Formerly a sleepy town in a remote region of Patagonia, El Calafate is now a booming tourist town thanks to the establishment of the nearby Los Glaciares National Park. Located in Argentina’s Santa Cruz Province, El Calafate serves as a starting point for many tourist excursions of which the Perito Moreno Glacier is the most popular due to its spectacular display of cracking and thundering ice breaks.
Other adventurous outings from El Calafate include catamaran cruises on the green waters of Lago Argentino to view stunning glaciers, and hiking trips in the majestic mountains near the famous Mount Fitz Roy. An important nesting area for 80 different species of birds, the Laguna Nimez Nature Reserve is a favored trip for nature lovers. Several ranches, known as estancias, are also popular excursions from El Calafate where tourists can experience local farm life. Additionally, just outside of town is an adventure park where visitors can enjoy rappelling, ziplining and rock climbing.
El Calafate itself is a charming town where tourists can stroll down the main street and visit souvenir shops and museums like the Glaciarium to learn about all about the region’s glaciers. In addition to hotel lodging, there are also several nice restaurants with cuisine choices ranging from Argentine to continental and international. For nightlife, there are a variety of bars, clubs and discos.
While car rentals are plentiful in the area, driving can be difficult for tourists not experienced with the rugged roads, so it may be best to explore El Calafate’s natural playground by bus and tour operations.