As the gateway to Patagonia, El Calafate is easily one of the most popular destinations for tourists to visit when traveling in Argentina. With immense national parks and stunning bodies of water, the beauty of the Patagonia region is illustrated throughout Calafate.
From the glacier-filled Argentina Lake to the surrounding snow-capped mountains, El Calafate offers visitors plenty of opportunities for adventure and exploration. Listed below are Say Hueque’s recommended top 9 attractions in El Calafate.
Top Attraction in Calafate: Perito Moreno Glacier
Undoubtedly the most popular attraction in El Calafate, the Perito Moreno Glacier is well known for being one of the only glaciers in the world that is growing, instead of shrinking. With an average height of 240 feet (74 meters) above the surface of the water, seeing the Perito Moreno up close is a truly breathtaking sight. Located less than 2 hours from Calafate, numerous services offer day trips to explore the huge ice formation. Depending on your interests (and level of adventure), you can opt for a boat cruise around the glacier, take advantage of a unique opportunity to trek the glacier, or do a combination of both!
Top Attraction in Calafate: Upsala Glacier
Considered one of the longest glaciers in all of South America, measuring 37 miles long, the Upsala Glacier is a large valley glacier located in Argentina’s Los Glaciares National Park. Flowing from the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, which is also the source of the nearby Perito Moreno Glacier, the end point of the Upsala is in the Argentina Lake. Being one of Calafate’s top attractions, there are multiple different companies that can take you by boat to see the glacier. This is definitely something you do not want to miss while in El Calafate.
Top Attraction in Calafate: Argentina Lake (Lago Argentino)
Holding the title of Argentina’s largest freshwater lake, at 15,000 years old Argentina Lake is located inside the Los Glaciares National Park and is surrounded by multiple glaciers, making it one of Calafate’s top attractions. With numerous boat tours sailing its waters to reach the nearby glaciers and known to be one of the region’s prime bodies for fishing, Argentina Lake is a must-see in Calafate.
Top Attraction in Calafate: Horseback Riding
One of the best opportunities for exploring Calafate is through horseback riding. Available through multiple local companies, these full day excursions take riders on a journey up the mountainside where some of the best views of the region await them. Accompanied by a knowledgeable guide, riders will see the Perito Moreno Glacier, Lake Roca, and Cerro Moreno, as well as other sites, all from an incredible vantage point. If you have a day to spare, this top attraction promises to be an enjoyable experience.
Top Attraction in Calafate: Estancia Cristina Patagonian Ranch
Founded in 1914 by a British settler, the Estancia Cristina is a lodge located inside Los Glaciares National Park on the northwest coast of the Argentina Lake. Maintaining the same essence from the days of its founding 100 years ago, guests at the estancia can relax in comfort while taking advantage of the numerous activities Cristina offers. Choose between boat tours to the Upsala Glacier, horseback riding through the surrounding valley, hiking in the nearby mountains, or fishing in the Caterina River.
Top Attraction in Calafate: Onelli Glacier
Located inside Los Glaciers National Park on the banks of Lake Onelli, the Onelli Glacier is one of the biggest glaciers in the Calafate region. Visitors who are interested in seeing the giant ice formation in person can travel by boat from Punta Bandera on the Argentina Lake toward the Onelli Bay where they will walk the rest of the way to reach the glacier. From the glacier visitors will have access to some of the most gorgeous views of the area, including the surrounding mountains, lake and forest. Don’t miss this top attraction in Calafate!
Top Attraction in Calafate: La Leona Petrified Forest
A day tour of the La Leona Petrified Forest offers visitors an opportunity to explore a paleontological site full of petrified tree trunks and fragments of dinosaur bones. While traveling along Argentina Lake and crossing the Santa Cruz River to reach the site, participants will enjoy incredible views of the surrounding mountains. Once there, the tour will take guests down into the valley to explore the endless system of gorges and ravines that is home to these magnificent fossils. For a wholly unique day trip, Say Hueque recommends the Petrified Forest as one of the top attractions in Calafate.
Top Attraction in Calafate: Glaciarium Glacier Museum
For a change of scenery from the outdoor activities of Calafate, tourists can visit the Glaciarium, a newly opened museum that offers information about ice, glaciers and the Patagonian Ice Fields. Both entertaining and educational, this 2500 square meter museum is ideal for the whole family. If you’re looking for things to do in Calafate, a few hours at the Glaciarium will not leave you disappointed.
Top Attraction in Calafate: Nimez Lagoon Ecological Reserve (Laguna Nimez Reserve)
For visitors interested in viewing and learning about the wildlife that inhabits Calafate, a visit to the Nimez Lagoon Ecological Reserve is a great idea. Located nearby to Argentina Lake, the reserve employs guides that take visitors through the property to get a close look at the more than 70 species found inside. Also offered is a herbarium in which visitors can view the different plant species native to the area. Say Hueque recommends you check out this top attraction in Calafate.
A visit to El Calafate is sure to be a great experience for every type of traveler. From nature lovers, to hiking enthusiasts, to families with children, the area is home to numerous activities that all can enjoy. This list of top 9 attractions in El Calafate includes our recommendations, but there are certainly more places to be explored. El Calafate offers some of the most gorgeous scenery in the country so get your camera ready and enjoy your trip!
Written by Will Collier