First Time in El Calafate
El Calafate is the gateway to the Glaciar Perito Moreno and Parque Nacional Los Glaciares. Hotels and restaurants are full here during the summer (December to March). During this time you will need reservations for both accommodation and transport. It is still possible to visit in the spring or fall, or even winter for the those who don’t mind the cold.
Where to stay in El Calafate
Hotels in El Calafate
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Hostels in El Calafate
El Calafate caters to a backpacking crowd and therefore there are many hostels. For independent travelers, it is the best option. Note that hostels in all of Patagonia tend to be more expensive in other parts of the country. To check availability of hostels in El Calafate click here: Hostels in El Calafate
How to get to El Calafate
El Calafate International Airport is located 17kms from the city center. Aerolineas Argentinas and LADE both have daily flights to/from Buenos Aires, Ushuaia and Esquel. If flying to Esquel or Barilohce with LADE, try to sit on the left side of the airplane. The views are expectacular.
The bus termimal is located Av Roca. Many daily sevices to Rio Gallegos (4 hours) and Puerto Natales, Chile (5 hours). In high season booking ahead is a must. Many a traveler has been stranded in El Calafate and Rio Gallegos for days due to lack of tickets. Below is a list of buses from El Calafate and prices for the 2011-2012 season.
|Destination||Duration (hours)||Price (in Argentine pesos)|
|El Chalten||4||85 low
95 high (3)(4)
|Puerto Natales, Chile||5-6|
| 1) Departs on odd days
2) Service until the 12th of April
3)All passengers boarding buses in the terminal of El Calafate must pay a terminal tax. The cost for residents of Argentina is 2 pesos and non residents pay 5 pesos.
4) High season: October 1st to April 8th
5) With transfer and overnight stay in Perito Moreno
Things to do in El Calafate
If your thinking about going to El Calafate, you already know about Glaciar Perito Moreno so we won’t waste your time telling you about it. All travel agencies offer the tour at basically the same price, which at the time of this writing was 180 pesos, not including the entrance to the park. The National Park fee for foreigners is 100 pesos, for Argentines 40 pesos. Tours leave bright and early at 8AM and usually later around 2PM.
If you are really feeling adventerous, a hiking tour on top of the glacier itself is available. Known as Minitrekking this excursion brings you to dock on Lago Argentino, where after a quick boat ride you will arrive to the base of the glacier. There you will put on your crampons and listen to a brief chat before crossing the glacier. Later after another boat ride you will end up at the same place as the excursion above, The hike isn’t terribly srtenous, but all the same you should be in decent physical condition if you plan on doing it.
If you have time you should visit El Chaltén and Mount Fitz Roy. It’s a four hour bus ride and well worth it. Note that El Chaltén is quite remote and you should stock up on any luxuries in El Calafate before heading there.