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El Calafate, Argentina:

El Calafate

Calafate in the heart of Patagonia, capital of the glaciers

Warmth amidst Glaciers: unique blue-ice landscape in the World.

The small village of El Calafate is one of the most important tourist attractions of the Patagonia region, since it is the start of all the glacier circuits.

Located at the banks of the the "Lago Argentino", the biggest freshwater lake in Argentina and the third in South America, El Calafate is 316 km from Rio Gallegos, the capital of the province of Santa Cruz. The town is named after the dense calafate (barberry) shrubbery, typical of southern Patagonia. This shrub with small leafs, has yellow flowers in spring and purple fruits in summer, which has got medicinal properties.

Perito Moreno high ice wall (70m) natural dam

The streets have a particular charm with picturesque low, warm and rustic home buildings. On the main street, Avenida del Libertador, there is a great infrastructure for tourism providing a wide variety of services and lodgings to suit all tastes and budgets: hotels, inns, shelters, bungalows, camping facilities, as well as markets, snack bars, take-out orders, regional products and tourism agencies. The Regional Museum exhibits fossils, arrowheads, petrified wood, and more!

 

The natural beauty of the area is combined with fabulous entertainment alternatives for visitors such as: estancias (farms) prepared for tourism, rides on four-wheel cycles and bicycles, horseback riding, golf, balloon rides, and shopping centers. The active night life offers from regional food restaurants, steak & pizza houses, tea houses, to casinos, discos, musical shows, bars & pubs!

Delight yourself with the wonders of this charming tourist villa ideal for all travelers, and enjoy an unforgettable experience!


EXCURSIONS & LEISURE ACTIVITIES

Glaciers National Park

Upsala biggest glacier, Calafate, Patagonia Argentina
Located 80 km from El Calafate, in the south west region of the Province of Santa Cruz, "Los Glaciares" National Park has 356 glaciers, 13 of which are considered the most important.

A glacier is as a large mass of river water in solid state; a volume of ice in constant movement, that has a certain speed depending on the slope of the land and volume conveyed. The glacial ice, a bluish crystal mass, is formed from the accumulation of snow throughout the centuries. For a glacier to form there has to be abundant snow and a mean annual temperature to allow uniform consistency of the mass of ice.

This mountainous area of 600,000 hectares is covered with a blanket of snow-capped called "Ice Field", about 350 km long and 50 km wide. 47 major glaciers descend from this field, 13 of which belong to the Atlantic basin: Perito Moreno, Upsala, Spegazzini, Onelli, Viedma, Marconi, Moyano, Agassiz, Peineta, Bolados, Mayo, Ameghino, y Frías.


Perito Moreno Glacier

Perito Moreno glacier viewpoint, Patagonia, Argentina

The Perito Moreno Glacier is one of the most moving shows provided by nature. Tourists from all over the world come to this place to witness one of the most keenly anticipated natural events in the world.

Splendor overwhelms visitors at any time of the year with incredible ice walls landslides that fragment into small floating icebergs. From the coast you can have different views of the Glacier all of them absolutely unforgettable, from wood and stone steps as well as footpaths, where you can see the glaciers as a white wall on the turquoise lake.

 

Perito Moreno Glacier is 3 miles wide and 240 ft high

The Perito Moreno Glacier is 80km away from El Calafate through a paved road, being the last 30km part of "Los Glaciares" National Park. Right after leaving El Calafate, to the right, you can see Lake Argentino and its Bahía Redonda (Round Bay). When entering "Los Glaciares National Park" you cross a transition Patagonian forest with its distinctive ñires (Antarctic beeches).

 

The first 40 km are part of the "Patagonian steppe" and at the entrance of the National Park, the vegetation changes considerably and mostly consists of deciduous and evergreen false beeches (nothofagus genus); some isolated winter’s bark trees and flowers of different colors, among them the "notro" (fire bush), a deep red color which is the typical flower of the Andean Patagonic Forest.

 

Argentina’s Perito Moreno glacier, one of the few ice fields in the world to withstand rising global temperatures

This area has many peaceful sites perfect for walking around the hills, viewing the rupestrian paintings, or camping. Birdlife in this area is rich and of a broad variety: upland geese, black necked swans, South American coots, flying steamer ducks and flamingos. The yellow hue of the fields surrounding it is impressive, a result of a grass called coiron, or broom sedge.

Services
In the area of the Perito Moreno Glacier there are restaurants, snack bar, rest rooms, and camping facilities on Lake Argentino. There are excursions in the area that usually takes no less than a full day.


Mini-trekking in the Perito Moreno Glacier

Trekking on the Perito Moreno Glacier, El Calafate
One of the most fascinating activities to do in the Glacier is a 8km mini trekking in the Perito Moreno Glacier. Experience a thrilling walk on the ice with metal crampons to see a different view of the glacier and stand on top its deep blue cracks. The tour begins at the Bahia de las Sombras (Shadows Bay) where boats sail around the stunning Glacier to see the Perito Moreno from the level of the water, which allows a full view of the real height of the peaks and towers, 60 mts above the lake’s level.

On the opposite coast, there’s a walk to reach the Glacier and walk on crampons up on to the blue ice field. This is a very attractive walk for the contact with glacial ice, its peaks and interior lakes of a unique blue color. Enjoy the spectacular view of the glacier walls and the lake, and walk through the exuberant Magellanic forest. End this perfect day toasting with a glass of whiskey with ice from the glacier!


The phenomenon of the Perito Moreno Glacier Rupture

Rupture of the Perito Moreno glacier in Patagonia Argentina
The Perito Moreno Glacier descends from the Andes as a large river of ice. On some occasions, it advances over the Canal de los Témpanos (Iceberg Channel) touching the opposite shore. When the water in Rico Channel rises, the pressure of the glacier walls increases until the glacial mass forms a natural ice barrier.

This tunnel of ice blocks the drainage of Rico & South Channels to Lake Argentino, creating a dam. The water pressure causes leaks that produce cracks in the glacier, until it yields completely and leads to total rupture, triggering a spectacular ice waterfall that last 1 or 2 days, communicating again both basins of the lake. Once both channels are back on the same level, the tunnel is blocked and the process begins again.

Undoubtedly, this is one of the most exciting natural disasters in the world!


North Channel of Lago Argentino: Upsala, Onelli and Spegazzini Glaciers

Upsala Glacier, El Calafate, Patagonia Argentina

Departing from Punta Bandera, 50 kms from El Calafate, the tour sails the North Branch of the Lago Argentino and then the Upsala channel, to get to Upsala Glacier, the largest in size of all glaciers.

 

The catamaran rides between huge blocks of blue icebergs floating adrift. Sailing around these spectacular ice blocks, enormous in size and of different shapes and colors, is truly breathtaking.

 

Glacial iceberg floating in Lago Argentino, El Calafate, Argentina

Landing usually takes place at Onelli Bay, for a walk through a beech forest, reaching Lago Onelli, a small mirror-like surface of water with countless icebergs that break off from the three glaciers that meet in it: Onelli, Bolados and Agassiz. These 3 glaciers can be seen from the Onelli lagoon. Onelli Bay has restaurants and boats service.

Spegazzini Glacier, Calafate, Santa Cruz, ArgentinaSpegazzini tallest Glacier, Calafate, Santa Cruz, Argentina

The navigation continues into the Spegazzini Glacier channel, from where the Seco, Heim and Spegazzini glaciers are observed. The Spegazzini Glacier is the tallest in the region, respectively of the Glaciers in the National Park.

Calving

The calving of icebergs occur when the front of the glacier meets the water and loses a significant part of its mass. Such is the case of the Upsala, Morelo and Spegazzini in Lago Argentino and Viedma in Lago Viedma.


OTHER OPTIONS

Lago Roca (Rock Lake)
Located 52 km from El Calafate, Rock Lake is an ideal area for fishing and camping lovers. A good place to enjoy typical panoramic views of the patagonian steppe, the abundant local shrubs and bushes (coirón, mata negra, calafate) and at the same time the most important estancias in the area (Anita, Alta Vista, Chorillo Malo, Lago Roca, Nibepo Aike).

Nimes Lagoon
Fauna Reserve 1km from El Calafate with a great variety of birdlife: flamingos, silvery grebes, black necked swans, and ducks to enjoy both at sunrise and sunset.

Gualicho and Punta Bonita Caves
Located at 8km from El Calafate, Gualicho and Punta Bonita Caves are a journey back to the past. The caves on the coast of Lago Argentino, surrounded by a beautiful landscape, are an important archaeological sites where the first rupestrian paintings of the province were discovered.

Flights
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