In the heart of Argentinian Patagonia lies El Calafate, on the shores of Lake Argentino, known for its large flocks of flamingos. Named after a prevalent bush berry in the region, many visitors travel to El Calafate to see its most famous attraction: the Perito Moreno glacier. As well as acting as a base for further exploration into the wilds of Patagonia, El Calafate is home to all the necessary traveler amenities, alongside charming Patagonian houses and a range of restaurants and souvenir shops.
Whether you’re visiting El Calafate on your way to Chile or using it as a base for expeditions into the amazing icy landscapes of the Los Glaciares National Park, you’ll be enchanted by its pretty streets, amazing lakeside location and tranquil surroundings. El Calafate is easily reached with daily flights connecting this Patagonian city with the capital of Buenos Aires and other popular destinations such as Ushuaia and Bariloche. Be sure to include a trip to El Calafate on your next tour of Argentina.
Of course, almost all visitors who travel to El Calafate will visit the Perito Moreno glacier, a bucket-list-worthy natural wonder and a highlight of many tours of Argentina. This huge glacier, which stretches for 250 square kilometers, is fed by the Southern Patagonian Ice Field and is the largest reserve of fresh water in the world. Unlike many of the world’s glaciers, the Perito Moreno is not retreating but, instead, maintains an equilibrium as it grows and retreats at an equal rate. Footpaths across the gigantic ice-mass are the most adventurous way to explore the Perito Moreno, although boat trips allow you to see the glacier from a different perspective and lucky travelers might even visit the Perito Moreno during its regular rupture cycle when huge blocks of ice fall from the glacier into the icy waters below; a thrilling sight indeed!
Los Glaciares National Park, the location of the Perito Moreno glacier, is a must-see whilst visiting El Calafate. As well as the showstopping Perito Moreno, the Upsala and Spegazzini glaciers are impressive in their own right and are accessible only by boat. Reached by sailing through the middle of two huge ice-fields, the dazzling white landscape is like something from another world.
There are also a handful of things to see in El Calafate itself, but the most exciting attraction is the Glacarium Ice Museum, a newly built museum complex that beautifully and accessibly explains how glaciers are formed. Here, you can learn about the importance of glaciers on the environment in Patagonia and enjoy high-tech exhibitions that guide you through the process of glacier formation. To top off your visit, you can even enjoy a drink at the on-site underground ice bar!
Finally, a stay in El Calafate, or in Argentina for that matter, is incomplete without a visit to an estancia, a traditional ranch where you can experience, first-hand, the ways of the gaucho. Expect horse-riding excursions and Argentinian hospitality on a quintessential estancia visit.
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