El Calafate is located at the base of Calafate Hill on the shores of Lago Argentino. This charming town of double pitched roofs and colorful gardens always offers a friendly welcome to its visitors, plus it is the gateway to the lakes, Andes and southern Patagonian glaciers, namely the Perito Moreno Glacier.
El Chalten is a small hiking village surrounded by glaciers, lagoons, lakes, and mountains. The village is proclaimed as the "National Trekking Capital of Argentina," but the area is also known for amazing climbing, camping, horseback riding, fishing, rafting, and even fauna and flora excursions. That being said, the village of El Chalten is certainly no picture postcard resort. Half-built with dirt streets and little thought for planning, it puts one in mind of a Klondike Gold Rush town. But then again you are not there for the village, you are there for the great outdoors and all that goes with it.
Some hotels will let you use their facilities (gym, spa, pool, beach, etc.) for a reduced day pass. This can be great for layovers!