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El Calafate

This town was founded in December 7th, 1927 and it lies on the shores of Argentino Lake. It is the most important tourist center of Santa Cruz province. It is 306 km from Río Gallegos, the route is completely paved, and it is kept open during winter.

THE GLACIERS TERRITORY


This extraordinary natural phenomenon stretches from north to south with an approximate extension of 250 km per 50 km and an average height of 1500 m. Gigantic tongues of ice are born in this frozen mass, the glaciers, which descend to 200 m of altitude and contact there the fjords or great lakes channels. The heavy rains over the glaciers and its surroundings (more than 1500 mm per year) greatly favors the growth of thick woods, which quickly become thinner towards the east as the rains decrease (El Calafate aprox. 300 mm per year) and the typical Patagonic drought begins. Los Glaciares National Park was founded in 1937 for the preservation of this natural wonder. It covers an area of approximately 718.000 hectares which includes part of the ice south fields, more than 47 glaciers and two big lakes: Viedma and Argentino. The UNESCO declared this Park as World's Patrimony in 1981.
The Indians who originally lived in the region were the Tehuelches, nomad hunters whose ancestors made primitive rupestrian paintings which can be appreciated inside the Gualicho's caves for example. The few descendents of this people live in reservations nowadays. Currently, the inhabitants concentrate at El Calafate and El Chaltén villages and also at the many farms where sheeps are bred and tourist services are also offered.
The best season is from October to March (spring/summer) when the days last longer (17,5 hrs of light) and it is the best time of the year for practicing activities like: land and boat excursions, trekking, flora and fauna sightseeing, visits to rural settlements, guided tours to rupestrian paintings, sport fishing and hunt, horseback rides, andinism and mountain climbing. Both El Calafate and El Chaltén have a wide variety of installations and tourist services which will allow you to live an enriching interaction between fascinating natural and human environments.

El Calafate