For many years, the connectivity between El Calafate and the outside world seemed to be difficult. However, geographically speaking, El Calafate is located at south latitude 50° 20’, equal coordinates to Frankfurt or London’s in the northern hemisphere. Would anybody consider these cities as inaccessible places?
Those times are long gone. Nowadays, an International Airport (Armando Tola) assures the possibility of taking scheduled flights the whole year, increasing the frequency in high season, from October to April.
Lying on the southern margin of the Argentino Lake, El Calafate enjoys a nice climate. The lake water increases the average temperature, while the southern smooth slopes serve as a natural protection. This geographic location results in a mild climate.
In this small city, only 300-milimeter rainfalls are registered annually, being mainly snow. This guarantees a great amount of days with clear skies, having no clouds. At only 200 meters above sea level, cold is not intense and the temperatures are mild, especially in summer. Mornings and evenings are mainly calm. However, Patagonian wind can be felt at times during the day, especially between November and February.
Days tend to be particularly long is summer and nights particularly long in winter. In summer, December 21st is the longest day of the year, dawn being at 05:00hs, sunset being at 23:00hs and the average maximum temperature being 19° C. In winter, June 21st is the shortest day of the year, dawn being at 09:30hs, sunset being at 17:30hs and the average minimum temperature being -5° C.
All the same, this fact does not mean an obstacle to visit glaciers and, when Redonda Bay is frozen, it is possible to enjoy outdoor ice skating afternoons. Some hotels remain close in winter; thus, it is recommended to make reservations in advance.
When wool, product of sheep rearing, was traded in the region, carts used to stop at El Calafate. Although the village begun to lose its key role due to a fall in wool international prices, there is a turn benefitting this region of Patagonia in 1938: the Southern Continental Ice Field is declared National Park. Since then, travelers from all over the world visit us, making El Calafate an international touristic center. Perito Moreno Glacier was declared World Heritage by the UNESCO, and varied activities were developed as alternatives to visit the glaciers.
HOW TO GET
Different Airlines operate daily. Although they operate during the whole year, in high season, from September to April, the flight frequency increases significantly, operating almost three times more than in Winter.
SERVICE TO EL CHALTÉN AND CHILE
There are companies in El Calafate that provide daily bus services connecting town with El Chaltén and Puerto Natales. These services depart from the Bus Station, with frequencies that vary depending on the season.
Regarding private transfers to Chile, it is important to consider that Visit Patagonia IS NOT ABLE TO PICK UP PASSENGERS IN CHILE. Meetings are always in the border Cancha Carrera (Argentina)/Cerro Castillo (Chile). Thus, passengers are taken from Cancha Carrera to El Calafate and from El Calafate to Cerro Castillo.
Buenos Aires – El Calafate: 2.757 km
El Calafate Airport – El Calafate Civic Center: 23 km
El Calafate – Punta Bandera Port: 46 km
El Calafate – Perito Moreno Glacier: 78 km
El Calafate – Eolo Hotel: 27,5 km
Eolo Hotel –Punta Bandera Port: 24,7 km
Eolo Hotel –Perito Moreno Glacier: 56,5 km
El Calafate –Nibepo Aike Ranch: 56 km
Nibepo Aike Ranch – Perito Moreno Glacier: 69 km
Nibepo Aike Ranch–Punta Bandera Port: 50 km
El Calafate –El Galpón del Glaciar Ranch: 22 km
El Calafate – El Chaltén: 220 km
El Calafate – El Pilar Inn (El Chaltén): 240 km
El Calafate – Del Desierto Lake (El Chaltén): 250 km
El Calafate – La Leona: 110 km
El Calafate –Helsingfors Ranch: 180 km
El Calafate –La Leona Petrified Forest: 125 km
El Calafate – Río Gallegos: 315 km
El Calafate –Cancha Carrera Border: 310 km
El Calafate –Torres del Paine National Park: 420 km
El Calafate – Puerto Natales: 375 km
El Calafate – Punta Arenas: 625 km
So that visitors can enjoy every program, they should bring proper clothing: T-shirt, shirt, sweater, jacket, gloves, hat and, especially, proper footwear to walk over uneven ground (trainers or thick rubber-soaled boots).
It is suggested to bring a small bag, sunscreen, sunglasses and mineral water.
Most activities do not require wearing snow clothing or equipment, as Minitrekking and Big Ice. However, there are elementary items that should be brought, as gloves and proper footwear.
There are rental houses where items of clothing can be provided.
National Park’s entrance tickets and some excursions can only be paid in cash, in Argentine pesos. Likewise, not all shops do accept credit cards. Thus, it is important to take into account that ATMs could run out of money.
Electricity used in the region is 220-volt.
Local phone service works through a cooperative. Thus, pre-paid telephone cards do not work in town.
There are no Exchange houses in El Calafate. Thus, the only available means for exchanging money is the Bank. Most Banks are open from 08:00hs to 13:00hs.