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El Calafate

El Calafate is a small town in Patagonia, Argentina. It is situated in the southern border of Lake Argentino, in the southwest part of the Santa Cruz Province, about 320 km Northwest from Rio Gallegos. Its name comes from a little bush with yellow flowers very common in Patagonia, with dark blue berries: the calafate (Berberis buxifolia); the word comes from the word "calafate", which is Spanish for "caulk".

El Calafate is an important tourist destination as the hub to visit different parts of the Los Glaciares National Park, including the Perito Moreno Glacier (one of the most visited in the world) and the Cerro Chalten and Cerro Torre.


The history of El Calafate began in the first decades of the twentieth century. Originally, it was simply a sheltering place for wool traders. The town was officially founded in 1927 by the government of Argentina to promote settlement, but it was the creation of nearby Perito Moreno National Park in 1937 that sparked growth and the building of better road access.


The 220 kilometers separating Calafate from El Chalten on the other side of the Lake Argentino in the national park are paved, as well as the 315 kilometres to Rio Gallegos. Other distances are: to Bariloche 1400 Km ; to Esquel 1108 km (mostly dirt road); Comodoro Rivadavia 959 km; Puerto Madryn 1388 km; Buenos Aires 2727 km; Ushuaia 863 km and in Chile Puerto Natales 362 km and Punta Arenas 605 km.

The town is served by El Calafate International Airport located some 20 km east of the village, at coordinates . Opened in 2001 it has daily flights to Buenos Aires ,Trelew, and S. C. de Bariloche. The airport has a 2,200 meters long, 45 meters wide runway that permits Boeing 727 and 737 to serve the area.


In the last census 6,143 permanent residents were counted . This represents a 20.1% increase compared with the 1991 census. However, due to the expansion of tourism, the population was estimated at 8,000 people in 2005.


The gliding altitude record of 50,722 feet was set near El Calafate on 30 August 2006 by Steve Fossett and Einar Enevoldson in their 'Perlan' high altitude research glider. This record has been certified by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale.


Flamingos are regularly visible from El Calafate congregating in the waters of Lago Argentino.


Welcomeargentina.com, History of El Calafate

Enjoy-patagonia.org, Enjoy Patagonia, Calafate

Virtualtourist.com, Notes on main street, name origin, and more

External links

Descubracalafate.com.ar, Commercial information in Spanish about El Calafate

Elcalafate.gov.ar, Official government site

Dimensioncalafate.com.ar, Radio station site with local and regional news

Patagonia-argentina.com, information about El Calafate

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article El Calafate

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