Welcome to El Calafate
On the southern shore of the vast Lago Argentino, silhouetted against snow-capped peaks, El Calafate exemplifies Patagonia’s beauty. Thanks to its strategic location and regular flights to Buenos Aires (roughly three hours away), the town serves as a gateway to some of South America’s natural wonders and a starting point for many a Patagonian adventure. Encircled by mountains, glaciers, and water, El Calafate is considered the hiking capital of Argentina. The star of the show is El Perito Moreno Glacier, the third-largest freshwater reserve in the world and the centerpiece of Los Glaciares National Park, from which huge hunks of ice rupture off and crash into the water below with regularity. The UNESCO World Heritage–listed park is an icy wonderland where visitors can trek across Viedma Glacier, enjoy a boat ride or kayak around the glacial lagoons of Upsala Glacier, visit the frontier town of El Chaltén, or tackle the soaring peak of Mount Fitz Roy. Eager adventurers can see more of the park via an off-road 4x4 tour, by visiting a local ranch (estancia), or on a mountain bike ride down Mt. Huyliche. Just over the Chilean border, the Torres del Paine National Park is close enough to discover on a day trip, while Laguna Nimez Reserve, Walichu Caves, and La Leona petrified forest are right on El Calafate’s doorstep.