Reasons to go

  • Glaciers Peaks
  • Glistening Lakes
  • Towns
  • Southern Patagonian Ice Cap

The Glaciers

As the name of the park suggests, Los Glaciares is home to a large number of glaciers; in fact, there are 356 of them!

Perito Moreno is the most famous and accessible glacier in Patagonia, and one of the few on which you can ice hike. It is located at the southern end of Los Glaciares National Park, feeding down from the Ice Cap into Lago Argentino, and accessed vie El Calafate. Named after the Argentinian explorer Francisco Moreno, Perito Moreno Glacier stretches nearly 20 miles long and is one of the few advancing glaciers in the world.

PeritoMoreno-Neil-Pike

There are several other glaciers feeding into Lago Argentino in the South of Los Glaciares National Park, most notably Upsala and Spegazzini, which can also be visited by boat from El Calafate. Further North, Viedma Glacier is an impressive and active glacier feeding the large Viedma lake which is accessed from El Chalten. There are numerous less famous glaciers, including Torre and Piedras Blancas, in the El Chalten and Fitz Roy region, which can be seen when trekking in the area. 

viedma 1

The Peaks

The peaks of Los Glaciares National Park offer some stunning vistas and wonderful trekking opportunities.

At the Northern end of the national park stand the famous jagged granite peaks of Cerro Fitz Roy. This mountain was initially named Chalten by the indigenous Tehuelche people, which means 'peak of fire' in their native language - it seems that they mistakenly believed the mountain was a volcano. The peak was later renamed Fitz Roy after Captain Fitzroy, who captained the ship on which Charles Darwin came to this area in 1834. Cerro Fitz Roy is notoriously difficult to climb and is climbed on average only about once a year. There are numerous hiking opportunities for all abilities in and around the Fitzroy Range, accessed from El Chalten.

Another imposing peak, standing close to Mount Fitz Roy, is Cerro Torre. While not as famous as Fitz Roy, Cerro Torre is a very distinctive granite peak and one which is almost as difficult to climb. You can take a wonderful day hike from El Chalten that takes you right up to the edge of Laguna Torre, at the foot of the imposing Cerro Torre.

Fitzroy1

The Lakes

There are two huge lakes in the national park, which are fed by glacial meltwater: in the North there is Lago Viedma (near to El Chalten), and in the South, Lago Argentino (near to El Calafate). The lakes of the region are very distinctive due to their milky blue colouring, making for some gorgeous photo opportunities against glacial backdrops.

At 125km in length, Argentino is the largest lake in Argentina, covering over 600 square miles in total. It is fed by the famous Perito Moreno Glacier, amongst others such as Upsala and Spegazzini, and leads to the Santa Cruz river that ultimately empties into the Atlantic Ocean.

Viedma Lake, albeit smaller at 80km in length, is particularly interesting due to the scouring effect the receding glacier Viedma has had on the landscape surrounding it. It's waters flow into Lago Argentino through the La Leona River.

Lago Viedma

The Towns

The main, and only large town in Los Glaciares is El Calafate, which is south of the Los Glaciares National Park. There is no huge draw to visit the town itself, but it does have some good hotels and restaurants if you want to stay in El Calafate as part of your trip to the national park. It is also the main entry point to the region, and the gateway to Perito Moreno Glacier (just over an hour away by road). You can access the town of El Chalten, and the nearby Fitz Roy region, in the north of the national park, in around 3 hours by public bus or transfer from El Calafate.

The quirky mountain town of El Chalten lies close to Fitz Roy, and on a clear day, the peak dominates its skyline, which is why the town was given the old Telhueche name of the mountain. The town is very small and predominately caters for tourists, but there are some lovely little bars and restaurants to put your feet up in after some hard days hiking.

El Chaltne and FitzRoy

The Ice Cap

If you're in good shape, keen to don ice-axe, crampons and snowshoes and aching to get deep into the Patagonian Wilderness, then the ice cap is the destination for you!

The South Patagonian Ice Cap (or Hielo Continental) is part of the larger Patagonia Ice Sheet, and stretches over 400km north-south, around 40km east-west and is over a kilometre deep in places. It covers 4 National parks, including Los Glaciares, and is a wild, unexplored and very dramatic place.

It still remains unexplored in some areas, and remains a 'border issue' between Chile and Argentina. Most expeditions start from the Marconi Pass or Paso del Viento, and expeditions typically take a minimum of 8 to 10 days.

SW_4_SW_OPEN_ICE-CAP-LEADER

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Places to go in Los Glaciares

Things to do in Los Glaciares

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How to get there

If you are coming from outside of Patagonia, you first need to get to Buenos Aires. As the capital of Argentina, Buenos Aires has a large international airport. From here you'll need to take a flight to El Calafate, there are 1-3 daily flights to El Calafate which take just over 3 hours.

If you want to combine a trip to Los Glaciares National Park with seeing some other areas of Patagonia, there are several ways to get to and from the national park:

  • Torres del Paine: Cross the Chile/Argentina border by land to get to or from Torres del Paine National Park, which is roughly a five hour drive south of El Calafate.
  • Aysen: This is a remote region in Chilean Patagonia to the north of Los Glaciares. To get to or from Aysen, you can cross Lago O'Higgins/San Martin.
  • Lake District: It is possible to fly between El Calafate and Bariloche (BRC) in the Argentinian Lake District, or take a road trip, in order to combine the Lakes with Los Glaciares.
  • Tierra del Fuego: To combine Los Glaciares National Park with the southernmost region of Patagonia, you can fly between El Calafate and Ushuaia (USH).

Map of Los Glaciares National Park

Where to stay in Los Glaciares

If you're looking for something more comfortable or inclusive, then lodges and estancias are the best options for staying in Los Glaciares. An estancia is a traditional Patagonian farm, many of which now offer accommodation to visitors. Estancias are usually located in more remote areas and they have a homely and welcoming atmosphere.

Calafate

There is a decent selection of hotels in and around El Calafate, including luxurious lodges, which tend to be further away from town, and mid-range hotels which are often more centrally located.

eolo Calafate

El Chalten

El Chalten is a fantastic base for trekking in the area around Mount Fitz Roy. Although it is a very small town, it has a good range of hotels and hostels, as well as bars, restaurants, and shops for buying or renting trekking gear.

Chalten

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Los Glaciares: Your Questions Answered

  • What are the Top Things to do?

    1. See Mount Fitz Roy.
    2. Trek around El Chalten and Mt. Fitz Roy.
    3. Visit the Perito Moreno Glacier.
    4. Take a boat trip on Lago Argentino or Lago Viedma.
    5. Go riding while staying on an estancia
    6. Expeditions on the Patagonia Ice Cap
  • How to see the Glaciers?

    There are several ways to visit the park's hundreds of glaciers:

    Perito Moreno

    You can appreciate the most famous glacier in Patagonia in a variety of ways. The Perito Moreno glacier is very accessible (and therefore very busy!) and it can be reached by road: there is a public bus which runs from El Calafate, or alternatively you can arrange private transport. Once there, if you want to get right up close to the ice, you can actually trek on the glacier itself. With crampons and a guide, even complete beginners can walk a short way on the glacier, while those looking for a longer glacier trek can go much further onto the ice. Another option is to take a boat trip on Lago Argentino, which will bring you as close to the glacier as possible, without actually being on the ice.

    Trekking

    The glaciers around Mount Fitz Roy can all be seen by trekking from El Chalten, either on a day hike or a longer trek.

    Ice Hiking

    Ice hiking is an increasingly popular activity and requires no previous experience. There are several glaciers in Los Glaciares where it is possible to don a pair of crampons and trek on the ice with a guide. Because of the lack of stability in the climate, the glaciers which are suitable for ice hiking change from year to year, so check with us if you particularly want to do some glacier trekking.

    Boat Trips

    Some of the glaciers in the national park feed into large lakes and taking a boat trip is a great way to get up close to the glacier and see it from a different perspective. Boat trips on Lago Argentino allow you to see glaciers which include Perito Moreno, Mayo, Spegazzini, and Upsala, while Glaciar Viedma can be seen from Lago Viedma and Glaciar O'Higgins can be seen from Lago O'Higgins/San Martin.

  • How do I get to Los Glaciares?

    Coming from outside of Patagonia, you first need to get to Buenos Aires and then take a domestic flight from there to El Calafate, which has the airport that serves the whole national park.

    As the capital of Argentina, Buenos Aires has a large international airport into which you can get flights from all over the world. From here, there are between 1 and 3 daily flights to El Calafate, which take just over 3 hours.

    If you want to combine a trip to Los Glaciares National Park with seeing some other areas of Patagonia, there are several ways to get to and from the national park:

    • Torres del Paine: Cross the Chile/Argentina border by land to get to or from Torres del Paine National Park, which is roughly a five hour drive South of El Calafate.
    • Aisen: This is a remote region in Chilean Patagonia to the North of Los Glaciares. To get to or from Aisen, you can cross Lago O'Higgins/San Martin.
    • Lake District: It is possible to fly between El Calafate and Bariloche (BRC) in the Argentinian Lake District, or take a road trip, in order to combine the Lakes with Los Glaciares.
  • Where should I stay?

    It is possible to stay in one of the two towns of Los Glaciares: the larger town of El Calafate in the South and the smaller El Chalten in the North.

    • Since the airport which serves Los Glaciares is close to El Calafate, it is often convenient to stay in this town at the start or the end of your visit to the national park. There is a decent selection of hotels in and around El Calafate, including luxurious lodges, which tend to be further away from town, and mid-range hotels which are often more centrally located.
    • El Chalten is a fantastic base for trekking in the area around Mount Fitz Roy. Although it is a very small town, it has a good range of hotels and hostels, as well as bars, restaurants, and shops for buying or renting trekking gear.

    If you don't fancy trekking around El Chalten, or if you're looking for something more comfortable or inclusive, then lodges and estancias are the best options for staying in Los Glaciares.

    An estancia is a traditional Patagonian farm, many of which now offer accommodation to visitors. Estancias are usually located in more remote areas and they have a homely and welcoming atmosphere. Most keep horses and so staying at an estancia is a great option if you want to incorporate horse riding into your trip.

    The lodges in Los Glaciares offer fully inclusive packages to their guests, including various excursions in the National Park.

    Get in touch to find out more about where to stay.

  • Where can I Trek and Mountaineer?

    The best place to go trekking in Los Glaciares National Park is the Fitz Roy & El Chalten area. Here there is a wide range of trekking options, from gentle day-hikes to multi-day treks over mountain passes, to expeditions onto the South Patagonian Ice Cap.

    • Staying in the town of El Chalten, it is possible to hike straight out onto the trails and to return to your hotel each evening. There are day-hikes which take you to stunning glaciers and lakes, as well as viewpoints of the impressive Mount Fitz Roy and Mount Torre.
    • For those wanting a longer and more challenging trek, there are several options in this area which involve camping each night and allow you to trek for several days through some amazing landscapes. The treks range in difficulty and most start from El Chalten and take in at least one of the mountain passes in the area.
    • There are two passes onto the South Patagonian Ice Cap in this region: Paso Marconi and Paso del Viento. Since these passes can both be reached in two days of trekking from El Chalten, this is a good base for an Ice Cap expedition.

    There are also plenty of options for mountaineering in Los Glaciares. While Cerros Fitz Roy and Torre are climbed only by the best climbers in the world, there are some other mountaineering challenges in the area, which are accomplished much more frequently. For example:

  • When should I visit?

    The best time to visit Los Glaciares is in between the end of spring and the start of autumn, which in the southern hemisphere is roughly from November through to April. Whatever time of year you visit Patagonia, you will find that the weather is very changeable, but avoiding the winter months will mean that there is a higher chance of being able to do the activities that you want to do. Visiting in the winter is possible and you will find the national park to be much quieter, but this region does receive heavy winter snowfall.

  • Can I combine Los Glaciares with Torres del Paine?

    Yes, it's possible to explore both great regions taking in Fitz Roy massif in Los Glaciares and the iconic towers of Torres del Paine. 

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