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Off the beaten path in El Calafate

When visiting Argentine Patagonia, you should definitely pay a visit to the town El Calafate. Situated in Santa Cruz province, it got its name after a little bush called el calafate (Berberis buxifolia) which is very common all over Patagonia. It has yellow flowers and sweet dark blue berries.

El Calafate town, close to the National Park Los Glaciares where the capital of trekking El Chaltén is located, is for many just a stopover on the way to Perito Moreno glacier.

But El Calafate has much more to offer than just the famous expensive glacier. And many of these things you can get for free, if you know how.

Avenida del Libertador San Martin

The main street of the town is where all the vibrant life of El Calafate is situated. Very picturesque, full of cafes, restaurants, ice cream and souvenir shops. A must see to fall in love with El Calafate town.

Avenida Libertador de San Martin in El Calafate

Avenida Libertador de San Martin in El Calafate

Walichu caves

Just 7 km from El Calafate, these archeological sites are full of cave drawings from some 4,000 years AC. You can get there walking from El Calafate, by car, with a travel agency or hitchhiking. We walked around Lago Argentino on the way there and hitchhiked on the way back to the town. There is an entrance fee of 50 pesos argentinos and you get a guide who will explain you more about the history of the place. Or there are some caves on the right side of the entrance which are for free but it says it is prohibited to go there. But no one will say anything to you if you do. Those caves are also nice, just with no cave drawings inside.

I highly recommend you to walk to the caves as on the way you will see weird things, such as big bones of unknown animals, a lot of funky bushes, owls and many other birds from close.

one of many bones of unknown animals we found on the way to Walichu caves

one of many bones of unknown animals we found on the way to Walichu caves

1 out of 3 owls we saw on the way to Walichu caves

1 out of 3 owls we saw on the way to Walichu caves

on top of Walichu caves overviewing Lago Argentino and Parque Nacional de los Glaciares

on top of Walichu caves overviewing Lago Argentino and Parque Nacional de los Glaciares

private property - caves on the left side of the road

private property – caves on the left side of the road

 

entrance to Walichu caves - Punta Walichu

entrance to Walichu caves – Punta Walichu

cave drawnings inside Walichu caves

cave drawnings inside Walichu caves

 

Laguna Nimez

800 m from the main street Av. del Libertador de San Martin in El Calafate, easy to walk to, there is this natural ecological municipal reserve Laguna Nimez. The entrance fee is 25 pesos, you can walk around the lake (it takes around 1 h) and see 80 species of birds from close. Or you don’t have to pay and just walk around the fence and if you have a good zoom on your camera, you will see as much as if you entered (which is exactly what we did to save some money.)

entrance to Laguna Nimez

entrance to Laguna Nimez

Laguna Nimez

Laguna Nimez

Cañadón

A small canyon on the river, less than 1 hour walking from the centre. To get there just follow the river on its right side out of the town. It is a very quiet area where the river forms a small canyon where you can do rappel or rock climbing. Or just sunbathe by the river when the weather allows you to do so, or even refresh yourself in the river. The best place for some relax with not many tourists.

Cañadon in El Calafate

Cañadon in El Calafate

flowers at the river

flowers at the river

Cañadon and the river

Cañadon and the river

Fiesta del Lago

Every year there is a party for the anniversary of Lago Argentino where you can enjoy a lot of national artists, concerts at night, motocross and car ralley. We were so lucky that we visited El Calafate exactly during the 135 anniversary so had a chance to be one of those fans at the concerts at night. Visit www.fiestadellago.com to find out about next fiesta.

entrance to Fiesta del Lago - 135 anniversary

entrance to Fiesta del Lago – 135 anniversary

 

Intendencia Parque Nacional de los Glaciares

A very picturesque garden, with statues of Francisco Moreno, the Argentinian explorer after which the glacier is named. You can get here all the information about the national park.

inside Intendencia Parque Nacional de los Glaciares with Francisco Moreno statue - me and Lyra

inside Intendencia Parque Nacional de los Glaciares with Francisco Moreno statue – me and Lyra

one of the statues inside Intendencia Parque Nacional de los Glaciares

one of the statues inside Intendencia Parque Nacional de los Glaciares

inside Intendencia Parque Nacional de los Glaciares with Francisco Moreno statue - me and Lyra

inside Intendencia Parque Nacional de los Glaciares with Francisco Moreno statue – me and Lyra

Paseo de las Artesanos

Between the bus station and Av. Libertador, there are a couple of stalls with hand-made handicrafts from the local people. Worth a visit.

one of the artesanos making wooden handicrafts

one of the artesanos making wooden handicrafts

artesanias at Paseo de artesanos in El Calafate

artesanias at Paseo de artesanos in El Calafate

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  50. Comment@ The Time-Crunched Traveler (Ellen):
    Haha yeah, there he could find a lot of bones, we saw so many everywhere. I have a little bone with me but it’s from a different beach, from the End of the World beach :)

  51. Looks like quite the adventure! My husband would love finding the bones. He’d beg me to let him bring them home. Yuck.

  52. Comment@ Joe W:
    I am so enjoying South America, it was my biggest dreams. Thanks, Joe, come back yo visit again and hope you will be able to go to Argentina one day, if you want!

  53. awesome girl! i hope i can visit that part of the world someday. keep having fun! :)

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