Home to Perito Moreno Glacier. We offer full day tours, ice hiking and ice climbing itineraries. We can also build in trips to El Chalten.
About El Calafate Patagonia Travel Destination
Where is El Calafate Located?
Approx 3hrs 10min from Buenos Aires and up to 6hrs by road from Torres del Paine.
El Calafate is located in the far south of Argentina beside lake Argentino in the Patagonian region, and from the Chilean side it is just over the mountains on the other side of Torres del Paine National Park. El Calafate is not a picturesque town. It has developed as a tourist destination only because it is the base from which visitors can enter the spectacular ice field Los Glaciares National Park (a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site), which is 50km away. The park is the second-largest in Argentina covering 600,000ha of which 40% is covered by ice fields, including the famous Perito Moreno glacier. Over 13 glaciers descend into two large lakes: Lake Argentino and lake Viedma linked by the river La Leona that flows from Lake Viedma to lake Argentino. About 80km west of El Calafate is Ventisquero Perito Moreno (Perito Moreno Glacier) – the “big one” that everyone comes to see. It has a 5km long, vertical wall of glacial ice face rising to heights of around 60m flowing some 30km from its source in the Andes Mountains.
The Breaking Off of the Glacial Ice Face Into the Lake
The main spectacle occurs when, every few years, there is a mighty breaking off of the glacial ice face into the lake. What happens is that the Perito Moreno glacier advances (one of the few in the world not to be receding) towards lake Argentino until part of it makes contact with the peninsula of land opposite (from where there is a direct viewing area). When the glacier makes contact with the peninsula it then cuts the lake Argentino into two parts creating “two lakes”. As you look directly at the glacier, the “new” lake on the left is now closed in and cannot flow into the larger lake Argentino as it previously did. However, the newly-created lake continues to be fed with the water from rivers and ice melt causing the water level of the lake to rise. Eventually the higher-level new lake manages to erode a hole through the Perito Moreno glacial ice dam until it flows once again into the lake Argentino. As this hole becomes larger, and the water flow gets quicker and more powerful it eventually causes the glacial dam to collapse. It is this massive collapse of towering glacial ice that causes such a stunning spectacle that people flock in from all over Argentina and the World to witness it. The spectacle only happens every few years. However, even without this incredible sight, just being close to the massive glacial wall is an incredible experience in itself.
El Calafate Arrivals and Transfers
Arrivals by air from Buenos Aires, Ushuaia and Bariloche in Argentina and by road from Torres del Paine and Puerto Natales in Chile.
What is El Calafate Average Temperature?
El Calafate Places of Interest
The principal place of interest is the large and impressive Perito Moreno Glacier – well worth a visit. Then the village (3hr transfer) of El Chalten from trekking and Torres del Paine (6hrs) also for trekking and awe-inspiring sight-seeing.
What Clothes to Wear for El Calafate
Try to bring LAYERS of breathable clothes that can be taken off or put on easily to adapt to any change in weather and as you heat up and cool down on a trek. Cotton undershirts are NOT recommended – see below.
Ideally clothes such as:
Over your body skin: an under vest (long sleeved if possible) made, ideally, from synthetic fibres so it dries quickly. If very cold weather (ie early spring, winter months or autumn) then thermal underwear made from synthetic fibres. The reason for synthetic fibres is because when you are walking several hours you will build up a sweat and your under garments will get wet, this then gets cold when you stop and will make you cold unless the wet material dries quickly. Cotton does not dry quickly, whereas synthetic material will dry more quickly.
Over your under vest: a breathable top such as a fleece.
Over your fleece: a waterproof windbreaker over jacket.
For your legs: trekking pants, resistant to rain and wind, but made from a breathable material otherwise you will sweat. Jeans are NOT good as they can get wet and not dry.
Over your trekking pants: waterproof shell pants to go over your trekking pants in the event of heavy rain.
For your feet: wool or synthetic socks. Waterproof trekking boots with ankle support and none-slip sole. If new make sure you break them in prior to using them on a trek.
For your hands: gloves. Close to glaciers it can be very cold.
For your head: a warm hat (not a jockey cap), sunglasses and sun-protection cream and a headband to keep your ears warm when not using the hat.
For your personal use: a back pack for food, water and clothes.
For your safety: a battery-operated torch for when power is out or if you are arriving to a refugio in the dark. Take with you during the trek extra water and snacks. Prepare for all weather conditions and dress for the outdoors. Do NOT go off the trail because if you have the slightest incident such as twisting an ankle, you may not be found.
Average Temperatures in TDP during the year
Summer (Dec – Jan – Feb) Max + 23.5°c / Min + 0.8°c.
El Calafate Map
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