Looking to explore Argentinian Patagonia but don’t know where to start? Everyone has heard of Buenos Aires, but Argentina also has some of the most incredible natural beauty on Earth outside of this vibrant city. Located in the southwest province of Santa Cruz, Los Glaciares National Park is home to awe-inspiring glacial lakes, mountains, and subpolar forests sure to take your breath away.
Despite the name, Los Glaciares National Park does not only house ice and snow. In the park’s Northern area, hikers can drink in the spectacular views of the
lakes, rugged mountains, and ancient stone structures. So let’s get started on our discovery of the park’s most incredible features, how to get there, and just what to do once you’ve arrived.
Getting to Los Glaciares
Los Glaciares National Park is divided into two halves: the northern half, comprising Mount Fitz Roy, El Chaltén, and Viadmo Lake, and the southern half, which includes major glaciers like Perito Moreno and Upsala, and Lake Argentino.
The easiest way to get to the spectacular southern glacial area is from El Calafate – a small town just outside the park’s borders. From here, rent a car or schedule a tour into the park’s center.
The town of El Chaltén at the base of Mount Fitz Roy serves as the base for hikers heading to Los Glacieres National Park.
For those traveling from Buenos Aires, catch a flight from either Aeroparque or Ezeiza International Airport to El Calafate. The whole journey should take around 3.5 hours, with a 30-minute taxi or bus ride into the town center once you’ve arrived.
The glaciers advance during June and December and recede between December and April. For the best experience of this incredible natural wonder, time your visit during the advancement months, as large glaciers like Spagazzini, and Perito Moreno will be at their most impressive.
If you want to see the mountains and hiking trails, make your way to El Chaltén at the base of Mount Fitz Roy. The best way to get to this adventure town is by renting a car or let others deal with the details and take a tour or hire a guide.
So Much To Do
Around half of Los Glaciares is covered by ice – explaining how this heritage-listed park got its name! By far the most impressive glacier, however, is Perito Moreno. Over 19 miles in length, with a maximum height of around 200 feet above water, this ice wall is both awesome and intimidating and is one of the biggest draws for visitors from around the world heading to the park.
Life in the glacial park isn’t just about ice and snow – no matter your fitness levels, traveling experience, or personal preferences, there is something for everyone! Here are some of the best activities to get involved in during your visit to Los Glaciares for a truly unforgettable experience.
Hike and Become One With Nature
For those not interested in glaciers, Los Glaciares offers fabulous hiking opportunities across the rugged mountain ranges located in the park’s
northern half. Among the most iconic peaks of Cerro Torre and Mount Fitz Roy lies some of the best walking trails that wind through the Los Glaciares, with options for everyone from the keen mountaineer to the casual hiker.
The best way to access the hiking trails is from El Chaltén. Founded in the 1980s, this Patagonian town was built for the sole purpose of providing a base to adventurers wanting to explore the northernmost mountains of Los Glaciares.
For the experienced hiker, Laguna De Los Tres (also known as the Fitz Roy trail) is one of the most popular trails for a multi-day adventure and snakes around for spectacular views of Mount Fitz Roy and the surrounding ranges. However, if you want something more low-key (without sacrificing the breathtaking scenery), try your hand at Mount Vespignani. This easy hike is perfect for beginners and is easily accessible during all weather.
A word of caution – the northern half of the park is at high altitude, and those unaccustomed to the thinner air may experience altitude sickness. Pack appropriate supplies like sufficient water, sunscreen, and chocolate before heading out – compounds in the delicious dessert help moderate nausea and dizziness, and are great for an energy boost mid-way through your hike!
Explore the Ice on a Mini-Trek Adventure
The most popular activity for visitors to Los Glaciares is the mini-trek. For 90 minutes, you’ll don crampons attached to your shoes to wander across the surface of Perito Moreno immersing yourself in the extraordinary natural beauty of the national park.
Glaciers are not static ice formations – instead, they are constantly moving and changing, and crevices and cracks can develop quickly and without warning. Due to the dynamic nature of Perito Moreno, visitors must join an authorized guided tour to take part in a mini-trek – many of the dangers of the landscape are difficult to see, and it’s easy to fall or injure yourself without proper guidance.
Mini-trekking is available all year-round, except for between June 1st and July 20th when the weather becomes too volatile. Perfect for hikers of all ages and fitness levels, mini-trekking is the ideal activity for those who want to experience the glacier without committing to a full-day exploration.
Travel in Style During a Boat Excursion
For those who want a more deluxe experience of the glaciers, consider adding a boat cruise to your itinerary. Leaving from outside El Calafate, these luxury cruises cut through the waters of Lake Argentino in the shadows of the park’s most spectacular glaciers. You can enjoy a delicious gourmet lunch in the shade of Spegazzini (Los Glaciares’ tallest glacier) before traveling along the awe-inspiring lip of Perito Moreno and Upsala glaciers as the afternoon sun makes the ice glow.
Enjoy not only the waters but also land on a day long boat excursion on Lake Argentina where you see glaciers, icebergs, some wildlife and beautiful scenery.
There are boat cruises to suit every budget and taste, but the best way to experience the magnificent ice mountains is on an all-day adventure – while you won’t be hiking, this is one activity sure to leave you breathless!
Kayaking Along Perito Moreno
You don’t just have to walk on the glacier to appreciate their raw natural beauty. If you’re not afraid of the cold, kayaking along Perito Moreno is the perfect way to experience the park from a different perspective. Designed for all skill levels, kayaking is an excellent activity for families, young travelers, or those looking to step outside their comfort zone.
Before your tour, you’ll be fully kitted out in thermal suits, drysuits, boots and gloves, and given proper instruction on how to navigate the waters of Lake
Argentino safely. If the idea of being so close to the glaciers makes you nervous, don’t fret – knowledgeable guides are careful to keep groups at a safe distance from the walls of the ice in case of any unexpected splits or calving.
Guided tours run from El Calafate daily, and you’ll gain a unique view of Los Glaciares’ largest glacier, as well as some local history from an experienced guide. Warm up after your kayak with some spiced hot chocolate, and take home photos of an adventure that you’ll remember for a lifetime.
Let a Wizard Plan Your Adventure
If you’re keen to explore the beautiful Los Glaciares National Park, contact me today! Whether you’re an enthusiastic outdoor lover, or want to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of this unique region for the first time, I can help you plan the perfect adventure that will take your breath away – and not just from the cold!
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