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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Estancia Cristina - A wonderful day trip in Patagonia - Viedma and Uppsala Glaciers

The Estancia Cristina surrounded by the lonely peaks of Patagonia (a day trip from El Calafate)


From my travel diary:

The Estancia Cristina is located in a secluded corner of the Parque National de Los Glacieres in Patagonia Argentina. The Estancia (meaning "farm", "estate") is a large estate totally isolated from the main roads and towns. It is a day trip from El Calafate and it represents in my opinion one of the best places to enjoy the beauty and the wilderness of Patagonia without too many hassle and difficulties. People in this day travel to the Estancia as the easier access to enjoy the beauty of two of the most famous glaciers in Patagonia: the Viedma Glacier and the Uppsala Glacier.

Despite the fact that I am against every kind of organized tour in principle, as I believe that organized tours kill the spirit of travel and adventure, I didn't have much choice but to enroll from this well organized tour from El Calafate to see the Viedma Glacier and the Uppsala Glacier.

The organized tour starts early in the morning from El Calafate. After two hours travelling by bus along the light blue water of the Lake Argentino you get to Punta Bandera. From there via a wonderful boat trip through fantastic icebergs (what a great experience is this!) and a short ride on 4x4 you will get to the Estancia Cristina.

I read about Estancia Cristina before to travel there and I was very impressed by its history. I was charmed by the loneliness of the place. I was envious of the courage of a British man, Joseph Percival Master who came here to settle his business in 1914, importing Shetland sheep  and trading wool back to the Old Continent, fighting against odds, loneliness and the wild nature. Joseph Percival Master built the Estancia Cristina practically in the middle of nowhere buying cheaply a huge estate wild, isolated and apparently without much potentiality. He turned it in a business in few year. 

He couldn't have done all this by himself and - as they say - next to a great man is always a great woman (sometimes the other way round may be also true!). Percival's wife was a Scottish woman, so I find quite natural for her to have the skills to run so well the house and the estate, but still I was impressed by her character as well.


To live in this corner of Patagonia you need to be resourceful and you need to keep yourself busy and interested in the rainy and cold days, when the icy winter wind blows. These people were able to do so. Jessie, in particular, doing the housework and painting and writing. 

Jessie came to the Estancia Cristina to work as Percival's servant but soon the two fell in love for one another. They realized the urgent need to make their minds busy and not just their bodies. Talking by radio to people around the world was maybe the best way to make that possible. They lived their lives fully in the Estancia and they were never defeated by the loneliness of the place, always in contact by people from all over the world via radio waves, you can easily imagine how comforting this should have been for the brave couple in the long and cold winter. 

Despite the fact that the Estate is now just one more touristy business and you don't see any more sheep grazing in the vast land surrounding the farm (you still see the horses inside a large white fence at least), there is something yet unspoiled. It is maybe the little chapel, beautiful but modern, the only bit out of touch".

What is great about visiting the Estancia Cristina is the fact that you can enjoy breathtaking views over two of the most amazing Glaciers in Patagonia: the Viedma Glacier and the Uppsala Glacier.

 If the Perito Moreno Glacier is the most famous glacier in Patagonia, the Viedma Glacier and the Uppsala Glacier are the two more amazing. They are amazing not just for their size but also for the unspoil panorama and the loneliness surrounding this two giants of ice. You get to see them on a 4x4 trip from the Estancia and although it may sound totally an adventurous it is the only way to get there unless you have weeks to spend, money to organize a trip and a lot of experience in this kind of thing.

The views are so rewarding that I made a video of the Estancia and
the Viedma Glacier and the Uppsala Glacier, words would have not been enough to explain this beauty. Hope you enjoy!


 
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