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EL CALAFATE

This city is built on the coast of  Argentino Lake, 316 kilometers west from the city of Rio Gallegos, capital of the Province of Santa Cruz and 2760 km from the city of Buenos Aires. It is the gateway to the spectacular area of the glaciers. Among its charms, besides the above glaciers and the lake, there is the tranquility and beauty of a tourist village, despite having become a very visited city, both nationally and internationally, so there is a complete infrastructure for tourists.
Its name refers to a small shrub called "caulk" (calafate in Spanish) which is typical of Patagonia, its fruit is a berry or pod, used for making sweets.
Communication routes: Route No. 11 that continues Provincial Route No. 5 (Rio Gallegos - El Calafate, Province of Santa Cruz).


Ministry of Tourism: 1004 Julio A. Roca. Tel: 02902-491090/4.
Office of Santa Cru
z in Buenos Aires: 927 Suipacha Street, tel.: 011 -4313-4880/4311-7906 .

HOW TO TRAVEL:

CAR: from the City of Buenos Aires, by Riccheri Freeway, continuation of the Dellepiane Freeway, to km.27, where the South Freeway to Cañuelas is born, continue by this one up to National Route Nº 3, to the City of Azul. There take the National Route Nº 226 up to Olavarría. There continue by Provincial Route Nº 51, then a small section of the Provincial Route Nº 76 and, again Route 51 to Bahía Blanca. From this city, a short stretch by National Route Nº 3, then  continue by National Route Nº 22 up to National Route Nº 251 (after Colorado River), take this one up to San Antonio Oeste and continue on National Route  Nº 3 to Río Gallegos. From there take the Provincial Route Nº 5 and 11.
Tolls in: Riccheri freeway: $1,25; South freeway: $1,25; National Route  Nº 3, km. 76: $2,80; Km. 264: $2.10. When returning it is paid in National Route  Nº 226: $2,20
There is another possibility, which is more direct, but much longer, to go always on the National Route No. 3 from Cañuelas.

COACH: there is not direct ground transportation service to El Calafate, but there is to Rio Gallegos, Province of Santa Cruz and then it is possible to connect with local services. Andesmar, Transportadora Patagonia and El Pinguino leave Retiro Bus Station to Rio Gallegos.

AIRPLANE: It has an international airport, where the main national airlines arrive.

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND:
One of the first expeditions that arrived in this area was in1867. It was organized by the Commander Luis Piedrabuena and they were sailing the  Santa Cruz river. Subsequent expeditions also got to know the current Argentino Lake, which was baptized by the Perito Moreno in 1877. In 1879, a soldier of the Chilean Navy first observed the Perito Moreno Glacier; the name was given in 1899 in tribute to the great scholar of the Argentine Patagonia. In 1913, a trader settled in the present city to offer goods on the Andean road  and the village started to originate spontaneously. It did not have a founder or date of foundation and its name was given spontaneously.

PLACE TO VISIT:

ADMINISTRATIVE CENTER  OF THE GLACIER NATIONAL PARK:
At the shopping area. It was built in 1946 and it was declared Municipal Historical Monument. Along a path that goes across the place, you can see the flora, historical facts and a sample of the first machines used by National Parks.



REGIONAL MUNICIPAL MUSEUM:
It exhibits archaeological, paleontological and geological material, including flora, fauna and documentation that make the history of the place. All the information is also displayed in Braille.


ARGENTINO LAKE:
It has an area of 1560 square kilometers, making it the largest lake in Argentina. It has a length of 125 km and a width of between 15 and 20 kilometers.

It gives rise to the Santa Cruz River which flows into the Atlantic Ocean. The name was given by the expert Francisco Moreno in 1877.



NIMEZ LAGOON MUNICIPAL ECOLOGICAL RESERVE:
It is half a mile from the shopping area. There is an important bird reserve, where you can see around 80 species of birds such as flamingos, swans, bandurrias, teros and ducks, among others.


PUNTA WALICHU:
It is 8 kilometers from El Calafate. It is an important archaeological site of sedimentary rock and steppe vegetation. Here you can visit, through a path of interpretation, natural caves with paintings done 4000 years BC.

THE GLACIER NATIONAL PARK:
It is 80 km from El Calafate, on Provincial Route No. 11, which leads to Punta Bandera Port, in the Magellan Peninsula. It covers an area of 726,000 hectares, and it was created in 1937 to preserve a large area of continental ice and glaciers of the southern Andean-Patagonian forests and samples of the Patagonian steppe.

A ticket must be paid to enter the Park. In 1981, it was proclaimed World Natural Heritage by the UNESCO.
The ice fields occupy a total area of approximately 2600 square kilometers, which means that over 30% of the park is occupied by ice. The main attraction of the Park is the Perito Moreno Glacier, on the waters of the South Branch of Argentino Lake. It has a front of a 5 kilometers and a height of 60 meters above the level of the lake.

In the north end of the Park, near El Chalten, you can see the highest peaks, Mount Fitz Roy or Chaltén which is 3405 meters high.
Glaciers are masses of ice which are in continuous displacement because of the force of snow accumulation and snowfall at the top and gravity at the bottom.



PERITO MORENO GLACIER:
The main attraction of the Los Glaciares National Park is the Perito Moreno Glacier. It is located 80 kilometers east from El Calafate, on the Rico branch and the Tempanos Canal of the Argentino Lake. The place has a comfortable veranda and various balconies and walkways to have a better observation. The glacier has an area of 275 square kilometers, its front is approximately 4 kilometers long and the height is between 50 and 70 meters. Its blue color is breathtaking as a result of the influence of sunlight on the ice. It is surrounded by snow-capped mountains and lenga and ñire forests.

A stunning and extraordinary natural spectacle is the partial detachment. The glacier’s world famous breaking phenomenon takes place when its front breaks and massive blocks fall in the Tempanos Canal. The area has food service, toilets and a campsite to spend the day.



THE GLACIER HIKES:
Boats leave from the dock port and they sail along Rico branch reaching a reasonable distance from the wall of the glacier. There are other trips that allow the landing and wearing special shoes it is possible to walk on the ice and watch various accidents such as cracking, drain and small lagoons.




LODGING.