Patagonia, Argentina, is a place that makes people want to pack up their bags and move to this natural paradise. Estancia Cristina, an old sheep ranch (estancia) dating back to 1918, makes that a possibility. In 2005, the site opened its doors as an inn, as well as an agro-tourism day trip destination.
A visit to the estancia provides background information about the history of how Argentine Patagonia was settled, in addition to explaining the functions of the farm. A Patagonian barbecue is a highlight of the region and to this site specifically, which normally features spit-roasted lamb, often accompanied by a glass of Argentina’s iconic Malbec wine.
Access to Estancia Cristina is on a boat from Puerto Bandera, itself only a 40-minute drive from El Calafate. It is easy to combine a trip to Estancia Cristina with a visit to the Upsala Glacier, one of the most active in the area.
Other activities from the estancia include horseback riding with local gauchos, hiking to waterfalls and a canyon hike with fossil spotting. Keep your eye out for Andean condors, a species of bird with a wingspan of up to 10.5 feet. They can often be seen coasting on thermal updrafts in the late afternoon.
Estancia Cristina is accessible via boat from Puerto Bandera, which itself is a 40-minute drive from El Calafate. The two-hour-long boat ride is on the milky blue waters of Lago Argentino, Argentina’s largest source of fresh water, whose color is influenced by glacial silt that calving icebergs and glaciers deposit into the lake.