Perito Moreno Glacier & Nibepo Aike Estancia With Say Hueque
After you land at the airport in El Calafate in Patagonia, more than 3.5 hours by plane from Buenos Aires, you’ve got a lot of choices for what to do and where to stay. Apart from our stay at the Explora El Chalten lodge that we had already set up, we put our tour in the hands of Say Hueque Adventure Tours and made the pillars of it Perito Moreno Glacier and Nibepo Aike Estancia.
We recently posted a feature story about this El Calafate tour and if you follow that link you can see the full rundown and some more photos. We just put together some video highlights for our YouTube channel though, so keep going to view the explorations in motion.
We got picked up at the airport by our driver and guide and made the scenic drive around the lake and small city to arrive at Nibepo Aike Estancia and Hotel. While this is a working farm that’s been operating for around 120 years, it’s actually part of Los Glaciares National Park, with a grandfather clause allowing them to keep operating, but with a limit on the number of farm animals allowed.
We got to see a bit of the farm life while we were there, joining some day visitors to watch a sheep shearing and then having a big asado lunch prepared by some gaucho grillers. Later we went on a horseback ride by the lake and over some hills, getting spectacular views along the way. I also hiked up the mountain behind the farmhouse-turned-hotel to get an even more panoramic vista with the lake and mountains.
Nibepo Aike is right on the edge of Lago Argentina and the mountains beyond. We were there at the end of summer but the mountain tops were covered with snow and when the clouds cleared we could glimpse a glacier or two. If you took a hike from here with an experienced mountaineer and plenty of supplies you could hike across one of the world’s largest icefields into Chile. Argentina and Chile share this great expanse of wilderness and their border runs down the middle. It’s a protected national park on both sides.
That border was actually negotiated by Perito (a nickname) Moreno, the explorer credited with discovering the giant calving glacier now named after him. So of course we had to dedicate a day to visiting that with Say Hueque. It is one of Argentina’s most famous sites and deservedly so. Check out the video of the estancia and glacier here:
It was nice to visit the glacier with an experienced Say Hueque Argentina Journeys guide who knew what he was talking about. You see a lot of conflicting information and stats about the most famous glacier in Argentina when you go online and start digging around. Plus he had been running tours there since before there was a safe walkway to traverse, so he knew the power and the dangers of giant blocks of ice calving into the water.
We saw the natural wonder from every angle possible, on the way end, on every stretch of the suspended walkway, and down to the end of it where we had lunch (complete with glacier ice cocktail) and took a sightseeing boat ride for a different view.
On a trip to Patagonia, either on the Argentina side or the Chile side, it’s important to remember that experiences trump pampering a lot of the time. If you want to get into remote areas and do something besides hop on and off a van, you have to go with the flow a bit and not always expect high-thread-count sheets and a full spa. The reason to stay at Nibepo Aike Estancia is to get a taste of the farm life, ride horses, and have a glass of Argentine wine by the fireplace after taking in the glorious scenery.
We did get a little pampering at the end though, on our last night at Los Panchos Hotel. Most of the luxury places to stay in this region are well outside of the city, but Los Panchos is a long walk along the lake or a short taxi ride to the center of town. We ate nearby, but the closer you get to the center, the more pubs and restaurants there are to choose from.
At the end, our Say Hueque driver picked us up at the hotel and took us out to the airport for a sad goodbye to Patagonia. See the full feature story here: A Multi-day El Calafate Tour—Perito Moreno Glacier and a Farm Stay.
Article by Timothy
Timothy Scott is the founder and editor of Luxury Latin America and has been covering the region as a travel journalist since the mid-2000s. He has visited each country we cover multiple times and is based in a UNESCO World Heritage city in central Mexico, where he owns a home. See contact information here.