CALAFATE.- «The Perito Moreno is amazing place to visit in Patagonia,» exclaims Tom from Connecticut, USA, who along with his wife, Sean, is on a ten-day trip through Patagonia. An Argentine newspaper found them at the beginning of the Nimez lagoon, an environmental reserve located four blocks from the center of the town and that today receives between 150 and 200 people a day, and goes in one hour for 25 pesos the entrance.
During the first month of the year, hotel occupancy was 77.85%, according to data from the Tourism Secretariat of El Calafate, but the average fell sharply for the first week of February to 62%. Among the foreign tourists, Brazilians and Mexicans stand out in this season, and to a lesser extent, Venezuelans, while from Europe, the arrival of contingents of Spaniards and the groups of Swiss and French, who usually stay in hostels, with room Shared.
January was a month full of national tourism, and most of them were Argentineans who gave them ample occupation to the inns, cabins and apart-hotels. Complete families that arrive by land and pay between 450 and 600 pesos per day for a cabin for four people, according to the services. According to official data, cabins and apart-hotels were the most required, with 85 and 90% occupancy.
Four and five star hotels no longer enjoy the golden age of a decade ago, there are no more bookings for a year, no one has the season guaranteed.
Change of skin
In ten years, El Calafate changed: not only tripled the population and the hotel spaces, but began to change its skin: it ceased to be an exclusive destination to give way to a range of offers for all budgets and also consolidated as the Access door exclusive to El Chaltén and Torres del Paine, in Chile.
Here the ashes of the volcano Puyehue did not arrive; However, the destination was affected by the cancellation of flights and hotel reservations that suffered throughout Patagonia. It was only in October that the flights began to normalize, and today there are between ten and eleven planes a day with tourists anxious to see the glaciers. «We had an uncertain start because of the ashes, but luckily since October the situation has normalized and the tourists do not stop coming in. The glacier is an attraction that attracts tourists from all over the world,» explains José Pera , Of Ice & Adventure, the company that since 1989 performs the minitrekking on the glaciers.
Walking on ice is still the most sought after tour of the park. It is done in two modalities, the minitrekking for 540 pesos per person or the Big Ice, an excursion of greater demand for 770 pesos per person.
From the Directorate of Tourism, Martín Herrero explains that the demand «today goes through an autonomous tourism, where it is booked with less time in advance, and hotels receive many private consultations over the Internet and social networks.»
Among the tourist novelties of the season, Estancia Cristina incorporated the Wild Trek, an excursion that includes a ferry trip to the Herminita peninsula and from there to the Upsala canal, to contemplate the ice barrier of the glacier of the same name that more abruptly Shows his recoil.