Just a moderate plane ride from Buenos Aires, El Calafate is the premiere destination for travelers aching to experience the Southern Patagonia and the Los Glaciers National Park. With access to the park, the Perito Moreno glacier, the hiking haven of El Chalten, and Chile's beautiful Torres del Paine National Park, there is no better place to rest your head at night than El Calafate. A small city, chalked with culture, tradition, and all of the necessary amenities, El Calafate will meet your every need during any Argentine vacation.
A population of approximately 8,000 people inhabit this 155,000-hectacre city, which boasts a dry climate and year round accommodations. Temperatures typically range from -2 degrees Celsius in the winter to 20 degrees Celsius in the summer, remembering that Southern Hemisphere seasons run opposite to the seasons of the Northern Hemisphere. While traveling to the area is encouraged 365 days a year, visitors should understand that hours of daylight dwindle in the winter months to as few as eight hours of natural light per day.
Built in November, 2000, the International Airport of El Calafate presents the easiest way to access the city. With incoming flights consistently arriving from San Carlos de Bariloche, Buenos Aires, and Ushuaia, you'll find traveling here relatively simple. Once you arrive you'll enjoy a scenic 23 kilometer drive into the city where you will find ample amenities and services.
Lodging in El Calafate
The possibilities for lodging in El Calafate are endless! The city offers hotels with a broad range or pricing and services, Hosterias, Estancias (or traditional farms), and Hostels for your traveling convenience. Using our El Calafate lodging guide, you are sure to find the accommodations that are right for you. Make sure to explore the option of staying at one of El Calafate's neighboring Estancias for the opportunity to experience the culture and vitality of the Patagonian lifestyle first hand.
The Perito Moreno Glacier
Imagine a fifteen-story tall wall of ice looming over a turquoise backdrop of snow-capped mountain peaks, and you'll begin to understand the majesty that is the Perito Moreno Glacier. This formation, which is one of the largest in the region, is also the most scientifically significant in that it is still growing in size every day. The glacier provides spectacular vistas from a variety of vantage points, consistently impressing travelers and scientists alike.
El Chalten is a small hiking village accessible from El Calafate, which is surrounded by towering glaciers, crystal lagoons, vast lakes, and the ever-looming presence of mount Fitz Roy. This is quiet village is often deemed the "National Trekking Capital of Argentina," due to its unparalleled access to glacial terrain. The area is also known, however, for recreational climbing, camping, horseback riding, fishing, and rafting excursions.
Torres del Paine
Torres del Paine National Park is a remote park internationally described as one of the most untainted and unspoiled places on earth. The 450,000 acre park presents an amazing biosphere recognized as a World Heritage site in 1978 by UNESCO. With its pristine vistas and untouched natural wonders, your visit to Torres del Paine will undoubtedly be unforgettable.
Los Glaciers National Park
Recently recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, Los Glaciers National Park is one of the most picturesque places in the world. The park is a staggering 8,500 square miles, half of which are covered by ice fields that connect over forty-five major glaciers. While also featuring two of Argentina's largest lakes and the beautiful mount Fitz Roy, Los Glaciers National Park provides an incomparable variety of terrain for Patagonian travelers.
Excursions to the park leave El Calafate on a daily basis. While renting a car and visiting the region on your own is a viable option, we recommend utilizing a tour guide to fully appreciate everything the park has to offer.
The Glaciers of Southern Patagonia
While the Perito Moreno Glacier reigns supreme in the world of Patagonian natural wonders, a plethora of other glaciers each add to the character and appeal of the El Calafate region. Be sure to pay a visit to the Onelli and Upsala glaciers, which showcase the wide range of glacial structures which decorate the region. Also, excursions to these icy wonders provide a premiere opportunity to view the regions flora and fauna, potentially witnessing the captivating flight of buzzards and condors that hover above.
Upsala Glacier Onelli Glacier
The Walichu Caves
The Walichu Caves, located just outside of El Calafate provide a unique window to the past peoples and cultures of the Southern Patagonia. You'll see authentic Paleolithic cave drawings as you are guided through the region, and begin to understand the lifestyle of the early humans who inhabited the land nearly 4,000 years ago.
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