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El Calafate Travel Guide

The Sights

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

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

 

Perito Moreno

Of course on the top of the list is 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, and its exceptional constant advance – it creeps forward up to 2m per day, causing building-sized icebergs, noise and a beautiful show, not to be forgotten.

While most of the world’s glaciers are receding, Glaciar Moreno is considered “stable.” –  but every several  years (17 times between 1917 and 2006) as the glacier has advanced, it has dammed the Brazo Rico (Rico Arm) of Lago Argentino, and with the level of water rising and making pressure against the dam, 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.

Still, if your visit is not in the “rupture year” you will see lots of action, icebergs, pieces of ice falling and a never ending ice field. 

 

Flamingos at Laguna Nimez in El Calafate, Argentina

Laguna Nimez

A bird reserve and a great place to spot flamingos, Laguna Nimes is a quiet green spot on the shoreline on Lago Argentino.

It is still not overexposed to tourists and is one of the things that maintain a reasonable price at El Calafate (25 pesos argentinos as of april 2012) – it includes a little written guide to help you to recognize the different species and how they interrelate.

 

Museo de El Calafate

(Av Libertador 575; admission by donation; 8am-7pm Mon- Fri, 10am-4pm Sat & Sun) Inside this old building where the first neighbors committee used to work, you can see some archaeological material 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.

 

El Calafate Historical Interpretation Centre

From September to April: from 10am to 8pm | Every day. From May to August: from 11am to 5pm | Closed on Tuesdays. Admission ar$40. (March 2012)

It is a constant exhibition of natural and human history of the last 100 million years in the Southern Patagonia, recognized with the Scientific Sponsorship of La Plata Museum of Natural Sciences of the UNLP (National University of La Plata).

 

El Calafate Tours and the Glaciarium Ice Bar

Glaciarium

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 every hour from 9 to 18 hrs, for 25 AR$ the round trip. Open daily from 9 to 20 hrs (Winter May, Jun, July and Ago from 11 to 19 hrs). Admision ar$80.- (kids 6-12 ar$55, younger than six free).

A newly opened museum – also called Museo del Hielo – this is 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 or so 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, 55km southwest of El Calafate along RP 15.

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! 

Eat great Argentina Food on El Calafate Tours

Quidu

De los fresnos 3362. Tel: 493071. A little out of town, with beautiful lake views, has a very tasty cusine. Decoration is simple, enormous windows to appreciate the lake, and my favorite plate here is their lamb and spinach lasagna accompanied with a good bottle of Malbec.

La Tablita

Cnel. Rosales 61. Tel. 491065. The best parrilla in town! Grilled meats here are to die for! Comparing with the other options in town it is not expensive. 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 long for your meal…but you will forget all this when food arrives!

Pura Vida

Av. Del Libertador 1876. Tel. 493356. Colorful, good music and homemade food are the three qualities of this place. The portions are big and there is great variety for vegetarians. Try the filled calabaza, you won’t regret! Good value.

Casablanca

Av. Del Libertador 1202. Tel. 491402. This corner with it’s casual atmosphere, draft beer, free peanuts with any drink and the best salads in town make it one of the favorites. They also offer a wide variety of pizzas. One detail: there is just one toilette for ladies, and there are always people waiting, so it’s better to go before you are in a rush.

La Lechuza pizzas

Av del Libertador and 1ro de Mayo. 491-610. Maybe the most popular restaurant. Strategically located at the corner in front of the Administration Office of the National Park, you cannot avoid to go out with terrible olives Shell , but, the pizzas, pastas and empanadas are delicious!

Cassimiro Biguá

Av. Libertador 963 Tel.492590. One of the most expensive options in town, this restaurant has a wine menu the caters to all tastes. Gourmet food, trout, salmon, and of course Patagonian lamb. Treat for a special night.

Enjoy the view of Perito Moreno Glacier even while dining

La Cocina

Av. Libertador 1245. Tel. 491758. 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. Medium price.

Mi Rancho

Gobernador Moyano 1089 Esq. 9 de Julio, El Calafate 9405, Argentina 54 02902 490540 Just a few blocks off the main street, this quit new restaurant has became popular quickly.

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

Viva la Pepa

491880; Amado 833; mains AR$25-42; h10am-midnight Fri-Wed. Decked out in children’s drawings, this cheerful cafe specializes in crepes but also offers great sandwiches, juices and milkshakes. Tasty meal after a visit to the glacier. They also serve mate if you want to try! 

La Zaina

Gob. Gregores 1057. The owner was born in the Estancia La Leona, a place between Chalten and Calafate. Now she runs this bar/restaurant where you can have a good real beer and listen folk music.

Humus 

It's worth visitnig Los Alamos on El Calafate ToursGdor Moyano y Bustillo. This is actually the bar of the 5* Hotel Posada Los Alamos, but as it is a little hidden (it looks like a private house) and tourist where not going, they begun doing big discounts for locals and now on Saturdays it is full of calafatenos that want to listen rock and drink elaborate cocktails.

Borges y Alvarez

Libertador 1015, 1st floor. Visited by tourists and locals, because of the good ambiance, music and books!

La Tolderia

Av. del Libertador 1177 (+54 2966 54-3242). Serves fast food during the day and funky music at night. Is where locals meet to dance- gets full on Saturdays.

Don Diego de La Noche

Avenida del Libertador and 17 de Octuber (tel. 02902/493270). Remains the town’s most happening late-night pub.

El Calafate Perito Moreno Glacier TrekkingDirections 

In the town most of the blocks are 100 mts each.

There are remises that you can call from your hotel.

 

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 it is celebrated the local festival “Fiesta del Lago”.
National artist give free concerts in the honor of a new anniversary of the town. Because of that it’s hard to find a single bed available. Be aware if you are thinking to travel for these dates, and reserve in advance.

 

What To Do If You Get Sick

Being a small town health care service is not the best of the World, but you still can find assistance.

There is a public hospital- right in downtown (normally don’t speak English), but also usually hotels have a list of doctors that can visit you in the place (and many times speak English).

Hospital- Address:   Juio. A . Roca 1487 – TEL: 02902- 491 173 / 003

Private medical service TMS- Av. Libertador 1824- Tel. 02902 494 420 (English speaking doctors available). 

 

Useful telephone numbers

Calling from El Calafate:  Pay phones operate with chip cards or change (5, 10, 25, 50 cents and AR$1). You can make either short or long distance calls.

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 all the 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 to the cashier a few words in English.

 

Prepare for el Calafate Tours with the right clothes

People

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

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

 

Clothing

When you visit the Park, is always good to carry a waterproof jacket. Even when the weather is nice in town, it can vary from the Park, 80 km away.

Even in the same day, it can go from sunny and warm, to cold and rainy. Dress like an onion (many layers) is probably the best advice we can give.

 

Perito Moreno Glacier in Los Glaciares National Park

If you are doing MINI TREKKING excursion:

– Outfit: Sport shoes or trekking boots. Rubber and apres ski boots, as well as high heel shoes are not allowed. Comfortable sports wear, long trousers, warm sweater or pile, water or windproof jacket, sun glasses, sun block, gloves.

– Lunch: Passengers must bring their lunch boxes.

If you are doing BIG ICE excursion:

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

– Lunch: Passengers must bring their lunch boxes.

National Park Entrance 

Always remember the entrance tickets for all national parks in the country are paid in Argentine pesos! No credit cards.

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

 

Fine Dining on your el Calafate Tours in Patagonia

Eating

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

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

Lunch in the Park

Inside of the park there is a big Cafateria, where to have a snack or lunch, of maybe just a hot chocolate to get warmer. Still, you can take your own box lunch, and there are seats where to enjoy your sandwich while you appreciate the glacier.

Shopping

This part of the country is more expensive than other destinations in Argentina. Hardly ever any of the handicraft that you can buy are from the area. Rodocrosita (the semi precious national stone) from Northeast, weaving from Northwest and ponchos from Bolivia.

Probably more unique are the chocolates and liquors made from Calafate, the blue berry that grows everywhere in Patagonia.

 

calafate-main

Photo Tips

Probably one of the hardest parts of taking pictures at El Calafate is the wind, that is stronger during summer time. Some 80-90 km/h is considered “normal” in this latitudes. For this reason is very recommendable to use a very stable tripod. Also, to put the tripod low, and put the legs as spread as possible, lowering the gravity center of the whole.

Other option can be to use an umbrella to block the lateral wind.

If it is one of those days, when it is even hard to walk, probably the best is the use of shorter focal lengths.

Many times you just need to be patient. It takes sometimes more than a day, but the calm day will arrive!

Environmental Tips

– All the water in El Calafate is taken from Lago Argentino. The same lake where Perito Moreno Glacier is. Having short showers, not leaving the tap water running while we brush our teeth and to advise others to do the same will help to minimize 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 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 would take a rock or the leave of a tree in some years we wouldn’t have any more forest. Take just 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 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

 

Minitrekking: Hiking on the Perito Moreno Glacier

A breathtaking adventure in the ice 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 disembarkation on the opposite shore. Walk along the lateral side until ascending onto the ice in a two hours moderate circuit that introduces you to the 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 (summer time).

 

El Calafate Tours and Excursions with Glaciers

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 a 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 (summer time) except Dec 25th & Jan 01st.

 

Upsala Kayak Excursion at Perito Moreno Glacier

Upsala Kayak Experience

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

Duration: Full day, available Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturdays. 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 impressives views of this great glacier. Enjoy a National barbecue table with the best Argentinean wines at the gorgeous Nibepo Aike Farm. Navigate south through the Argentino Lake admiring the beautiful mountains rangers of “Adriana” and “Moreno” to finally reach the gate wais to 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.

 

Cerro Frias

Argetina Tours & a great experience in PatagoniaDiscover the wonders nature in the surroundings of El Calafate. Cerro Frias Mountain offers different circuites like horseback ride, zipline, trekking or 4×4. Choose the one you feel more confortable 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 trees forests that host different types of plants and animals ready to be discovered by the adventurous’ clever eyes.

Duration: 4hs or 6hs with lunch included at the Estancia. Valid during summer time (Christmas and New Year different departures times).

Basic Information Perito Moreno Glacier is in Santa Cruz Province

Distance from Bs As

1712 miles.           

Are there banks, ATMs?

 Yes! Nowadays there are many Banks and many ATMs. Even though there are not exchange houses at the city, Banco Nación re-opens between 5 pm and 7 pm to offer exchange services.

Internet?

 Yes.

Phones?

There are many phone centers in the town.

How far is El Calafate town from Perito Moreno Glacier?

80 Km

Is the water drinkable?

Yes, but we don’t recommend drinking it due to the amount of sediment it carries it can cause stomach reactions.

 

Money

Argentina’s unit of currency is the peso, which has held steady at about nine to one against the US dollar (but this rate could change quickly). Notes come in denominations of 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 pesos. One peso equals 100 centavos; coins come in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 25 and 50 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 pristine bills. Casa Piano (a well known Cambio) will probably change your older or written-on bills, but they will discount a 3% of the value.

Sadly fake currency has become more common. 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.

Due  to local restrictions for buying US dollars for locals, if you change money on arrival to Argentina, you have to keep the receipt. In case you want to change your left over pesos on the way back to your country, you will have to show the first receipt.

El Calafate Tours with Say Hueque Argentina JourneysBanks

Open daily from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Not all the banks change foreign currency however there is an exchange money shop in downtown (closes for 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 the town, but they dispense just Argentinean currency. There might be a limit amount per transaction, depending the bank, but you can always do many transactions in the same ATM. Beware of per-transaction fees. To avoid having a fistful of large-denomination bills, withdraw odd amounts like 290 pesos. Withdraw your cash before the weekend rush – it isn’t uncommon for ATMs to run out on Sundays.

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

Thaler Cambio (9 de Julio s/n; 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Mon-Fri, 5:30-7:30 p.m. Sat & Sun) excessive rates for traveler’s checks, but open weekends.

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 if 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 is almost impossible to change them and definitively impossible to change them at a good rate.

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 US$20 – 25 a day for guides and US$ 5 -10 for drivers.

When tipping Hotel & 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/day for the maid service is recommended. For porters, US$2-3/time/room is appropriate.   

El Calafate Tours and trip planning with Say Hueque

Dangers & Annoyances

El Calafate has  always been a small, safe and relaxed town. But it still is advisable to be conscious and careful; don’t flash any wealth, and always be aware of your surroundings.

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

 

Aiport

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

El Calafate Tours, Travel to Argentina

 

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 30km 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 Buenes 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, 80km (50miles) away from El Calafate. You can see the enormous glacier just meters away from you, and listen 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 ice-bergs floating in the lake are really awesome and inspiring, making a boat ride in 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 main street, like in El Cañadón, or at Laguna Nimez, where you can see all kind of patagonic 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 excursion 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 behaviour. Walking on the ice itself is a wonderful way to experience it, climbing up the steep curves of what appear from a distance to be vertical fish flakes, and are in fact huge peaks, with mysterious chasms below, lit by 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 Tourism at Perito Moreno Glacier in El Calafate

Why is called El Calafate? 

Because 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 principal source of jobs for its inhabitants. Many international hotels have been and are being constructed.

Elevation

199 meters

Population

Estimated at 20,000 inhabitants

 

History

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 “Campaña del Desierto” (when the Argentinean government advanced on the land of the natives, expanding the productive area).

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

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

The name El Calafate comes from the calafate bushes that were used by many Estancias in order to stop the wind at the stream’s shore.

History of El Calafate Tours

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- the opposite of what the army promised- they executed 500 of the revolutionaries, and started the persecution of those who escaped. After a year about 1500 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.

News, Articles and more…

Here a selection of interesting, useful, fun and informative articles that we love reading and sharing with you.

Perito Moreno Glacier is an amazing sight in Patagonia

 

Mystery Glaciers Growing as Most Others Retreat

John Roach, National Geographic News

“Two South American glaciers are displaying strange behavior for the times: They’re growing.

Most of the 50 massive glaciers draped over the spine of the Patagonian Andes are shrinking in response to a global warming, said Andrés Rivera, a glaciologist at the Center for Scientific Studies in Valdivia, Chile.

But the Perito Moreno glacier in Argentina and Pio XI glacier in Chile are taking on ice, instead of shedding it.

“What is happening … is not well understood,” Rivera said…” Read more

 

Huge chunk of Argentina’s Perito Moreno glacier collapses

The Telegraph

“The glacier, a massive tongue of ice in the Santa Cruz province that covers 97 square miles, advances yearly into a lake, known as Lago Argentino.

As Perito Moreno moves forward, it cuts off a river feeding the lake. Water builds up pressure and slowly undermines the ice, forming a tunnel until ice comes tumbling down…” Read more

 

Pilgrimage to Patagonia

Chris Moss, Time Out

“I’d been hitching all morning and at last there seemed to be some traffic. A couple of trucks had blasted their horns affectionately or apologetically. Some rough-looking locals had grinned half-wittedly through the wound-down windows of their ancient Ford Falcons. Flash folk in four-wheel drives going in the wrong direction had stared suspiciously at me through their fake Aviators.
 
I was in Argentina – the drivers reminded me that much. But I was in its great nowhere land, Patagonia, a huge triangle of scrubby plains, arid rock-walled canyons and sluggish, meandering rivers which takes up almost all the southern tip of South America before rising into the Andes or falling into the Atlantic. It wasn’t my first time down here, but it was my first visit with time to spare. I was here for a month or more and was looking for something – or, perhaps more accurately, some lovely nothing…” Read more

 

Two wheel drive

Anupam Kant Verma, Live Mint

I like epic landscapes. There is the Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina. It is advancing; it is growing, and they don’t understand why. While a glacier grows, it sheds ice floes. Standing next to it, it feels like being in a natural cathedral. After some time, the glacier cracks and a huge chunk falls into the ocean with a crash. And you think, “Oh, my God!” It is phenomenal. ” Read more

 

The Perito Moreno Glacier: Breaking the ice rules

Interesting Thing of the Day

“The trip to the Perito Moreno glacier took us more than an hour by bus from the town of El Calafate, Argentina. When we rounded a corner on a mountain road and I got my first glimpse of the glacier, I thought, “Wow. That’s really big.” Later, from a much different angle, I realized what a tiny slice of one corner of one end of this glacier I’d seen earlier, and I was overwhelmed at the scale of what I was seeing. As glaciers go, I am told, this is not one of the larger ones. Yowza. Even though I took dozens of pictures, including some panoramic shots, there is simply no way to capture how big this thing looks in person. No wide-angle lens could do it justice, because it’s not only impossibly wide but tall and long as well. Short of climbing a mountain or flying high overhead, there is no way to take in the whole thing at once. So, yes: a lot of ice…but that doesn’t begin to tell the story…” Read more

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