Reasons to go
- Ice hike on the famous Perito Moreno glacier
- Explore the Fitz Roy massif and trek it's imposing peaks
- Visit Argentina's largest lake
- Put your feet up in the towns of El Chalten and El Calafate
- Step on to the Southern Patagonian Ice Cap and explore deep into Patagonia's wilderness
Reasons to go to Los Glaciares
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.
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.
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 only climbed, on average, 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. Whilst 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.
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.
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.
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.
If you have the time, it's really worthwhile getting off the more trodden day hike trails and camping out for a night or two to see less visited areas, and experience beautiful sunrises and sunsets from within the park.
Places to go in Los Glaciares
Perito Moreno Glacier
Perito Moreno is Patagonia's most accessible and most famous glacier. Visitors can witness the vast frontage of the glacier (some 5km wide and nearly 60m high in places) just a …
El Chalten sits at the base of Mount Fitz Roy and on the edge of the South Patagonia Ice Cap. From your hotel in El Chalten you can walk straight out onto hiking trails around …
El Calafate is the gateway to Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina's Largest National Park. The town is named after the Calafate berry and legend has it that eating one of …
Things to do in Los Glaciares
El Chalten Hiking
El Chalten sits at the base of Mount Fitz Roy and on the edge of the South Patagonia Ice Cap. From your hotel in El Chalten, you can walk straight out onto hiking trails around …
Patagonian Ice Cap Expeditions
If you're in good shape, keen to don ice-axe, crampons and snowshoes and aching to get deep into the Patagonian Wilderness, then this is the one for you.
Mountaineering in Patagonia
Patagonia boasts some of the most adventurous landscapes in all of South America for mountaineering. The jagged peaks of the Andes and the remote pitches of the Patagonian Ice …
What Our Customers Think
A wonderful experience which far exceeded our expectations with spectacular scenery and events.
Murray February 2016
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 one of the 3 daily flight 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 You can either fly between El Calafate and Bariloche (BRC) in the Argentinian Lake District, or take a road trip.
- Tierra del Fuego To combine Los Glaciares National Park with the southernmost region of Patagonia, you can fly between El Calafate and Ushuaia (USH).
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.
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.
Los Glaciares: Our Favourite Trips
Hike the two main trails in Los Glaciares National Park with a warm and comfortable hotel to return to in the evening. Visit Perito Moreno Glacier and the surrounding fjords on a boat trip. This is a flexible itinerary and…
A good blend of unguided day hikes to some of El Chalten's highlights and a more testing, 4-day guided trek into the wilderness involving wading through rivers and climbing the Paso Viento to look down on the massive expanse of…
A small, cosy lodge on the shores of Lago del Desierto serves as your base for a 6-8 hour hike to the famous Laguna del Los Tres, a visit to Perito Moreno glacier and a number of optional day excursions…
Relax by the fire at a luxurious lakeside lodge on the shores of Lago Desierto after visiting the vast face of the Perito Moreno glacier and taking on Fitz Roy's most famous trek, as well as some wilder guided hikes…
The image of Fitzroy at sunrise beaming shades of pink, orange and yellow in front of me as I sat on a rock at the edge of a stream, is forever etched in my memory.
Chloe O'Keeffe Wildlife & Cruise Specialist
Los Glaciares: Your Questions Answered
There are several ways to visit the park's hundreds of glaciers which include trekking, ice hiking and boat trips.
If you are coming from outside of Patagonia, you 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.
You can also combine a trip to Los Glaciares National Park with other areas of Patagonia, there are several ways to get to and from the national park.
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.
There are also some lovely lodges and estancias around El Chalten.
The lodges in Los Glaciares offer fully inclusive packages to their guests, including various excursions in the National Park.
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.
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.
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.