Los Glaciers National Park, Patagonia, Argentina
Located in the province of Santa Cruz, in southwestern Argentina, Los Glaciers is a region of exceptional beauty, classified as an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981. The climate is drier here, the Patagonian Steppe is the largest desert in Argentina and the 8th largest in the world!
The Argentine border is 20 km from Puerto Natales, so it made little sense not to include it in our reconnaissance. Since time was short, Alex and I rented a car and left Puerto Natales right after breakfast. Once we had negotiated the border crossing with all our rental car papers, we were on our way along the famous Ruta 40. Los Glaciers Glacier National Park could be seen at a distance; dry plains, a visual feast of steep peaks, large glaciers and huge glacial lakes.
Six hours later we arrived at El Calafate, a nice town with a main street lined with trees and colourful buildings located on the shores of Lake Argentina. We stayed at an Estancia 20 minutes from the centre of town so we could enjoy the activities on offer. When in Argentina a horse ride from the ranch is surely a must!
The next morning we set off across the Magallanes Peninsula to see the sights and sounds of the Perito Moreno glacier. The views along the way were really dramatic, prehistoric in nature! We stopped at the park entrance, paid a small entrance fee and made our way towards the end of the peninsula. This is a well organised attraction, from the car park a shuttle bus takes you to the main viewpoint. There are a series walkways where you can stare in wonder at this amazing sight, if you are lucky you will see the glacier carving into the lake. It didn't feel too touristy and not overcrowded, maybe we were just outside of the main season, not sure? Needless to say, it was an unforgettable experience.
Leaving the glacier behind, we drove back to El Calafate to have a quick look around the town before heading to our next destination, La Leona. Our Estancia for the next two nights was situated on the shores of Lake Viedma, an isolated and windswept place with a view of the Mount Fitz Roy massif. This was an excellent place to stay, the staff at the Estancia could not have been more helpful. There are many excursions available here, but our main objective was to visit El Chalten and get up close to Mount Fitz Roy!
With the first snow falling overnight we tentatively set out on our journey to El Chalten. We had a beautiful drive along the shores of Lake Viedma, with views of Fitz Roy getting ever closer.
Soon after our arrival in El Chalten we began a round trip trail, this gave us a great idea of the opportunities around that area. We walked on relatively easy terrain to a popular viewpoint with fabulous views of Fitz Roy. Yet again abundant wildlife was evident, birds of prey are a common sight here. We photographed a friendly Caracara posing alongside the lake and sat down for a moment in admiration and wonder. With fresh snow cover on the ground the WOW factor of our trekking adventure into Patagonia was complete!
After a quick look around El Chalten we set out on the long drive back to our accommodation and our final night in the beautiful Los Glaciers National Park. From then on our long, return trip to Europe began; although tinged with sadness in leaving that beautiful part of the world, our departure was made easier by the desire to come back with Mont Blanc Treks in 2024!
For further information on our 2024 itinerary see here.