Created in 1937, the majestic Parque Nacional los Glaciares is the largest and most visited natural reserve in Argentina.

Located in the province of Santa Cruz, in the south of the country, the Los Glaciares National Park shelters one of the most scenic regions of the Patagonia. The easiest way to quickly access the beautiful landscapes that the park offers is through the charming town of El Calafate, one of the most visited cities on the Argentine side of Patagonia.

The area is full of mountains, lakes, forests and an extensive part of the Andes, which are practically covered by millenary glaciers. To give you an idea, there are more than 350 glaciers with kilometers of distance. Its dimensions, shapes and the landscapes where these gigantic pieces of ice are located fascinate anyone and enchant the thousands of visitors who pass through this unique region of the globe. THE Los Glaciares National Park It has 726,927 hectares and is home to the third largest area covered by ice in the world, known as the Southern Patagonian Ice Field. This huge region is divided between the Chile and the Argentina, with approximately 14,200 km² on the Chilean side and 2,600 km² on the Argentine side.  

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Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1981, the Los Glaciares National Park is internationally known for Perito Moreno Glacier, an immense ice formation that is 5 km wide in its frontal area and blocks of ice almost 70 m high. The attraction can be appreciated in three ways: walking on the 7 footbridges located just over 200 meters from the attraction, by navigations that get even closer to the frozen walls, or by choosing to go on a mini trekking on the ice with the aid of clamps.

Despite being the welcome postcard for those arriving in El Calafate, there are other glaciers just as impressive, and even bigger than the Perito Moreno. This is the case of the Viedma Glacier and the Upsala.

Besides El Calafate, tourists have the option of staying in the small village of El Chalten, a charming village surrounded by mountains, situated within the national reserve. This is the favorite option for adventurers who want to discover the most inhospitable area of the frozen plain and other emblematic points of Patagonia, such as the fabulous Mount Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre.

Cities close to Los Glaciares National Park

Photo: Martin St-Amant / Wikimedia Commons

El Calafate

The city receives direct flights from the main municipalities in the country and has a wide variety of hotel and gastronomic options. El Calafate is opposite Lagoa Argentina and is 80 km from Los Glaciares National Park. The small town has few streets and offers a 360° view of the mountains that surround the largest lake in the country.

THE Av. San Martin is the main of El Calafate and it concentrates a good part of the local commerce and the numerous tourist agencies that offer tours to different points of the national park and other nearby attractions, such as the Torres del Paine National Park, in Chile.

As one of the busiest destinations for tourists in Argentina, El Calafate is full of great accommodation options. You can choose between sleeping in lodgings close to the city center, or in the charming farms located around the municipality.

Read more about El Calafate.

El Chalten

Another possible base to discover the attractions of Los Glaciares National Park is the small and charming El Chaltén. The village at the foot of Mount Fitz Roy, is 220 km from El Calafate, and can be reached in less than 3 hrs in private vehicles or in collective buses.

Despite offering a smaller number of hotels and restaurants, El Chaltén has super cozy accommodations and delicious restaurants. The best part of staying in the village is having the possibility to discover different trails and attractions in the national park without needing the services offered by tourism agencies. The city is known as the National Trekking Capital and is surrounded by more than 12 trails that lead tourists to waterfalls, viewpoints, lagoons and mountains.

Read more about El Chalten.

Puerto Natales (Chile)

It is true that the city of Puerto Natales is quite far from Parque Nacional los Glaciares, if you compare the distances with the cities mentioned above, but, despite being tiring, it is possible to take full-day tours from the Chilean city to the Perito Moreno Glacier or to Cerro Fitz Roy. Many agencies in Puerto Natales offer tours and it can be a viable possibility if you are visiting Chilean Patagonia and have some free time to take a day trip to the neighboring country.

Read more about Puerto Natales.

What to do in Los Glaciares National Park

Photo: Nyrkx / Wikimedia Commons

Moreno expert

The most famous attraction of Los Glaciares National Park, it remains among the most desired and visited destinations in Patagonia. The incredible wall of ice that flows into the clear waters of Lagoa Argentina, is in constant movement and surprises visitors with its huge noises of ice stones, which come off the glacier and constantly fall into the water.

Uppsala Glacier

The only way to access the glacier is via boats that leave from Porto Punta Bandera on Lake Argentino. Upsala Glacier is twice the size of Perito Moreno and ranks third among the largest glaciers in Latin America. During the navigation that leaves Estancia Cristina, the boat crosses a huge area of the incredible Lake Argentino and passes close to the icebergs that come off the glaciers.

Viedma Glacier

Very close to the mecca of adventurers and climbers, El Chaltén, the Viedma Glacier is the largest in Los Glaciares National Park. Its entrance is approximately 2.5 kilometers wide and 50 meters high and can be observed through trails to viewpoints, catamaran sailings or hiking tours on the glacier, which some agencies offer.

Mount Fitz Roy

The incredible massif is practically a fortress that separates the small town of El Chaltén from the inhospitable Campos de Hielo Sul region of Patagonia. To reach the base of the mountain it is necessary to walk a beautiful trail of 20 km (round trip). The path is among the 10 most beautiful in the world according to National Geographic, and along the way it passes through viewpoints, lagoons and very charming wooded areas. With luck it is possible to observe the impressive fauna that inhabits the region, such as foxes, woodpeckers, armadillos, deer and even pumas.

Torre Lagoon

18 km long (round trip), the trail that takes park visitors to the stunning Torre Lagoon begins in the village of El Chaltén. The lagoon is fed by two large glaciers and takes its name because it is close to the base of Cerro Torre, the second highest in the region.

Rivers of Hielo

The traditional navigation tour in Lagoa Argentina, lasts 6 hours and passes through two grandiose glaciers in the park. The tour takes its name because Lake Argentino is home to numerous glaciers that shed from the glaciers and float across the lake. On the tour, catamarans cover an extensive area of the lagoon and visit the Upsala and Spegazzini glaciers.

Other attractions in Los Glaciares National Park:

  • Huemul Circuit
  • Salto del Chorillo waterfall
  • Laguna del Desierto Provincial Reserve
  • Viewpoint of the Condors
  • Huemul Glacier
  • Piedras Blancas Glacier
  • Laguna Madre and Hija
  • Loma del Pliegue Tumbado

How to get to Los Glaciares National Park

Photo: littletroll / Wikimedia Commons

By airplane

It is worth remembering that Parque Nacional los Glaciares is quite large and not all attractions are located in the same region. The nearest base is the municipality of El Calafate, just 45 km away from the national park. Comandante Armando Tola International Airport receives direct flights from the main cities in Argentina.

By bus

The two cities that offer access to the park's attractions are El Calafate and El Chaltén. The destinations are 213 km away and are interconnected by the companies CalTurTaqsa / Marl and Chalten Travel daily on journeys lasting 3 hours.

By car

Access from El Calafate through Ruta Nacional 40 – a road that runs for 5,200 km from the border between Argentina and Bolivia to the municipality of Rio Gallegos in the extreme south of the country. The distance from the city to the Buenos Aires capital is 2,700 km.

Entrance fees to Los Glaciares National Park

Parque Nacional los Glaciares charges a fee of $500.00 Argentine pesos (equivalent to R$70.00 reais / prices July:2018) per day. These values are charged in only one area of the park, where the Perito Moreno, Upsala and Spegazzini glaciers are located. The fee is charged individually and is not included in the tours offered in El Calafate. Some agencies offer the full amount and already guarantee the tickets for the tour, check the information before closing the packages.

Those staying in the small town of El Chaltén, already within the reserve, will not need to pay this daily fee to discover the attractions of this other sector. All trails can be done autonomously and without the help of guides.

Best time to visit Los Glaciares National Park

Photo: Rodrigo Soldon / Flickr Wikimedia Commons

The great peak of tourists circling the attractions of the reserve is during the summer and autumn. These are the seasons with the mildest climate and with the greatest possibility of observing the entire landscape without the presence of clouds. These perfect days are usually busier and all tours offered by travel agencies tend to sell out quickly. If you're planning to visit the area during these seasons, book tours and hotels in advance.

During the winter, tourist consumption in the region usually drops, prices decrease and some attractions close, but this is the unique opportunity to visit tourist attractions with less agglomeration of visitors and observe the white-covered scenery. Despite the season having days down to -5 C, some travelers enjoy the bucolic landscapes of winter in Patagonia and discover this paradise with even more inhospitable landscapes.

Where to stay in Los Glaciares National Park

Photo: Luca Galuzzi / Wikimedia Commons

El Calafate |  Aca El CalafateQuijote Hotel,  Boutique Hotel La CanteraViewpoint of the Lake.

El ChaltenDestination Sur Hotel & Spa de Montaña, Hotel Pointenot, Los Cerros Boutique Hotel & Spa, Hosteria El Puma.

Puerto NatalesHotel Martín GusindeHotel CostaustralisPatagonian AndesVinnhausCoiró motorcyclesHotel Lago Grayecocamp.

» Top tourist attractions to visit in Argentine Patagonia
» Discover the best time to visit Argentine Patagonia
» Places to visit in El Chalten
» Patagonia: how to travel around the region by plane, bus and boat

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