El Calafate is a city in Argentina on the southern border of Lake Argentino, in the southwest part of Santa Cruz Province, near the edge of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field. It is an important tourist destination as the hub for visiting different parts of Los Glaciares National Park.
El Calafate is a city in Argentine Patagonia. It is situated on the southern border of Lake Argentino, in the southwest of the Santa Cruz Province, near the edge of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field and about 320 km (200 mi) northwest of Río Gallegos.
The city's name is derived from a small bush with yellow flowers and dark blue berries that is very common in Patagonia, the Calafate (Berberis microphylla).
The history of El Calafate began in the first decades of the twentieth century. Initially, it was simply a sheltering place for wool traders.
The town was officially founded in 1927 by the government of Argentina to promote settlement. Still, it was the creation of nearby Perito Moreno National Park in 1937 that sparked growth and the building of better road access.
Its strategic location makes it an inevitable stop for travelers. In addition, 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 as well as Cerro Chaltén and Cerro Torre.
In the last census (2001), 6,143 permanent residents were counted. This represents a 20% increase compared with the 1991 census. However, due to the expansion of tourism, the population was estimated at more than 28,000 people as of 2020.
El Calafate experiences a cold semi-arid climate with cool to warm, arid summers and cool to cold, slightly wetter winters. The city's cold and heat extremes are moderated by the influence of the vast lake (Lago Argentino).
The city's waterfront is on a large shallow bay often frozen in the winter, allowing residents to practice ice skating. The highest temperature recorded was 30.7 °C (87.3 °F) on February 6, 1962, while the lowest recorded temperature was −17.4 °C (0.7 °F) on July 27, 2014.