Located deep in Patagonia and built next to Lago Argentino, the town of El Calafate attracts a steady flow of tourists seeking to visit the Perito Moreno Glacier. El Calafate also serves as a hub for tourists travelling onward to the legendary mountains Cerro Torre and Cerro Fitz Roy.
Tourism is everything to El Calafate’s economy. The town is little more than a collection of restaurants, hotels and hostels, gifts shops, and tour agencies. Give its location and relative isolation, the town has developed into a bit of a tourist trap. You won’t find many bargains in El Calafate. But that’s the way it goes on the tourist trail.
I arrived in El Calafate primarily to visit the Perito Moreno Glacier. However, I also spent some time checking out the town. With a little wandering around, one realizes there is more to El Calafate than just shopping and eating and booking trips.
Walking along Lago Argentino was particularly appealing. One must see the lake water to really believe that such a color exists in nature. The lake’s deep, frigid turquois water is surrounded by the vast, desolate Patagonian landscape. The contrast of the colorful lake with the beige and brown plateaus is visually arresting. Off in the distance one can see the snowy, granitic mass of Cerro Fitz Roy. I can imagine artists having a field day in El Calafate.
I also visited Laguna Nimez, a nature reserve within walking distance of the town’s center. Pictures from Laguna Nimez are found in a separate post.