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El Calafate Travel Guide

The Sights

Patagonia & El Calafate Tours by Say Hueque Argentina Journeys Best of Patagonia Tours El Calafate & The Glaciers
Patagonia Tours, takes you to trekk amazing locations Patagonia Trekking in Torres del Paine Patagonia Adventure Perito Moreno Glacier

Here are a few recommendations for the spots and activities you can’t miss if you visit El Calafate! Make sure to have a look at our El Calafate Tours section! It might help you to figure out some ideas for your itinerary.

Perito Moreno

From September to April: 8 am – 6 pm | From April to August: 9 am-4 pm | 20 USD Entrance Fee payable in cash, debit or credit.

On the top of the list is, of course,  Perito Moreno Glacier. Among Earth’s most impressive and accessible ice fields, Glaciar Perito Moreno is the stunning centerpiece of  Parque Nacional Los Glaciares.

30km long, 5km wide and 60m high, with an exceptional constant advance – it creeps forward up to 2m per day, causing building-sized icebergs to crash into the icy sea below, this noisy and beautiful show is not to be forgotten.

While most of the world’s glaciers are receding, Glaciar Moreno is considered “stable”. Nevertheless, every several years -17 times between 1917 and 2006- as the glacier advances, it raises the water level of the Brazo Rico of Lago Argentino,  and builds pressure against the dam, until it finally collapses. This is a world-known show that people from all over the world come to see. Important TV channels start a campsite a few days before when glaciologists predict that the break is near. As a matter of fact, in 2018 the park rangers registered the highest swelling so far since 1988.

Still, even if you miss the big one, there is no doubt that you will see lots of action; icebergs, chunks of ice falling, and a never-ending ice field. 

 

Laguna Nimez

2075 Costanera N C Kirchner Ave.| 10 USD access ticket | Open daily 9 am-8 pm

Known as a local bird reserve and a great place to spot flamingos, Laguna Nimes is a quiet green spot on the shoreline of Lago Argentino. It offers the viewing of more than 80 different bird species and is still not overexposed to tourists.

The ticket access includes a brief written guide to help you recognize the different species and how they interact. Keep in mind that you will spend at least two hours here. There are bathrooms and the opportunity to rent binoculars if you didn’t bring your own. The reserve offers a low-difficulty hike along a path of 3km extension surrounding the lagoons. 

General tips:

Dress in comfortable warm clothes, preferably a windbreak or impermeable outer layer and appropriate footwear. 

Wear sunglasses, sunscreen, and a hat, it is advisable to bring extra water.

Use binoculars to take a good look at the birds, and make the most of the shelters offered for you to rest.

Remember not to feed the birds as it is harmful to them.

Pets are not allowed

Use the bins around the reserve and do not litter.

 

Museo Regional de El Calafate

Av Libertador 575 | Admission by donation | Open from Monday to Friday 10am – 4pm

Inside this old building where the first neighbors’ committee used to work, you can see some archaeological materials such as bolas -engraved stones and arrow heads-, paleontological samples, like fossils of different species found in the region, geological material, and also samples of the flora and fauna of this area. You will observe a great variety of birds in glass cabinets where their original habitat has been reproduced. In addition, there are photographs of the first settlers and emblematic places in El Calafate. 

 

El Calafate Historical Interpretation Centre

1050  Almte G. Brown | From September to April: 10 am to 8 pm daily | From May to August: 11 am to 5 pm daily | Admission fee: Adults 6 USD and Children 4 USD.

This unique, informative center is a constant exhibition of the natural and human history of the last 100 million years in Southern Patagonia, recognized by the Scientific Sponsorship of La Plata Museum of Natural Sciences of the UNLP (National University of La Plata). The educational tour has been strategically conceived to introduce visitors into the history of southern Patagonia ever since its very formation.

It displays timelines presented on panels both in Spanish and English, posters with drawings and photographs, enlarged pictures, objects, tools, and replicas, as well as sound accounts that complete the itinerary.

 

Glaciarium – Patagonia Ice Museum

Open daily from 11 am to 7 pm | Admission fee: Adults 12 USD – Kids 5 USD.

This museum is located 6 km away from El Calafate, on the way to the Glacier. They provide a transfer from the Secretaría de Turismo Provincial regularly from 11 am to 6 pm, and the cost is included in the entrance fee. This newly opened museum offers a fantastic explanation of glaciers and their role in forming the shape of the earth’s landscape. In particular, don’t miss a 5-minute film on the history of the Earth, for context.

Before you leave, don’t miss the opportunity to have fun at the ice-bar. Don’t worry- they give you a jacket so that you don’t get cold!

 

Lago Roca

 

On the way to Perito Moreno glacier and on the serene south arm of Lago Argentino the lakeshore is surrounded by forests and mountains. Good hikes, pleasant camping, and estancia accommodations occupy this most southerly section of the park, where most visitors rarely travel.

No entrance fee is charged to access this section. Hikers can climb Cerro Cristal, a rugged but rewarding 3½-hour hike. It begins at the education camp at La Jerónima, just before the Camping Lago Roca entrance, 40 miles southwest of El Calafate along RP 15. This place offers a restaurant and horseback riding tours. It is an ideal place to spend the day, have a picnic,  make the most of biking tours or do some birdwatching. On a clear day, you can see Glaciar Moreno and the Torres del Paine.

During high season there are daily buses to this lake.

Our favorite restaurants! 

 

Quidu

3362 De Los Fresnos St. | Tel: 493071 |Open from Monday to Sundays, 5 pm-11.30 pm – Wednesdays closed.

A little outside of town, with beautiful lake views, and has a very tasty cuisine. Decoration includes simple, enormous windows to appreciate the lake, and my favorite plate here is their lamb and spinach lasagna accompanied by a good bottle of Malbec. 

Vegetarian  Vegan  Gluten-Free

 

La Tablita

61 Cnel. Rosales St. | Tel. 491065 |Open daily 12pm- 3.30pm  and 7pm-12am

The best parrilla in town! Grilled meats here are to die for! It is very popular, so you always have to make a reservation before you go. It can be full of groups, meaning it is often quite noisy and you might have to wait a while for your meal…but you will forget any inconveniences when the food arrives! Gluten-Free

Pura Vida

1876 Del Libertador Av.| Tel. 493356 | Open daily 12pm-2.30pm and 7pm-11.30pm – Wednesdays closed

Colorful interior, good music, and homemade food are the three stand-out qualities of this place. The portions are big and there is a great variety for vegetarians. Try the filled pumpkin, you won’t regret it! 

Vegetarian  Vegan   Gluten-Free

 

La Lechuza Pizzas

Del Libertador Av. and 1ro de Mayo St. | Tel. 491-610 | Open daily 12 pm-11.30 pm

Maybe the most popular restaurant in El Calafate. Strategically located at the corner in front of the Administration Office of the National Park, the pizzas, pasta, and empanadas are delicious! The great old fashioned ambiance, enthusiastic service, and generous dishes are the distinguished tones of the place.

Vegetarian Vegan

Casimiro Biguá

963 Del Libertador Av. | Tel. 492590 | Open daily 12 pm-12 am

One of the more expensive options in town, this restaurant has a wine menu the caters to all tastes. Gourmet food, trout, salmon, and of course Patagonian lamb. A true treat for a special night.  Gluten-free

 

La Cocina

1245 Del Libertador Av. | Tel. 491758 | Open daily 12pm-3pm and 6.30pm-12am – Thursdays closed

One of the most traditional in town, La Cocina’s portions are big and, although the specialty is pasta, you can find original and different salads. 

Vegetarian Vegan

 

Mi Rancho

1089 Gobernador Moyano St. and 9 de Julio St. | Tel. 490540 | Open daily 12-15 and 19-23

Just a few blocks off the main street, this restaurant has become popular quickly.

Their beef and lamb seem to be as good as their pasta. It looks like one visit won’t be enough!

Vegetarian  Gluten-free

Viva la Pepa

833 Amado St. | Tel. 491880 | Open from Monday to Saturday 11 am-11 pm

Decked out in children’s drawings, this cheerful cafe specializes in crepes but also offers great sandwiches, juices, and milkshakes. Perfect for a tasty meal after a visit to the glacier. They also serve traditional mate if you want to try! 

Vegetarian Vegan Gluten-Free

 

 

La Zaina

1057 Gob. Gregores St. | Tel. 496789

This bar/restaurant offers delicious beer and provides you with the opportunity to listen to folk music. Everyone who goes emphasizes the quality and flavor of the meat, lamb in particular. They have a great wine menu since the general manager is a sommelier. Most definitely the El Calafate culinary jewel.

Vegan Gluten-free

 

Humus Cocktail Bar

1135 Ing. Hector Mario Guatti | Tel. 491144 | Open from Tuesday to Sunday 5 pm-12 am

This is the bar of the 5-star hotel, Posada Los Alamos, but it is a little hidden -it looks like a private house- and offers a nice spot to listen to rock and drink elaborate cocktails.

 

Borges y Alvarez

1015 del Libertador Av., 1st floor | Tel. 491464 | Open daily 10 am-2 am

Visited by tourists and locals because of the good ambiance, music, and books! They serve all kinds of meals, offer craft beer, and are a great place to have a drink after buying a good book.  Free Wi-Fi

 

 

La Zorra

832 Del Libertador Av. | Tel. 488042 | Open daily: Mondays 6 pm-2 am; Tuesdays to Thursdays and Sundays 12 pm-2 am; Fridays and Saturdays 12 pm-3 am

Quite a new craft beer bar, La Zorra offers pizza, sandwiches, and burgers. Known for being the new hot spot in town, this place gathers tourists and has a teeming social scene. The place to make new friends! Many praise the quality and variety of their beers and their salads. Free Wi-Fi

 

La Oveja Negra

761 Del Libertador Av. | Tel. 494664 | Open daily: 5pm-12am

This is another craft beer bar, similar to La Zorra, and as a matter of fact, is located just across the street. They offer burgers, tapas, finger food and sandwiches in a small and cozy ambiance. 

 

El Cucharón

145 9 de Julio St.| Tel. 495315| Open from Monday to Saturday 7 pm-12 am

A well-known restaurant that offers some eccentric dishes with perfect preparation. It is very popular, so making a reservation will be a safe bet. They have an easy-going and enthusiastic service staff that pairs great will the generous plates supplied. Really interesting fillings for their pasta too!  Vegetarian

 

Isabel Cocina al Disco

95 Perito Moreno St.| Tel. 489000| Open daily 12 pm-12 am

They offer traditional dishes cooked in plow discs. Their menu is full of characteristic plates of the region and other Argentine classics. Not to miss Calafate’s ice cream and their homemade pasta. Vegetarian Vegan Gluten-Free

 

 

 

Ovejitas de la Patagonia

1370 Padre de Agostini St.| Tel. 491318 | Open daily 10am-1pm 4pm-8pm

This gourmet coffee shop is the perfect place for copious breakfast and tea. They have an amazing variety of baked goods, alfajores, and chocolates. Also, they have really good Calafate ice-cream, which is a must-try on this Calafate trip!

Directions 

In town, most of the blocks are 100 m each.

There are remises or taxis that you can call from your hotel. Here are a few agencies: El Cóndor (Tel. 491655), Perito Moreno (Tel. 491745) and Lago Argentino (Tel. 491479).

Also, there are scattered taxi stops around the city where you can walk up and request one in-person. For instance, there’s one on 25 de Mayo between Gregores and Libertador. There are many, you just need to ask in order to find one close to you!

Calendar

Since El Calafate is one of the most visited places in Argentina, almost nothing closes during the holidays; this is when most people from big cities come here for fun.

The second week of February, for instance, we celebrate the local festival “Fiesta del Lago”.

During this event, nationally recognized musicians give free concerts in honor of a new anniversary of the town. Because of that, it’s hard to find a single bed available. Be aware of this if you are thinking to travel for these dates, and reserve in advance.

Another interesting date will be in July and August, during which the Ice Festival takes place. True to its name, this festival pays tribute to ice skating, ice hockey, torch lights, sleds, ice sculpture, and Fiesta Chueca – a very popular celebration from the Bahia Redonda region.

What To Do If You Get Sick

Due to being located in a small town, health care service is not the best in the world, but you still can find assistance.

There is a public hospital downtown -normally they don’t speak English-, but hotels usually have a list of doctors that can visit you in-house(and many times they do speak English). These services are available 24-7 and people are known for being attentive and efficient.

SAMIC Hospital Address:   Newbery 465 – TEL: 02902- 49 18 31 – Or dial 107 from a landline

Private Medical Service TM Salud- Av. Libertador 1824- Tel. 02902 49 39 54  (English speaking doctors available). Open daily 9am-1pm and 4pm-8pm. They don’t take care of emergencies.

Useful telephone numbers

Calling from El Calafate  

Direct International Dial-Up: 00 + country code + area code + number.

The international prefix for Argentina is 54 and for El Calafate 2902. For example, to reach the 455-5555 in El Calafate when calling from abroad, dial: 54-2902-455-5555.

Helpful

A little basic Spanish goes a long way here and we recommend studying up (at least a tad) on menu translation so that you don’t end up eating the only thing you know how to order the entire time.

Since El Calafate lives mainly from tourism, it’s a little easier than in other towns. Even at the supermarket, you will be able to ask the cashier a few words in English.

People

Nobody in El Calafate is from El Calafate. A lot of people from different provinces come here looking for new opportunities. According to the last census, Santa Cruz is still the province with the highest salaries in the country. And it is also the fastest-growing town.

Many people just come for the season, to work for about 6/8 months, and then go back home. This is probably one of the reasons why there are so many young people, bars, and lively nightlife, although it is a small town.

 

Discover amazing Patagonia TRekking

If you are doing the MINI TREKKING excursion:

– Outfit: Sport shoes or hiking boots. Rubber and apres ski boots, as well as high heel shoes,  are not allowed. Comfortable sportswear, long trousers, warm sweater or pile, water or windproof jacket, sunglasses, sunblock, gloves.

– Lunch: Passengers must bring their lunch boxes.

 

If you are doing the BIG ICE excursion:

– Outfit: Warm clothes, raincoat jacket, waterproof trousers, hiking boots, sunglasses, sunscreen, gloves, hat, backpack (40lts).

– Lunch: Passengers must bring their own lunch boxes.

If you are not very into preparing your lunch box, ask your hotel’s front desk and the hotel may offer to prepare it for you. Other options are Don Luis Bakery & Coffee Shop, Alfonsina Aware Food, and Enjoy Eat. This last one sends your lunch box to your hotel and offers vegetarian and gluten-free meals. Their contact number is +54-011 15-5497-1717. You can easily order through WhatsApp.

Tours to Perito Moreno

National Park Entrance 

Always remember the entrance tickets for all national parks in the country are generally paid in Argentine pesos! Some accept debit and credit cards, but it’s rather uncommon.

Animals

The variety of birds and other animals in the park is much more exciting than you would imagine, although, given the number of visitors, the animals are quite shy.

On the way to the glacier, it is easy to see Cara Cara (is a species of bird of prey in the Falconidae family), condors, flamingos, and lapwings (known locally as choike).

What not to forget

Carrying sunblock on all tours is very important! Have it handy to use it frequently. Since it’s cold and windy most of the time, people tend to forget that you are still exposed to lots of sunlight- and UV!

Eating

For the number of visitors, El Calafate has a good variety of high-quality restaurants.

Some of the best Patagonian lambs are served here. Don’t forget to try Calafate berry and the traditional Lemon Pie of La Leona (a very old pit-stop on the way to El Chalten). If you are not going in this direction, you can probably still get a portion of pie at La Zaina, a bar in downtown where they keep the family recipe.

Lunch in the Park

Inside the park, there is a big coffee shop where you can have a snack or lunch, or maybe even just a hot chocolate to warm up. Still, you can bring your own box lunch, and there are seats where you can enjoy your sandwich while you appreciate the glacier.

Shopping

Probably more unique to the area are the chocolates and liquors made from Calafate, the blueberry that grows everywhere in Patagonia.

If you are looking for presents to bring back home, Helmich might just be the place to stop. Helmich is the local distillery and they focus on gin. You can also get some local goods such as soap, tea or jam. If you haven’t found what you were looking for, get some chocolates from the first chocolate shop in El Calafate, Casa Guerrero. They have some famous chocolates shaped in the form of sheep that would definitely make you popular back home.

Photo Tips

Probably one of the hardest parts of taking pictures at El Calafate is the wind, which is even stronger during summertime. Some 80-90 km/h gusts are considered “normal” at this latitude. For this reason, it is highly recommended to use a very stable tripod. Also, put the tripod low, and put the legs as wide as possible, lowering the center of gravity of the whole tool.

Another option would be to use an umbrella to block the lateral wind. If it is one of those days when it is hard to even walk, probably the best strategy is the use of shorter focal lengths.

Environmental Tips

– All the water in El Calafate is taken from Lago Argentino, the same lake where Perito Moreno Glacier is located. Taking short showers, not leaving the tap water running while we brush our teeth, and encouraging others to do the same will help to minimize the impact.

– In Calafate, the garbage dump is open. That is why when it is windy we can see plastic bags flying everywhere. Avoiding the use of these kinds of bags, recycling, and taking care of where we put our trash will keep the town cleaner.

– Although fruits and vegetables are organic garbage, they are not native to the region. So, if you leave the rest of an apple in the Park, you are contaminating, as it could grow and affect the ecosystem.

– The Park receives many visitors every year. If everyone takes a rock or a leaf of a tree, in a few years we wouldn’t have any more forest. Just take pictures from the park!

El Calafate Tours & Excursions

Now is your chance! Check out these incredible excursions that will take you over mountains, through lakes, and across glaciers. And once you’re done here, check out our full El Calafate Tours or just contact us about our Tours in Patagonia. 

Glaciers, Falls & Tango Tour Hiking in Patagonia Tours Argentina Glaciers: El Calafate & El Chaltén
Buenos Aires Tango on your Argentina trip Hiking in Chalten, Patagonia Adventure Patagonia Adventure Perito Moreno Glacier

Mini trekking: Hiking on the Perito Moreno Glacier

A breathtaking adventure in the icy world of Patagonia; experience the iconic glacier up-close by walking on the surface of the ice itself! The adventure begins by navigating along the towering facade, followed by disembarking on the opposite shore. Walk along the lateral side until you ascend onto the ice in a two-hour moderate circuit that introduces you to this fascinating glacial landscape with its streams, small lagoons, crevasses and sculptural ice formations of the most incredible shades of blue. Truly a once in a lifetime experience!

Duration: Full Day. Restrictions: excursion allowed only for passengers from 10 years old to 65 years old. No exceptions. Not allowed for pregnant women, overweight people or any type of disability. Valid from September to April (summertime). You can book it here.

Big Ice: Journey to the Center of the Glacier

Admire the world-famous glacier on this unforgettable excursion deep into the ice world of Patagonia. After short navigation along the glacier’s towering facade, your adventure begins along the lateral side of the Perito Moreno Glacier glacier. Attach crampons and ascend the glacier in a four-hour trek across the ice. During the trek, you will experience the magical landscape of the glacier, exploring the huge caves, crevasses, and beautiful lagoons. Marvel at the breathtaking views of the immense landscape of ice during this truly once in a lifetime experience.

Duration: Full Day. Restrictions: This excursion is allowed only for passengers from 18 years old up to 50 years old. No exceptions. It is not allowed for pregnant women, overweight people or any type of disability. Valid from September to April (summertime) except Dec 25th & Jan 01st. You can book it here.

Perito Moreno Kayak Experience

Experience the breathtaking feeling of navigating between the various icebergs that break and detach from the front of one of the most important Glaciers of the National Park. Observe and admire the interesting flora and fauna of this beautiful area (condors, eagles, wild cows, ñires, lengas) and pass close to many giant cliffs and great mountains that will amaze you at every turn.

Duration: Full day. Difficulty: Medium – 2hs kayaking. Restrictions: Minimum age 18 years old. Valid from November to April.

Perito Moreno Pioneers

Discover an original way of visiting the famous Perito Moreno Glacier, combining a day in a typical Patagonian Estancia, treks in the woods and impressive views of this great glacier. Enjoy a National barbecue table with the best Argentine wines at the gorgeous Nibepo Aike Farm. Navigate south through the Argentino Lake, admiring the beautiful mountain ranges of “Adriana” and “Moreno” to finally reach the gate and have a close-up view of the front wall of the Perito Moreno Glacier.

Duration: Full Day. Restrictions: 6 years old age minimum. Valid from October to End-April. You can book it here.

Cerro Frias

Discover the wonders of nature in the El Calafate surroundings. Cerro Frias Mountain offers different circuits like horseback riding, ziplining, trekking or ATV (4×4). Choose the one you feel most comfortable with and enjoy a great experience with perfect panoramic views of the Lago Argentino, El Calafate, Fitz Roy Mountain, and even Torres del Paine. The landscape combines steppe and lenga tree forests that host different types of plants and animals ready to be discovered by the adventurer’s clever eyes.

Duration: 4hs or 6hs with lunch included at the Estancia. Valid during summertime (Christmas and New Year different departure times). You can book it here.

Basic Information and Frequently Asked Questions

Perito Moreno Glacier is in Santa Cruz Province

Distance from Buenos Aires: 1712 miles.          

Are there banks, ATMs?

 Yes! Nowadays there are many banks and many ATMs. Even though there are no currency exchange houses in the city, you can visit a bank on Libertador Avenue between 8 am to 1 pm if needed.

Internet?
Yes.

Phones?
There are many phone centers in the town.

How far is El Calafate town from Perito Moreno Glacier?
80 KM/ 50 Miles

Is the water drinkable?
Yes, but we don’t recommend it due to the amount of sediment it carries. Though unusual, tap water can cause stomach reactions, so we recommend buying a large bottled water for your stay at one of the many local markets.


Money

Argentina’s unit of currency is the Argentine peso. Notes come in denominations of  5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000 pesos. Coins come in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10 pesos and 25 and 50 centavos (one peso equals 100 centavos). The $ sign in front of a price is usually used to signify pesos, so this should be the case unless otherwise marked.

Don’t be dismayed if you receive dirty and hopelessly tattered banknotes; they will still be accepted everywhere. Some banks refuse worn or defaced US dollars, however, so make sure you arrive in Buenos Aires with acceptable bills.

Sadly, the fake currency has become more common in Argentina. So look for a clear watermark or running thread on the largest bills, and be especially careful when receiving change in dark nightclubs or taxis. If you hesitate, ask to change it for another note.

If you need to exchange money, you can go to Western Union, 1133 Libertador Gral San Martin Av., they are open Monday to Friday from 8 am – 4.30 p.m.



Banks

Open daily from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Not all of the banks change foreign currency, however, there is a money exchange shop downtown (closes for a siesta but re-opens in the late afternoon). Banks might have longer lines and more limited opening hours but may have more security regarding fake notes.

There are many cajeros automáticos (ATMs) in town, but they dispense just Argentine currency. There might be a limited amount per transaction, depending on the bank, but you can always do many transactions from the same ATM. But beware of per-transaction fees! Withdraw your cash before the weekend rush – it isn’t uncommon for ATMs to run out on Sundays.

Banco Santa Cruz (1285 Av. Libertador) changes traveler’s checks and has an ATM.


Credit cards

Like in the rest of the country, many tourist services, larger stores, hotels, and restaurants take credit cards such as Visa and MasterCard, especially for big purchases. Be aware, however, that some businesses add a recargo (surcharge) of up to 10% to credit-card purchases; ask ahead of time whether this is the case. Some lower-end hotels and private businesses will not accept credit cards, and tips can’t usually be added to credit-card bills at restaurants.



Traveler’s checks

Traveler’s checks are very impractical in Argentina, and in El Calafate, it is almost impossible to change them and definitively impossible to change them at a good rate. Therefore, just try to use cash or your debit card.



Tipping 

Tipping is not compulsory, but it is greatly appreciated throughout South America, especially in the service industry.  If you are satisfied with the services provided by your Destination Host, tour guides, and drivers, then we recommend rewarding their hard work by tipping. In general, we suggest a tip of around 20 – 25 USD a day for group guides and  5 -10 USD for drivers. For a solo traveler, we suggest to tip between 10-15 USD a day for guides and 4 – 7 USD for drivers.

When tipping hotel and restaurant staff, tips are generally 10% of the total bill. If you stay a couple of days in the same hotel, a tip of $3 – 5 per day for the maid service is recommended. For porters, 2-3 USD/time/room is appropriate.  


Safety General Considerations


El Calafate has always been a small, safe and relaxed town. But it is advisable to be conscious and careful; don’t flash any wealth, and always be aware of your surroundings. If you have an expensive camera, try not to show it around or to leave it behind.

Mainly, when you leave the hotel, make sure you close the windows and doors properly and put your valuables in the safe box.

Airport

 

If you are taking some Argentina Tours and visiting El Calafate, make sure to read all the information provided so you can go on your trip fully prepared. Learn more about El Calafate airport here

Lonely Planet

“Among Earth’s most dynamic and accessible ice fields, Glaciar Perito Moreno is the stunning centerpiece of the southern sector of Parque Nacional Los Glaciares. Locally referred to as Glaciar Moreno, it measures 30 long, 5km wide and 60m high, but what makes it exceptional in the world of ice is its constant advance – it creeps forward up to 2m per day, causing building-sized icebergs to calve from its face. In some ways, watching the glacier is a very sedentary park experience, but it manages to nonetheless be thrilling…” Read More

Rough Guide

“Parque Nacional Los Glaciares Declared a “Patrimony of Humanity” by UNESCO in 1981, the wild expanse of Parque Nacional Los Glaciares encompasses environments ranging from enormous glaciers that flow down from the heights of the Hielo Continental Sur to thick, sub-Antarctic woodland of deciduous lenga and ñire, and evergreen guindo and canelo; and from savage, rain-lashed, unclimbed crags to dry, billiard-table Patagonian meseta.” Read more

Fodors

“Founded in 1927 as a frontier town, El Calafate is the base for excursions to the Parque Nacional Los Glaciares, which was created in 1937 as a showcase for one of South America’s most spectacular sights, the Perito Moreno Glacier. Because it’s on the southern shore of Lago Argentino, the town enjoys a microclimate much milder than the rest of southern Patagonia.

To call El Calafate a boomtown would be a gross understatement. Between 2001 and 2008, the town’s population exploded from 4,000 to 22,000, and it shows no signs of slowing down; at every turn, you’ll see new construction. As a result, the downtown has a very new sheen to it, although most buildings are constructed of wood, with a rustic aesthetic that respects the majestic natural environment. One exception is the brand-new casino in the heart of downtown, the facade of which seems to mock the face of the Perito Moreno glacier. As the paving of the road between El Calafate and the glacier nears completion, the visitors continue to flock in. These include luxury package tourists bound for the legendary Hostería Los Notros, backpackers over from Chile’s Parque Nacional Torres del Paine, and porteños (those from Buenos Aires) in town for a long weekend—including Argentina’s President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who owns a vacation house and two hotels down here.” Read more

Wikitravel

“A must, the Perito Moreno Glacier, 80 km (50 miles) away from El Calafate. You can see the enormous glacier just meters away from you, and listen to all the sounds that the cracking ice makes 24 hours a day. And when a front wall of the glacier falls down, well, it is just amazing! It is the main point of tourism. Viewing platforms and easy trails (with quite a number of steps, though) make the visit and the observation easy and pleasant. You can visit many ranches (estancias), where you can enjoy the wild nature, perfect meals, and stay there in the middle of nowhere, relaxing from the big cities rush. Or take a boat excursion and see many of the glaciers and places in the National Park Los Glaciares. The colors and shapes of the icebergs floating in the lake are really awesome and inspiring, making a boat ride on a sunny day a fantastic day out. Another perfect point, is Onelli Bay, one of the most romantics sites here. Just bring your lunch box, a bottle of champagne, and chill it in the lake, or just add a piece of pure crystal ice. Wild nature can be seen just walking a few blocks away from the main street, like in El Cañadón, or at Laguna Nimez, where you can see all kind of Patagonian birds feet away from you. Wildlife and views, especially at dusk, make Laguna Nimez a must-see, perfect if you have just arrived in town, settled your next days’ excursions and eager to go see some real Patagonia. At night, grab a chair and go outside. The non-polluted sky shows stars like you will never see again and don´t be surprised by satellites passing by! “ Read more

Footprint

“The sight of this expanse of ice, like a frozen sea, its waves sculpted by wind and time into beautiful turquoise folds and crevices, is unforgettable. Immense and silent, you’ll watch in awe until suddenly a mighty roar announces the fall of another hunk of ice into the milky turquoise water below. Glaciar Moreno is one of the few accessible glaciers in the world which you can see visibly advancing. Some 30 km long, it reaches the water at a narrow point in one of the fjords, Brazo Rico, opposite Península Magallanes, and here, where it’s 5 km across and 60 m high it occasionally advances across Brazo Rico, blocking the fjord. As the water pressure builds up behind it, the ice breaks, reopening the channel and sending giant icebergs (témpanos) rushing down the appropriately named Canal de Los Témpanos. This has only happened in recent decades, February 1988, March 2004, and March 2006, raising concern that global warming may be to blame for the marked change in the glacier’s behavior. Walking on the ice itself is a wonderful way to experience it, climbing up the steep curves of what appears from a distance to be vertical fish flakes, and are in fact huge peaks, with mysterious chasms below, lit by a refracted bluish light. “ Read more

The New York Times Travel Guide

“Named after famed Argentine scientist Francisco “Perito” Moreno (“Perito” is the title given to someone considered an expert in their field), the famous glacier Perito Moreno is a must-see, as important to Argentine culture and tourism as Iguazú Falls or the Casa Rosada. Few natural wonders in South America are as spectacular or as easily accessed as this glacier. It’s just one fingertip in the imposing Patagonian Ice Cap, the fourth-largest frozen mass in the world after the two poles and Greenland. Perito Moreno is one of the few glaciers in the world that is not receding. Scientists like to say that it is “stable,” or constantly growing and receding. Around 1900, Perito Moreno was measured at 750m (2,460 ft.) from the Península Magallanes; by 1920, it had advanced so far that it finally made contact with the peninsula where tourists now walk the lovely and newly refurbished boardwalk and take in views. Each time the glacier reached the peninsula, which would occur every 3 to 4 years, it created a dam in the channel that drastically altered water levels on either side. Over the period of a few years, the built-up pressure would set off a calving explosion for 48 to 72 hours, breaking the face of the glacier in a crashing fury. The last time this happened was in July 2008, making news across the country. Perito Moreno is usually reliable for sending a few huge chunks the size of buses hurling into the channel throughout the day. Sit in silence with your camera ready and you’re almost certain to get a fabulous photo opportunity of a calving glacier.” Read more

General Information

Why is called El Calafate? 

The town’s name was chose due to the popular bush that has the same name and grows all over Patagonia.

Economy

The economy is centered on tourism, given that the town’s many hotels provide the main source of jobs for its inhabitants. Many international hotels have been and are being constructed.

Elevation

199 meters

Population

Estimated at 7.000 inhabitants

History

Originally Inhabited by the Tehuelches -relatives of the Mapuches-, El Calafate remained a savage and isolated area until the end of 1800, when most of the land was sold to English investors, after the Desert Campaign  – when the Argentine government advanced on the land of the natives, expanding the productive area.

Due to the rise of wool exportation, this area became an important center for sheep farming.

The town itself developed as an important marketplace to connect the different estancias (ranches) and as a provider of basic services – here was the only hotel in the area, a supermarket and gas station.

Between 1920 and 1921, the workers of these estancias were very unhappy with their situation, since salaries and working conditions were very poor. The result was that after many battles, the government decided to send a troop that promised the workers that if they stopped the fight they would respect their claims.

After workers gave up, 500 of the revolutionaries were executed and the persecution of those who escaped started. After a year, around 1500 of them had been killed.

In 1950, the price of wool fell considerably in every stock market in the world, so the estancias stopped rearing livestock and the activity in the area almost disappeared, until the National Park Administration came, and built its office in El Calafate.

Since 1970, tourists from all over the world started arriving and subsequently hotels, hosterias, supermarkets and all kinds of tourist services were developed in the area, which to this day continue to develop.

Clothing

If you plan to go to Patagonia from October through April, you should be prepared for a variety of weather conditions and as such, bring a variety of clothing for each of the seasons. We suggest a warm fleece, wind/waterproof jacket, comfortable walking shoes, pants and socks, a warm hat, sunglasses and a daypack for the daily excursions and walks.

While October through April is the best time to visit Patagonia and enjoy the mountains, glaciers and picturesque lakes, the weather can be fickle. It can be sunny and warm (25C / 75ºF) during the afternoon and then it can be quite windy, chilly (5C / 41ºF) and even rainy, depending on where you are in the region.

For el Calafate specially, keep in mind that, it can be windy. Even it’s nice weather in town; take your rain jacket, wool hat, scarf, and gloves when you visit the glacier. The weather can be very different inside the National Park. Also, don’t forget to take your sunglasses: if it’s sunny the reflection on the ice is quite strong! One more thing, remember it is a very dry area. You can feel it in the nose and the skin, so lip balsam and moisturizer cream can be useful.

So here’s your checklist:
– Warm fleece.
– Wind/waterproof jacket.
– Comfortable walking shoes.
– A warm hat, scarf, gloves.
– Sunglasses, lip balsam, and moisturizer cream.
– Daypack for daily excursions.
– Warm socks and pants.
– Long sleeve t-shirt.

 

 

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