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A Quick Guide To El Calafate – The Gateway To Los Glaciares National Park


Modified: January 3, 2024

by Jackqueline Orourke



Welcome to El Calafate, the gateway to Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina. This charming town is nestled amidst stunning landscapes and offers a perfect starting point for exploring the natural wonders of the region. With its picturesque views, magnificent glaciers, and thrilling outdoor activities, El Calafate is a must-visit destination for nature enthusiasts, adventure seekers, and those looking to immerse themselves in the beauty of Patagonia.


Located in the Santa Cruz Province of Argentina, El Calafate is situated on the southern shores of Lake Argentino. It is named after the vibrant calafate berry, which grows abundantly in the area and holds significant cultural importance for the indigenous communities.


Getting to El Calafate is relatively easy, thanks to its well-connected airport. Multiple airlines offer direct flights from major cities in Argentina, as well as international connections from countries such as Chile and Brazil. Alternatively, you can also reach El Calafate by bus or car, enjoying the scenic drives through the Patagonian landscape.


El Calafate experiences a subpolar climate, characterized by cool summers and cold winters. The best time to visit largely depends on the activities you wish to partake in. The summer months from December to February offer milder temperatures, making it ideal for hiking, glacier treks, and wildlife spotting. Winter months from June to August bring colder weather and the opportunity to witness the stunning contrast of ice and snow, but some activities may be limited due to weather conditions.


When it comes to attractions, the main highlight of El Calafate is undoubtedly Los Glaciares National Park. This UNESCO World Heritage site encompasses an impressive array of glaciers, mountains, and lakes, offering breathtaking views and unparalleled opportunities for outdoor adventures. The most renowned glacier in the park is the Perito Moreno Glacier, a colossal ice formation that constantly moves, creating a mesmerizing spectacle as chunks of ice detach and crash into the lake.


In addition to the Perito Moreno Glacier, there are other remarkable glaciers in the area that are worth exploring, such as the Upsala Glacier and the Spegazzini Glacier. These glaciers can be visited through boat tours and provide a chance to witness the sheer magnitude of these natural wonders up close.


El Calafate also offers excellent hiking and trekking opportunities for all skill levels. Popular trails include the Laguna de los Tres hike, which leads to a gorgeous viewpoint of Mount Fitz Roy, and the Huemul Circuit, a challenging multi-day trek with breathtaking vistas. Wildlife enthusiasts will be thrilled to spot native species such as guanacos, Andean condors, and maybe even a glimpse of the elusive puma.


Location of El Calafate

El Calafate is a charming town situated in the province of Santa Cruz, in the southern region of Argentina. It is located approximately 80 kilometers (50 miles) west of Lake Argentino, the largest freshwater lake in Argentina, and about 315 kilometers (196 miles) northwest of the city of Río Gallegos. Nestled amidst the picturesque landscapes of Patagonia, El Calafate is surrounded by vast stretches of wilderness, making it an ideal destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.


The town itself is situated on the southern shore of Lake Argentino, offering stunning views of the lake and the snow-capped peaks of the Andes in the distance. The lake, which spans an area of about 1,500 square kilometers (580 square miles), is a prominent feature of the region, attracting visitors with its crystal-clear turquoise waters and the unique opportunity to witness the spectacle of glaciers calving into the lake.


El Calafate is strategically positioned as the gateway to Los Glaciares National Park, one of the most iconic natural attractions in Argentina. The park, which covers an area of over 726,000 hectares (1.8 million acres), is home to numerous glaciers, majestic mountains, and awe-inspiring landscapes. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and draws visitors from around the world who come to witness the incredible beauty and power of these ancient ice formations.


Surrounded by such natural wonders, El Calafate offers visitors a chance to explore and immerse themselves in the pristine beauty of Patagonia. From the town, you can easily access the various attractions in the area, including the famous Perito Moreno Glacier, which is located within the boundaries of the national park. El Calafate also serves as a starting point for embarkation on boat tours that take you to other glaciers in the area, such as Upsala Glacier and Spegazzini Glacier.


While El Calafate is known for its natural beauty, it also boasts a range of amenities and services to cater to visitors. There are numerous accommodation options available, from luxury resorts and boutique hotels to cozy bed and breakfasts. The town also features a variety of restaurants, serving both traditional Argentine cuisine and international flavors, as well as bars and cafes where visitors can relax and enjoy the ambiance.


Overall, El Calafate’s location makes it the perfect destination for those seeking a unique blend of natural beauty, adventure, and relaxation. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, an adventure seeker, or simply someone looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life, El Calafate offers a captivating experience in the heart of Patagonia.


Getting to El Calafate

El Calafate, as one of the most popular tourist destinations in Argentina, is easily accessible by various means of transportation. Whether you prefer flying, driving, or taking a bus, there are convenient options to reach this picturesque town in the heart of Patagonia.


The most convenient way to get to El Calafate is by air. El Calafate International Airport (FTE) is well-connected with domestic and international flights. There are regular direct flights from major cities in Argentina, including Buenos Aires and Bariloche. Additionally, there are direct flights from Santiago, Chile, making it convenient for international travelers to reach El Calafate.


If you prefer a road trip, driving to El Calafate is also a viable option. The town is accessible via Route 3, which connects it to the city of Río Gallegos. The journey from Río Gallegos to El Calafate takes approximately 3 to 4 hours, depending on the road conditions and traffic. Driving offers the flexibility to explore the scenic landscapes of Patagonia along the way.


For those looking for a budget-friendly option or a more adventurous experience, taking a bus to El Calafate is a popular choice. Multiple bus companies operate daily services to and from El Calafate, connecting it with various cities in Argentina, including Buenos Aires, Bariloche, Ushuaia, and Puerto Natales in Chile. The bus journey can take several hours or even overnight, depending on the distance.


Once you arrive in El Calafate, getting around the town is relatively easy. The town is compact, and most of the attractions, restaurants, and accommodations are within walking distance. If you wish to explore the surrounding areas or visit Los Glaciares National Park, there are taxis, rental cars, and organized tours available for your convenience.


It’s important to note that El Calafate can get quite busy, especially during the peak tourist season from December to February. Therefore, it is advisable to book your flights, buses, or rental cars in advance to ensure availability and secure the best deals.


Whether you choose to fly, drive, or take a bus, the journey to El Calafate is part of the adventure. As you approach this charming town, you’ll be greeted with stunning landscapes, vast open plains, and the promise of incredible natural beauty awaiting your arrival.


Climate and Best Time to Visit

El Calafate experiences a subpolar climate, characterized by cool summers and cold winters. The weather can be unpredictable, with sudden changes and windy conditions throughout the year. Understanding the climate and choosing the best time to visit is crucial to ensure a pleasant and enjoyable experience in this picturesque region of Patagonia.


The summer months of December to February are the most popular time to visit El Calafate. During this period, temperatures range from 15°C to 25°C (59°F to 77°F) during the day, offering mild and pleasant weather for outdoor activities. This is the peak tourist season in the region, with longer daylight hours allowing for more exploration time. It is important to note that summer also brings occasional rain showers, so it’s advisable to pack waterproof gear.


Spring (September to November) and autumn (March to May) offer milder temperatures, with average highs ranging from 10°C to 15°C (50°F to 59°F). These seasons offer a quieter and more serene experience, with fewer crowds and lower prices. Spring brings beautiful wildflowers in bloom, while autumn showcases stunning foliage colors.


Winter in El Calafate, from June to August, brings colder temperatures, averaging between -2°C to 7°C (28°F to 45°F). However, this season offers a unique opportunity to witness the enchanting beauty of the region covered in snow. The landscapes transform into a winter wonderland, creating spectacular vistas. Winter also provides the chance to experience special activities such as ice trekking and ice climbing on the glaciers.


While winter brings cold weather, it’s important to note that some services, such as boat tours and trekking routes, may have limited availability during this time. It’s advisable to check the schedules and availability in advance if you plan to visit El Calafate during winter.


Ultimately, the best time to visit El Calafate depends on your preferences and the activities you wish to engage in. If you want to experience vibrant colors and mild temperatures, spring and autumn are ideal. For longer days, pleasant temperatures, and more activities, summer is the recommended time to visit. If you’re ready to embrace colder weather and witness the magic of winter landscapes, then the winter months will offer a unique and memorable experience.


Regardless of the season, El Calafate is sure to captivate you with its natural beauty, stunning landscapes, and extraordinary glaciers. Plan your visit accordingly and be prepared for the weather conditions, and you’ll have an unforgettable adventure in this Patagonian gem.


Attractions in El Calafate

El Calafate, known as the gateway to Los Glaciares National Park, offers an array of attractions that will leave visitors in awe of the natural wonders that surround this enchanting town. From glaciers to hiking trails, wildlife encounters to boat tours, there is something for everyone to enjoy in El Calafate.


The crown jewel of El Calafate’s attractions is undoubtedly Los Glaciares National Park. This UNESCO World Heritage site is home to towering glaciers, stunning mountains, and pristine lakes. The most famous glacier in the park is the Perito Moreno Glacier, a massive ice formation that stretches for over 30 kilometers (18.6 miles). Visitors can witness the unparalleled beauty of the glacier up close and even experience the thunderous roar as chunks of ice break off and plummet into Lake Argentino.


Aside from Perito Moreno Glacier, there are other remarkable glaciers to explore in the area. The Upsala Glacier, one of the largest in the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, impresses with its immense size and breathtaking ice formations. The Spegazzini Glacier, with its towering walls of ice, offers a mesmerizing sight.


For those seeking adventure, El Calafate provides ample opportunities for hiking and trekking. The Laguna de los Tres trek is a challenging yet rewarding trail that takes you to a stunning viewpoint of the iconic Mount Fitz Roy. The Fitz Roy Massif boasts rugged peaks and pristine lakes, making it a favorite among outdoor enthusiasts and photographers.


Wildlife lovers will also be delighted by the diverse flora and fauna that can be found in the region. El Calafate is home to the guanaco, a camelid species native to South America, as well as Andean condors, black-necked swans, and other bird species. There’s even a chance to spot the elusive puma while exploring the trails of Los Glaciares National Park.


To fully appreciate the beauty of the glaciers and their surrounding landscapes, taking a boat tour is highly recommended. From the comfort of a boat, you can cruise along the turquoise waters of Lake Argentino and get close to the dramatic ice walls of various glaciers. These tours offer a unique perspective and allow for breathtaking photo opportunities.


After a day filled with exploration, visitors can unwind in the town of El Calafate itself. The charming streets are lined with boutique shops offering local artisan crafts, exquisite chocolates, and the famous Calafate liqueur made from the local berries. There is also a range of dining options, from traditional Argentine steakhouses to international gourmet cuisine, ensuring that every taste is catered to.


From the striking glaciers to the mesmerizing landscapes and unique wildlife encounters, El Calafate is a destination that offers a wealth of attractions to captivate and amaze visitors. Prepare to be enchanted by the beauty of Patagonia and create unforgettable memories in this remarkable corner of the world.


Los Glaciares National Park

Los Glaciares National Park is a true natural wonder, located in the southern region of Argentina. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and covers an area of over 726,000 hectares (1.8 million acres) of breathtaking landscapes, towering mountains, and awe-inspiring glaciers. With its awe-inspiring beauty and diverse ecosystems, the park is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, adventurers, and nature lovers.


The crown jewel of Los Glaciares National Park is the famous Perito Moreno Glacier. This massive glacier is one of the few glaciers in the world that is still advancing. Standing at an impressive height of about 70 meters (230 feet) above the surface of Lake Argentino, and extending for approximately 30 kilometers (18.6 miles), the Perito Moreno Glacier is a sight to behold. Visitors can witness the constant movement of the glacier, as chunks of ice break off and crash into the lake below in a mesmerizing display of natural power.


Several walkways and viewpoints offer different perspectives of the glacier, allowing visitors to appreciate its grandeur from various angles. For a truly unforgettable experience, boat tours take visitors close to the glacier’s towering walls of ice, providing a unique opportunity to witness its majestic beauty up close.


Los Glaciares National Park is also home to other magnificent glaciers, such as the Upsala Glacier and the Spegazzini Glacier. The Upsala Glacier is one of the largest glaciers in the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, covering an area of over 870 square kilometers (336 square miles). Its vastness and stunning ice formations create an awe-inspiring sight. The Spegazzini Glacier, on the other hand, impresses with its towering walls of ice that reach heights of up to 135 meters (443 feet).


Aside from its remarkable glaciers, the park offers a variety of hiking and trekking opportunities. One of the most popular trails is the Laguna de los Tres hike, which rewards hikers with a breathtaking view of Mount Fitz Roy and its surrounding peaks. The Cerro Torre hike takes you to the base of the iconic granite spires of Cerro Torre, another famous peak in the region.


The park’s diverse ecosystems support a rich array of flora and fauna. From dense forests of lenga trees to vast ice fields, the park is home to unique plant species and provides habitat for endemic and migratory bird species. Keep an eye out for the Andean condor, guanaco, huemul deer, and if you’re lucky, you may even spot a puma or South Andean deer.


Visiting Los Glaciares National Park is a truly unforgettable experience. The sheer magnitude and beauty of the glaciers, combined with the pristine landscapes and abundant wildlife, create an immersive and awe-inspiring adventure. Whether you choose to witness the grandeur of the Perito Moreno Glacier, explore the hiking trails, or simply soak in the natural beauty, Los Glaciares National Park is a destination that will leave an indelible mark on your heart and soul.


Perito Moreno Glacier

The Perito Moreno Glacier is one of the most breathtaking and iconic attractions in Argentina and a highlight of Los Glaciares National Park. This massive glacier, located in the southern region of Patagonia, is renowned for its stunning beauty and impressive size.


What makes the Perito Moreno Glacier unique is its constant movement. Unlike most glaciers that are receding, the Perito Moreno Glacier remains relatively stable and even advances at a rate of about 2 meters (6.5 feet) per day. This constant movement results in spectacular calving events, where large chunks of ice break off from the glacier and plummet into the turquoise waters of Lake Argentino with a thunderous crash.


Visitors to Perito Moreno Glacier can witness these awe-inspiring calving events from a series of walkways and viewpoints. These strategically positioned viewpoints offer unparalleled vistas of the glacier, providing the perfect opportunity to observe the immense size and intricacies of the ice formations. The sheer vertical walls of ice, reaching up to 70 meters (230 feet) high, create a dramatic spectacle that is both humbling and mesmerizing.


To get even closer to the glacier, boat tours take visitors on a journey across Lake Argentino. The tour boats navigate the lake, allowing passengers to marvel at the towering ice walls of the Perito Moreno Glacier from a unique perspective. This up-close encounter with the glacier provides an intimate understanding of its grandeur and allows for breathtaking photo opportunities.


For the adventurous souls, ice trekking on the Perito Moreno Glacier is an experience not to be missed. Equipped with crampons, visitors can walk on the surface of the glacier, exploring its crevices, admiring its blue ice formations, and immersing themselves in the otherworldly beauty of the glacier. Led by experienced guides, these treks offer an unforgettable adventure and a chance to truly connect with the glacier on a personal level.


Visiting Perito Moreno Glacier offers more than just stunning views and adrenaline-pumping adventures. It also provides an opportunity to understand the critical role that glaciers play in the Earth’s ecosystem. The Perito Moreno Glacier is part of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, one of the largest freshwater reserves in the world. Its meltwater contributes to the local hydrological system, providing clean drinking water and playing a vital role in maintaining the delicate balance of the region’s ecosystem.


Perito Moreno Glacier stands as a testament to the power and beauty of nature. Its captivating presence, ever-changing landscape, and extraordinary calving events make it an essential stop for anyone visiting Patagonia. Whether you choose to witness its majesty from the viewing platforms, explore its icy terrain on a trek, or simply sit back and marvel at its breathtaking beauty, Perito Moreno Glacier is an experience that will leave an everlasting impression.


Other Glaciers in the Area

While the Perito Moreno Glacier steals the spotlight with its grandeur, Los Glaciares National Park is home to several other remarkable glaciers that deserve equal admiration. These glaciers offer unique experiences and stunning vistas, allowing visitors to witness the diverse beauty of the region.


One such glacier is the Upsala Glacier, located in the northwestern part of the park. Spanning an area of over 870 square kilometers (336 square miles), the Upsala Glacier is one of the largest in the Southern Patagonian Ice Field. Its sheer size and complex web of crevasses make for a captivating sight. While access to the glacier itself is restricted, boat tours provide an incredible opportunity to cruise through the Upsala Canal and witness the vastness of this impressive ice formation.


The Spegazzini Glacier is another marvel in Los Glaciares National Park. Named after the early explorer Carlos Spegazzini, this glacier boasts towering walls of ice that reach heights of up to 135 meters (443 feet). As the highest glacier in the park, the Spegazzini Glacier unveils a mesmerizing display of blue hues and intricate ice formations. Boat tours navigate the waters of Lake Argentino, offering a closer look at this magnificent glacier.


For those seeking a more intimate glacier experience, the Viedma Glacier presents an exciting opportunity. Located in the southern region of the park, the Viedma Glacier is Argentina’s largest glacier, spanning over 978 square kilometers (378 square miles). This dynamic glacier offers an array of thrilling activities, including ice trekking and ice climbing, allowing visitors to explore its icy terrain and witness its unique features up close.


Exploring these lesser-known glaciers offers a chance to appreciate the individual characteristics that make each one truly special. From the immense size of the Upsala Glacier to the towering walls of the Spegazzini Glacier and the adventure-filled experience of the Viedma Glacier, each offers a unique glimpse into the remarkable geological formations that have shaped the landscape of Patagonia.


When planning a visit to these glaciers, it is important to check availability and accessibility, as some glaciers may have restrictions due to safety concerns or the fragile nature of the environment. Additionally, guided tours and boat excursions are highly recommended to ensure a safe and informative experience.


Exploring the other glaciers in the area allows for a more comprehensive understanding of the incredible natural phenomenon that is glacial formation. Each glacier reveals its own story, leaving visitors with a profound appreciation for the power and beauty of these icy giants that have shaped the landscapes of Los Glaciares National Park.


Hiking and Trekking Opportunities

El Calafate and its surrounding area are a paradise for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts, offering a wide range of hiking and trekking opportunities amidst stunning natural landscapes. From easy walks to challenging multi-day treks, there is something for every level of adventurer.


One of the most popular hikes in the region is the Laguna de los Tres trek, which begins from the nearby town of El Chaltén, known as the “Trekking Capital of Argentina.” This challenging but rewarding hike takes you through picturesque forests and opens up to breathtaking views of Mount Fitz Roy and its surrounding peaks. The highlight of this trek is reaching the stunning Laguna de los Tres, a glacial lake at the base of Mount Fitz Roy, offering a panoramic view that will leave you in awe.


For those seeking a more moderate hike, the Laguna Torre trek is an excellent choice. This trail takes you to the base of Cerro Torre, another iconic peak in the region. Along the way, you’ll pass through dense forests, cross glacial streams, and eventually be rewarded with a view of the tranquil Laguna Torre and its floating icebergs.


One of the most challenging multi-day treks in the area is the Huemul Circuit. This remote and strenuous trek is a true wilderness adventure. The circuit takes you through rugged terrain, crossing rivers, ascending steep slopes, and reaching high mountain passes. The reward is unparalleled views of vast ice fields, pristine lakes, and the chance to truly disconnect from the outside world.


For those who prefer a shorter and more accessible hike, the Mirador del Torre is a great option. This relatively easy trail offers beautiful views of Cerro Torre and the surrounding landscapes, making it a popular choice for day-trippers from El Calafate.


It’s important to come prepared for the challenges of hiking in this remote area. Proper hiking boots, layered clothing to accommodate changing weather conditions, a backpack with essentials such as water, snacks, and sun protection, and a good trail map or guidebook are necessary. It’s also advisable to check the weather conditions and trail conditions before embarking on any hike, as Patagonia’s weather can be unpredictable.


Be aware that some trails may require permits, especially for longer treks or those that venture into certain protected areas. It’s always a good idea to check with local authorities or visitor centers for the latest information and regulations.


No matter your level of experience or fitness, hiking in the El Calafate area offers an opportunity to connect with nature, witness stunning vistas, and challenge yourself in the vast and beautiful landscapes of Patagonia. Whether you choose a well-trodden path or venture off the beaten track, the memories and experiences gained from hiking in this region will undoubtedly be cherished for a lifetime.


Wildlife Watching

El Calafate and its surrounding wilderness offer ample opportunities for wildlife watching, allowing visitors to observe and appreciate the diverse and unique fauna that inhabits this Patagonian region.


One of the most iconic and commonly spotted animals in the area is the guanaco, a camelid species native to South America. These graceful creatures can often be seen roaming the grasslands and hillsides, grazing on the vegetation. With their slender bodies and elegant stride, guanacos provide a picturesque sight against the backdrop of the stunning landscapes.


Birdwatching enthusiasts will be delighted by the variety of bird species found in the region. El Calafate is home to the majestic Andean condor, one of the largest flying birds in the world. With its impressive wingspan and graceful flight, spotting an Andean condor soaring through the Patagonian skies is a truly awe-inspiring experience.


The wetlands and lakes surrounding El Calafate also attract a variety of bird species, including flamingos, black-necked swans, and various species of geese and ducks. These water birds thrive in this rich ecosystem and offer a vibrant splash of color against the blue waters.


For the lucky and observant visitor, there is even a chance to spot the elusive puma. These magnificent big cats roam the Patagonian landscapes, but they are known for their elusive nature, making sightings rare and highly sought after. Patience, a keen eye, and a touch of luck are often necessary to catch a glimpse of these elusive predators.


Further afield from El Calafate, in the waters of the Southern Atlantic Ocean, lies the Valdes Peninsula, a UNESCO World Heritage site and a haven for marine wildlife. Whales, dolphins, sea lions, and elephant seals can be observed in their natural habitats during the migration seasons.


When wildlife watching, it is essential to approach animals with respect and caution, maintaining a safe distance to avoid disturbing their natural behavior. Binoculars, a camera with a zoom lens, and field guides can enhance the wildlife watching experience and help in identifying the various species encountered.


Whether you’re an avid nature lover, a passionate birder, or simply someone who appreciates the wonders of wildlife, El Calafate and its surroundings offer incredible opportunities to witness and connect with the enchanting fauna of Patagonia. Embark on a nature hike, take a guided wildlife tour, or simply find a serene spot to sit and watch the world of wildlife unfold before your eyes.


Activities and Tours

El Calafate offers an array of activities and tours that cater to a variety of interests, ensuring an unforgettable experience for every visitor. From glacier exploration to cultural encounters, there is something for everyone to enjoy in this captivating destination.


One of the most popular activities in El Calafate is exploring the magnificent glaciers that are scattered throughout the region. Boat tours provide a unique perspective, cruising close to towering ice walls and offering the chance to witness calving events. For a more immersive experience, ice trekking allows visitors to walk on the surface of a glacier and explore its crevasses and ice formations. These activities offer a rare opportunity to connect with the ice and gain a deeper understanding of the impressive power and beauty of glaciers.


Besides glacier-related adventures, El Calafate offers opportunities for cultural immersion. Visitors can engage in local traditions and learn about the rich heritage of the region through visits to traditional estancias (ranches), where they can witness traditional gaucho (cowboy) demonstrations, enjoy a traditional Argentine asado (barbecue), and experience the warm hospitality of the locals.


To delve into the local history and gain insights into the unique flora and fauna of the area, guided nature walks and interpretive tours are available. Knowledgeable guides will lead you through the pristine landscapes, providing fascinating information about the geological formations, plant life, and wildlife that call the region home. These tours offer a deeper appreciation for the natural wonders that surround El Calafate.


For the adventure seekers, the Southern Patagonian Ice Field offers opportunities for ice climbing and mountaineering. Ascend towering ice walls, challenge yourself with technical climbs, and discover the thrill of conquering a part of this spectacular frozen landscape.


For those seeking a more relaxed experience, El Calafate offers opportunities for horseback riding through the stunning Patagonian landscapes. Riding through picturesque valleys, alongside glacial-fed rivers, and through ancient forests, visitors can take in the beauty of the region at a leisurely pace.


Photography enthusiasts will find themselves in a photographer’s paradise, with countless opportunities to capture stunning vistas, dramatic landscapes, and unique wildlife encounters. From the intense blue hues of glaciers to the vibrant colors of Patagonian sunsets, capturing the beauty of El Calafate through a lens is an art form in itself.


It’s important to note that some activities and tours require advanced booking, especially during the peak tourist season. To ensure availability, it’s recommended to plan and reserve your desired activities in advance.


Whether you’re seeking thrilling adventures, cultural immersion, or simply a serene escape into nature, El Calafate has activities and tours to suit all tastes. Embrace the spirit of adventure, connect with the natural beauty of the region, and create memories that will last a lifetime.


Accommodation Options

El Calafate offers a variety of accommodation options to suit every traveler’s needs and preferences. From luxury resorts to cozy guesthouses, there is a wide range of choices that cater to different budgets and tastes.


For those seeking luxury and indulgence, there are upscale hotels and resorts that offer world-class amenities and spectacular views of the surrounding landscapes. These accommodations often feature spa facilities, gourmet restaurants, and spacious rooms or suites designed for ultimate comfort. Many of these establishments are nestled among the pristine nature, providing a serene and secluded atmosphere.


Mid-range hotels and lodges are plentiful in El Calafate, providing comfortable and well-appointed rooms with a range of amenities. These establishments often feature cozy lounges, on-site restaurants, and friendly and helpful staff who can assist with arranging tours and activities in the area.


In addition to traditional hotels, El Calafate also offers unique accommodation options such as cozy bed and breakfasts and charming guesthouses. These smaller establishments provide a more personalized and intimate experience, often run by friendly hosts who can provide insider tips and local recommendations. Staying in these smaller accommodations allows visitors to immerse themselves in the warmth and hospitality of the local community.


For those seeking a more independent experience, there are also self-catering apartments and cabins available for rent. These accommodations provide the freedom to prepare your meals and enjoy a home-away-from-home experience. They are particularly ideal for families or travelers who prefer the flexibility of their own space.


When choosing your accommodation, it’s important to consider factors such as location, proximity to attractions, and the services and amenities that suit your needs. El Calafate is a compact town, and most accommodations are within walking distance of the main attractions, shops, and restaurants. However, some may prefer accommodations located outside of town for a more secluded and immersive experience in nature.


It’s advisable to book your accommodation in advance, especially during the peak tourist season, to ensure availability and secure the best rates. Many establishments offer online booking services, making it convenient to plan your stay in El Calafate.


Whatever your preferences and budget, El Calafate offers a range of accommodation options to ensure a comfortable and memorable stay. Whether you choose luxury, mid-range, or a more intimate guesthouse, you’ll find the perfect home base to explore the stunning landscapes and natural wonders of this captivating destination.


Dining and Nightlife

El Calafate offers a diverse culinary scene that is sure to delight food lovers from around the world. From traditional Argentine cuisine to international flavors, there are numerous dining options to cater to different tastes and preferences.


Argentine beef is renowned worldwide, and El Calafate is no exception when it comes to offering mouthwatering cuts of meat. Many restaurants and steakhouses in town serve delicious grilled steaks, succulent lamb chops, and flavorful sausages, allowing visitors to indulge in the authentic flavors of Argentina. Pair your meal with a glass of Malbec, a red wine that the country is famous for.


In addition to traditional Argentine cuisine, El Calafate also offers a variety of international dining options. You can find Italian trattorias, pizzerias, seafood restaurants, and even vegetarian and vegan-friendly establishments. These diverse options ensure that every palate is catered to and provide a pleasant change of flavors for those seeking something different.


After a satisfying meal, visitors can enjoy the vibrant nightlife in El Calafate. The town comes alive with bars, pubs, and discos that offer a range of entertainment options. Many establishments feature live music, allowing visitors to experience the rhythms of Argentina while enjoying a refreshing cocktail or a glass of local craft beer.


For those looking for a more low-key evening, the town’s cozy cafes and artisanal ice cream shops offer a perfect spot to relax and indulge in a sweet treat. Sit back, savor your gelato, and enjoy the tranquil atmosphere of El Calafate.


Shopping is also a delightful experience in El Calafate. The town’s main streets are lined with shops and boutiques that offer a variety of goods, from locally made handicrafts and souvenirs to high-quality outdoor gear. Don’t forget to taste the famous Calafate liqueur, made from the local berries, and consider purchasing a bottle as a memento of your trip.


It’s important to note that El Calafate has a laid-back atmosphere, especially during the week. While weekends can be more lively, it’s advisable to check the operating hours of restaurants and bars, as some establishments may have limited hours on certain days.


Overall, El Calafate offers a delightful dining and nightlife scene that complements the natural beauty and adventurous spirit of the region. Indulge in the flavors of Argentina, savor a drink while enjoying live music, or simply unwind in one of the town’s charming cafes. The dining and nightlife experiences in El Calafate are sure to enhance your overall enjoyment of this enchanting destination.


Shopping in El Calafate

Shopping in El Calafate is a delightful experience, offering a range of unique and locally made products that make for perfect souvenirs or gifts to commemorate your visit to this beautiful region of Patagonia.


One of the most sought-after items in El Calafate is the Calafate berry. Native to the region, these small and vibrant purple berries are known for their tart flavor and are used to make a variety of products, including jams, chocolates, and the famous Calafate liqueur. These delicious treats make for great gifts to share with friends and family back home or to enjoy as a sweet reminder of your time in El Calafate.


Handicrafts and artisanal products are also popular among visitors. Artisan workshops and shops offer a wide range of handcrafted items, including leather goods, carved wooden items, jewelry, and textiles. These unique and locally made products showcase the creativity and skill of local artisans and provide a chance to take home a piece of Patagonia’s cultural heritage.


Outdoor enthusiasts will appreciate the selection of equipment and clothing available in El Calafate’s outdoor stores. From high-quality hiking boots and clothing to camping gear, these stores cater to the needs of travelers looking to explore the rugged landscapes of Patagonia. Take the opportunity to stock up on essential items or upgrade your gear for your next outdoor adventure.


The town also boasts a range of boutique shops offering clothing and accessories that blend local style with international flair. You can find stylish garments made from fine Patagonian wool, trendy leather accessories, and unique clothing items that reflect the spirit and character of the region.


Don’t forget to visit the local art galleries, where you can find an array of paintings, sculptures, and photography that capture the beauty and essence of El Calafate and its surrounding landscapes. These artworks offer a meaningful and artistic way to remember your time in this picturesque region.


When shopping in El Calafate, it’s important to support local businesses and artisans who contribute to the economy and cultural heritage of the area. Take the time to interact with shopkeepers and artisans, ask questions, and learn about the stories behind the products. They often have unique insights and can offer recommendations for other hidden gems in the area.


Shopping in El Calafate provides a chance to discover the region’s natural and cultural treasures. Whether you’re seeking delectable treats, one-of-a-kind handicrafts, or functional outdoor gear, El Calafate’s shops and boutiques offer a delightful variety of products to explore and take home as cherished mementos of your time in this extraordinary corner of the world.


Practical Information

Before embarking on your journey to El Calafate, it’s important to be aware of some practical information that will help make your trip smooth and enjoyable.


Currency: The official currency in Argentina is the Argentine peso (ARS). It’s advisable to carry some cash with you as not all establishments accept credit cards, especially in more remote areas. ATMs are available in El Calafate, and major credit cards are widely accepted.


Language: The official language is Spanish. While English is spoken in tourist areas and hotels, knowing a few basic Spanish phrases can be helpful, especially when interacting with locals.


Electricity: The standard voltage is 220 volts, and the frequency is 50 Hz. Plugs are of the type C and I. It’s a good idea to have a universal adapter if your devices use a different type of plug.


Health and Safety: El Calafate is generally considered a safe destination. However, it’s always advisable to take common safety precautions and be vigilant of your belongings, especially in crowded tourist areas. Travel insurance is recommended to cover any unexpected medical expenses or travel disruptions.


Health Requirements: No specific vaccinations are required to visit El Calafate. However, it’s always a good idea to consult with your healthcare provider before traveling to ensure you are up to date on routine vaccinations.


Weather and Clothing: El Calafate experiences a subpolar climate, with cool summers and cold winters. It’s essential to pack appropriate clothing for the season in which you’re traveling. In the summer months (December to February), lightweight and breathable clothing is recommended, along with a hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses. In the winter months (June to August), pack warm and layered clothing, including a waterproof jacket and sturdy footwear for outdoor activities.


Time Zone: El Calafate follows the Argentine Time Zone (ART), which is GMT/UTC-3. Argentina does not observe daylight saving time, so the time remains the same throughout the year.


Getting Around: The town of El Calafate is relatively small and easily navigable on foot. Taxis are available for convenient transportation within the town, and rental cars are also available if you prefer to explore the surrounding areas at your own pace.


Wi-Fi and Communication: Most hotels, cafes, and restaurants offer free Wi-Fi, allowing you to stay connected with loved ones or share your travel experiences. If you plan to use your mobile phone while in Argentina, check with your service provider to ensure that international roaming is activated, or consider purchasing a local SIM card for data and calling services.


By keeping these practical details in mind, you’ll be well-prepared to make the most of your trip to El Calafate. It’s always advisable to check the latest travel advisories and guidelines before your departure to ensure a safe and enjoyable journey.



El Calafate, the gateway to Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina, offers a captivating blend of natural beauty, adventure, and cultural experiences. From the towering glaciers and pristine landscapes to the warm hospitality of the locals, this enchanting destination has something to offer for every traveler.


Exploring Los Glaciares National Park allows visitors to witness the awe-inspiring power of glaciers such as the Perito Moreno Glacier, with its dramatic calving events, and other remarkable glaciers like the Upsala Glacier and the Spegazzini Glacier. Hiking and trekking opportunities abound, offering stunning vistas of Mount Fitz Roy, Cerro Torre, and the surrounding landscapes.


El Calafate is not just for nature enthusiasts; it also offers unique cultural encounters. Visitors can immerse themselves in the local culture through visits to estancias, where they can experience traditional gaucho demonstrations and indulge in mouthwatering Argentine cuisine. The town’s dining scene offers an array of flavors, from succulent grilled meats to international delicacies, satisfying every palate.


Shopping in El Calafate provides the chance to bring home local treasures, such as products made from the iconic calafate berry, handicrafts crafted by local artisans, and beautiful artworks that capture the spirit of the region.


Practical information, such as understanding the climate, planning transportation, and knowing practical details, ensures a smooth and enjoyable trip. Being well-prepared allows visitors to fully embrace the experiences that await them in El Calafate.


With its awe-inspiring natural wonders, exhilarating outdoor adventures, rich cultural heritage, and warm hospitality, El Calafate promises an unforgettable journey filled with unforgettable memories. Immerse yourself in the beauty of Patagonia, explore the magnificent glaciers, embark on thrilling hikes, and let the charm of El Calafate captivate your heart.