Welcome to Patagonia. While El Calafate exists solely to cater to tourists, it’s still a must-visit if you can swing the expense. Other than touring the glaciers, there is not much to do here. Expect to pay prices 100% greater than what you’d find in cities.
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A must see is the six-hour tour to see the amazing Perito Moreno Glacier, with an optional boat ride to get up close. You also get to watch huge pieces of ice fall from the lookout patio. Lots of tours can take you there but Always Glaciers is competent. Also recommended is the full day Upsala tour to view several other glaciers. It’s a bit touristy though, with the screaming four-year-olds and old people shoving you for a picture. Don’t bother with the Torres del Paine (Chile) day trip because 95% of the time you sit on the bus looking out the window. For hiking, hop on a four hour bus to El Chantel.
For food try the Il Postino pasta place on 9 de Julio between Av Libertador and Gregores. Next to that is a bakery for cheap breakfast and next to that is a grocery store, but bring your own plastic bags (weird, I know). Internet around town is slow and expensive.
Pretty dead but there are a couple watering holes off the main strip.
Calafate Hostel (Moyano 1226)
$10/night for dorm. The only thing that makes this hostel bearable the funny German guy who works the front desk. He will go out of his way to help make an itinerary for you and do the necessary bookings. Overall it’s a loser because of a serious bed bug infestation. Hostel itself is huge and modern with comfortable 4 and 6-bed dorms. Breakfast and internet are extra.
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