Things to do in Los Glaciares
- Don crampons and ice hike across the top of the famous Perito Moreno glacier
- Explore the Fitz Roy massif and trek its imposing peaks
- Marvel at Argentina's largest lake
- Swap tales with fellow explorers in the bustling hiker's town of El Chalten
- Join an expedition on to the Southern Patagonian Ice Cap
Where to visit
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 feeds down from the ice cap into Lago Argentino, and accessed via El Calafate. Named after the Argentinian explorer Francisco Moreno, Perito Moreno Glacier stretches nearly 20 miles long and is one of the only 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. Numerous less famous glaciers, including Torre and Piedras Blancas, can be seen when trekking in the Fitz Roy region.
The peaks of Los Glaciares National Park are what makes trekking here world famous.
At the northern end stand the famous jagged granite peaks of Mount Fitz Roy. This mountain was initially named Chalten ('peak of fire') by the indigenous Tehuelche people, but was later renamed after Captain Fitzroy, who captained the ship on which Charles Darwin arrived here in 1834. Cerro Fitz Roy is notoriously difficult to climb and is only climbed around once a year.
Another distinctive peak is Cerro Torre. Slightly less famous than Fitz Roy, it is just as difficult to climb, and is an imposing presence on the skyline. The Laguna Torre day hike from El Chalten takes you right up to the foot of the peak.
The two huge lakes in the national park are both fed by glacial meltwater, giving them a milky blue colouring which makes for gorgeous photos against the glacial backdrops. Near El Chalten in the north is the smaller of the two, Lago Viedma. 80km in length, it is famous for the scouring effect the receding Viedma Glacier has had on the surrounding landscape surrounding.
To the south is Lago Argentino, the largest lake in Argentina at an impressive 600 square miles. It is fed by waters from its northern neighbour via La Leona river, but also by the Perito Moreno, Upsala and Spegazzini glaciers. Its waters flow into the Santa Cruz river than ultimately empties into the Atlantic Ocean.
El Calafate is the only big town in the area. With its large airport and good transport links it is the gateway to Los Glaciares, but a day is enough to explore what it has to offer. El Calafate's one main draw is the Perito Moreno Glacier, just over an hour away and well worth a visit. The main trekking opportunities lie 3 hours north in the Fitz Roy range, around the smaller town of El Chalten.
El Chalten is a quirky mountain town 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 keen to don an ice-axe, crampons and snowshoes and aching to get deep into the Patagonian wilderness, then the ice cap is for you!
The South Patagonian Ice Cap 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 four national parks, including Los Glaciares, and remains unexplored in some areas, It is still also something of a 'border issue' between Chile and Argentina. Most expeditions begin or include the Marconi Pass or Paso del Viento, and expeditions typically take a minimum of 8 to 10 days.
The main trails are well-trodden for a reason and you'll get spectacular views wherever you go, but the best sunrises and sunsets await those who get a little off-the-beaten-track, and camp out for a night or two among the mountains.
Top trips in Los Glaciares
Trekking in Los Glaciares
Day hiking from El Chalten
Los Glaciares National Park is home to the magnificent Fitz Roy Massif and more glaciers than any other region in Patagonia. The park is renowned for its day hiking - nowhere else …
Trekking in Los Glaciares
Trek amongst jagged, snow-capped peaks and electric-blue lakes, venture out into open valleys and private reserves, or visit the icy glaciers that roll from the Southern …
Multi-day trekking in Fitz Roy
Trek amongst the famous, towering peaks of Mount Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre, exploring hanging glaciers, hidden valleys and the mighty South Patagonian Ice Cap. You'll sleep under …
Sat at the base of Mount Fitz Roy, El Chalten has a rich mountaineering heritage that attracts climbers from all over the world. Hiking trails head straight out from town, …
Getting to Los Glaciares
The majority of visitors travel through El Calafate, although Los Glaciares can also be reached by foot or via the Ruta 40.
From Buenos Aires – There are 3 daily flights from Buenos Aires (3 hrs) and a daily flight from Bariloche and Ushuaia into El Calafate. You can grab a taxi into El Calafate town for USD $30 or a shared minibus transfer is available with VES. If you are heading to El Chaltén then Las Lengas offer direct mini bus transfers.
From Puerto Natales – Buses from Puerto Natales to El Calafate and vice versa leave first thing each morning. These are run by either Turismo Zhaaj or Cootra. The journey takes 5 hours if all goes well, but can take much longer if you are held up at the border.
From Tierra del Fuego – The easiest way to travel between Ushuaia and El Calafate is by plane, with daily flights available, but if you'll enjoy the long journey you can travel by bus via Rio Gallegos.
From the north on Ruta 40 – There's a bus from Bariloche to El Chaltén which takes two days or you can jump on at Los Antiguos for an overnight bus from Aysen to El Chaltén. There are daily flights from Bariloche to El Calafate too.
El Calafate to El Chaltén – Caltur and Chaltén run buses every day between November and March. Journeys are 2.5 hours, passing the iconic Mount Fitzroy. Las Lengas minibuses from El Calafate airport to El Chaltén also operate.
How do I get to Los Glaciares?
Getting to other parts of Patagonia
You can combine Los Glaciares with other sights in Patagonia, for instance:
- Torres del Paine: Cross the Chile/Argentina border by land, roughly a five-hour drive.
- Aysen: 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: Fly between El Calafate and Ushuaia (USH).
What Our Customers Think
The trip was an adventure and to see such beautiful scenery was breathtaking. The people of Patagonia were extremely friendly and helpful and without question getting up close and personal with a Glacier was a truly memorable moment. The shear scale of nature in the raw is a beautiful thing to see
David Cook United Kingdom January 2019
The wilderness, the most dramatic scenery you can experience and the people, warm with compassion and incredible depth of care for their communities.
Nic and Julie Iannarone October 2016
A wonderful experience which far exceeded our expectations with spectacular scenery and events.
Murray February 2016
Where to stay in Los Glaciares
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'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.
Classic El Calafate and El Chalten Trip
6 Days £903
Marvel at the enormous electric blue Perito Moreno Glacier. hike the iconic trails of the Fitz Roy Range for stunning views then relax and enjoy the chocolate shops and craft beer in the charming mountain town of El Chalten.
This is the classic way to experience Los Glaciares and is one of our most popular trips. You can combine this with ‘Classics’ in other parts of Chile and Argentina to tailor your 2-3 week holiday.
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 Patagonia Specialist
Los Glaciares: Your Questions Answered
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.
Perito Moreno Glacier
One of the most famous and awe-inspiring of Argentina's natural wonders. Standing before it's 70-metre high electric blue face and watching 100-tonne blocks of ice crumble and …
Los Glaciares Estancias
From an era when gauchos roamed vast landscapes on horseback, the estancias around El Chalten have retained all their rustic charm. Set on acres of land, the views …
Hiking & Trekking in Patagonia
The abundance of world class hikes in Patagonia puts it firmly at the top of most trekkers lists. From the ice and granite pinnacles of Paine and Fitz Roy and extreme of the ice …
Torres del Paine National Park
Torres del Paine National Park, with its iconic granite towers, is one of the most popular destinations in Patagonia. It is most famous for the W Trek, but dig deeper and you'll …