WHEN TO GO
Generally speaking, the tourist season begins in October and finishes in April in El Calafate. This period embraces spring, summer and the beginnings of fall in the Southern Hemisphere. Days are very long from the second fortnight of December to February. The longest day of the year has17 hours of daylight and it is December 21.
Just a few years ago, the demand for lodging was high during the summer season, December / March, whereas many lodgings and farms near Los Glaciares National Park closed their doors in the winter season.
However, tourism has greatly increased in Patagonia over the last years so that it is essential to book lodging and other tourist services in advance.
Once the summer is over, the "ņires", "lengas" and "coihues" forests turn into a stunning display of typical fall coloration, ranging from vivid reds to different shades of gold and orange.
This change in the landscape has occurred year after year since unmemorable times. This area used to be inhabited by Tehuelches, the original owners of the land. At the beginning of the winter season, they emigrated northward on foot, where the weather was not so harsh and they could still hunt.
If you are planning to carry out outdoor activities, you should make sure you pack warm clothes, a waterproof jacket, gloves and, why not, a cap. You should also wear a windproof jacket if you are in the heights or close to the glaciers. Laundry service is available in El Calafate and El Chaten as well as on some of the ranches. As regards footwear, comfortable sneakers are most advisable during trips and trekking (waterproof) shoes during your walks.
Due to the long summer days, exposition to the sun may be really prolonged. Therefore one should not only wear a cap or hat at all times but also sun-block ( 30+ UV filter) in order to protect your skin from strong sunrays. UV filter sunglasses are also strongly recommended, especially when getting closer to the Glaciers.
Batteries discharge sooner in low temperatures, so it is advisable to keep one or two spare sets of batteries for your appliances.
Another detail to bear in mind is that, although insects are not abundant in this region, mainly in the higher areas, an insecticide may always become handy during the excursions.