El Calafate, glaciers capital, is located in Santa Cruz and is home to one of the most representative images of Argentina: Glaciar Perito Moreno, a huge mass of ice 50 miles away from the town. Near Lago Argentino and divided into two by the Calafate stream, the town is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Southern Patagonia, mainly for being the main door to the Parque Nacional los Glaciares, pronounced World Natural Heritage by UNESCO.
In the last decade – and following a rise in international tourism – the population as well as accommodation choices and tourist services have had a marked growth. Hostelling International offers four youth hostels with the characteristic atmosphere, service, quality and support of this international organization. The immersion into landscapes of breathtaking beauty and the possibility to go on a wide variety of excursions allow tourists to enjoy the destination to the full. In El Calafate hostels you will find information and guidance about such activities as trekking on the Perito Moreno Glacier; sailing to its ice walls or to other glaciers such as Upsala, Spegazzini or Onelli; horse riding; bicycling; visiting estancias Nibepo Aike, Laguna Frías, Cristina or Alice to see sheep shearing; rafting in Santa Cruz river; seeing cave paintings; bird watching in the Nimes Lagoon; rock climbing or trout fishing. Starting in El Calafate, there also some tours to visit El Chaltén, trekking capital and Torres Del Paine, beyond the frontier with Chile.
Some people say that the reason why this place holds such a strong attraction for people may not be found only in the visual power of its landscapes, but also in a legend: it is said that those who eat calafate, the fruit of a thorny bush after which the place is named, are bound to come back to Patagonia.