Reasons to stay at an estancia in Los Glaciares

  • Get a taste of traditional Patagonian culture among restored or working ranches that still hold true to to their gaucho roots
  • Get truly off the beaten track at a ranch tucked between the mountains, lakes and plains of Los Glaciares National Park, where the skies go on forever
  • Find the region's unique pioneer spirit that's still alive in estancias that are unparalleled in Patagonia for their size and locations deep in true wilderness
  • Explore the empty landscapes on horseback or along hiking trails with local guides keen to share their passion for the region
  • Disconnect from the outside world, far from the crowds and the nearest phone signal  
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Swoop says

Adding an estancia stay on to your itinerary trip is one of the best ways to connect with local people, culture and history – and the estancias in Los Glaciares are some of the best in all of Patagonia.

What to expect from an estancia stay

Four gauchos on horseback at an estancia in Los Glaciares

Gauchos on horseback at a Los Glaciares estancia

The estancias of Los Glaciares are some of the most remote places you can stay in Patagonia. They’re truly destinations in themselves, where you can unplug and immerse yourself in all that the wilderness has to offer.

Whichever one you choose to stay at you’ll have almost unimaginably vast landscapes to explore by yourself. To help you do this, estancias offer their own guides and are set up for horseback riding, hiking trails (many self-guided), mountain biking, or boat trips to glaciers.

Their remoteness means that you’ll need to be prepared for a journey to reach them, often travelling for several hours on unmade roads. Hiring a car yourself gives you a little more agency as to your arrival time, although transfers are always available (and are necessary in some cases where the estancia can only be reached by boat.

There is a lot of variation in levels of comfort, number of excursions offered, and the extent to which the estancia is still a working ranch compared to focusing on tourism. Consider what’s most important for you to get out of your stay: Swoop Patagonia’s specialists have spent time at every estancia we offer and know them inside out, so you can trust us to find the perfect one for your Los Glaciares trip.

El Calafate estancias

Estancia Cristina

Estancia Cristina is one of the oldest estancias in Los Glaciares, and is still owned and run by the same family who first established it in 1914, naming it for their daughter.

The estancia is gloriously remote: you have to take a private boat from near El Calafate across Lago Argentina to get here, stopping off along the way to look at icebergs and glaciers, then transferring by 4x4 for another hour to reach your destination. The original estancia buildings have been modernised to provide rustic but high end accommodation in the middle of nowhere. The old sheep shearing shed has been converted into a museum.

Activities on offer include go horse-riding among the thousands of hectares that surround the estancia, or hike to a variety of scenic locations including the  vast and beautiful Upsala Glacier. 

Estancia Cristina in the wide open landscape of Los Glaciares

Estancia Cristina

Estancia Nibepo Aike

Located just over an hours’ drive from El Calafate, Estancia Nibepo Aike is one of the best places in the region to get a real taste of the gaucho lifestyle.

Established in 1912, this working estancia still raises both sheep and cattle. Its rooms are comfortable and spacious, and are decorated with black and white photos detailing a century of family frontier history.

Nibebo Aike’s proximity to Perito Moreno glacier and its deeply authentic vibe make this a popular estancia, where you can expect real gaucho culture on display, from sheep shearing to traditional barbecues.

To explore the landscapes around the estancia, horse riding is available, as well as hiking and mountain bike trails.

View of Estancia Nibepo Aike in Los Glaciares

Estancia Nibepo Aike

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Chloe says

My perfect estancia experience is being tucked up on some rustic furniture in front of a log fire, after a long day horse riding on a windswept range with a gaucho guide. An estancia’s authentic working nature makes it so much more than just a hotel in the wilderness.

Chloe Mazille Patagonia Specialist

El Galpon del Glaciar

About a half hours’ drive from El Calafate on the shores of Lago Argentina, El Galpon del Glaciar is an estancia that has been converted into a rustic boutique guesthouse. 

The ranch still raises sheep and has sheepdog demonstrations and shearing, plus evening tango in the restaurant. To connect with nature, you can saddle up your horse here, with full or half day excursions for riders of all levels of experience. The diverse landscape here means that you can ride on the beach and dunes as well as the pampa.

The lakeside location gives access to the nearby Reserva Natural Laguna de los Pájaros, where there are hides for observing many species of water bird, including flocks of flamingos.

Estancia Hosteria Galpon del Glaciar in  Los Glaciares

El Galpon del Glaciar

El Chaltén estancias

Estancia El Condor

Estancia El Condor has managed to retain a strong sense of its working past. Its deeply remote location gives it a true wilderness homestay atmosphere. Stay here and you’ll feel like Patagonia has emptied to offer you your own private adventure playground.

North of El Chaltén, Estancia El Condor sits on a beautiful turquoise stretch of Lago San Martín, surrounded by mountains. The big attraction here is the chance to truly switch off in a remote and spectacular location.

Horse riding is available as well as self-guided hikes: this is a landscape that you’ll have completely to yourself that’s begging to be explored.

The atmosphere is cosy and authentically rustic with great homemade farm food, but if it's views you're after, few places do it better.

View of Estancia El Condor in Los Glaciares

Estancia El Condor

Estancia La Estela

Situated roughly halfway between El Chaltén and El Calafate (and less than two hours’ drive from either). Estancia La Estela sits on a rise above La Leona river with tremendous views out across Lago Viedma to the great peaks of the Fitz Roy Massif.

La Estela is more boutique guesthouse than true estancia. It doesn’t offer a true authentic ranch experience but more than makes up for that with its breathtaking setting and clutch of 5 luxe suites.

Horseriding, trail walking and mountain bike riding are all available, but one of the other big draws here is the food. La Estela’s restaurant is simply incredible and the owners are planning a covered vineyard to produce Patagonia’s most southerly wine.

Estancia La Estela in Los Glaciares

Estancia La Estela

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Danny says

The outside world falls away when you stay at a Los Glaciares estancia. As you take the long wilderness road to get there, the bars of reception on your phone disappear one by one until there’s nothing left but you and the vast emptiness of the Patagonian sky.

Danny Middleton Patagonia Specialist

Estancia Helsingfors

Estancia Helsingfors enjoys some of the best scenery offered by any estancia: the building perches on the edge of Lago Viedma with views of FitzRoy, glaciers and snow-capped peaks right on your doorstep.

This estancia has more of a hotel feel, with the focus on comfort and sightseeing rather than more active excursions. If you're after a beautiful setting to relax with a glass of wine and exquisite food, or a relaxed comfortable atmosphere to enjoy the silence and seclusion of Patagonia, this is the estancia for you.

Estancia Helsingfors is also the springboard for our Los Glaciares Wilderness Trek. From here, it’s a challenging six days to Estancia Cristina on some of the wildest and most rewarding hiking trails in Los Glaciares

Estancia Helsingfors in Los Glaciares

Estancia Helsingfors

Estancia Josefina

Looking to get truly off grid? Estancia Josefina offers one of the most remote and exclusive experiences you can have anywhere in Patagonia.

Estancia Josefina is a little over 45 miles (75km) almost due north from El Chaltén, but the route is mostly off road or transfer by private boat. Alternatively, you can arrange a wonderful hike that takes you right up to the estancia, but either way, by the time you reach your destination you’ll truly have unplugged from the world: this area is so remote even the indigenous Tehuelche people didn’t live here.

This is estancia offers a rustic small farm experience, with accommodation consisting of just four glamping dome tents. There are plenty of rescue animals here (the food is great for vegetarians and vegans).

Glamping at Estanica Josefina in Los Glaciares

Estanica Josefina

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Swoop says

Estancias come in all categories in Los Glaciares: if you want retire in luxury after a day’s play as a gaucho there’s an option for you, or you can get truly off-grid on ranches where the electricity generator goes off at the end of the day and you'll use a lantern to light your way to bed.

Explore more of Los Glaciares

Signs to EL Chalten and Laguna de los Tres in Los Glaciares, with the FOtz Roy massif in the background

El Chaltén

Sat at the base of Mount Fitz Roy in Los Glaciares, the town of El Chaltén is one of the world’s greatest destinations for spectacular mountain day hikes and rock climbing.

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Hotels in Patagonia

Hotels in Patagonia

If you're looking for a base from which to explore, why not consider a lodge, estancia or luxury campsite which offers excursions? Many are based in the heart of a national park, …

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