El Calafate is, without a doubt, one of the most spectacular destinations in Argentina. And it is that Patagonia attracts both national and international tourists, thanks to its impressive landscapes that offer amazing views.
Mountains, crystal clear lakes, snow, glaciers and beautiful forests is what this region offers. Whether to get away from everyday life and renew energy or to live the most incredible adventures, Patagonia is the ideal destination. El Calafate is one of the favorite cities that sums up the fascinating southern region very well. Discover the land of glaciers!
Brief review of El Calafate
El Calafate is located on the southern shore of Lake Argentino in the province of Santa Cruz, at South of that country. The capital of the province is Río Gallegos; El Calafate is located about 315 kilometers from it.
The city as a permanent locality emerged in the first decades of the 20th century, since before it was only a provisional point for the transport of wool. Reportedly, its name derives from a small bush called “calafate” —berberis microphylla—; this is endemic to the region and most popular in El Calafate and Ushuaia in Argentina and in Punta Arenas in Chile. The bush has yellow flowers and edible blue berries.
Before the famous expeditions in Patagonia began, the place received the name of Kehek Aike by the Tehuelches or native Patagonians —the aonikenk—.
What you should know and do in El Calafate
Next, we tell you about the great attractions that you can visit in this region of Argentina:
Los Glaciares National Park
If you go to El Calafate, a must visit is to know the Los Glaciares National Park, since the city is the ideal gateway to it. It has 726,927 hectares, making it the largest in all of Argentina.
It was created with the purpose of protecting and preserving the great masses of continental ice and glaciers, the southern Andean-Patagonian forest and samples of the Patagonian steppe. Due to its extraordinary natural beauty, its glaciological and geomorphological interest and the fauna in danger of extinction, It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1981.
Some of the beauties that you can discover in the park are the Upsala, Viedma or Spegazzini glaciers. Also, from here you can visit Lake Roca, Cerro Fitz Roy, Chorrillo del Salto or the Patagonian Ice Field. You can do activities like trekking on ice, boating on the lakes, kayaking, hiking, climbing or fishing.
But without a doubt, the greatest expectation is to visit the Perito Moreno Glacier. This glacier gained worldwide recognition thanks to the rupture phenomenon it generates, which is undoubtedly one of the most amazing. It is about the detachment of huge pieces of ice that fall into the lake, something that leaves anyone amazed.
If you go to El Calafate, in addition to discovering its natural wonders, We recommend you get to know the city in depth. It seems to be the least fascinating part, but we assure you that near its central area —where there are beautiful houses, cabins, and shops—, there is also nature and green spaces.
This is a place with a lot of history, so we recommend you make a city tour. Do not miss visiting the museums, such as the Historical Interpretation Center, the Glaciarium Interpretation Center, the Municipal Regional Museum or the Toy Museum. Do you want more? If so, you have to know the ice bars, the Paseo de los Artesanos and the casino.
Not everything is glaciers and snow. In the Patagonian steppe, you can discover wonders such as the La Leona Petrified Forest, lakes and caves, Punta Walichu, or even go on safaris by bicycle or in 4×4 vehicles, go horseback riding or enjoy sidereal tourism at Estancia Río Miter.
Stays in El Calafate are much more common than you think. Rural tourism makes its way into this town to demonstrate what country life is like there. You can learn about some of the activities that are done, and even participate in them.
For example, you could see a demonstration of sheep herding with dogs, shearing, horseback riding and hiking, among other things. if you are looking for Get away from everyday life and learn new customs, spend time in a room you might like a lot.
What is the ideal time to visit El Calafate?
If you are wondering what is the ideal time to visit El Calafate, fortunately we will say all of them, since depending on the season, you can enjoy doing different activities.
Despite this, the high season is between august and the first days of april. January and February are the favorite months, since being summer, daylight lasts longer and allows more and longer excursions.
Another good reason for the spring/summer season to be the peak is the phenomenon of the calving of glaciers that occurs during that period. This is the point where El Calafate receives more foreign tourism.
However, the low season, which occurs between May and September, also has its surprises. If what you are looking for is snow excursions or ice skating, this is the ideal time. Even during the month of July, the Ice Festival is celebrated in the Redonda Bay, with exhibitions of skating, hockey, “chueca” —a typical sport in the area—, among other activities.
Although winter can also be enjoyed, we must warn you that in certain cases excursions must be suspended due to snow storms, because there is little daylight or on cold and windy days. Apart from this, winter in El Calafate is also amazing.
El Calafate, ideal for rest and adventure
As you have seen, El Calafate has a charm for all tastes. If you want to rest, you can do it in the peace of this quiet place; and even do quiet or low-difficulty activities. On the contrary, if you want adventure, here you have everything, like trekking, kayaking, journeys in 4×4 or in mountain bike, among other options.
Fan of summer or winter? You can also choose your favorite time to visit this city and see the calving of glaciers, or admire how the snow falls doing super fun activities. El Calafate has it all!