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Parque Nacional Los Glaciares - National Park - Argentina

Los Glaciares National Park is home to the largest ice caps in the southern hemisphere outside of Antarctica. This protected area was created in 1937 to preserve 724,000 hectares of rugged Argentine wilderness, located southwest in the province of Santa Cruz, on the border with Chile. In 1971, the actual limits and zones of the national park were established, and in 1981, UNESCO incorporated the park in the list of World Heritage Sites. Since then, roughly 25% of the national park has been designated as the national reserve to help increase conservation efforts.

The Perito Moreno Glacier, with 35 km of ice and falling icebergs, is one of the most popular visitor sites, due to its continuously advancing, receding, and groaning ice mass. There are another 200 small glaciers and 47 large glaciers within the park—including Upsala, the largest glacier in South America—all of which are astonishing, but more difficult to access.
The national park buttresses Chile's Parque Nacional Laguna San Rafael
and Parque Nacional Bernardo O'Higgins, which also both protect the ice fields.

The saw-tooth granite spires of Mt. Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre that dominate the skyline near the village of El Chaltén are another main
highlight of the park—offering breathtaking views, exciting hikes around the base, and immensely challenging, technical climbs.

The park also boasts beech forests, dry Patagonian prairieland, mountain lakes and rivers formed by glacial melt, including the western periphery of Lago Argentino and Lago Viedma, which offer great trout and salmon fishing, and flow into the Atlantic Ocean via the Río Santa Cruz. At Lago Viedma, it is also possible to do ice trekking and take tours to the base of the Viedma Glacier.

While the Fitz Roy region offers sufficient outdoor opportunities for hiking and trekking, there are other options for visitors that want to enjoy the vast beauty of the national park, but by a more relaxed approach. Visit some of the old pioneer estancias located near Lago Argentino and El Chaltén, where it’s possible to take walking and photography tours, go fishing and horseback riding, and enjoy the slower pace of Argentine country life.

There are several old haciendas in the region: near Perito Moreno is Los Notros, near El Calafate is Estancia Cristina, and right outside of El Chaltén there are Hosteria El Pilar & La Quinta.

During the winter, temperatures average .6 C (33.08 F) with heavy snowfall, which provides for great skiing, ice skating, and photography of the mountain peaks if you can bear the cold and can deal with the fact that roads may close, leaving you unable to reach all destinations.

The summer season (November through March), with temperatures averaging 13.4C (56.12 F), is definitely the most popular time to visit the park. It might be wise to avoid the park in December and January, as national and international tourists flock to the park for the holidays, making these the most crowded months. The vast emptiness is one of the most impressive aspects of the park, which can be diminished when you have to share the experience with hordes of other tourists. There are four access points to the park, two of which are free (Lago Roca & that sector near El Chalten), and the other two, (both by El Calafate) require a $30 entrance fee for international visitors.



National Park

Getting There
Take a bus from El Calafate

Travel Tips:

Price Description:

Relative price: Mid-Range

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Currencies accepted
Argentine Peso

Here are other activities in and around Argentina's Ruta 40: Traveling the Backroad that may be of interest: Perito Moreno Glacier,

By Karen Nagy
Karen Nagy is a staff editor/writer at V!VA. She studied travel writing and learned the joys of Mediterranean island-hopping in Greece, and went on...
06 Sep 2011

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