Choosing where to stay in Calafate is essential so that you can enjoy a perfect visit to Los Glaciares National Park.
El Calafate is the main base for exploring the park. With just over 6000 inhabitants, El Calafate is hardly a town. Its name comes from a type of bush typical of Southern Patagonia. The city is mostly flat, with Lake Argentino to the north and the mountains to the south.
The main street, Avenida Libertador, runs through the city from east to west.
The small center of El Calafate is compact and this is where most of the hotels, shops, restaurants and tour operators are located. Most tourists go on excursions during the day, so the atmosphere in the city is quite relaxed.
Where to stay in El Calafate
Hotels in the city center – Where to stay in Calafate
Most visitors to El Calafate stay in hotels around the city center. It is a logical choice since most of the shops, restaurants and tour operators are located in the center.
That being said, downtown can be crowded in peak season so we think it’s best to stay away from the fuss a bit.
If you want to be in the center, but surrounded by nature, the legendary Hotel Posada Los Alamos is your best option.
Another great place to stay, a bit out of the way, is the Kau Yatún Hotel Boutique . A garden with poplars and pine trees surrounds the beautiful ranch. Of course, having a great view is a must, and you can get it at the Hotel Mirador del Lago , a couple of blocks from downtown.
The best hotels in El Calafate: in front of Lake Argentino- Where to stay in Calafate
La Design Suites Calafate Located in a privileged location in front of Lake Argentino, it is one of the best hotels in El Calafate.
The hotel has first-class amenities, including a fabulous spa and swimming pool. We loved the views from our tastefully decorated room. Besides that, the restaurant offers delicious food.
Another area of El Calafate where you can find beautiful hotels with magnificent views is to the east of Bahía Redonda. The charming Edenia Punta Soberana Hotel offers comfortable rooms, great views, and a free shuttle service to downtown.
Hotels near or within Los Glaciares National Park
To experience a small Argentine town, you have to stay in town. On the other hand, if you prefer to stay in the middle of nature, far from El Calafate, you have few hotels.
Hostería El Galpon Del Glaciar offers rustic-style accommodation in front of Lake Argentino. Conveniently located between El Calafate and the Perito Moreno Glacier, it won’t be too isolated.
To be closer to the national park, book a room at Estancia La Usina . Located near the park entrance, it is perfect for hiking, biking and fishing.
Finally, Hosteria Helsingfors is completely isolated, far from both El Calafate and El Chaltén. You guessed it: inside Los Glaciares National Park, perfect for adventure!
What are the best places to stay in El Calafate ?
There are several places to stay in the town, including hotels, hostels, and rental apartments. Some of the best places to stay in El Calafate include:
- Hotel El Calafate: This is a 4-star hotel located in the center of town, close to the main shopping and dining areas. It offers comfortable rooms, a restaurant, and a bar.
- Hosteria Los Cauquenes: This is a 4-star hotel located just outside of town, with beautiful views of Lago Argentina. It offers luxurious accommodations, a spa, and a restaurant.
- Patagonia Dreams: This is a rental apartment complex located in the center of town, close to the main shopping and dining areas. The apartments are spacious and fully equipped, and there is a pool on site.
- Estancia Nibepo Aike: This is a ranch-style hotel located just outside of town, with beautiful views of the surrounding countryside. It offers comfortable rooms, a restaurant, and activities such as horseback riding and fly fishing.
- Hostel Che Lagarto: This is a budget-friendly hostel located in the center of town, close to the main shopping and dining areas. It offers private rooms and dormitory beds, and has a shared kitchen and common areas.
Best hotels in El Calafate
If you’re looking for luxurious accommodations in El Calafate, there are several 5-star hotels to choose from. Here are the best 5-star hotels in El Calafate:
- Hosteria Los Cauquenes: This is a 5-star hotel located just outside of town, with beautiful views of Lago Argentina. It offers luxurious accommodations, a spa, and a restaurant.
- Patagonia Camp: This is a 5-star hotel located outside of town, with views of the surrounding countryside. It offers comfortable tents with modern amenities, a restaurant, and a bar.
- Estancia Nibepo Aike: This is a 5-star ranch-style hotel located just outside of town, with beautiful views of the surrounding countryside. It offers comfortable rooms, a restaurant, and activities such as horseback riding and fly fishing.
- Lago Argentino Hotel: This is a 5-star hotel located in the center of town, close to the main shopping and dining areas. It offers comfortable rooms with modern amenities, a restaurant, and a bar.
How to get to the Perito Moreno Glacier ?
There is a path that takes you from El Calafate to the Perito Moreno Glacier in Los Glaciares National Park. From there, you can see the glacier in all its splendor. You can also drive there. However, from June 1 to July 31, the roads are closed to private vehicles, so only small vans can access the area.
Also, due to the snow, your car may need chains. For walks in the area, you must hire a tour . Since the Upsala and Spegazzini glaciers lie deep in the lake, you should take an organized boat tour.
Los Glaciares National Park: the best routes Tour
By boat and hike
by the Perito Moreno glacier It is essential to hire a hiking tour around and on Perito Moreno. That way, you will see the glacier from a distance and walk directly on it.
The main tour operator Hielo y Aventura offers three different tours of Perito Moreno: Mini Trekking from the beginning of August to the end of May, Big Ice from mid-September to the end of April and Nautical Safari throughout the year.
The first two include a visit to the platforms in front of the glacier and hikes on its top. Big Ice takes longer and is more physically demanding. Nautical Safari includes a one-hour boat ride in front of the southern facade of Perito Moreno. It’s brilliant if you have enough time.
Upsala and Spegazzini Tour- Where to stay in Calafate
You just can’t skip a boat trip to the Upsala and Spegazzini glaciers. Although we don’t normally like group tours, this one is a must.
The Solo Patagonia company offers them Ríos de Hielo half-day boat tour of both glaciers. The ship is quite large and comfortable, but it is full of people.
That said, the views from the boat are spectacular and you will have no problem enjoying them.
Another option offered by the same company is Glaciers Gourmet Experience . It is a tour to the Upsala and Bertracchi glaciers with lunch included.
El Calafate – Other Tours
The Perito Moreno, Upsala and Spegazzini glaciers are the three main attractions within Los Glaciares National Park. However, there are several fascinating tours beyond the park. You can take a full day tour from El Calafate to Torres del Paine National Park in Chile.
What to do in El Calafate – Where to stay in El Calafate
For such a small town, there are quite a few things to do in El Calafate. For starters, you can go on super easy but awesome walks around the city. Walk along Paseo Kirchner through Bahía Redonda.
Start your walk at the roundabout where Av. Libertador meets Paseo Kirchner, the lake on your left, and ends at Laguna Nimez , a nature reserve full of native birds. In addition, you have two parks to explore the center, the Manuel Belgrano and the Paseo del Bosque , next to the Amphitheater. The main street of the city is lined with restaurants, travel agencies and cafes.
Travel to El Chaltén
In our opinion, every trip to Patagonia should include at least 2-3 days in El Chaltén. Although El Calafate is an ideal base for exploring the glaciers, El Chaltén is the best place to hike through Los Glaciares National Park.
There are walks for all physical levels, so don’t worry. In fact, walking around the city is a wonderful experience. Plus, by spending the night, you’ll get spectacular sunsets, sunrises, and a glimpse of village life.
However, if you are short on time, you can take a full-day tour to El Chaltén . The tour departs early in the morning from El Calafate and returns late, giving you plenty of time to enjoy the city and views without rushing.
Town of El Chaltén A -Where to stay in El Chalten
About 200 km north of Calafate is El Chaltén , the hiking capital of Argentina. Surrounded by mountains, El Chaltén is the perfect base for some of the best hikes in South America .
We were enjoying the beautiful scenery over Lake Viedma and Mount Fitz Roy , when we saw condors and eagles dancing in the sky, performing just for us.
In the hills, inside the forest , you will find a couple of waterfalls and if you are lucky you may even come across a deer. The town itself is quite pretty, with a decent tourist infrastructure. If you have time, you won’t regret spending a couple of days in El Chaltén.
Where to stay in El Chaltén
El Chaltén is much smaller than El Calafate but just as impressive. In fact, El Chaltén is home to several wonderful hotels. If you like views and nice architecture, stay at Hostería Senderos .
Located right in the center of town, it offers elegance and the best views of the Fitz Roy mountain. For luxury, stay at Los Cerros Boutique Hotel & Spa by DON , the best hotel in El Chaltén. This first-class hotel is a stone’s throw from the center and offers incredible views. To be one with nature, stay at Laguna Condor – Mountain Refuge . It is a comfortable and unpretentious hotel.
How to get to El Calafate and move around
Los Glaciares National Park is an important tourist destination in the extreme south of Argentina. Keep in mind that we are talking about the eighth largest country in the world. The distances are long, so you probably won’t get from Buenos Aires to El Calafate by land. Instead, you will most likely take a plane.
Comandante Armando Tola International Airport is located 21 kilometers northeast of El Calafate. Flights arrive there from Buenos Aires and other national destinations.
From the airport you have to take a bus or a taxi to El Calafate or El Chaltén. To travel between El Calafate and El Chaltén, take any of the several daily buses . That’s what we did. The trip was very good. We even saw wild vicuñas!
El Calafate and Los Glaciares National Park Climate
If you think Australia is down, then Patagonia is down. It’s as far as you can go before you hit Antarctica.
Let’s not forget the huge chunks of endless glaciers that inhabit the region. Therefore, Los Glaciares National Park has a rather unpredictable climate.
Regardless of the date of your visit, do not forget a thick jacket, a light windbreaker, a hat for both the sun and the cold, sunscreen and suitable footwear.
Although in El Calafate the weather is not so unpredictable, you will need the same. Don’t worry if something is missing. There are tons of stores in El Calafate that sell all the necessary equipment.
There are few places in the world that impress as much as the Glaciers of El Calafate. Standing in front of Perito Moreno you feel small. Overwhelmed, you disconnect and communicate with nature.
Visiting Patagonia is a special experience – Where to stay in Calafate
The place literally expresses the power of nature and, to our surprise, it is easily accessible from the city (an hour away) and the tours are quite well organized.