As one of the most impressive glaciers in the world, Perito Moreno near El Calafate is a must-visit on any trip to Argentine Patagonia. To ensure the optimum conditions for viewing and photographing this awe-inspiring natural spectacle, we’ve compiled a guide to El Calafate weather and the best times of year for visiting.
El Calafate weather
With its location in the far south of the Santa Cruz Province in Argentina, El Calafate doesn’t experience the warmest temperatures. However, as with most of Patagonia, the best El Calafate weather is generally experienced during the summer months, from December to February.
Summer weather in El Calafate
- On average, January is the hottest month with day temperatures hovering around 56°F (13°C).
- In December and January, expect up to 17 hours of daylight.
- Precipitation levels are very low, with only three days per month of rainfall on average.
- As in other parts of Patagonia, the summer months see some of the highest wind speeds, reaching up to 12.7mph (20km/h).
Spring weather in El Calafate
- Between September and November, average temperatures range between 41°F (5°C) and 52°F (11°C).
- Expect from 12 to 16 hours of daylight during this period.
- Rainfall is still low, with only four days per month normally experiencing precipitation.
- November is the windiest month with average speeds of 13.2mph (21.2km/h).
Autumn weather in El Calafate
- Temperatures range between 51°F (10°C) in March and 39°F (4°C) in May.
- Days are shorter, with hours of light not exceeding 13.
- Rainfall is higher, with May the wettest month of the year with at least seven days of precipitation.
- Autumn sees some of the lowest wind speeds during the year, dropping to 3.6mph (5.8km/h) in May.
Winter weather in El Calafate
- Temperatures as low as 27°F (-2°C) in July, with highs reaching 44°F (6°C).
- Days are short, with up to 10 hours of daylight.
- Expect heavy snowfall over this period.
- Winter in El Calafate is less windy than during summer, with wind speeds of up to 4.5mph (7.2km/h).
When is the best time to visit El Calafate and Glacier Perito Moreno?
Most visitors arrive during the summer when long sunlight hours and warmer temperatures provide the optimal conditions for viewing Glacier Perito Moreno. In February, you can also expect to see El Calafate’s Festival del Lago Argentino, a celebration of the baptism of Lake Argentino (the waters that are fed by the glacier) where sports and cultural events are held over a two-week period.
If choosing to visit El Calafate in summer, it is advisable to book accommodations and tours well in advance to ensure you are able to stay in the town. High numbers of tourists can result in services being fully-booked.
However, if you want to avoid the crowds, consider spring and autumn as good alternatives. Not only are you likely to have reasonable weather, but you’ll find the experience less thronged with other tourists and will have better opportunities for taking photos of this incredible landmark.