El Calafate – Argentina (Patagonia)
Located on the shores of Lago Argentino, El Calafate is best known as the starting point from which to visit The Glaciers National Park, a World Heritage Site home to 13 glaciers. The famous 5km wide Perito Moreno is one of the only two advancing glaciers in South America.
There are many ways to get to the park; you can rent a car, take a bus or join a tour. From there you can go on a relaxing boat trip amongst huge icebergs to marvel at the giant ice blocks detaching and plunging into Lago Argentino. Another boat tour takes you towards the 50km long Upsala glacier. Onelli and Agassiz glaciers can be admired after a 1.5km walk from Onelli Bay.
Besides the glaciers, a few adventure activities worth mentioning are horseback riding, trekking, 4×4 expeditions, estancia (ranches) visits, fly fishing and mountain biking.
The Glacier Museum is the best way to learn how glaciers form and also a chance to drink your whisky on glacier rocks in their ice bar.
El Calafate’s main strip is great for strolling around, with lots of souvenir shops, cafes and restaurants. Nearby is Bahía Redonda with upland geese, black necked swans and flamingos and the Laguna Nimez Nature Reserve with about 90 species of birds!
NAKEL YENU HOSTEL – Budget & Flashpacker Category
If you are looking for a warm, friendly environment where to feel at home, Nakel Yenu Hostel is waiting for you. This is a modern cozy hostel with real character and lovely views of Lago Argentino. Nakel Yenu Hostel offers you very comfortable double and triple rooms with private bathroom, several dorms with shared bathrooms and brand-new cabins with private bathroom & handy kitchen.
Common areas have two different vibes, one is the large communal kitchen and barbecue patio (with regular asados) which is separate from the rooms so you can cook away and stay up late without disturbing your neighbours. The other is a chilled out lobby where you can relax, read in peace and take time out.
Not sure about what to do in El Calafate? … then get all your travel information from their clued-up bilingual staff about where to go, how to get there and what to see and do.
CAMPING & HOSTAL EL OVEJERO – Budget Category
One of the cheapest places in town! Just blocks from El Calafate’s commercial centre and the bus station, Camping & Hostal El Ovejero offers the best camping facilities with heated bathrooms and hot water 24/7.
There is also a renovated small hostel onsite with rooms for 2 to 6 people, where guests have their own bathroom, a shared kitchen, cable tv, internet, lockers and linen included.
The bilingual staff is ready to give you the best advice in tours to save money and improve your time.
Hielo y Aventura – Ice treks & boat tours Perito Moreno Glacier
Hielo y Aventura caters to all travellers wanting to visit The Glaciers National Park. Whether you want to walk over the creaking glaciers to delve into the centre of this extraordinary ice palace, or if you prefer to watch the ice tumble from the comfort of a boat – Hielo y Aventura can take you there!
Experience these awesome excursions with them:
Mini-trekking: glacier trekking with crampons for an hour and a half, accompanied by expert mountain guides. After a twenty minute boat ride to the glacier, endeavour on a two hour trek on the ice looking at the wonderful formations of the glacier – streams, small lagoons, crevasses and ice formations. With explainations about flora, fauna and glaciology, this is a moderate trek that finishes with a walk through the forest. Ages: 10 to 65 years.
Big Ice: A 7 hour trek to the centre of the glacier where you can enjoy a BYO (bring your own) picnic on the ice, accompanied by experienced mountain guides. Start the morning with a sail across Lago Rico, then start off on a walk along the lateral moraine and a one hour trek to the glacier centre where you can see moulins, crevasses and caves. Spend three hours trekking the glacier (breaking for lunch) and then head back to the boat awaiting on the edge of the glacier. Ages: 18 to 50 years.
Nautical Safari: Sail for an hour just 300 meters away from the southern wall of Perito Moreno Glacier and marvel at the incredible break offs and stunning setting. Get a unique perspective of the glacier on one of these excursions that depart regularly between 10am and 4pm.
CALTUR – Bus Transport to the Perito Moreno Glacier + El Calafate tours
CALTUR started offering transport fleets and tours to local attractions 20 years ago. They work with an experienced team and all their vehicles are new and in excellent condition. Based on the main street in El Calafate and at the bus station, they have a daily bus service to Perito Moreno Glacier, El Chaltén and Lago Roca Campsite.
Other excursions include:
– City Tour El Calafate / All Glaciers tour
– Trekking over Perito Moreno Glacier
– Overnight stays at authentic ranches
– Visiting the Petrified Forests / Horseriding / Torres del Paine
– Off road 4×4 trips to the balconies of El Calafate and Cerro Frias
– Conventional, Torre and Viedma Glaciers trekking in El Chaltén
Service on Route 40!! CALTUR offers a regular bus service from October to March to PERITO MORENO town (starting point to visit the famous Cuevas de las Manos) and to LOS ANTIGUOS, located on the banks of the Buenos Aires lake (from here you can cross to Chile Chico (Chile) to begin to cover the Carretera Austral).
BAFT TRAVEL – Horseback Riding, Bicycle Rental & more
Baft Travel is a real backpackers travel agency. We personally love it because of its cool and friendly vibe and the topnotch service of their bilingual crew. These guys really know the El Calafate & El Chaltén area like the back of their hand.
If you want to experience the real Patagonia then it’s a must to sign up for their epic horseback rides. Who hasn’t dreamed about riding through the Patagonian countryside like a real Argentinean gaucho!? They will take you to Estancia Río Mitre for a two or four hour ride or imagine how stunning it is to ride & sleep for 2 to 5 days in the breathtaking setting of Lago Argentino and Lago Viedma ‘s many estancias.
We really recommend Baft Travel also for their rental bike service, the bicycles are excellent and very economical. We enjoyed cycling along the lakeside so much. It’s a very easy, safe and relaxed activity and you’ll be impressed by the great views and rich birdlife.
Baft Travel takes care also of all your other tours, activities & reservations, including glacier trekking, boat trips, 4×4 tours, bus tickets, hostel bookings …
Their office is located half block from the main street.
KAU CALAFATE EXTREMO – Specialized in 4WD tours to the Balcones de El Calafate + other tours
For a really fun and memorable experience head up the nearby “Balcones de El Calafate” in one of Kau Calafate Extremo’s bad-ass 8 seater Land Rovers. The reward is fantastic with views of the Lago Argentino, El Calafate city, the famous Fitz Roy & Cerro Torre peaks, the Cerro Perito Moreno and the source of the Perito Moreno Glacier.
With a bit of luck you’ll spot guanacos, foxes, eagles and condors and you’ll also visit a site of sedimentary rocks with petrified wood chips, shark teeth, marine oysters and fossilized bones.
Kau Calafate Extremo has its own “refugio” where you’ll enjoy a delicious lunch made “al disco”, (an Argentinean tradition of cooking), or a snack with ‘mate’, tea, coffee and biscuits, depending on the excursion’s departure time.
Office located in the main street. All traditional tours and activities can be booked here too! Operating all year, English also spoken.
Tip for sporty people: go down on a mountain bike or on foot! Ask for more info
Address & contact
Av. del Libertador 1185, El Calafate
tel. +54 2902 491095
tel. +54 2902 498095
LA MARCA RESTAURANT – All-you-can-eat asado & lamb
The site also features the great value La Marca Restaurant Asador Parrilla, a gaucho-style eatery where you can try all-you-can-eat typical Argentinean meat, including the famous Patagonian lamb, with also a range of salads and a desert inclusive.
Or order a la carte a delicious seafood paella or a fresh Patagonian trout. For your trips & excursions order a yummy freshly prepared La Marca lunch box!
Address & contact
José Pantin 64, El Calafate
+54 2902 493422
PARRILLA LA TABLITA – Lamb, steak, fish & wine
To be royally wined and dined visit Parrilla La Tablita, located just a couple of blocks from downtown El Calafate.
After half a century in business (since 1968) they have perfected the art of tasty, sizzled steaks, mouthwatering pastas, flakey fish and zesty salads.
The owners personally attend to the restaurant details and the staff is bilingual. The restaurant décor is beautiful, with large windows that illuminate meticulously placed table settings and traditional interiors.
Don’t miss their famous grilled Patagonian lamb coupled with an Argentinean Malbec from their extensive wine list. You’ll be in flavor ecstasy!
La Tablita recently renovated its interior to continue offering you a top experience!
CHOPEN RESTAURANT & BREWERY – Artisan beer, tapas, finger food, empanadas …
Chopen is the only artisan brewery in El Calafate. Enjoy sampling their delightful beers, made with wheat from the area. Blond, amber, black… they’re all perfect to combine with some nice tapas & finger food, the specialty of the house, or another yummy dish.
Order empanadas, or a platter of cheese, seafood or Patagonian smoked delicacies to share with your buddies. And their succulent lamb, butter-soft trout and crisp pizzas or just a warm soup or healthy salad are all very rico rico rico!
Chopen is an excellent choice to have lunch or dinner, or pop in just to try the beer if you’re not hungry, it’s a really snug place to chitchat.
The location is in the main street, at about 4 blocks from the main shopping area. Cheers!
LA LECHUZA RESTAURANT – Lamb, meat, fish, pasta, pizza, empanadas
La Lechuza Restaurant offers a large variety of delicious regional food including roast meat, fresh fish, Patagonian lamb, homemade pastas, pizzas and empanadas! A great selection of wines are also available. This large, rustic restaurant with an outdoor terrace is located right on the main street and the friendly staff will make sure you get the best out of your dining experience.
LA LECHUZA PIZZAS Y PASTAS – Italian food & empenadas
La Lechuza Pizzas has over 40 varieties of pizza and 12 different empanadas you can feast to your heart’s delight and enjoy an authentic Argentine pizzeria in the centre of town. Specializing in the horno de barro (mud oven), the pizza and empanada dough is cooked to perfection.
LA LECHUZITA – Regional food & a kids playground
La Lechuzita is a popular restaurant offering regional food like Patagonian lamb, salmon, trout, pizzas and pastas. This restaurant also has a playground for children so parents can enjoy and relax while their kids are taken care of.