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A backpacker's guide to Los Glaciares-park in Argentina

The ultimate glacier experience awaits

There are around 300 glaciers on the southwestern Argentine side, some of which are in the Parque Nacional Los Glaciares, or Glacier National Park, which stretches for 217 miles through the Andes (350 km).

Los Glaciares is a United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site that comprises 47 major glaciers, two lakes, and ice fields that span almost 40% of the land area. The glaciers Mayo, Perito Moreno, Oneill, Spegazzini, Agassiz, Ameghino, and Upsala feed the park's lakes, while the glaciers Mayo, Perito Moreno, Oneill, Spegazzini, Agassiz, Ameghino, and Upsala reach the Atlantic Ocean. Among these is Lago Argentina, Argentina's largest lake, which is about 15,000 years old.

However, there were no governmental borders in South America, or an area known as Patagonia, when nature initially formed Argentina's enormous glaciers. Of course, we're talking about this vast mass that includes Patagonia, Argentina, and Chile. The Patagonian ice field, which is second in size only to Antarctica, is formed by glaciers on both sides of the Andes.

The park also includes woods, rivers, lakes and mountains and is located to the east in the settlements of the Patagonian steppes. Cerro Fitz Roy, also known as Chaltén, at 34023 m, and Cerro Torre, at 31023 m, are steep, hewn granite mountain summits.

Orchids, bushes, beech tree stands, mosses, guanacos and red fire brush, big Patagonian hare, hawks, red foxes, Magellan geese, black-necked swans, spears, skunks, flamingos, pumas, condors, and the nearly extinct huel mouse are among the flora and animals of this region. The huemul has been designated as a national monument.

IMAGE: One of Argentina's formidable natural wonders - the jaw-dropping Perito Moreno Glacier

Jaw-dropping experiences

Depending on which part of the park you visit, there are a hundred things to do and see in Parque Nacional Los Glaciares. One of the most popular pastimes near the southernmost edge, Lago Argentina, is ice art. You don't have to be an extreme sports aficionado to appreciate it, but you do have to be fit enough to walk and climb on ice, which is often extremely steep. This is an experience you will never forget, but it requires careful planning in accordance with your guide or travel agency.

If you prefer, you can take a mini-trekking tour, which is limited to a small, safe portion of the glacier. If you desire a little distance from your ice experience, use a walking distance of fewer than 1000 feet (300 m) from the edge. You might notice a section of ice spring with a big splash but be mindful of the tidal wave and keep your distance!

You can also get around Lago Argentina horseback riding - through the lush green woodlands, for a stunning view of the rivers, lakes, meadows and of course, the glaciers. Because the horses are gentle and friendly, and the saddle is wide and comfortable with sheepskin, and you don’t even need to be a competent rider. You can also travel by 4x4, boat or bus and mountain bikers can choose from a variety of hiking trails.

Campers, hikers and climbers usually first meet in El Chalten, a town that was built in the 1980s. This is a good starting location for climbing or trekking but be prepared for strong gusts during this experience. Cerro Torre is infamous for its severe weather, and it is not uncommon for visitors to have to wait weeks or even months for favourable weather.

IMAGE: Travel back in time when you take our fantastic tour to the archaeological site of Punta Walichu

When is the best time to visit Argentina?

You can visit at any time of year, but the peak season is from October to April. If you intend to camp, you will need a sleeping bag, a portable stove, and cooking fuel. If you intend to use a shelter or a refuge, you will need is a sleeping bag, plenty of water and food. High energy levels are beneficial for this experience. There are many food shops and restaurants but be prepared to pay a high price, as it is a tourist attraction. Everything must be carried in from a long distance.

El Calafate caters to visitors, with several markets, restaurants, tourist agencies, lodges, and the park's Ranger headquarters. Many travellers utilize El Chaltén as a base camp for Perito Moreno and the walkways, then remain in the town for a day or two before continuing on their journey.

Flights on Lineas Aéreas Kaikén (LADE) from Ro Gallegos and other Argentine cities to Punta Walichu Caves on the southern coast of Lago Argentina make getting to the Parque Nacional Los Glaciares easier than it used to be. Despite the fact that the airport in El Calafate is being rebuilt to handle larger planes, the wind continues to be a factor, and you may encounter unexpected delays. Have a wonderful time in Parque Nacional Los Glaciares!

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