Popularly called " Calafate ", is a city on the southern shore of Lake Argentino, in the Patagonian region, in the province of Santa Cruz , Argentina , it is about 80 km from the Perito Moreno glacier . It is the head of the department Lago Argentino and is located 185 meters above sea level. El Calafate is one of the main cities of the province of Santa Cruz ranked third in population, behind the cities of Rio Gallegos and Caleta Olivia. It achieved ist fame for being the gateway to the glaciers National Park, with attractions like Perito Moreno and Upsala Glaciers and the Fitz Roy in the Southern Patagonia Icefields and Torres del Paine National Park in Chile.
El Calafate is named after a small shrub found in southern Patagonia. The fruit of this shrub is delicious and sweet, and legend has it that his taste is so irresistible that proves who is never satisfied.
Located on a steppe landscape, surprises visitors the breadth of his views, the turquoise colour of Lake Argentino and the vegetation of a desert area.
This site emerged as hostel carts, in the days when this area was inhabited only in order to breed cattle sheep for their wool marketing. Over time, international wool prices broke down, and the town lost its reason for being. In 1938 the area south of the continental ice field was declared a National Park. Thereafter this site began to be visited by travelers from around the world, and El Calafate was oriented on providing more and better services for tourists.
The climate of this area is cold and dry, with average temperatures of -2 ° in winter and 18 in summer; the rains are scarce, mainly rain during the fall, and not exceed 300 mm. annually.
Legend of Calafate
The nires, lengas and coihues woods take a noticeable colour, announcing autumn, and turning trees multicolour, from deep red to gold and orange. This change is repeated every year since immemorial times. This landscape was inhabited by Tehuelches, originary owners of the land. When winter came, they emigrated, on foot, towards the north, where it wasn't so cold, and there were enough animals to hunt.
The legend kept by the Tehuelche tradition is related to these migrations. It is said that, long time ago, Koonex, the tribe's old quack doctor, could not walk anymore, her old and tired legs were exhausted, but nobody could stop. So Koonex understood the natural law of meeting fate. The women in the tribe made a hut with guanaco fur, piled enough Word and food to leave her behind, and said good-bye to the old quack doctor with family chants. While coming back to her hut, Koonex fixed her tired eyes in the distance, until the rest of the tribe were lost behind the plateau.
She was left behind to die. Every living creature ran away from her. She started feeling silence as a heavy puff of smoke around her. The multicolour sky started fading days and nights went by until spring came.
Many sprouts were born, swallows, golden plovers, chingolos and parrots arrived... Life was back again. Some birds stepped on Koonex's leather hut, singing happily. Suddenly, the old woman's voice was heard, coming from inside the hut. She told them off for having left her on her own during the long and cold winter. A very surprised chingolo answered: 'We left because during the autumn we run out of food, and during the winter we have no place to hide from the cold'. 'I understand', answered Koonex, 'that's why, from no won, you'll have food during autumn, and a place to hide during winter, and I shall never be alone again'. And then, she went silent. Suddenly, a clap of thunder turned the hut upside down, and in Koonex's place a beautiful prickly bush appeared, covered in perfumed yellow flowers. When summer came, those flowers turned into fruits, and before autumn they ripened taking a violet-blue colour, exquisite taste and nutritious
value. From that day on, some birds stopped emigrating, and those which had already left and heard about the news, came back to taste that new fruit. The Tehuelches tasted it, and started eating it regularly. They spread the seeds all over the area, and from that moment on 'THOSE, WHO EAT CALAFATE, ALWAYS COME BACK"
¿How to get to El Calafate City?
You can reach El Calafate by car, bus or plane.
El Calafate is located at a 3000 km's away from Buenos Aires, and 315 km away from Río Gallegos, capital city of the province of Santa Cruz.
Our international airport offers comfortable commodities, and a high amount of flights and combinations to other places in Patagonia and Argentina.
Finally, there are good roads, most of them paved, which communicate this place to the southern part of Chile, and almost directly to Puerto Natales.
What do I do if I have an emergency?
Hotels can call any of the medical services, police or fire emergency. Check with your service medical travel assistance which is available to professionals in our area and their specialty.
The local hospital has qualified as Medical Clinic, Pediatrics, Gynecology and Obstetrics, Orthopedics, General Surgery, Trauma, Cardiology, Anesthesiology, General Medicine with ambulances and vehicles for road transportation as well with qualified staff for air transportation services.
Customer Information Phone 110
Official Time 113
Long Distance 19
DDN Access 0
DDI Access 00
Serv. Internat. By Operator 000
Civil defense 103
Business activity in our area is governed by changes in winter or summer season. During the low season between months of May and September, the business hours are Monday to Friday from 09: 30h to 12: 00hs and from 16:00 to 21: 00hs and Saturdays from 10: 00hs to 13: 00hs and 16: 00hs to 21: 00hs though not in all cases.
In summer times they are: Monday to Saturday at run time. On Sundays you can find souvenir shops and supermarkets as well as neighborhood stores in times of 09: 30h to 13: 00hs and 16: 00hs to 21: 00hs especially at this time. For banking hours are Monday to Friday from 08: 00hs to 13: 00hs both Banco Provincia de Santa Cruz SA, B.T.F. (Banco de Tierra del Fuego), Banco Nacion and Banco Patagonia, ATMs may operate outside these hours. For fuels we currently two petrol stations: YPF and Petrobras that keep their opening hours to 24 hours but Servicompras parts open on business hours.
The Provincial Public Administration serves in times of 08: 30h to 15: 00hs. The post office serves all year in their schedule of 09-16 hours.
FEE NATIONAL PARK OF GLACIERS
Rates of access to the National Park of Glaciers Perito Moreno Glacier valid from 01/05/2016: :
General Admission: AR $ 330.00
Bonuses (presenting documentation)
Residents in MERCOSUR: AR $ 250.00
National residents AR $ 200.00
Provincial residents: AR $ 40.00
University Students Argentinos: AR $ 40.00
No Charge (presenting documentation)
Under 16, local residents, retirees / pensioners, disabled and companion.
With your contribution, you are directly contributing to the maintenance and development of each of the protected areas that make up the Argentine national parks SYSTEM.
When does the season start?
Tourist seasons to visit our city are divided into:
High season: It starts in October, and ends in the Easter. During this season, daylight is longer, which allows you to enjoy excursions and time in the open air. If you're planning to visit us during this season, we recommend you to book your accommodation in advanced, as there is not as much room yet. You must also keep in mind that temperature average differs from day to night, so you will need cool clothes during the day, and warm during the night and for your trips to the glaciers.
Low Season: It starts after the Easter, until September. Days in this season are shorter and colder, but we still make our excursions to the glaciers. Days are generally sunnier and less windy, and during May, June and July you'll enjoy ice skating, if Redonda Bay freezes. Hiring of ice skates is available at the Club Andino. Although the number of tourists in this season is lower, it has increased considerably during the last years. On the other hand, many hotels, restaurants and other shops close for holidays or reforms. That's why we also in advanced recommend you to book beforehand.
How do I change money?
If you want to change money or traveler's checks or need to make withdrawals from your bank account or credit card ideally attend any of the three banks in our city: Banco de la Provincia de Santa Cruz SA, BTF (Banco de Tierra del Fuego), the National Bank National Bank and Banco Patagonia, Monday to Friday from 08.00 to 13.00hs