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What to do in and around Los Glaciares National Park

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Kayak Glaciares National Park, El Chalten Argentina Patagonia

 

Los Glaciares National Park in Patagonia is found nestling into the Andes in South Western Argentina and bordering with Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park.

It is an area of stunning beauty with towering mountains, glacial lakes and impressive glaciers. Covering an area of over 7,000 km2 (over 2,800 sq miles) it offers the adventurous and not so adventurous traveller a host of activities.

Based around the two gateway towns to the Park, El Calafate and El Chalten, here is our guide on what to do in and around Los Glaciares National Park.

 

Base of Fitzroy and lake with hikers and ice, Chalten, Argentina

Fitzroy base

 

El Calafate

Perito Moreno Glacier:  This glacier is over four miles wide and 60 metres high at its face and is only an hour’s drive from El Calafate.

There are various options for the visitor. Take a traditional tour to the glacier where you can explore the series of walk ways which take you up close to the wall, and where you are almost guaranteed to see and hear chunks breaking off  and falling into the water below.

This can be complemented by a 40-minute boat ride with views of the glacier from the water. The more intrepid may opt for an ice trek atop the glacier, with short and full-day options available.

 

Rainbow close up glacier Perito Moreno, Argentina

Perito Moreno Glacier

 

Upsala Glacier and Estancia Cristina: A great full day can be spent sailing on Like Argentina to Estancia Cristina, en route sailing to view the Upsala Glacier and its might ice floes.

Programmes with Estancia Cristina can include short hikes, a trip to the viewing point of the Upsala Glacier or a trek talong a fossil trail. Facilites include a museum and there are also options for horse riding.

Glaciarium: An informative and interesting glacier museum, Glaciarium is just outside El Calafate.

It is a great way to learn more about the ice structures you’ll see in the region. There’s an ice bar next door, too.

Kayak: There are options to Kayak on Lake Argentino. These can be a half day or full day excursion with the option to do it on a private basis or on a shared basis.

 

Between El Calafate and El Chalten

Petrified Forest: A 90-minute drive from El Chalten is the petrified forest.  It is an extensive fossil area where there are huge, whole tree trunks of fossilised Araucaria trees, and even some fossils of dinosaur bone. Whole dinosaur fossils have been removed to museums.

You wander through the desert type landscape for a couple of hours and picnic in a sheltered spot surrounded by ancient fossils. This can be done as a shared or private excursion or even as a stop between El Calafate and El Chalten.

 

El Chalten

Trekking is one of the principal attractions from El Chalten and it is the trailhead into the park. Some of the possible treks include:

Laguna de Los Tres: 8 to 9 hours, 22 km, 800 metres of ascent. This is one of the toughest walks but also the most rewarding day as it takes you to the lake at the base of Fitzroy mountain.

 

Trekkers at laguna de Los Patos Fitzroy Patagonia Argentina

Laguna in Los Glaciares National Park

 

Lago Torre: 6 to 7 hours, 18 km, 250 metres of ascent. This is a considerably gentler day walk, out and back on an easy path. The trail wanders through forest and takes you to Laguna Torre for spectacular close up views of the granite spire of Cerro Torre.

Pliegue Tumbado: 7 to 8 hours, 20 km, 1000 metres of ascent. Less popular than the other day walks, this route takes you to a fabulous view point high above Laguna Torre. It is off-the-beaten-track and a superb option for a third trek day, with the added bonus of being able to see marine fossils on the ridge.

 

Other activities

Reserva Huemul: This is a short drive from El Chalten and is a privately owned reserve with several options for superb off the beaten track day walks, and a mountain refuge meaning longer, over night,  options are available too.

 

Vuelta al Huemul Glaciares NP, El Chalten Argentina Patagonia

Trekking in Los Glaciares National Park

 

Mountain Bike: From El Chalten you can rent a bike for the day or half day, with the option of a lift to Laguna del Desierto and a cycle back (38km) partly on trails and partly on the dirt road – with the wind behind you.

Horse riding: Estancia Bonanza, half day or full day options.

Kayak on Rio de las Vueltas: A half day trip on sit on kayaks, down the Rio de Las Vueltas. Wet suits are provided. This is a fabulous way to slowly travel through the landscape.

Lago del Desierto: 38 km up the river from El Chalten is where the road ends, and Lago del Desierto lies. Cross the lake, by boat, and you can walk through the forest into Chile (more on this crossing later). There are regular buses to the lake from El Chalten, or take a guided day trip. There are full day and half day walks from the end of the lake.

Walk to Glacier Huemul a beautiful short hike of an hour or so each way, wander the lake shore or take a scenic boat trip.

Madsen House Museum: Andreas Madsen was one of the earliest settlers in the area, living at the foot of mount Fitzroy from 1903 to 1963.

Today his estancia has been restored and is now an interesting museum with tours each afternoon guided by his  great grandson. Tea, yerba mate and biscuits are served too. For a gentle afternoon and to learn a bit of history this is a short stroll from town.

Overview of Fitzroy National Park, Chalten, Argentina

View over to Fitzroy National Park

 

More information

If you are interested in visiting El Chalten or Patagonia in general, please do get in touch with Andean Trails and we can help make your dream of a Patagonia Adventure come true.

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