Flying in to the small airport located a few kilometres out of the town of El Calafate, tourists are awarded their first glimpse of the natural beauty of Argentinean Patagonia.
This small, bustling town has grown, over the course of the twentieth century, into the gateway to the magnificent glaciers, mountains, lakes and rock formations of the nearby Los Glaciares National Park.
Of the many spectacular sights which can be visited from El Calafate, the Perito Moreno glacier is one of the most famous, and most breath-taking. Located 80km from the town through wild, rugged and expansive landscapes, Perito Moreno is one of the few Patagonian glaciers which is still advancing. From the ground, only a tiny part of the massive glacier can be seen, but the terminus itself is 5km wide. A series of walkways allow tourists to see the glacier towering majestically above the water, and hear the eerie creaks and groans of the ice. The vibrant shades of blue and white are beautiful, whilst a darker, more intense blue can be found in the deeper crevices. Once in a while, huge chunks break off the glacier, crashing into the water in a flurry of ice and spray.
Back in El Calafate, most of the shops, cafes and restaurants are located along the main avenue Libertador, so it is easy to spend an hour or two shopping for souvenirs and locally made products. There are also some great ice cream parlours selling a wide range of delicious flavours including Patagonian chocolate, dulce de leche and Calafate (made from the dark purple berries of the local Calafate bush).
During the warm summer months, buy an ice cream and take a short walk down to the shore of LakeArgentina, the largest lake in the country. On a clear day, the blue skies contrast beautifully with the glacial waters and the jagged peaks of snow capped mountains in the distance.
Other attractions in town include the Glaciarium (www.glaciarium.com) an interesting place to learn about the history of the Patagonian glaciers and local geology, which also has an ice bar. Alternatively, visit a typical ranch such as the Estancia Cristina (www.estanciacristina.com), to get a feel for the Patagonian way of life.
In the evening, a steakhouse such as the popular La Tablita (www.la-tablita.com.ar) is the perfect place to try local culinary specialities such as Patagonian lamb or trout.
For further details on our holidays to Argentina including El Calafate, please see: http://www.llamatravel.com/argentina-holidays.aspx