35 hotels in this place
El Calafate is a small town that has grown due to the tourist influx into the Patagonia region of Argentina. It is set on the glacial blue Lago Argentina and is full of eager trekkers.
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Points of Interest in El Calafate
The Perito Moreno Glacier is located 80km (50miles) away from El Calafate and is a premier attraction in the area. 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!
Popular events in El Calafate in the near future
About El Calafate
Excursions to Perito Moreno glacier (sliding scale entry fee to National Park, 100 pesos for entranjeros (foreigners), 40 for people of South America and 15 for Argentinos), by bus, or use a recommended Argentine travel agency to arrange private trips for ice walking, drinking whiskey with glaciar ice, among many other possible activities.
There are three very expensive bus companies (120 pesos round trip - 90 minutes each way), leaving around 8:00am in the morning or so and one company (Cal Tur) also at 13:45. The return time is around 16:00pm. The bus will drop you off at the port for boat trips and take the rest onward to the glacier before coming back upon return. Try to sit on the left side of the bus for the best views of the glacier and surrounding landscape.
More conveniently, a taxi is 300 pesos round trip, so if there are at least three of you its easy maths.
There is a hideously expensive (by any standard) restaurant onsite (meagre coffee in styrofoam cup is 12 pesos), be a cheapskate and take a picnic and flask and keep smiling. Numerous places to sit and eat overlooking the glacier.
The Hielo y Aventura Minitrekking excursion - morning trip to the observation boardwalks, boat ride across the lake, and then an hour and a half with (provided) crampons walking around on the Glacier. Proper foul weather gear (rain jacket and pants) and trekking shoes/boots are strongly recommended, and can be rented from several places in town. Bring sunscreen, and don't bother with water (you can drink the water off the glacier).
The Fernandez Campbell All Glaciers boat tour. All day long, but some incredible glacier views that you won't be able to see otherwise. When booking, see if you can get on the smaller boats (they have one large and three small ones).
A newly built museum dedicated to glaciers, known as the Glaciarum, stands several kilometers outside of El Calafate. This museum provides exhibitions and detailed information on the makeup, history, and importance of the glaciers found in this region.
There are also 4x4 excursions up into the mountainous area surrounding El Calafate. These provide stunning views of Lake Argentino, and, on a clear day, the top of Fitz Roy as well as the Torres del Paine. They also stop for refreshments and visit geological formations caused by glaciers known as the ´mexican hats'.
Visit a ranch. Ask your travel agency where to go. Recommendations ; El Galpon del Glaciar Ranch, Nibepo Aike Ranch, Rincón Ranch, Alta Vista Ranch. On most estancias you can ride a horse.
"La Toldería" is a fast food that turns into a disco after 1AM. The pub of El Calafate.
- Patagonic Lamb "cordero patagónico" is the main dish. Typical barbecue (asado) is very good. But if you are tired of meat, just try pizza and "empanadas" at La Toldería bar, Libertador 1177.
- Don Pichón is a very good grill and restaurant.
- Pura Vida is a colourful joint with tasty dishes and nice lake views managed by 4 youngsters with a 'vision'.
- At Sancho, 25 de Mayo 90, ask for the stuffed beaf, or "Bife de Lomo relleno".
- At La Chancha y los 20, Libertador 1250, ask for brochettes.One brochette is enough for 2 normal persons.
- At La Vaca Atada (The tied cow:-), ask the "milanesa completa". If you like meat, don´t even ask what is it, just surprise yourself. It is a dely.
- At Pizzeria La Lechuza (A Patagonian Owl) on Ave. Libertador try the great empanadas, pizza and different kinds of milanesas. If possible, avoid the English-language menu as it makes no sense.
- La Tablita is the first restaurant that locals mention when you ask where to eat. It receives mixed reviews but provides steaks and grilled Patagonian lamb.
- Loca Marimba Backpacker´s Bar, Av. Libertador 1315, (Galeria El Establo), a small beautiful place run by its owners, in the center of the Calafate, to eat homemade food and listening excellent music.
- Mi Rancho is a great restaurant in El Calafate, possibly the best. It is a cozy place that is normally packed. You should make a reservation. Try the bife de lomo or the risotto, you won't regret it. For dessert, try the apple or chocolate tart.
Argentina´s wine is one of the finest. Take advantage of the exchange rate and enjoy yourself with them. Or drink whatever you want, like beer from all over the world, wiskeys, liquors, champagne, etc. Or a Diet Coke :) Pomelo sodas are something different.
- Loca Marimba Backpacker´s Bar, Av. Libertador 1315, (Galeria El Establo), a small beautiful place in the center of the Calafate to have good drinks, sandwichs and pizzas listening excellent music. The best partys in the city take place here.
Food is expensive mainly due to the remote location of the city. There are several supermarkets in town, including a big one ("Anonyma") at the Eastern end of the main street, with fair prices. It remains open at least until 9pm (except on Sunday). Buy your food for your tours in advance, because on ruta 40 and in the glacier national park there are almost no places to buy food.
Handicraft and souvenirs can be bought in large scale at the main street.
There are plenty of ATMs in the main street. Of course, they are not all working, not all open, and not all have cash. But you will for sure find one that will deliver cash to you!
This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article El Calafate on Wikivoyage.