Just outside the trekking and climbing hotspot of El Calafate in Argentine Patagonia sits the Glaciarium, a modern glacier interpretation center that’s also home to the world’s only bar made entirely of glacial ice.
The small town of El Calafate (pop. 6,143) is a hotspot for trekkers, climbers, nature lovers and adventurers who come to explore the nearby Los Glaciares National Park, a region of Magellanic subpolar forests, west Patagonian steppes and, as the name suggests, glaciers.
About 30 percent of the national park is covered by ice from the massive ice cap located in this part of the Andes, which feeds almost 50 glaciers in the region. One of the most famous glaciers, Perito Moreno, is located within the park, about 40 miles west of El Calafate.
All in all, it’s a fantastic place to do some glacier spotting and if you want to learn more about glaciers, you can head to the Glaciarium, a modern glacier interpretation center just outside of El Calafate. Here, multimedia exhibitions explain how ice is formed and how glaciers move and shape their surroundings. They delve back to the origins of the Universe and the various glaciations on Earth, and cover the early explorers and scientists whose research gave us a far better understanding of the processes involved. You can also see a large 3D model of the Southern Patagonia Ice-Field and the numerous glaciers in the region.
If all this sounds a little too serious, you need not to fear. Even the least scientifically-curious person has a reason to visit the Glaciarium: the Glaciobar. Billed as the world’s only bar made completely from glacial ice, including the seats, tables, and the glasses, the Glaciobar is so cold that you can only enter after donning the capes, gloves, and boots provided by the bar’s hardy staff. Even then, you can only stay in the bar for 20 minutes or risk becoming a permanently frozen fixture.
Know Before You Go
The Glaciarium is located about four miles to the west of central El Calafate, just off the road that leads out to the Perito Moreno Glacier. It’s open every day from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The entrance fee is 480 Argentine pesos ($11 US). Entrance to the Glaciobar is 300 pesos ($7 US), which includes a drink. There’s a free shuttle bus from the center of El Calafate to the Glaciarium; it normally leaves from 1 de Mayo, between Av Libertador and Roca, but best to check that in advance with your hotel.