El Calafate, Argentina
Named after a berry Indigenous to the area, Calfate is a popular choice to fly into and out of Patagonia. The extract from this berry is used in skincare products produced in Patagonia
MORE ABOUT CALAFATE, the city
El Calfate is the airport I flew into from Buenos Aires, Argentina. It's probably the most popular choice of town to fly into when traveling to Patagonia. It's situated just under the beautiful Lake Argentino, and is part of the Santa Cruz Province.
El Calafate is a convenient town to fly into as it's centrally located in Patagonia:
~135mi to El Chaltén (popular hiking town and gateway to Los Glaciares National Park)
~225mi to Puerto Natales, Chile
~130mi to Torres del Paine National Park, Chile
It's a small airport, but has car rentals and shuttles to downtown Calafate (the airport is located about 20km east of downtown). Renting a car and driving around Calafate (and southern Argentina and Chile, for that matter) is very easy ...if you're familiar with standard transmissions. The signs are large and easy to read, there's not a lot of other cars/traffic, and it's pretty affordable - I paid $540 USD for a ten day rental (car pictured below). And yes, they drive on the left side of the road.
Calafate is very touristy, with many gear shops, restaurants, bars, & hotels lining the streets downtown. But that's part of what makes it such a comfortable city - a great selection of food, drink, and nice places to stay. I was able to find lovely hotels for ~$38 USD. And the food ...
In my opinion, the cutest bar/restaurant to eat at in Calafate:
I felt very safe walking around Calafate at night, and they had lots to check out, even after dark:
More About Calafate, The Berry
The town of El Calafate, Argentina, is named after a berry (berbers microphylla) that closely resembles a blueberry. This indigenous Patagonian berry grows on the spiky Calafate shrubs that can grow to be 3-4 feet. You'll most likely encounter the shrubs and berries if you hike in Patagonia, as they frequently line the hiking paths.
Calafate extract is huge in Patagonia. I'm talking shops full of this extract in different forms - teas, syrups, & sauces.
Puris Glaciar is a popular skincare brand produced in Patagonia, and is widely available in many of the shops there. Some of their products contain Calafate extract, similar to how blueberry & blackberry complexes have become a popular additive in US skincare products.
Like blueberries and blackberries, Calafate berries have many of the buzz-words we look for in skincare: all are high in polyphenols and anti-oxidants, and all have high anti-inflammatory properties.
Copy & paste the links below for scientific articles from the Journal of Medicinal Foods and the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry to further explain the benefits of the Calafate berry:
The Puris Glaciar website boasts about the high Vitamin C content of Calafate berries - another buzz-word in skincare, used in skincare products as a natural skin-brightener.
I bought a Puris Glaciar moisturizer with calafate extract, pictured below:
CALAFATE EXTRACT MOISTURIZER:
Final Thoughts: This turned out to be a highly-fragranced lotion, not suitable for the face, nor for the sensitive-skinned. It was not as moisturizing as I'd hoped, but was overall non-greasy. I'm not very impressed - I think I'll be passing this one along ...
There's a definite market for using calafate extract in skincare products - It will be interesting to see if in the future any large skincare brands will tap into this berry, like others have done with blueberries and blackberries.
Other Puris Glaciar Skincare Products
(With Glacier Milk)
I also purchased a bar soap and a facial exfoliant - these didn't contain Calafate extract, but did contain "glacier milk" from the nearby glaciers (Perito Moreno Glacier being the closest to El Calafate - more to come on that).
PURIS GLACIAR BAR SOAP WITH GLACIER MILK:
PURIS GLACIAR BAR SOAP
WITH GLACIER MILK:
Final Thoughts: I really like this bar soap - it's lightly fragranced, and is nice for those of us who like bar soaps for our bathrooms, rather than liquid. The vegetable oil base + glacier milk seems to be a nice combination. I'm keeping this one as a bathroom sink bar soap.
PURIS GLACIAR EXFOLIANT WITH GLACIER MILK:
PURIS GLACIAR EXFOLIANT
WITH GLACIER MILK:
Final Thoughts: This was disappointing as well. It's an exfoliant made with sand particles, which was pretty abrasive to the skin. Plus I was randomly crunching on stray sand particles throughout the morning that I applied it. Burned with application and post-application - passing this one along ...
STILL, NO COMPLAINTS HERE!
You visit Patagonia for the mountains + hiking. Not skincare + spas.
Popular skincare brands that I saw sold in the drug stores in El Calafate included Eucerin, Avéne, and La Roche-Posey. All over-the-counter brands I'm a fan of.