With the long evenings of summer, late hours kept by the shops and smallness of the town , you're bound to spend more than a few evening hours window shopping in El Calafate. And with 2 out 3 premises along the main streets geared to selling stuff to the tourists, you'll probably succumb and buy something.
As you would expect, the shops are mostly a bit kitch, decked out inside and out to look like alpine cabins, with lots of wood and bright paint. There's a very touristy little craft "village street" Aldea de los Glomos (Dwarf Village - funny that - I thought Patagonia was the home of giants) where you'll find a collection of artisans selling their wares.
What to buy: Pueblo Indio (photo 1)has an excellent range of locally made products amongst their stock - lots of the stuff you'll see in many shops comes from outside this region of Southern Patagonia, so you might want to be a little choosy if you're looking for something that is truly local.
Planet Patagonia has a great range of books - though I'd buy your copy of Bruce Chatwin's classic "Into Patagonia" back home - the prices on the various editions we saw here were outrageous.
Items of food and natural lotions and potions are always well received. (photo 2)
Finisterre is a chain of shops - there seem to be several in El Calafate alone - selling woollen and leather gear, lots of outdoor stuff, etc and a whole range of souvenirs.
Personally, my favourite "shop" was the itinerate carpenter who set up his wares on the side of the road (photo 3 - click for the full image). Pity none of his chairs, tables or doors would fit in the suitcase
Chocolate and Patagonia seem to go together in Argentina. Whilst El Calafate isn't the chocoholic heaven that Bariloche is, it probably won't be long before it starts to catch up ... which will be a bit of a shame. Between the two, I preferred El Calafate's chocolate shops - there weren't as many and it certainly didn't seem as though chocolate making was such a production line affair, just churning the stuff out.
The young man who served me at Ovejitas was delightful - knowledgeable about his product and happy to take time with me as I tasted and chose from their range of fine handmade goodies.
What to buy: Chocolate of course. My favourite was a crisp, very plain (almost bitter) dark chocolate slice filled with calafate cream.
They also have a nice range of local products - calafate preserves and liqueurs, and torte negra 9aka Waless Cake) amongst other things, and they serve a good coffee. Definitely my sort of shop.
In El Calafate we found a lot of interesting shops along A. Libertador, some of the smaller side streets and in a couple of open shopping malls. And to be honest El Calafate offers a range of good and originally souvenirs for home. Like woollen and knitted works, chocolate, jam, leather products and several arts and handicrafts.
We decided to buy a hand made wooden guanaco at Pueblo Indio. And it still reminds us of our days in Patagonia.
We were very happy we bought our Patagonian souvenirs in Argentina, because we couldn’t find anything interesting during our stay in Puerto Natales and Punta Arenas in Chile.
What to buy: An original hand made craft from Patagonia.
What to pay: As a lot of things, handicrafts also are very cheap.
There is a local market with many gift shops just off Av. Libertador close to the bus station. Ther are also lots of souvenir shops along the main street. Local crafts include leather, sheepskin and wooden goods.
All along the main street you will find one shop after the other.
Our favorite was the 3 level stop called
El Mercado Artesanal.
We bought sheep skin slippers, jewelery, souvenirs for friends, and Calafate preserves.
It is said that if you eat a bery from the Calafate bush then you will return someday.
We bought 5 large jars to make sure.
What to buy: Calafate preserves, jewelery make from the Argentina national stone, sheep skin or wool clothing.
We were looking for Sheep cheese.
With all the sheep in Argentina, one would think that you could find sheep cheese.
There are 2-3 well stocked grocery stores on the main street but they don not have a wide selection of cheese.
On our last day there, we walk in a chocolate shop, and they have shepp cheese.
Who would have thought.
We had to eat what we could that evening and for breakfast the next morning because we couldn't take it to Chile.
Watch out chocolate lovers, Calafate has a reputation for its rich chocolate.
There are shops here that sell lots of different flavoured bars of homemade chocolate. Each one that I tried was delicious, especially the mint liquor.
The most famouse is laguna NEgra, a chocolate factory on the main street
What to buy: CHOCOLATE, what else....
The whole town, and mainly the main street is a collection of lodgings, souvenir shops, restaurants, and tour offices.
My favorite was and interesting architecture of a woden shopping mall, with small butique shops. It's called Aldea de los glomos - Dwarf Village. At one of the shopsI bought a pair of glass earings
La Aldea (The Village) is an open shopping mall; all the stores are made of wood, and you can buy some stuff there or not, but it is a very nice place just for walking around.
La Aldea es un centro comercial abierto; todas las tiendas están construidas de madera, y compren algo allí o no, es un lugar precioso para dar una vuelta.
What to buy: All kind of handicrafts, made of wood, wool and leather.
Todo tipo de artesanías, hechas de madera, lana y cuero.
There are many shops of this kind along the main street (Libertador Av.); here you can find local delicacies (chocolates, jams, cakes, pates). This shop is small, cozy, with a nice staff and the most delicious smell of chocolate!
Hay muchos comercios de este tipo a lo largo de la calle prioncipal (Avenida Libertador); aquí pueden encontrar productos locales (chocolates, mermeladas, alfajores, patés). Esta tienda es pequeña, acogedora, con un personal amable y el más delicioso aroma de chocolate!
What to buy: If this is the first time you are visiting one of my pages, this may be a "new" tip; if it is not your first time, you just know what I am suggesting you to buy: CHOCOLATE! I also bought a box of "mountain tea" bags.
Si esta es la primera vez que visitan una de mis páginas, este puede ser un consejo "nuevo"; si no es su primera vez, ya saben qué voy a aconsejar que compren: CHOCOLATE! También compré una caja de saquitos de "té de montaña".
What to pay: One Kg of chocolate costs 38 pesos (about 13 $)
Un Kg de chocolate cuesta 38 pesos (alrededor de 13 dólares)
Almacen Patagonico is one of many places in El Calafate where you can get delicious homemade chocolates. You can also buy other local sweet delicacies like jams or cakes and have a great capuccino.