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There are almost too many El Calafate tours to count! Considering that it’s one of the best hubs for adventure in Southern Argentinitan Patagonia, it’ll be tough to choose the El Calafate day trips that are right for you. The Perito Moreno Glacier tour is on an obvious pick, as well as an El Calafate to Torres del Paine day trip.
The Perito Moreno glacier in Calafate is what it’s known for, but there are also quite a lot of el Calafate Day trips both near and far from the city. Some of them you can do on your own, but there are tons of organized tours from El Calafate that can get everything organized for you from transportation to hiking to guides. There are more areas to explore and treks to do in Los Glaciares National park as well, and also quite a few more glaciers to see in the area.
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I ended up staying in El Calafate for a whole week. Although some say there’s not much to do in the actual city besides the Perito Moreno glacier tours, I found the city very charming and enjoyed exploring around the lake and even hiking in the hills. El Calafate was a great stop for me on my classic Patagonia Itinerary before I continued on to the Bariloche area of Northern Patagonia to make a full month’s itinerary.
But, given its central location to many points of interest in Southern Patagonia, El Calafate is a hub for many tours of one to even three+ days. Torres del Paine and El Chalten are just within a few hours of El Calafate, so if you don’t have time to visit these places on their own, an El Calafate tour might be the move for you.
If you are looking for more things to do in Argentina or places to visit in Argentina, check here. But without further ado, here are 15 of the best El Calafate Tours you can take from an easy home base overlooking the lake in El Calafate:
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El Calafate Tours to Perito Moreno Glacier
Of course, the Perito Moreno Glacier tour is one of the most iconic El Cafalate Tours and the reason many people come here in the first place. You can’t miss the Perito Moreno Glacier!
Located in the southern bit of Los Glacieres National Park, the Perito Moreno Glacier is something special. It’s one of the largest glaciers in Patagonia, and is an absolutely remarkable sight to see. I’ll let the pictures do that talking on that one. Just… go!!
Perito Moreno Glacier Tour with Boat Trip
You can also book your El Calafate Tours to Perito Moreno glacier with a boat ride as well. These big boats look like tiny little specks next to the glacier from the first viewpoint you come to, and really provide quite an overwhelming scale as to how large the glacier really is.
When you book a Calafate day trip to Perito Moreno with a boat trip, you can spend an hour getting as close as (safely) possible to the glacier to see its amazing textures up close. You can’t get too close, though, because as one of the most active and fast-moving glaciers in Patagonia, pieces fall off every 20 minutes!
Honestly, if you’re going all the way to the glacier you might as well book the boat trip. I did and was really happy I did!
Perito Moreno Glacier Ice Trekking
As a tour of its own or as part of another perito moreno day tour from Calafate, you can actually get all geared up and walk on the glacier! This may be confusing looking at the photos of the jagged glacier, but there’s a place to the far left where you can actually do some ice walking and explore ice caves. That color in there is absolutely out of this world, as are the photo opportunities!
El Calafate Tours to El Chalten
Just a few hours away from El Calafate is another one of Patagonia’s incredible wonders: Fitz Roy mountain. Fitz Roy is just over a 10k round trip hike from the adorable small mountain town of El Chalten, which is an adventure hub on its own.
There are a few different day hikes to do in El Chalten, and even multi-day treks if you are up for it. But, if you don’t have enough time to spend a few nights in El Chalten, do it as another amazing El Calafate day trip!
See, you can do most of the hikes from El Chalten as day hikes, and return to the town at night. They’re all well marked, and are doable without a guide. They being said, they’re slippery in winter so be cautious – especially in the last kilometer of the Fitz Roy hike. It’s not for the faint of heart!
If hiking isn’t for you, you can do many more adventures in El Chalten, such as climbing, kayaking, and rafting, depending on the season.
El Calafate Tours to Upsala Galcier + Estancia Christina
One of the most popular places to visit for El Calafate day trips is Estancia Christina, which is a stunning estate on Lago Argentino’s north arm and very close to another glacier, Upsala. The Estancia was established by a British migrant couple in the early 1900’s, and now presents a lovely place to visit, trek, stay, or view the Upsala glacier from.
There are many El Calafate Tours to Estancia Christina and the Upsala Glacier – see which on works for you:
Sailing Lago Argentina near Upsala Glacier, gaucho life and culture, and Estancia Christina Tour
Upsala Glacier Cruise with Trek to Estancia Christina
El Calafate Tours to Upsala and Spagazzini Glaciers
You can also see Upsala Glacier without Estancia Christina, and with another glacier and more raw views of Los Glaciares National Park. These boat cruise tours go along Lago Argentina, through some of the most narrow arms of the lake, and through Canal Upsala and Canal Spagazzini to present sweeping views of Upsala and Spagazzini Glaciers.
You can choose a tour with a gourmet meal or a regular meal, but both are sure to be absolutely incredible days.
- Upsala and Spagazzini Glaciers Cruise Day Tour
- Upsala and Spagazzini Gourmet Glacier Cruise Day Tour
Sail the Ice Rivers “Rios de Hielos”
Not too different than the tours above to Upsala and Spagazzini Glaciers, the popular ‘Rios de Hielos’ El Calafate Day Trips focus on sailing all the many arms or ‘brazos’ of Los Glacieres national park.
This tour takes off on a catamaran and sails through different arms of Lago Argentina and past Upsala and Spagazzini glaciers. It’s a bit shorter than the sailing cruises above.
El Calafate Balconies 4×4 Tour
The El Calafate Balconies are much closer to the city and a must-see view in El Calafate. Taking only 3-4 hours, this would be the perfect adventure to do if you don’t have enough time for a full-day tour or are leaving in the afternoon/evening.
You take off in 4×4 vehicles up the mountain overlooking the city, where you can marvel on the ‘El Calafate Balcony’ and view the entire city, lake, and raw Patagonian landscape.
4×4 Patagonian Landscape Tour
If you want something a bit different and to see more of the dramatic Patagonian landscape surrounding El Calafate, the Patagonian Landscape Tour might be for you. It’s also a half-day tour and through driving and walking you can get a real feel for the wildlife and landscapes that make Patagonia famous. It even includes an authentic meal!
El Calafate Zipline Adventure Tour
Another of the best El Calafate day trips is ziplining. This often comes with horse back riding or trekking, where you will get to experience the classic and stunning Patagonian landscape and then zipline over it!
This is the perfect El Calafate tour for adventurers who like a bit of an adrenaline rush along with their amazing outdoor scenery.
El Calafate to Torres del Paine Day Tour
You can also use El Calafate as a home base to explore some of the best of Chilean Patagonia, too! They run day trips to Torres del Paine, which is just 3ish hours south and across the border.
Torres del Paine has MANY different hikes and multi-day treks, like the Torres del Paine W Trek that I completed the week before I was in El Calafate.
However if you only have one day, and if the weather cooperates, you can see one of the best views in Patagonia after another fairly vertical 20km hike. The base of the Towers, or the Mirador de la base de las Torres, is like something or of a fairytale and should not be missed even as an El Calafate Day Trip.
If you don’t have time to do the big hike (as this El Calafate tour is very customizable!) you can drive in the 4×4’s to many different popular viewpoints that your guide will surely be able to show you.
Other El Calafate Day Trips
Rent a Bike to Ride Along Lago Argentina
There are a few bike rental companies in El Calafate that will rent you a bike for about 250 pesos for 3 hours (lowest rate I found – usually a bit more!).
They will usually show you a little circuit you can take where you can ride out to a point near the town. Then you can go along the water for an hour or so to another beautiful viewpoint of the lake, city, and mountains, then go back. We even saw some Patagonian flamingos! Jut maybe check the wind if you go – it can get pretty tough to ride in those classic Patagonian winds!
Hike up the Hill Above the City
Another thing you can do by yourself as an El Calafate Day Trip is to hike up the hill overlooking the town. This hike should take about an hour each way, and would be great just before sunset! You’ll be able to see a beautiful and unique view of the city, lake, and surrounding arid landscape, and get a great workout while you’re at it!
I hope you got some great inspo here to plan you El Calafate Tours! Remember to Pin it if you found it useful!