El Calafate is a picturesque town on the shores of Lake Argentino in southern Patagonia, surrounded by plateaus, founded in 1927; differs from the rest of Patagonia by its mild microclimate. The city lives mainly on tourism. Here is amazing nature, bright blue water surface of the lake, small cozy bars and restaurants, local residents, among whom there are many Indians. The central street of Avenida Libertador is crowded, there are many restaurants and souvenir shops.
El Calafate gained worldwide fame thanks to the Los Glaciares National Park located 78 km away, on the territory of which there are 47 giant glaciers covering the slopes of the Andes. Glaciers in this part of the planet are truly unique: ice masses begin to form at an altitude of 1500 m above sea level and descend to 200 m above sea level, deforming the mountains that serve as their foundation. The main attraction of the park is the Perito Moreno Glacier, the only moving glacier on the planet. Reaching 60 meters in height just above the water (15-storey building) and 30 km long, the glacier is a stunning sight at any time of the year. This glacier is over 30 thousand years old. Once every 4-5 years, a kind of glacier break occurs here, which attracts scientists from all over the world. Huge pieces of ice fall into the water,
Sitting on the observation deck on the opposite side of the lake, you can watch the constantly moving ice mass for hours and enjoy the magical sounds emitted by giant blocks that periodically break off from the glacier and gracefully descend into the crystal clear waters of the lake. Breaking off pieces of ice (having a huge mass and causing strong waves that crash on the shore) continue their lives in the form of icebergs, majestically drifting along the water surface of the lake. The area of the glacier is constantly increasing, and periodically the ice mass reaches the opposite shore of the lake, creating a powerful natural barrier to the waters descending from the Andes. For some time, the glacier holds back the water flow of tremendous force, the water level in the lake rises, but at a certain moment the ice wall cannot withstand the pressure, it begins to crack, breaks into pieces – and the course of the river rushes giant icebergs behind it. A unique spectacle, a real miracle of nature, lasts about a day and attracts numerous viewers, including international television companies.
In the bay of Bajo de las Sombras, you can dive on board a special boat and get as close as possible to the sheer wall of the glacier in order to view this natural masterpiece up close.
The El Calafate area is located 2700 km from Buenos Aires and 1400 km from Bariloche to the south, in the southern part of Patagonia, surrounded by plateaus.
Flight time from Buenos Aires is 4 hours 20 minutes, from Bariloche – 1 hour 30 minutes. Aircraft of local airlines fly.
In addition to the Perito Moreno glacier, in the southern part of the Los Glaciares park there are the Uppsala and Spegazzini glaciers, descending to Lake Argentino. You can view them during a boat tour of Onelli Bay, passing by bizarre icebergs. In the northern part of the park there is Lake Viedma with the glacier of the same name, as well as the Fitzroy and Cerro Torre mountains, which are popular with lovers of mountain climbing and mountain walks.
best time to visit is from November to March.
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