El Calafate is one of the major tourist destinations in Patagonia, mainly because it’s very close to the famous Perito Moreno glacier. On the shores of Lake Argentino, this small town serves as a base for discovering beautiful landscapes and making excursions around the area. Here is a complete guide to travel to El Calafate.
The city of El Calafate is located in the southwest of the province of Santa Cruz, on the shores of Lake Argentino and with the background of the Andes Mountains. It stands out, above all, for its glaciers, mountain hiking and the beauty of the lakes that surround it.
Getting there and away El Calafate
If you are a foreigner arriving through Buenos Aires, there are direct flights to El Calafate from the Argentine capital. Also, there are direct flights from Ushuaia and Bariloche, perfect to combine and see three of the main tourist destinations in Patagonia Argentina. During high season, there are flights from Trelew, a city near Puerto Madryn.
The airport is about 16 km from the city. The journey between El Calafate airport and the city center by road can be made by rental car, taxi, remis, or express minivan, the latter being the cheapest option to get to the center of El Calafate.
Check here cheap flights to El Calafate.
If you choose to travel to El Calafate by bus, you have services from the Patagonia Andes area such as El Chaltén and San Carlos de Bariloche. There are also direct buses from Rio Gallegos, the capital of Santa Cruz province, and from Puerto Natales in Chile, to combine with a visit to Torres del Paine. From Buenos Aires, it will certainly be worth flying, as the bus trip takes a day and a half. El Calafate Bus Terminal is located in the city center, and you may even walk to the hotel.
If you are going to rent a car to travel in Patagonia, El Calafate is located on Provincial Route 11, about 30 kilometers from the mythical Route 40. If you are traveling from Río Gallegos, you can get there by Route 5, which is paved. If you are coming from the north of the country (Bariloche, San Martín de los Andes or Esquel), you can get there along Route 40. Distances are great and the road is rarely traveled. Most of the road is paved (only a little part is gravel road) and improvement works are being carried out. To rent a car in El Calafate, it can be done at the airport or directly in the city center.
Check here if you want to rent a car in El Calafate.
Best time to travel to El Calafate
Calafate has a dry weather, with cold temperatures and some snowfalls during the winter.
Summer (November to March) is the best time to visit El Calafate, with daytime temperatures around 15-20 degrees, ideal for visiting the Perito Moreno glacier, walking along the Argentino lake shore and hiking in the mountains. At night the temperature drops drastically, so you need a good coat. During this time of the year, daylight lasts for a long time, at 11pm there is still clarity in the sky.
Winter is very cold, low season, where daylight duration is shortened, and although it doesn’t usually snow much in the city because it has a dry climate, temperatures drop below 0 degrees.
Getting around El Calafate
The city itself is small, you can easily walk and walk along the shore of the lake, as the distances are short. If you want to visit Los Glaciares National Park you have to do it by rental car or taxi, as there is no public transport available to get from the city to the Perito Moreno Glacier.
Accommodation in El Calafate
Check here where to sleep in El Calafate.
Must see sights and attractions in El Calafate?
- Top 5 things to do in El Calafate.
- Other attractions to visit in El Calafate.
Activities to do in El Calafate
- Trekking on the Perito Moreno Glacier
- Sailing on the lake
- Sport Fishing
- Horseback Riding