Los Glaciares National Park in southern Argentina is part of the largest ice field outside Greenland and Antarctica. The national park impresses with its gigantic glaciers in the south and its icy climbing paradise in the north.
Los Glaciares National Park ("The Glaciers") is located in the province of Santa Cruz in southern Argentina. In the Patagonian ice field of the Andes, 47 glaciers are located on an area of almost 14,000 square kilometers.
The Los Glaciares National Park, which covers 5,000 square kilometers, is thus located in the world's largest ice field outside Greenland and Antarctica. Since 1981, Los Glaciares National Park has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It also has a fixed place on our list of the top 10 sights of Argentina.
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PICTURES: Los Glaciares National Park
Sights in Los Glaciares National Park
In 1937, Los Glaciares National Park was founded as the second largest national park in Argentina and since then it has been the most visited in the country. With an annual average temperature of a frigid 7.5°C, 30% of the park's area is iced over.
The main attraction of Los Glaciares National Park is clearly the gigantic glaciers that cover the icy peaks of the Andes. Their exceptionality lies in the fact that, due to the immense size of the ice field, they start at an altitude of 1,500m, 1,000m lower than the glaciers of other continents.
They then also flow 200 meters further, which allows spectacular glacier visits without great alpine climbing. Only 13 of the 47 glaciers of the vast Patagonian Ice Field flow into the Atlantic Ocean.
Icy peaks in the north
© Pichugin Dmitry / ShutterstockThe Los Glaciares National Park is divided into a northern and a southern half. In the climber's paradise of the north is Lake Viedma, the Viedma Glacier and some smaller glaciers, as well as some peaks that are popular with hikers and climbers, such as Mount Fitz Roy or Cerro Torre.
Mighty glaciers in the south
In the glaciated south of the park are several smaller glaciers, most of which flow into Lake Argentino, Argentina's largest lake with an area of nearly 1,500 square kilometers.
The most famous glaciers of the south are the mighty Perito Moreno, the imposing Upsala, one of the largest glaciers in the world, and the Spegazzini Glacier. The latter two can only be visited by boat, while the Perito Moreno is also accessible by land and is the secret star of the national park.
Its shimmering bluish tongue hovers about 60 meters above Lake Argentino. Perito Moreno is one of the few glaciers that is still growing, by about a meter a day. The influence of the glaciers' growth and retreat is clearly visible.
Between the two large lakes, several smaller mountain lakes glisten, with majestic milky icebergs floating on their water surfaces.
Flora and fauna between the glaciers
Nature is not deterred by the adverse living conditions in Los Glaciares National Park. In the lower altitudes of the park, the landscape is characterized by sub-Antarctic forests and Patagonian steppe.
The Argentine side of the Andes is home to nandus, a flightless ratite, llamas, pumas and steppe foxes, as well as more than 1,000 different bird species, among which the Andean condor, black-necked swan, eagle and Chilean flamingo are among the largest.
In some places, evidence of prehistoric human inhabitants of the national park has been found, the hunter-gatherer ancestors of the Patagonian people, also called Firelanders.
On the road in Los Glaciares National Park
Most tours through the national park start from El Calafate, a small settlement on the shores of Lake Argentino, which now also boasts an airport, or from El Chaltén on the shores of mighty Mount Fitz Roy.
There are some guided tours offered in Los Glaciares, but due to the monopoly position of the provider, they are relatively high priced. Recommended is the Perito Moreno Big Ice Tour, which includes not only a boat tour to the glaciers, but also a breathtaking three-hour hike on the bare ice.