Things To Do In El Calafate
The city of El Calafate captures everyone with an overwhelming fascination; Glaciar Perito Moreno, which is located 80km away from Parque Nacional Los Glaciares. The ice sheet is a must-see; however its gigantic presence has energized the development and quick upscaling or modernization of the once typical city of El Calafate. In any case, it’s still a fun spot to be with a wide scope of things to do and great trekking sites to explore. The vital area between El Chaltén and Torres del Paine (Chile) makes it a mandatory stop for everyone who passes by El Calafate.
When To Go:
The perfect time to go on a trekking adventure or simply visit is during the season of spring and pre-winter (November until mid-December & March–April), when there's a decent harmony between having enough guests to keep tourism services running yet not very numerous for the spot to appear very crowded. It can be uncomfortably occupied in January and February. In case you have any intentions to arrive at whatever time outside winter (when access can be hard and numerous establishments and hiking sites are shut any way), it is prudent to book your accommodation, flights and auto rental well ahead of time. The winters are much cooler too, yet sometimes extremely frosty. Those icy masses again are antiquated and actually from time to time achieve a solidifying point in El Calafate, even in June and July.
These are the exciting places and popular things to do in the city of El Calafate:
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Parque Nacional Los Glaciares
At the Parque Nacional Los Glaciares, there is a wooden walkway with great terrace views that will take you right up to the Perito Moreno, where you can admire and photograph this wonder of nature. The glacier is impressive and wrapped in all blue colors. While contemplating this wonder there are time s that you will see blocks of ice break off from the wall making a great noise as it falls into the water. The landscape around the glaciers is amazing, one side has sedimentary rock walls that indicate the time spent on the other forests of green plants that make contrast with the blue glacier. You can take a boat trip going right up to the walls of the glacier and finally understand its majesty. There is the possibility to walk on foot to a small path with a guide. It’s a visit not to be missed and a kind of place that will remain in your heart.
The national park is a destination for anyone going to El Calafate, but to explore the glaciers, especially the Perito Moreno, should be something for the "bucket-list" of all who appreciate a natural phenomena. The size of the glaciers is impressive and it is very exciting to be in front of that wall of ice! You can do a mini-trekking along the glacier, which is worth it. The platforms of the reserve for observation are well maintained and the boats that will take you to the glacier have adequate heating and are well brand new. The ice packs falling off are a great show. The Los Glaciares National Park is a unique beauty that was declared World Heritage by UNESCO in 1981.The structure of the park is very good, featuring restaurant, shop and good bathrooms. Don’t miss the Perito Moreno Glacier with its blue nuances and its greatness; it is a simply wonderful and indescribable experience.
The Upsala Glacier is a journey through the iceberg with an astounding and memorable experience. It is definitely worth trying as you navigate among huge blocks of ice and spectacular landscapes to wander. You go by boat across the lake on which the icebergs move slowly and then go up first with the 4x4 and then head out for a short walk up to the area with a dazzling glacier in the distance, the lake below and everything round about the rocks shaped by ice over the years is breathtaking and surrounded by other snow-capped mountains.
It is one of the best tours of the whole trip in the Patagonia region. The navigation on Lago Argentino is very striking, thanks to the natural colors of the atmosphere and the spectacle of the iceberg. You will not be able to enter the channel of the iceberg but you can get to the front of the Upsala glacier and the excursion is also very impressive. It is advisable to have lunch at Estancia Cristina and continue the hike again to the glacier in the afternoon riding a 4x4 which is the exciting highlight of the day. Try your best to get to the breathtaking mirador (observation deck) of the glacier, the show is indescribable!
Calafate Mountain Park
The tour and the activities to try around the Calafate Mountain Park are all worth it because the snow up there is guaranteed. The cable car ride is very cool especially if the sky is clear. For those who likes to snowboard and snow car they have this equipment for rent, in addition to the skis. It is a place with access to chairlifts with igloos and where you can have a rich chocolate then eat hot dogs and hamburgers. You can ski, snowmobile ride and coincidentally admire a fox in the distance during which you can take lots of pictures (there are wildlife animal that freely roam this area). It is an entertaining option where you can spend half a day and not feel a single bit bored.
After the chairlift adventure, expect a tour of the hilltop Huyliche in a truck (4 x4) that is well prepared to climb and take the challenging and breathtaking descents. The driver of the truck is very entertaining and has much knowledge of geology and geography of El Calafate. The tour provides divine and panoramic views of the Patagonian. It is really a fun and interesting ride!
The Lago Argentino holds one of the most enchanting views you will ever see in El Calafate. Five hours of beautiful sailing on a catamaran among the icebergs to reach the presence of ice giants with an incredible charm and you will not only feel the edge of the world but also experience the power of nature with indescribable emotions, you have to try them! It is one of the best things to do in El Calafate that you will treasure in your heart and not get tired of looking back to.
The journey begins once you reach the Puerto Bandera Imbarcar on the catamaran, which makes the tour towards the glaciers of Upsala and Spegazzini. The boat can accommodate 200 people on board. Take the seats near the windows on the first floor, they are the best! Navigation on Lake Argentino is not to be missed such as hiking with crampons on the Perito Moreno.
You can surf all day between the icebergs that are beautifully colored and stop in front of the towering walls of ice and admire their grand presence. Upsala, which is the greatest of all, looks quite withdrawn at certain times and loses many blocks and you cannot get too close. The Spegazzini is the highest (60 meters above the lake) but the submerged part is 10 times as much. You can go around all day and see the enchanting glaciers including the north side of the Perito Moreno and glimpses of unforgettable landscapes.
The Estancia Cristina in El Calafate is a cooperative that provides services to hiking in the beautiful Parco de los Glaciares. It has nice and prepared staff who will lead guests in the visit to the museum of ancient farm, in the 4x4 excursions for the glacier Upsala, boat riding and many other activities. The restaurant offers a typical and varied menu of pastries and lamb, fruits and vegetables, and rooms for sleeping located in small houses in style.
The bay where Estancia stands is a place of extraordinary charm, wild, and absolutely hard to miss. The spirit of sacrifice and professionalism of those involved in maintaining Estancia Cristina are evident in every step of the visit to the site. Be sure to check them out when you’re in El Calafate.
Bosque Petrificado La Leona (La Leona Petrified Forest)
The Bosque Petrificado La Leona (La Leona Petrified Forest) is a very different landscape of glaciers, but if you are in El Calafate do not bypass it. The tour requires medium physical effort, needs up and down holding onto ropes, dry climate, cold and windy and very diverse from the other glacier adventures you will see in El Calafate. They offer a snack in the middle of the track, and the guides are very knowledgeable and gladly answer any questions about the formations, rocks, and animals. The full day tour in the Patagonian steppe includes an hour walk into a stunning road. On the way there are lookouts with panoramic views of the majestic Andes Mountains, including Mount Fitz Roy. On the site there are tree trunks, stones, and fossils of small animals that have remained hidden for millions of years. The place is phenomenal. For those who like a bit of walking and fantastic scenery this is the place. However, walking around here is little uncommon because most come to El Calafate to see the glaciers.
The La Leona Petrified Forest is an interesting place in geology that is tucked away just over 100 km from El Calafate. The site passes through a gorgeous road that makes up for the trip. As its name indicates it is a forest that is petrified with fossils of woods. On site are tree trunks and other prehistoric plants that currently look like stones. There are also fossils that indicate small prehistoric animals. Access is by the Hotel La Leona which is next to a river in a place of privileged beauty. This petrified wood was dragged by glaciers and rivers to where they are today. It's something out of the ordinary, full of beautiful stones that look like they were stowed fossil. The view from the summit part is wonderful, go up and look at the views and wear thick clothing and bundle up well because it is very cold at the top.
Miradores Los Condores y Las Aguilas
The Miradores Los Condores y Las Aguilas is a circuit trekking area of no more than 40 minutes where you will get an incredible view of the villa. It can be performed smoothly even with small children. It also offers a beautiful walk in the entrance to the nearby El Chalten. Reaching the top you will have a beautiful view of the town, Fitz Roy, the river turns, and the towering mountains of the Massif. This lookout/observatory point in El Calafate is easy to access and without any difficulty. Take lots of photos and enjoy the panoramic views from this point, it is worth the time and effort.
The Cerro Frias is very close to the city and offers several options of activity. It has a cool Zip line where each section has more than 500m of challenges to try and conquer. This place is a visual enjoyment starting from the ascent of the mountain to the summit, the view is magnificent. There are ATV rides, 4x4 adventures, along with the great views of the Patagonian Valley.
The site allows a fun Jeep ride that climbs the hill and from there one can see the Argentine lake, the snowy mountains, and to observe animals like hares and condors. The ascent to the top via a horseback ride is unforgettable, with beautiful scenery on all sides and the being one with nature. It is a good tour to do with kids or the kind of adventure that the whole family will definitely enjoy.
The Glaciarium is a world of information about glaciers. In this space, you will know the history of glaciers, and have a full awareness of how to preserve nature. It holds many interesting information on the subject, but the actual attractions are more innovative and interactive. There is a van service that takes and brings people from the center of El Calafate to the Glaciarium, which is away from the city. The view around the site impressive and this glacier museum is well worth the visit.
It is a good experience to learn a little more (if you knew almost nothing yet) about the current state of the glaciers. The way they arise is amazing and as incredible as it is how many of them are also quickly or melting/ disappearing because of global warming. The tour is covered with a film in the end. The place takes about an hour to explore. Within the Glaciarium there is also an ice bar where you can enjoy some drinks. The museum is located in the path of the Glaciares National Park, which is about 10 minutes drive from the center of the city. The place is easy to access; it has its own parking, very comfortable and air-conditioned.
Laguna Nimez Reserve
The Laguna Nimez Reserve is an unpretentious ride for a weekend afternoon that is offered for free in El Calafate. The natural reserve site is easily accessible and it is possible to walk from the center. The longer you access the trail; nature will be revealed gradually during the exciting hike which sees many flamingos and other birds of Patagonia.
One may see the Lago Argentino too. A binocular is helpful, but not essential. A lens with a good zoom helps to make good records of all the wildlife animals and fantastic scenery that surrounds this reserve. You can also meet the famous fruit that baptizes and gave way to the name of the city. The trails are well marked and the walk of about 2km is nice. It is certainly not to be missed while you are touring the city of El Calafate. The variety of birds that inhabit it is amazing.
Av del Libertador
Av del Libertador is the main street of the city that concentrates on trade and various travel agencies. It is full of trees, very clean, with a central garden. The heart of the city was formed by the margins of this avenue which includes; restaurants, shops, bars, bookstores, supermarkets, casino and more can be found. This avenue is an obligatory stop for everyone who visits El Calafate. It is the major avenue of the city, where you can find most of the travel agencies, banks, and at the beginning of it is the tourist office where every traveler can collect essential information for the trip and the list of attractions they can visit in El Calafate.
El Calafate is the perfect setting for great outdoor adventures and trekking. The city holds so many surprises like the boat ride through the spectacular glacier which is one of the the most unforgettable experiences you will ever have about Argentina. Appreciate the grandeur of the glacier, to sail so close, get near the tip of the iceberg and be in awe of its imposing presence and see how it falls to pieces in the rich waters of El Calafate. The city is a real gem of Argentina!
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