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El Calafate is a small town that has grown due to the tourist influx into the Patagonia region of Argentina.
Aerolineas Argentinas has daily flights to/from Bariloche,Buenos Aires and Ushuaia. LAN also flies on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from Buenos Aires. On-line booking and e-tickets are available. During peak season, flights are usually fully booked with tourist groups. Make sure you book your flight well in advance.
There are also charter flights between Puerto Natales and El Calafate operated by DAP. These flights from the tiny airport of Puerto Natales can be very scenic and let you cross the Andes in about 90 minutes and no road travel hassle (which however in right doses is something not to be missed in Patagonia).
The bus station is located one street up from the main street, which is accessible by walking up a small set of stairs around the artisinal market stands.
What to see
Take a boat excursion and see many of the glaciers and places in the National Park Los Glaciares. The colors and shapes of the ice-bergs floating in the lake are really awesome and inspiring, making a boat ride in a sunny day a fantastic day out.
Wild nature can be seen just walking a few blocks away from main street, like in El Cañadón, or at Laguna Nimez, where you can see all kind of Patagonic birds a few feet away from you.
There is a hideously expensive (by any standard) restaurant on site (meager coffee in styrofoam cup is 30 pesos), be a cheapskate and take a picnic and flask and keep smiling. Numerous places to sit and eat overlooking the glacier.
The Hielo y Aventura Mini trekking excursion consists of a morning trip to the observation boardwalks, boat ride across the lake, and then an hour and a half with crampons (provided) walking around on the Glacier.
There are also 4x4 excursions up into the mountainous area surrounding El Calafate. These provide stunning views of Lake Argentino, and, on a clear day, the top of Fitz Roy as well as the Torres del Paine. They also stop for refreshments and visit geological formations caused by glaciers known as the ´mexican hats'.
Food is expensive mainly due to the remote location of the city. There are four supermarkets. No quality fresh food is available.
Buy your food early in the day as things get picked over by 8pm. All the freshly baked bread was gone.