Estancia Cristina

Remote, rustic, active

Lago Argentino Department - Santa Cruz Province, Argentina


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At a Glance

One of the most interesting lodges in Southern Patagonia is also the most difficult to reach.


Estancia Cristina has no address, no roads and to reach its location in the Los Glaciares National Park, guests must take a two-hour boat ride from a small port outside El Calafate. But for travelers who want to visit an untouched corner of Patagonia, Estancia Cristina is well worth the effort.

Englishman Joseph Masters founded Estancia Cristina in 1914 as a home for his family and a base for a lucrative sheep raising business. Named for Joseph’s young daughter, the ranch also hosted visiting explorers and scientists who used the Masters’ home as a base for investigating nearby glaciers. Supplies the family couldn’t make or raise themselves were shipped in via boat, as they are today. At the peak of its success, Joseph Masters and his workers tended 27,000 sheep along with herds of cows and horses on over 55,000 acres of land.

When the last living member of the family died, Estancia Cristina passed to the government, who transformed the ranch into an inn for travelers. The new management built twelve guest rooms that are divided among three small lodges next to the main building. The furnishings are simple but comfortable, and each room has uninterrupted views of the mountains plus a private bath with modern fixtures. Meals are served in a separate dining hall that overlooks the lake.

While some guests come only for the day, the ideal way to enjoy Cristina is by spending the night. This gives travelers a chance to choose from two of the activities offered plus spend an evening in a spectacularly remote corner of the world. Excursions include horseback riding, hiking or, for less active types, a 4×4 off-road trip through the mountains that ends overlooking the Upsala glacier and ice fields. I spent my one perfect afternoon there with the horses, fording a river, galloping through a valley and breaking for a picnic lunch by a pristine lake surrounded by the Andes. The only part I would have changed is to extend my stay overnight and spend the next day hiking to the Cañadón de los Fósiles, a canyon where deep rifts left in the rocks by the retreating glaciers reveal ancient fossils. Like everything else with Cristina, the journey would be tough but the destination worth every step.

Who Should Stay

Those who want an adventurous experience in one of the most remote corners of the Argentine Patagonia

Good To Know

Because of the ferry schedule, travelers must spend a night in El Calafate before and after visiting Estancia Cristina, so work this into your total number of nights in Patagonia.

Written by Indagare

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