You are currently viewing Which City in Patagonia is Higher?

Which City in Patagonia is Higher?


Adventurous Kate comprises affiliate hyperlinks. For those who make a purchase order by means of these hyperlinks, I’ll earn a fee at no additional value to you. Thanks!

El Calafate vs. El Chaltén. Which city is healthier? And should you solely have time to go to one city in Argentine Patagonia, which city must you go to?

I used to be fortunate to go to each El Calafate and El Chaltén on my journey to Patagonia, and I used to be struck by the truth that each cities look comparable on paper, however they really feel fairly totally different in actual life.

And so I do know I needed to write this publish for all of you planning journeys to Patagonia. Visiting Patagonia is a time-consuming endeavor, and many individuals don’t have time to go to each El Calafate and El Chaltén.

Do you have to go to each? OF COURSE it’s best to go to each when you’ve got the money and time! However when you’ve got restricted time in your journey, this publish will assist you determine whether or not it’s best to prioritize El Calafate or El Chaltén.

This publish was revealed in February 2024.

A huge white glacier in the distance, surrounded by navy blue mountains topped with streaky snow.
Perito Moreno Glacier close to El Calafate, Argentina

El Calafate vs. El Chaltén: The Fundamentals

El Calafate and El Chaltén are two of the preferred cities to go to in Argentine Patagonia. Every city is positioned on the sting of Los Glaciares Nationwide Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Website: El Calafate to the south, and El Chaltén to the north.

Each El Calafate and El Chaltén supply loads of choices for lovers of the outside; each cities have numerous guided excursions accessible; each cities have lodging for vacationers of all budgets.

Each cities are very busy throughout excessive season in Patagonia, from December by means of March. And each cities have a number of craft breweries!

Rows of colorful houses surrounded by trees, perched on the edge of a big lake in Patagonia.
El Calafate at sundown, by way of Shutterstock

El Calafate in a nutshell

El Calafate has a inhabitants of 6,000 and appears like a big city, or perhaps a small metropolis.

The principle attraction in El Calafate is Perito Moreno Glacier, situated about one hour’s drive from the city. You possibly can admire the glacier from intensive viewing platforms, or ebook a navigational cruise or go trekking on the glacier itself.

Close by actions in El Calafate embrace rafting, kayaking, mountain climbing, estancia visits with horseback using, and a few museum-type sights. It’s also possible to do loads of eating, procuring, and brewery-hopping on the town.

You possibly can learn my full information to El Calafate right here.

A small town filled with houses, surrounded by mountains on each side.
El Chaltén is surrounded by mountains!

El Chaltén in a nutshell

El Chaltén has a inhabitants of about 1,600 and appears like a really small city.

The principle attraction in El Chaltén is mountain climbing: the Laguna de los Tres and Laguna Torre hikes are lauded for his or her unbelievable magnificence, and El Chaltén is exclusive in that just about all hikes start straight from within the city!

Close by actions in El Chaltén embrace glacier trekking, boat cruises, estancia visits with horseback using, and many extra day hikes. The city is quiet at night time, however there are some enjoyable breweries.

You possibly can learn my full information to El Chaltén right here.

A group of hikers clustered around a small cabin where guides are tying crampons on their boots.
You don’t need to hike throughout ice to get to El Calafate!

Which city is simpler to get to, El Calafate or El Chaltén?

El Calafate is residence to an airport, which makes it one of many best and most accessible locations in Argentine Patagonia. El Calafate Airport (FTE) has direct flights to Buenos Aires and different Patagonian locations like Bariloche within the Lake District and Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego.

El Calafate additionally has a bus terminal with onward bus journeys to additional locations in Argentine and Chilean Patagonia. For those who’re coming from Torres del Paine, Chile, there’s one bus per day within the early morning from Torres del Paine Nationwide Park, and there are extra buses from the town of Puerto Natales, Chile, the gateway to Torres del Paine.

El Calafate Airport is a few 30-minute drive from El Calafate city, and El Calafate’s bus terminal is juuuust far sufficient from city so that you can need a taxi, particularly when you’ve got luggage.

In contrast, El Chaltén is a few 2.5-hour drive or bus journey from El Calafate airport. There are additionally bus journeys additional north and south in Patagonia.

The bus terminal is on the sting of city, and El Chaltén is so small that you could stroll in every single place on the town simply.

As for getting between El Calafate and El Chaltén, it’s a few three-hour drive or bus journey between the 2 cities.

Conclusion: El Calafate is simpler to get to than El Chaltén. Having an airport half-hour away makes it handy for arriving from Buenos Aires.

Several people standing on a rock overlooking the jagged Mountain View of Fitz Roy.
Hikers posing on the Mount Fitz Roy Viewpoint, simply exterior El Chaltén, Argentina.

Which city is healthier for mountain climbing, El Calafate or El Chaltén?

El Calafate has mountain climbing choices within the basic neighborhood — however circuitously from the city, with the attainable exception of Reserva Laguna Nimez, a brief flat hike.

In distinction, El Chaltén is absolute paradise for hikers. Not solely are among the greatest and most stunning hikes in Patagonia situated in El Chaltén, however the city serves as a trailhead. It’s superb that you could get up, put in your gear, and simply begin mountain climbing, regardless of the place on the town you’re staying. No transportation crucial!

Whereas among the hikes in El Chaltén are difficult, particularly Laguna de los Tres and Laguna Torre, there are additionally some simpler hikes. Laguna Azul and Chorrillo del Salto are two straightforward, low-key hikes which might be even good for elementary-aged youngsters.

It’s also possible to merely hike to the Fitz Roy viewpoint or Laguna Capri on the Laguna de los Tres hike, which I did and was nonetheless completely price it.

Conclusion: El Chaltén is considerably higher for mountain climbing than El Calafate, and is in actual fact probably the greatest bases for mountain climbing in Patagonia. Talking personally, it’s probably the greatest hiking-oriented cities I’ve ever visited.

A sign reading El Chalten: Capital Nacional del Trekking. Bienvenido's.
Welcome to El Chaltén!

Which city is cheaper, El Calafate or El Chaltén?

This query is a little more sophisticated. Every city is cheaper and costlier in numerous methods.

Let’s begin with lodging. I looked for lodging in each cities for 2 individuals in a single room for 2 nights in late March, Tuesday by means of Thursday.

El Calafate Lodging Costs:

El Chaltén Lodging Costs:

General, lodging in El Chaltén tends to value 50-100% greater than what an identical property prices in El Calafate.

This actually matches what my husband and I skilled for our personal journey to Patagonia in December 2023. We booked a top-rated, mid-range, well-located resort in every city, and paid about double in El Chaltén what we paid in El Calafate.

Now, let’s have a look at the prices of 5 of the preferred actions on the town. I primarily based this on dates in late March 2024:

El Calafate Exercise Costs:

El Chaltén Exercise Costs:

General, El Calafate’s actions are usually rather more costly, and plenty of of El Chaltén’s greatest actions are free hikes. Your value of actions in El Chaltén would in all probability be considerably decrease than in El Calafate.

Subsequent up, eating places: I discovered eating places in El Calafate and El Chaltén to have pretty comparable pricing; if something, El Chaltén was a bit costlier for comparable foods and drinks. For those who self-cater, costs on the grocery store are comparable in every city.

Conclusion: El Calafate has cheaper lodging than El Chaltén, however excursions to Perito Moreno Glacier could be costly. El Chaltén has costlier lodging, however numerous free mountain climbing alternatives.

I like to recommend itemizing out the costs of lodging per night time and actions you need to do, and evaluate the general value.

A small town of colorful small houses, surrounded by tall mountains on all sides.
El Chaltén: Think about should you lived in a spot like this!

Which city is extra stunning, El Calafate or El Chaltén?

Let’s be sincere — we’re speaking about one thing fully subjective right here. Who’s the authority on magnificence, anyway?

There isn’t a lot magnificence in El Calafate city, however the glacier itself is gorgeous. In contrast, El Chaltén is situated in an extremely scenic spot, with mountains on all sides and views of Fitz Roy from proper on the town. It’s fairly arduous to compete with being surrounded by nature at its greatest, 24/7.

Conclusion: I feel El Chaltén is extra visually gorgeous than the world surrounding El Calafate.

A walkway of stairs leading down to an enormous blue and white glacier surrounded by mountains.
Perito Moreno Glacier brings the distinctive issue to El Calafate.

Which city is extra distinctive, El Calafate or El Chaltén?

I do know, I do know, “extra distinctive” is technically an unattainable time period. For this query, it comes all the way down to which city has a extra important distinctive issue.

For El Calafate, Perito Moreno Glacier is the distinctive issue. I’ve been privileged to see many cool glaciers around the globe, from Antarctica to the Greenland Ice Sheet and gorgeous Eqi Glacier in Greenland, in addition to different glaciers in Patagonia, like Gray Glacier in Torres del Paine, Chile. I’ve additionally gone glacier trekking and mountaineering on Sólheimajökull Glacier in Iceland.

So how does Perito Moreno stack as much as these? It’s one of many absolute most gorgeous glaciers I’ve ever seen. The colours and dimensions are dramatic and enthralling. I like the setup of the numerous platforms and walkways in entrance of the glacier, particularly that they’re technically free to go to when you’ve got your personal automobile.

As for the glacier mini-trekking expertise at Perito Moreno, I discovered it extraordinarily effectively completed, and it felt particular. If mountaineering had been concerned right here too, it will have blown my Iceland expertise out of the water.

For El Chaltén, the ridiculously easy accessibility of the mountain climbing is the distinctive issue. The landscapes are gorgeous — maybe one of the best you’ve seen in Argentina, or maybe you lucked out and noticed some even higher landscapes elsewhere within the area! (I imply, Southern Chile does have some nice spots…)

Is it distinctive to have the ability to hike out from a city? Not likely. Particular, sure, however that isn’t sufficient of an element to inform individuals, “You completely want to come back to this place as soon as in your life.”

Conclusion: I feel Perito Moreno Glacier gives among the extra distinctive glacier experiences accessible around the globe, although I additionally assume El Chaltén is a particular outlier so far as small mountain climbing cities go.

A bartender holding a sampler platter filled with seven different taster samples of beer.
Sampler time at Nativa Restaurante & Cervecería Artesanal in El Calafate!

Which city has higher breweries, El Calafate or El Chaltén?

For those who’re a craft beer fan, you’re going to like your time in Argentine Patagonia! Each El Calafate and El Chaltén have loads of craft breweries on the town.

Lots of the breweries in El Calafate are on Avenida del Liberatador, the principle road on the town. I actually loved La Zorra Taproom, which had an out of doors patio, and scrumptious beers and eats. Cerveza Patagonia and La Fábrica Cervecería had been two extra enjoyable locations with outside seating on the principle street.

And Nativa Restaurante & Cervecería Artesanal was a beautiful shock — the bartender heard we loved craft beer and ready us a large sampler of their brews, with out us even asking!

El Chaltén additionally has their outpost of La Zorra Taproom (although if you’d like brewery merch, purchase it in El Calafate!). I additionally actually loved La Cervecería Chaltén, which makes a fantastic spot for a pasta lunch, and La Birre del Rancho and Fresco Bar are two extra terrific choices.

Wherever you go, I like to recommend attempting a calafate beer, made with the calafate berry — there’s nowhere else on this planet the place you possibly can have a kind of! (And don’t overlook the calafate legend — should you attempt the berry, you’re destined to return to Patagonia sometime.)

Conclusion: Each cities have nice breweries, however El Calafate has a extra intensive choice total.

The jagged gray mountain range of Fitz Roy and a still gray lake in front of it.
Laguna Capri close to El Chaltén.

Which city is healthier for open air fans, El Calafate or El Chaltén?

I discover that there are two sorts of holiday makers to Patagonia: individuals who benefit from the open air, and individuals who LIVE AND BREATHE for the outside. For this query, I’m speaking concerning the latter: individuals who journey around the globe to hike, ski, and rock climb; individuals who journey around the globe working at wilderness resorts; individuals who would sooner die than stay in a giant metropolis.

My guides at Ecocamp Patagonia in Torres del Paine had been these sorts of individuals. Nature is their life — and that’s implausible.

Curiously, once I had a dialog with them about the place Charlie and I had been going subsequent, their reactions spoke volumes.

“We’re heading to El Calafate subsequent,” I’d inform them, and so they’d nod. “After which El Chaltén.”

“OHHHHH!” they’d say every time, sighing with happiness. “I LOVE Chaltén.”

For my guides, El Calafate was a spot to go to as soon as — however El Chaltén was paradise. A spot you’d go to repeatedly, simply absorbing the attractive vibes.

For those who see your self as a hardcore open air fanatic, I feel you’ll want the city of El Chaltén to El Calafate.

Conclusion: El Chaltén is rather more beloved by open air fans.

Two men on a glacier cruise photographing Perito Moreno Glacier in the distance.
A ship journey choice on Lake Argentina makes El Calafate a fantastic choice for the less-mobile.

Which city is healthier for less-mobile individuals, El Calafate or El Chaltén?

Talking typically, Patagonia is just not a vacation spot I like to recommend for individuals with mobility challenges. Even should you’re sticking to “light” excursions, there’s nonetheless a good quantity of mountain climbing and strolling.

That being mentioned, I feel the city of El Calafate is the higher alternative for both individuals with mobility challenges, or for people who find themselves older, much less in form, or not up for intensive mountain climbing each day.

Why is that the case? El Calafate is a reasonably flat city; you may get taxis to locations in and round El Calafate; and among the viewing platforms at Perito Moreno Glacier are accessible to wheelchairs.

I feel the full day boat tour on Lake Argentino is a wonderful exercise alternative for individuals who don’t need to be super-active and athletic.

In contrast, El Chaltén is just not a really accessible city, and it’s a sufficiently small city that there aren’t any taxis to get you round should you want it — strolling is your solely choice. The principle exercise on the town is mountain climbing, and whereas there are some simpler, low-key hikes, a lot of the lengthy hikes require a good stage of health.

Conclusion: El Calafate is a a lot better alternative for less-active or less-mobile individuals.

A group of people hiking uphill, gray mountain peaks in the distance.
I swear I noticed a six-year-old on this hike in El Chaltén! He did effectively!

Which city is healthier for households, El Calafate or El Chaltén?

Actually, I didn’t see very many households with younger youngsters in Patagonia. However the youngsters that I did see had been loving their time within the nice open air!

In case your youngsters are skilled hikers, or youngsters or older, you could be proud of both El Calafate or El Chaltén — although, in fact, each child is totally different, and it relies upon fully on their pursuits.

You probably have youthful youngsters, or much less skilled hikers, I feel El Calafate could be a neater vacation spot total. Much like the way it’s suited to lower-mobility individuals, El Calafate could be skilled in less-active doses, and the city offers you a number of comfy choices.

But when your youngsters get pleasure from mountain climbing, deliver them to El Chaltén. They’ll have an absolute ball. (Don’t inform your teenagers concerning the lack of excellent wifi till you get there, LOL.)

Conclusion: In case your youngsters are hikers, they’ll be completely happy in both place. In the event that they’re not skilled hikers, El Calafate might be the higher of the 2 cities.

A restaurant with a big open wooden roof underneath an evening sky in El Calafate, Argentina.
Come on in and get work completed in El Calafate.

Which city is healthier for digital nomads, El Calafate or El Chaltén?

This weblog has been my full-time job since 2010, and my husband has been working remotely full-time since 2001 (sure, he was a VERY early distant employee). Each of us work all through our travels, which was how we had been in a position to take a monthlong honeymoon in South America!

And we’re removed from alone. Increasingly individuals develop into distant employees every year, and a few use this as a chance to take prolonged holidays and work on and off, or to journey and work full-time.

So, by this query, I’m asking which of the cities are higher outfitted for individuals who have to work.

Actually, Patagonia is normally not a sensible place to work remotely, as web speeds are gradual, however El Calafate is definitely not that dangerous so far as Patagonia goes. The city has good cellphone sign, lodges are likely to have respectable wifi (maybe not video name speed-friendly although), and there are many cafes and eating places the place you possibly can work for a part of the day.

In contrast, El Chaltén doesn’t have respectable cellphone sign in any respect (we had, at greatest, E sign), and lots of the lodges and eating places solely have wifi as gradual as molasses.

For those who want good wifi in El Chaltén, although, I like to recommend PAISA Excessive Mountain Espresso, a beautiful cafe with good wifi and one of the best flat white I had in all of Argentina.

Conclusion: Whereas Patagonia is just not a perfect vacation spot for working remotely, El Calafate is healthier for digital nomads than El Chaltén. I might advocate saving El Chaltén for a time if you could be fully offline.

An outdoor patio at a brewery, with lots of people sitting outside, a sunset in the background, and bushes with yellow flowers surrounding the space.
Each cities have a La Zorra, however solely the one in El Calafate has a nightlife really feel.

Which city has higher eating places and nightlife, El Calafate or El Chaltén?

Most individuals don’t come to Patagonia for the meals. Properly, possibly for the lamb. However the meals tends to rank far behind all of the outside actions.

That being mentioned, meals is a giant precedence if you’re expending so many energy whereas out in your adventures all day. There are many good eating places in each El Calafate and El Chaltén which might be filled with scrumptious dishes.

Lamb is a specialty on this a part of the world, and also you’ll see numerous home windows in El Calafate crammed with lambs roasting over the hearth. And since Argentina loves its beef as effectively, yow will discover loads of scrumptious steaks, served with purple wine.

You could find good eating places in each El Calafate and El Chaltén, lots of them serving large, hearty dishes.

However so far as nightlife goes, El Calafate has precise nightlife, with spots like Yeti Ice Bar, the place you gown up and do photographs out of ice glasses, and individuals who keep out till late.

Compared, El Chaltén shuts down on the early aspect (although it’s nonetheless Argentina, so individuals eat out late). In spite of everything, there are mountains to climb the following morning.

Conclusion: El Calafate has a lot better eating places and nightlife than El Chaltén — although you possibly can actually eat effectively in each locations.

An outdoor market with lots of wooden log cabin-like buildings for indoor shops.
The artisanal market in El Calafate, by way of Shutterstock.

Which city has higher purchasing for souvenirs, El Calafate or El Chaltén?

I’m going to be transient on this one: El Calafate is without doubt one of the greatest locations to buy souvenirs in all of Patagonia. And should you’re doing the everyday triangle of El Chaltén-El Calafate-Torres del Paine, El Calafate is the ONLY place for memento procuring in Patagonia.

I particularly advocate testing El Calafate’s Artisanal Market, which has all types of distinctive and particular Patagonian crafts and textiles. They make fabulous presents. (You may additionally purchase your niblings a Patagonian panflute if you wish to prank their dad and mom!)

Apart from that, lots of the retailers on the town promote calafate berry merchandise, like candies, jams, and different sweets. These are one thing you gained’t discover anyplace else.

As for El Chaltén, there are a couple of retailers, however there isn’t an enormous collection of souvenirs accessible right here.

Conclusion: Purchase all of your Patagonia souvenirs in El Calafate. You’ll be glad you probably did.

Colorful buildings in a small town, with a few mountains peeking out in the distance.
El Chaltén, Fitz Roy, and the weird clouds of Patagonia!

Which city is greatest total, El Calafate or El Chaltén?

My high suggestion is to VISIT BOTH TOWNS if in any respect attainable. I might schedule your time so you’ve got no less than one full day in El Calafate, and no less than two full days in El Chaltén. That may offer you sufficient time to get to know the essence of every city, and revel in one of the best experiences that every place has to supply.

However what should you solely have the time, want, or funds for one city?

Properly. I hope this publish has helped you slender down your selections, as a result of now the accountability is in your arms.

Are you able to do a day journey from one place to the opposite? I might solely day journey from El Calafate to El Chaltén, and solely when you’ve got a rental automobile. For those who don’t, don’t trouble — the bus schedules make it unattainable.

Know that it’s nonetheless a three-hour drive in every path. That’s a LONG day, and you continue to gained’t have sufficient time to hike to Laguna de los Tres. (And I don’t advocate day tripping from El Chaltén to El Calafate since you’ll have to drive a further hour every strategy to Perito Moreno Glacier.)

On the finish of the day, if I had to decide on one city to blow somebody’s thoughts…I might in all probability ship them to El Chaltén.

However that’s simply me. You do you.

Extra on Patagonia:

Extra on South America:

Have you ever been to El Calafate and El Chaltén? Any recommendations? Share away!