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El Calafate

Named for the berry that, once eaten, guarantees your return to Patagonia, El Calafate hooks you with another irresistible attraction: Glaciar Perito Moreno, 50 miles (80km) away in Parque Nacional Los Glaciares. This magnificent must-see has converted once-quaint El Calafate into a chic fur-trimmed destination. With a range of traveler services, it’s still a fun place to be. Its strategic location between El Chaltén and Torres del Paine (Chile) makes it an inevitable stop for those in transit.

Located 199 miles (320km) northwest of Río Gallegos, and 20 miles (32km) west of RP 11’s junction with northbound RN 40, El Calafate flanks the southern shore of Lago Argentino. Its main strip is dotted with souvenir and chocolate shops, restaurants and tour offices. Beyond here, pretensions melt away quickly: muddy roads lead to ad hoc developments and open pastures.

January and February are the most popular (and costly) months to visit, but shoulder-season visits are growing steadily.

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Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout El Calafate.

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