The third biggest ice reserve in the world is a festival of nature with colours, shapes and sounds that are a feast to the eye. It is easily accessible by boat, car or bus from the Southern Patagonian city of Calafate. Huge glaciers such as Perito Moreno, Upsala and Spegazzini squeezed between mountains all the way to beautiful lakes. Thunder can be heard, it’s the ice breaking, resulting in enormous icebergs floating on the water. Above all: a deep blue sky.
Some 200km north of Calafate lays El Chaltén, Argentina’s trekking capital. Surrounded by mountains, the village is the perfect base for some of the best hikes in South America. While enjoying the beautiful scenery over Lake Viedma and Mount Fitz Roy, condors and eagles can be seen dancing to the wind, like they were performing just for you. On the hills, inside the forest you’ll find a couple of waterfalls and if you are lucky you might even meet a deer.
Los Glaciares National Park is Argentina’s largest national park, with more than 30% of its area covered by ice. Apart from the famous glaciers it is a great place to spend time around lakes and for excellent treks about the woods. We are talking about an area of over 700,000 ha, so it’s very important to organize your visit to the park well.
How to visit los Glaciares National Park?
Happy frog recommends:
- Hiring a walking tour around and over Perito Moreno. You’ll be seeing it from the distance and walking over it.
- Taking a bout tour to Upsala and Spegazzini glaciers. Though we don’t normally like massive tours, this one is a must.
- Spending 2-3 days in el Chaltén. El Calafate is a great base for the glaciers, but Chaltén is best for treks.
The main tour operator Hielo y Aventura offers three different tours around Perito Moreno: Mini trekking from early August to late May, Big Ice from mid September to the end of April and Safari Naútico all year round. The first two include a visit to the platforms in front of the glacier and treks over its top. The Big Ice is lengthier, more physically demanding, and of course more costly. The safari includes a one hour ride on a boat in front of Perito Moreno’s south facade. Advisable only if you have enough time.
On the other hand Solo Patagonia offers a half day boat tour ‘Ríos de Hielo’ to Upsala and Spegazzini glaciers. The boat is fairly large and comfortable but packed with people. The views from the boat are spectacular making this excursion a must for anybody enchanted by nature. All tours can be booked online or via numerous agencies across town.
On our trip to Patagonia we spent 5 days in the area, which is roughly enough to get to know the main sites. The biggest mistake we made was not staying overnight in el Chaltén. We were misinformed about the bus schedules; they assured us there were no buses leaving el Chaltén in the morning, which isn’t true. The treks there are quite spectacular and staying overnight might give you an insight into the village’s atmosphere.
There are few places in the world that impress as much as the Glaciers of Calafate. Standing in front of Perito Moreno you feel small, overwhelmed, you disconnect and communicate with nature. The place literally expresses the power of nature, and to our surprise it’s easily accessible from the city (an hour away) and quite well organized. To make our stay perfect we booked a room with views over the beautiful Argentina Lake in the Design Suites Calafate and spent our afternoons watching the lake and breathing the fresh Patagonian air, and nights staring at a star covered sky.
Also check out this post about the Southern Lights in Patagonia