. The fishing lasts for approximately one and a half hours and you will need to pay for the fishing license ($25 pp) directly to the estancia as well as for the fishing equipment. All the activities are approved by the National Park's Administration but please note that weather conditions and your physical condition will determine the best activity to do on each day.
Why We Love It
One of the barns houses a fascinating museum which charts the way of life in 1914, when the lodge was built by Joseph Percival Masters and his wife Jessie Elisabeth Waring.
Rustic in character, the hotel has a chalet-like feel to it and its cosy rooms offer great panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. The living room has an open fireplace providing an excellent spot to reflect on the days' adventures, and its restaurant serves fine Patagonian cuisine, whilst the bar is well stocked with Argentine wines.
Los Cerros is an ideal base for exploring Los Glaciares National Park which extends over almost 1,800,000 acres of mountains, lakes and forests and contains more than 300 glaciers, including the famed Perito Moreno, and also the Viedma and the Upsala, the largest and second largest glaciers in Argentina respectively.
Guests can choose from a wide range of outdoor activities ranging from guided hiking and horse riding to ice trekking on glaciers and boat trips on Lago del Desierto. These excursions pass through magnificent landscapes, and guests will also encounter wildlife native to the area such as guanacos, flamingos and the majestic Andean condor to name but a few.
Why We Love It
Los Glaciares National Park is unique in that all the glaciers have originated straight from the ice cap - the world's largest ice mass outside Antarctica.
Aguas Arriba Lodge
Situated at the Estancia Río de Las Vueltas, Aguas Arriba Lodge is located in the remote and stunning Patagonia wilderness surrounded by endless stretches of lake shoreline and acres of forest, and is just 23 miles from El Chaltén.
Perched on the edge of Lago del Desierto, five of the six rooms have views of either the lake, Mt. Fitz Roy & Torre or the Vespignani Glacier. The other two rooms have views of the forest. The hotel is constructed entirely from wood, mainly recycled logs from a Northern Patagonian burn forest, and so all of the rooms have a fairly chalet-esque feel to them and are simply decorated with just the views pouring in.
Food at the lodge is fresh, local and has a comforting homemade feel to it. Eat in the dining room or gaze out at the views from the large sitting room windows, or better still head out to the terrace overlooking the emerald lake.
The main activities are trekking, boating and fishing, and there is no better place to do any of them than from Aguas Arriba Lodge. Every evening guides discuss the following days activities with the guests, whether it be a quick two hour trek or a day long one, it is extremely flexible.
The Southern Patagonian landscape is simply stunning - scattered with small creeks and valleys, glaciers and waterfalls, the setting is fantastic for all manner of activities.
Why We Love It
The lodge is only accessible by boat or on foot - if feeling hearty we recommend the three hour trek though the forest, otherwise it is only a 15 minute boat ride from the lake's southern shore.
Eolo is a stylish country lodge located between El Calafate and the renowned Los Glaciares National Park in Argentine Patagonia.
Set on a 3,000 acre estate on the eastern side of Mount Frías, the lodge has spectacular views out towards Lago Argentino and the Torres del Paine.
The 17 rooms are very spacious with equally amazing views and baths with shower attachments. The two corner suites have the best views of all, with 180 degree corner views.
Eolo is comfortable and spacious, with decor verging on the minimal. The main living room overlooks La Anita Valley, and there is also a bar, restaurant serving very good locally sourced food and also a library. Other facilities include an indoor swimming pool and a sauna.
Activities at Eolo include trips into the Los Glaciares Park to see the Perito Moreno and Upsala glaciers, as well as bird watching and fly fishing excursions. Trekking, mountain biking or horse riding on Mount Frías and in La Anita valley are also very popoular. Various talks are given on glaciology and the regional flora and fauna, while films and documentaries are screened in the TV room.
Why We Love It
The lodge provides telescopes, perfect for a spot of star gazing before bedtime.
Esplendor Hotel El Calafate
Simplicity is the name of the game at this comfortable hotel perched on a hill above the city of El Calafate from which to explore the wilderness and mountains of Patagonia.
Hotel El Calafate is decked out with sheepskin stools, mounted antlers and works of art, with local stone and woods throughout. All 57 bedrooms are designed for comfort and decorated with local artefacts, materials and muted colours.
The Iglu bar is one of the hotels' hot spots, offering a cosy setting with lake views, where guests can have afternoon tea as well as a good range of cocktails and Argentinean wines. The restaurant serves local and international dishes.
When guests are in need of some R&R or want to unwind after a trek, the spa contains a long stone heated swimming pool and sauna, and provides a range of body treatments.
El Calafate city centre is a short trip from the hotel, allowing guests to sample the nearby restaurants and shops the city has to offer. Further afield, the touristy but nonetheless impressive Perito Moreno glacier, Roca Lake and Rio Gallegos are all worth a day trip.
Why We Love It
Spa bunnies should try the Face Rejuvenating Shock treatment at the spa, which uses local Glacier water with a fruit complex for deep moisturising.
The Estancia Helingsfors is a traditional and cosy home-from-home in the ruggedly spectacular Los Glaciares National Park of Patagonia.
All nine en suite bedrooms in the lodge are decorated with Patagonian fabrics and colours that reflect the natural landscape. Some benefit from whirlpool baths, some Scottish showers, but all are very comfortable.
Guests can relax in front of a roaring fire in the large communal lounge, before enjoying a gourmet dinner created by the house chef. Regional delicacies including local trout and Patagonian lamb come with vegetables from the kitchen garden, with a choice of vintage Argentinean wines from the cellar to wash it down with.
The main attraction, however, is the location; resting on the edge of Lake Viedma, the lodge commands panoramic views over the dramatic Patagonian landscape and the Andes, including Mount Fitz Roy. Exclusive tours can be arranged with an English-speaking guide to visit the incredible glaciers the area is renowned for at Blue Lagoon and Laguna del Morro. Trekking and horseback safaris, as well as boat trips on the larger lakes, offer guests to get up close to these glaciers and the natural landscape, spotting condors and guanacos along the way. Trout fishing is also a popular activity for guests.
Why We Love It
This estancia was built by a Finnish explorer, Alfred Ranstrom, at the start of the 20th century and is named after his hometown, Helsinki.