Estancia Cristina provides homely accommodation in Los Glaciers National Park. Getting there is part of the experience as you are driven to Punta Bandera for a cruise on Lake Argentino past the Upsala Glacier to the Cristina Channel and the hotel. The estancia was established in 1914 by Joseph and Jessie Masters who farmed sheep, cattle and horses for decades. The livestock has now gone and the estancia enables visitors to discover this stunning region of Patagonia.
Once here you can meet fellow guests in the Octagon, a lounge-bar-dining area reserved for exclusive use of residents. Make yourself at home on one of the sofas enjoying the glow of the open fire, chat to other guests, sip a drink from the bar and use the wifi to catch up on news from home. Upstairs there's a library where you can leaf through a selection of books.
Your stay includes a range of activities led by English-speaking guides which enable you to explore the national park to the full. Take your pick of the many half and full-day treks which vary in level of difficulty, all offering stunning views. A four wheel drive vehicle is available to take you further afield with the opportunity for a short hike before returning to the hotel for lunch. There are also opportunities to view Upsala Glacier. The estancia has a stable of horses and a supply of equestrian equipment to help you enjoy a number of riding routes. Fishing can be arranged in season (November to April).;
There are five cottages each housing four en-suite guest rooms. There are twin and double rooms and a handful of larger ones with space for an extra bed if needed. Heating makes them cosy and from your armchair or window seat you can look out across the Patagonian steppe. The bathroom has a bath and shower, a supply of toiletries and a heated towel rail.
Breakfast is a selection of bread, croissants, jams, cheeses, ham and eggs. with fruit juice and coffee. Lunches are served buffet style and dinner is usually an a la carte meal. The estancia welcomes day trippers from El Calafate but they have a separate dining area to residents. You can learn more about the Masters family and their adventures as Patagonian pioneers in the Costumbrista Museum in the former shearing shed, and visit the family's chapel.
Open: Estancia Cristina is open from October to April each year.
Location: The hotel is on the Cristina Channel on the northwest coast of Lake Argentino in Los Glaciers National Park. There is a pick-up and drop off service from and to hotels in El Calafate which includes lake transfers between Punta Bandera and the estancia.
Rooms: There are 20 guest rooms, doubles and twins, in five cottages, all with a large en-suite bathroom with a bath and a shower, toiletries and a heated towel rail. Bedrooms have heating, two armchairs and a window seat in the bay window. Five rooms have space for an additional bed or cot. Each cottage has a communal sitting room.
Activities: You can go trekking, explore by 4x4, mountain bike and horseback (no previous equestrian experience required) and take a cruise on Lake Argentino to view Upsala Glacier. The hotel offers a choice of half and full-day guided excursions led by bilingual (English-Spanish) guides. You can try your hand at fishing. Please note the estancia does not have resident specialist fishing guides, but these can be hired locally. Fishing permits are required and can be bought locally.
Facilities: The Octagon is the main relaxation area reserved for the exclusive use of overnight guests (the estancia also welcomes people on day trips). Comfy sofas are arranged near a fireplace and there's a bar. There is a separate library, a small museum and a chapel. The hotel provides a laundry service for an extra charge payable locally.
Dining: All meals are included so you have breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner daily and non-alcoholic drinks at no extra charge. Asados (traditional barbecues) are often served. Resident guests dine in the Octagon. Day visitors have their meals in the quincho dining area.
Children: Children of all ages are welcome. Minimum ages apply to activities.
Health: This is not a malarial area.
Communication: There is free wifi internet access in the Octagon.