Skip Navigation

El Calafate

Photo © monkyhands

Travel Guide South America Argentina El Calafate

edit

Introduction

Icebergs - what colours

Icebergs - what colours

© All Rights Reserved Brett SA

El Calafate is a small town in Patagonia, in the southwest of the Santa Cruz Province of Argentina. It borders Lago Argentino and the town has seen a significant growth in tourism during the last decade or so, with an increasing number of inhabitants as a result. It's the gateway to numerous natural attractions, like the fantastic Perito Moreno Glacier. It's location betweeen El Chaltén and Torres del Paine National Park (Chile) makes it an inevitable stop for those in transit

Top

edit

Sights and Activities

Monte Fitz Roy

IMG_5034

IMG_5034

© All Rights Reserved The VBs

Monte Fitz Roy (Cerro Fitz Roy) lies on the border of Chile and Argentina in the Parque Nacional Los Glaciares. Francisco Moreno named the mountain in his book Viaje a la Patagonia Austral in honour of Robert FitzRoy, the captain of HMS Beagle, who sailed up the Santa Cruz River in 1834 and surveyed large parts of the Patagonian coast. The mountain is also sometimes known as Cerro Chaltén, which means smoking mountain, because of the clouds that often form around the peak.

The first recorded climb was achived by French duo Lionel Terray and Guido Magnone. Despite the average height of the mountain, it is listed as one of the most technical climbs in the world because of the almost vertical granite faces. There are years that not a single successful ascent was recorded due to the extremely difficult climb.

Perito Moreno Glacier

IMG_4831

IMG_4831

© All Rights Reserved The VBs

The Perito Moreno Glacier is located about 80 kilometres from El Calafate, also the Parque Nacional de los Glaciares. It is one of the most important tourist attractions in Argentinian Patagonia. It is about 30 kilometres in length, and one of only a few glaciers that is not retreating.

Top

edit

Getting There

By Plane

Comandante Armando Tola International Airport (FTE), which is located 21 kilometres from El Calafte offer some flights. Aerolineas Argentinas flies to/from Buenos Aires, Trelew and Ushuaia.
LADE has flights to and from Bariloche, Buenos Aires, Comodoro Rivadavia, Mar del Plata, Puerto Madryn, Esquel, Rio Grande, Rio Gallegos and Ushuaia. Finally, LAN Argentina flies to Buenos Aires and Ushuaia as well.

By Bus

The only other possibility is to arrive by bus. But this means that you will spend quite some time in the bus on rough roads. Due to the dirty streets, especially when it rains, views from buses vanish fast...

A quite remarkable trip is the bus connection between El Calafate and Bariloche along Ruta 40. It is mainly operated for the benefit of tourists by the Agency Chaltentravel (directly only the Calafate-Perito Moreno stage), since people of Calafate and Bariloche have very small ties between each other, which does not sound strange after you have made the journey and seen the state of the road.

Views, if the weather is good, are in places stunning, especially between Calafate and Perito Moreno city, less between Perito Moreno and Bariloche. You must however be prepared for a long (10+ hours for 2 1/2 days) and rough trip in a small van. If you are not the kind of person who enjoys slow changes in the landscape and the beauty of lonely places, do not attempt this trip or you will regret it. Of course, if you really like this sort of thing, you will never forget the trip.

The bus trip will let you pass (and most likely stay and enjoy) through El Chalten and give an opportunity to stay in Perito Moreno from where you can organise a (long) ride to visit the "Cueva de las manos pintadas".

Top

edit

Getting Around

By Car

Many agencies have car rental options. The international brands Hertz and Avis have offices in town, on the main road.

Top

edit

Eat

  • Patagonic Lamb (Spanish: 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. It turns into a disco after 1AM. The pub of El Calafate.
  • Don Pichón is a very good grill and restaurant.
  • Pura Vida is a colourful joint with tasty dishes and nice lake views managed by four youngsters with a 'vision'.
  • At Sancho, 25 de Mayo 90, ask for the stuffed beef, or Bife de Lomo relleno.
  • At La Chancha y los 20, Libertador 1250, ask for brochettes. One brochette is enough for two average persons.
  • At La Vaca Atada (English: The tied cow), ask for the "milanesa completa". If you like meat, don´t even ask what is it, just surprise yourself. It is a delight.
  • At Pizzeria La Lechuza (a Patagonian owl) on Ave. Libertador try the great empanadas, pizza and different kinds of milanesas. The English-language menu is not very helpful 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.
  • Mi Rancho is a great restaurant in El Calafate, possibly the best. It is a cozy place that is normally packed. Make a reservation is advisable. Try the bife de lomo or the risotto, you won't regret it. For dessert, try the apple or chocolate tart.

Top

edit

Drink

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 while listening to excellent music. The best parties in the city take place there

Top

edit

Sleep

  • Hostería Meulen Calafate, ☎ +54 2902492982, e-mail: info@hosterimeulen.com.ar. Calle 202 N°608 frente a Laguna Nimez. The hotel have free shuttle to the Dawntown, Bar, Restaurant, WiFi, Internet, DDI, DDN and Laundry.

America del Sur, ☎ +54 2902-493525. Puerto Desador (near La Bamba). Welcomed by a sign urging to take off your shoes. The helpful staff will help you with planning everything from your visit to the Perito Moreno Glacier till the remainder of your travel. With internet facilities, shared kitchen, floor heating and a panoramic view of the sunset over El Calafate. Dormbed Ar$80. Double room available, Ar$180.

  • Cerro Cristal Hotel, Gregores 989, ☎ +54 2902-491088, e-mail: cerrocristalhotel@cotecal.com.ar. Note - the website is totally in Spanish. Hotel is very clean, warm, well located (one block off the main drag), walking distance to the tourism office, and costs $210 pesos (usd$70) for 2 single beds, per night as of Feb 2008. With Internet facilities, a kitchen (breakfast provided at no charge), hot water, and comfortable beds. Day tours arranged to Perito Moreno (or the entire glacier national park, Monte Fitz Roy, etc).
  • Design Suites Hotel, Calle 80 N. 1050 Zona Balcon del Aeropuerto. When the environment and the general situation show a tendency towards monotony, a new concept in hotels will transform you in a guest and spectator, within a place where the contemporary becomes images that catch the eye and trigger your imagination.
  • El Galpon del Glaciar Lodge, ☎ +54 11 4803-7335. Ruta 11 km 22.
  • Fuerte Calafate Hotel, 605 street n°1164, ☎ +54 2902-492813, +54 2902 492-823, e-mail: fuertecalafate@cotecal.com.ar. The best view of calafate, and the warmest attention. It cost U$S75 the double room and includes breakfast. The hotel has a restaurant for dining. Internet facilities, comfortable beds an hot water.
  • Kosten Aike Hotel, Gob Moyano1243, El Calafate, Prov. de Santa Cruz. The Hotel is located in one of the most southern places on earth, in the Santa Cruz Province, in Patagonia. 80 rooms decorated with the outmost comfort details, offer the guests a complete relaxing stay. A fully equipped free of charge business center is also available.
  • Los Notros, ☎ +54 1148137285. Facing the Perito Moreno Glacier.
  • Mirador del Lago, Av Libertador, 2047. Great staff (took care of sending my postcards for me), gorgeous rooms, delicious breakfast (don't miss the hot chocolate!) and overlooking the Lago Argentino, where you can go ice-skating in the winter. They have computers with free Internet access, a good restaurant and it's located only meters from the downtown area.
  • AMSA Camping (Near the police and fire station). Hot water, electricity. No WiFi and no shelter. AR$25.
  • Hostel De Las Manos, Egidio Feruglio. One of the cheapest hostels in Calafate, ARS 50 for a dorm bed in 6 person dorm (March 2012). About 15 minutes walk from the center/busstation. Relaxed and clean, in terms of atmosphere more like a guesthouse than a hostel.
  • Rochester Hotel Calafate, Av. Libertador 3614, ☎ +54 11 5032-5570, e-mail: info-o@rochester-hotel.com.ar. Has a view of the Lake Argentino on Bahia Redonda. Rooms are equipped with king size beds, business desks, mini bar, LED cable TV, climate control, and safe deposit box.

View our map of accommodation in El Calafate or use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

Booking.com

Top

edit

Keep Connected

Internet

Internet cafes are still widely available in most places, even in smaller towns, though many people are connected through the internet at home or by mobile device. Many cafes and restaurants offer free WiFi with an advertisement in their windows. All you need to do is buy something and ask for the password. Apart from specific places, including soms airports and major stations, quite a few cities are offering free wifi, including Buenos Aires, Mendoza and Iguazu Falls.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

The country calling code to Argentina is 54. To make an international call from Argentina, dial 00 followed by the country code and the rest of the telephone number. All 0800 numbers are toll-free numbers, except if you call from a mobile phone. Emergency numbers are available for Police (101), Ambulance (107) and Fire (100). Emergency dispatcher for Buenos Aires (city), Santa Fe (city), Rosario (city), Salta (province), Corrientes (province), and Buenos Aires (province) 911. In a mobile phone 112 forwards to 911.

You can get a prepaid Movistar / Claro / Personal SIM card for a few pesos / free at phone shops, all you pay is about 20 Pesos for your initial credits. Inserting the SIM card into your unlocked American or European mobile phone should work, although to register the SIM you have to enter your passport (or any 9 digit) number - you then have your personal Argentinean phone numbers. Calls cost around 1 Peso per minute. Receiving calls is usually free, except for international calls, and some cross network / inter-city calls - hence buying a SIM card purely to keep in touch with people overseas may not be worth it.

Without a cellphone, there are similar cards with credits for international calls. You get them at so called locutorios, where you can also use the phone booths. You dial a free number to connect to the service, then your secret number for the credits, and then the international phone number you want to call. Using these cards, a one-hour call to Europe will cost about 10 Pesos. Don't call without such cards or even from your hotel - it will be way more expensive.

Post

Correos de Argentina is the national postal service of Argentina. There are also two private carriers operating nationwide (OCA and Andreani) and a number of regional ones though Correos de Argentina will be the one most likely to be used by travellers. Post offices are mostly open between 8:00am and 8:00pm Monday to Friday and 9:00am to 1:00pm on Saturday, though there are regional variantions with longer hours in central post offices in big cities and shorter ones in small towns. Services are pretty reliable but slow, mostly taking about two weeks to deliver a postcard or letter to the USA or Europe, but usually within a few days sending it domestically. There is also a more expensive express options. You can track a package online at the Correos de Argentino website. Parcels take at least 3-5 days domestically and weeks internationally. Otherwise try international companies like FedEx, TNT, DHL or UPS to send parcels. It is probably more reliable as well as faster.

Top

Quick Facts

[edit]

Population
11,000
Coordinates
  • Latitude: -50.3402146
  • Longitude: -72.2705082

Accommodation in El Calafate

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in El Calafate searchable right here on Travellerspoint. You can use our map to quickly compare budget, mid-range or top of the range accommodation in El Calafate and areas nearby.

Contributors

as well as Herr Bert (6%)

El Calafate Travel Helpers

We don't currently have any Travel Helpers for El Calafate

This is version 20. Last edited at 10:29 on Feb 15, 18 by Utrecht. 12 articles link to this page.

Creative Commons License
Except where otherwise noted, content of this article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License