El Calafate is located at the base of Calafate Hill on the shore of the Argentinian Lake, 315 km from Río Gallegos, the capital of the Santa Cruz Province's Capital.
There are different ways to reach El Calafate. By land, along paved roads (National Route N°3, Provincial Route N°5, National Route N°40 and Provincial Route N°11). By air: The new International Airport of El Calafate services nonstop flights to Buenos Aires, Ushuaia, Trelew, Bariloche, Puerto Natales and other cities. Moreover, El Calafate is communicated with Río Gallegos via a 50' flight or a 4 hour bus ride at daily frequencies. The doubled pitched roofs of the houses, the colorful vegetation - rose bushes and a great variety of flowers and trees - mildly blend in this charming tourist town of 6,500 inhabitants, whose friendly attitude make tourists feel at home.
THE SETTLING OF EL CALAFATE:
In the early 20th Century, the Patagonian trails had wagon stops every three leagues, the average distance covered in a day's journey by a driven wagon. The road from Rio Gallegos to Argentinian Lake, forked at a ford on the Santa Cruz River, where Charles Fhur had settled down at the beginning of the century. There were other fords that had to be crossed along the southern road. These inevitable stops were named by the wagon drivers: " El Bote", " El Calafate" and " El Centinela". The name "El Calafate" comes from the dense calafate ( berberis genus) shrubbery that grew on this alluvial plain.
On April 23, 1913, the family of José Pantín, an immigrant from La Coruña, set up a bar, a general store and an inn. This became the first staging post on the road to the Andes. As more families settled around the Calafate Stream, the town grew.
On December 7, 1927, El Calafate was officially declared a town, by a decree of the Central Government.
El Calafate is located at 50°20´ South latitude (it is equal to the city of London in the Northern Hemisphere). The climate is dry and the temperatures are mild: In Summer, maximum average temperature is 18.6ºC. In Winter, minimum average temperature is 1.8°C.
Daylight hours vary according to the seasons of the year: December 21st is the longest day of the year, with 17 and a half hours of light. The sun rises at 5.30 am, and sets at 11 pm. June 21st is the shortest day, with only 8 hours of light (from 9.30 am to 5.30 pm).
The prevailing winds blow from the West, mostly in Spring and Summer during the daytime.
On the Continental Icefield, annual rainfall reaches 8,000 mm and decreases to 1,000/1,500 mm within Los Glaciares National Park. Since the winds from the West carry scarce humidity to the stepperian area, El Calafate only receives 300 mm of rain annually.
Thanks to El Calafate's municipal tourist office 491-090