Located in the remote south of Argentina, El Calafate was only officially founded in 1927 by the Argentine government. The area is today near a national park, which serves as the towns main attraction.

Chilean explorers, including Captain Juan Tomas Rogers of the Chilean army reached the lake and discovered the region’s massive glaciers.

The area was one of the few regions of South America that was most unsettled by indigenous peoples at the time of the arrival of European explorers. The area itself was only explored in great detail in the second half of the 19th century. The nearby Santa Cruz River had been uncharted even after Argentina had achieved independence from Spain. It took several expeditions, the first beginning in 1873 to begin to chart the region.

This first expedition was let by Valentin Feilberg, who trekked overland with boats for nearly a month before heading up stream, in what they thought was the Videma River. Being wrong, this dubious first outing resulted in little new information, but led the way for several other explorers.

Carlos Moyana and Francisco Moreno sailed up and explored the Santa Cruz from Isla Pavon, and reached Lake San Martin and Lake Tar, the name that had been given by the area’s few native settlers. Among the sites near El Calafate that were discovered was the same glacier that the Chileans had in fact first seen nearly a century before. Today these continue to be a major draw for tourists from around the world.

The area was finally settled after the turn of the century and the town of El Calafate founded in 1927.