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Top Argentina

Caleta Olivia

(Altitude: 37 meters / 120 feet, Population: 36,077, Phone Code: 0297)

Caleta Olivia is another young southern Argentine town. On the shores of Golfo San Jorge in northern Santa Cruz Province, Caleta (as the town is commonly called), meaning cove, was founded in 1901 when a National Guard ship arrived to lay telegraph lines across Patagonia. The town's name may have originated from a woman who was aboard. With the arrival of the telegraph came Chilean and European immigrants; many established sheep ranches.

Caleta Olivia remained just a small caserío (settlement) until oil was discovered in 1944 at Cañadón Seco, 16 kilometers (9.6 mi) away. YPF, the national oil company, established two enclaves in Caleta, Barrio Parque and Barrio 26 de Julio, with a hospital, residential area, sporting clubs and other amenities. With the oil boom came many migrants from the northern part of the country. The privatization of state industries during the 1990s forced Caleta to diversify its economy. In 1998, Puerto Caleta Paula was opened as a fishing port, 4.5 kilometers (2.7 mi) south of town. This drew workers from Argentina’s coastal regions and Bolivia. Each province and nationality has its own social center and neighborhood.

Caleta Olivia’s petroleum history remains highly visible. A 13-meter (42-ft) tall statue, El Gorosito, stands in the center of town (Avenida San Martín and Güemes). This monumental sculpture, erected in 1969 by artist Pablo Daniel Sánchez, portrays a shirtless oil worker opening a pipeline valve. He faces north, to symbolize all the wealth Patagonia sends to the rest of the country. The two YPF neighborhoods west of the old port are open to the general public, who can stroll through the streets checking out the Finnish-styled houses (the more luxurious ones were for executives), a theme park and the Capilla de Cristo Obrero. Another YPF petroleum worker town can be visited at Cañadón Seco, which is more modern than the barrios within Caleta Olivia. There are non-functioning oil derricks along the costanera, a seafront promenade, a great spot to watch the marine and shore birds feeding in the pools left in the crevices and depressions of the ancient lava flow slabs exposed at low tide. To the north and south are over a dozen beaches and a lobería (sea lion colony).

Another way Caleta Olivia shows its tight ties to the oil industry is in the prices. Hotels and restaurants are definitely geared towards executives and their deeper pockets. Still, even budget travelers might have to spend a night here between buses, especially in the region’s low season.


Other places nearby Caleta Olivia : Reserva Natural Ría Deseado, Puerto Piramides, Puerto San Julián , Dolavon, Monumento Natural Bosques Petrificados, Bahía San Blas , Playa Union , San Antonio Oeste , Sarmiento and Península Valdés.

By Lorraine Caputo

Upon re-declaring her independence at age 29, Lorraine Caputo packed her trusty Rocinante (so her knapsack's called) and began...

06 May 2010

Things to do in Caleta Olivia

Centro Cultural

137467Caleta Olivia´s Centro Cultural is the place to slip away to enjoy some culture. The gallery on the ground floor shows temporary exhibits of local artists’ works during the day. The Centro ...
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Caleta Olivia , Argentina


Extending 80 kilometers (48 mi) along Golfo San Jorge, from the northern Playa Bonita to the southern Las Golondrinas, are over a dozen beaches where you can join the locals in sunbathing, ...
Caleta Olivia , Argentina

La Lobería

Just south of Caleta Olivia is La Lobería, a colony of approximately 160 South American sea lions, the only survivors of a massacre that occurred along the gulf up until the 1930s. Now, protected by ...
Other Activity
Caleta Olivia , Argentina
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