Reasons to go
- El Calafate is a jumping off point for the region's most famous attractions including Perito Moreno Glacier
- World class hiking awaits in the Fitz Roy range, and the mountains of Los Glaciares National Park
- It is well connected to the rest of Argentina through its domestic airport, and also to Chile by bus
- Only have one day here? Choose one of the many day trips, or hop between restaurants, bars and shops in the bustling centre.
Things to do around El Calafate
Perito Moreno Glacier
This enormous glacier is just 50 miles from El Calafate, and is one of the most famous of Argentina's natural wonders. Fed by the Southern Patagonian Ice Cap, it is one of the few glaciers in the world that is advancing, and is also one of the few you can get right up close to, no experience required.
Gaze at the 70 metre high icy wall from walkways that snake around the woods facing the glacier, or don crampons and crunch across the surface on an ice hike.
Hiking in Los Glaciares
Three hours from El Calafate sits the mountain town of El Chalten, a mecca for trekking enthusiasts. It is situated right in the midst of the Fitz Roy range, so you can walk straight out onto hiking trails around Mount Fitz Roy and to views of the ice cap.
For the more adventurous, there is the option to head out on longer overnight hikes, or even an 8+ day expedition onto the Ice Cap itself.
Perito Moreno is the most popular day trip from El Calafate, but there are a number of other options for exploration. You could head out on an exhilarating downhill mountain biking trip, go kayaking among the ice floes at Upsala glacier, or experience rural Patagonian life by spending a day exploring a traditional estancia and enjoying a hearty Patagonian asado.
It's easy to pass through El Calafate without taking advantage of its proximity to the glacier and the stunning hiking trails nearby. Take a day to make the most of it before moving on to El Chalten.
Trips that include El Calafate
What our customers think
We really enjoyed walking and exploring El Calafate. We ate at some great local places, La Zaina and Buenos Cruces where we talked with other locals and learned more about El Calafate.
Tracy Buenos Aires November 2017
Where to stay
El Calafate is a tourist hub, and although 5* hotels are few and far between, there are some comfortable, boutique gems to be found in the centre.
If you're after something a little more special, head out of the city to a luxury lodge, where you will have private guides for your wildlife spotting, trekking, horse riding or mountain biking excursions, beautiful food stunning views to return to. In the town itself, backpacker hostels and B&Bs abound, close to the restaurants and bars.
How to get to there
From outside Patagonia: Catch a flight to Buenos Aires and connect with a flight to El Calafate airport. There are up to three flights per day from Buenos Aires to El Calafate, taking approximately three hours. Discover more about getting to Patagonia.
From Torres del Paine: Torres del Paine National Park is geographically close to El Calafate, but you do need to cross the border between Chile & Argentina. You can get between the two by road in approximately four hours.
From Aysen: Cross from Aysen at Lago O'Higgins/San Martin - this is a unique way to get into the national park as it involves a lake crossing and a trek, and you'll really feel off the tourist trail.
From the Lake District: Fly from Bariloche to El Calafate, or alternatively, cover the 1,500km on a road trip through some stunning scenery.
If you've never seen or hiked on a glacier before, Perito Moreno is an experience not to be missed. It's sheer size is breathtaking - I could have stayed for hours just taking in the sights and sounds of it creaking and crashing before me.
Chloe O'Keeffe Patagonia Specialist
Hiking near El Calafate
Day hiking from El Chalten
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Hiking in Torres del Paine
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