Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina: All You Need to Know

Perito Moreno Glacier in Los Glaciares National Park, El Calafate, Santa Cruz province, Argentina.

Welcome to the breathtaking Los Glaciares National Park, a true gem nestled in the Argentine Patagonia. With its awe-inspiring glaciers, rich biodiversity, and pristine landscapes, this park offers an unforgettable experience. Join us as we delve into the park’s fascinating history, explore its remarkable location, and uncover the unique characteristics that make Los Glaciares National Park a must-visit destination in Patagonia.

History of Los Glaciares National Park

The history of Los Glaciares National Park dates back to the early 20th century when its remarkable landscapes captured attention. Established in 1937, the park safeguards Argentina’s Santa Cruz province, preserving its glaciers, lakes, forests, and wildlife.

Notably, Francisco Moreno, an Argentine explorer and scientist, championed the park’s protection through his expeditions and mapping efforts. In his honor, the park was named after him.

Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981, Los Glaciares spans over 7,000 square kilometers (2,800 square miles) and includes the southern Patagonian Ice Field, a vast ice expanse beyond the polar regions.

Facing challenges like climate change and tourism growth, the park prioritizes climate resilience and sustainable practices. It remains a hub for scientific research and an enchanting destination, where visitors can witness awe-inspiring glaciers, mountains, and diverse ecosystems.

Location & Map of Los Glaciares National Park

Map of Los Glaciares National Park.

Los Glaciares National Park, located in Argentina’s southern province of Santa Cruz, sprawls across the southwestern region near the Chilean border. Nestled within the Patagonian region, it rests in the southern Andes mountain range, around 80 kilometers (50 miles) northwest of El Calafate, the primary entry point.

The park’s defining features include its magnificent glaciers, notably the iconic Perito Moreno Glacier, formed from centuries of snow accumulation and compaction. As dynamic entities, these glaciers constantly shape the landscape through processes like calving and erosion.

Encompassing a substantial portion of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, one of the world’s largest continental ice masses, spanning approximately 12,363 square kilometers (4,773 square miles), the park relies on this ice field to sustain its glaciers and regulate regional climate patterns.

With its rugged peaks, deep valleys, and breathtaking landscapes, the southern Andes mountain range enhances the park’s scenic allure and contributes to the formation of its glaciers.

The park’s lakes and rivers, fed by glacial meltwater, display mesmerizing shades of blue and turquoise while providing essential habitats for aquatic life.

Valleys and forested areas diversify the park’s ecosystem, accommodating an array of plant and animal species and offering fantastic opportunities for exploration and hiking adventures.

Activities in Los Glaciares National Park

Los Glaciares National Park beckons visitors with a wealth of activities that allow them to fully immerse themselves in the park’s breathtaking natural beauty.

Undoubtedly, witnessing the majestic glaciers is a must-do activity in the park. The star of the show is the Perito Moreno Glacier, a colossal ice formation that mesmerizes with its sheer size and captivating blue hues. Visitors can witness dramatic ice-calving events, where massive chunks of ice break off and plunge into the turquoise waters below. For a more immersive experience, guided walks or boat tours offer the opportunity to explore the glacier’s surface, marveling at its crevasses, seracs, and stunning ice formations.

The park boasts an extensive network of hiking and trekking trails, catering to both novice and experienced hikers. One of the most sought-after destinations is the Fitz Roy Mountain range, with its iconic peaks dominating the skyline. Trails such as Laguna de los Tres and Laguna Torre lead adventurers through awe-inspiring landscapes, rewarding them with awe-inspiring views of towering mountains, sparkling lakes, and icy glaciers. Nature enthusiasts will revel in the diversity of flora and fauna encountered along the way, from vibrant wildflowers to elusive Andean wildlife.

Exploring the park’s lakes and rivers is a must, and boat tours or sailing excursions offer an alternative perspective. Cruising through glacially-carved fjords and navigating icy waters, visitors can witness the glaciers up close, marveling at their sheer magnitude and intricate details. The sight of glaciers calving into the water is an unforgettable experience, accompanied by the thunderous sound of crashing ice.

Los Glaciares National Park is home to a rich array of wildlife, and wildlife-watching tours provide the opportunity to spot native species in their natural habitat. Keep an eye out for graceful guanacos roaming the grasslands, soaring Andean condors circling the skies, and curious Andean foxes darting among the rocks. Bird enthusiasts will delight in the chance to observe various species, from majestic eagles to colorful flamingos.

For thrill-seekers and experienced climbers, the park presents a playground of mountaineering and ice-climbing opportunities. The towering peaks and vertical ice walls offer a challenge to adventurers, who can test their skills and endurance in this dramatic alpine landscape.

Photographers will find themselves in paradise, as every corner of the park offers a picture-perfect moment. Capture the magnificence of the glaciers, framed by rugged mountains and mirrored in crystal-clear lakes. From sunrise to sunset, the ever-changing light paints the landscape with breathtaking hues, creating an endless array of photographic opportunities.

It’s important to note that certain activities within the park may require permits or the assistance of authorized guides, especially for glacier treks or mountaineering. To ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience, visitors are encouraged to check with park authorities or reliable tour operators for up-to-date information, guidance, and necessary arrangements.

Hiking in Los Glaciares National Park

Hiking Trails & Map of Los Glaciares National Park

Hiking in Los Glaciares National Park is an exhilarating way to immerse yourself in its natural wonders and diverse landscapes.

The Laguna de los Tres trail is a popular choice, leading to a breathtaking viewpoint that unveils the majestic Mount Fitz Roy and its surrounding peaks. This challenging yet rewarding hike starts from El Chaltén, encompassing around 8-10 hours of trekking through picturesque forests, and mountain views, and culminating at the stunning Laguna de los Tres.

For another remarkable trekking experience, head to Laguna Torre. Beginning in El Chaltén, this trail guides you through scenic valleys and forests, culminating at the glacial lake nestled amidst awe-inspiring mountains, with the iconic Cerro Torre standing tall. The round trip typically takes around 6-8 hours, offering unforgettable views and moments of serenity.

If you’re seeking a quieter adventure, consider the trek to Piedra del Fraile. Starting from El Chaltén, this trail leads you through enchanting forests, granting glimpses of the majestic Fitz Roy Massif along the way. Continuing to the Laguna Sucia viewpoint, you’ll be treated to mesmerizing vistas of Fitz Roy and the surrounding glaciers.

While not a traditional hiking trail, exploring the walkways and balconies near the Perito Moreno Glacier is an awe-inspiring experience. Stroll along the designated paths and marvel at the imposing ice walls of this massive glacier. Keep your eyes peeled for mesmerizing ice-calving events, adding an extra layer of excitement to your adventure.

Remember to be well-prepared for hiking in Los Glaciares National Park. Weather conditions can change rapidly, so bring suitable clothing, gear, and ample supplies. Stay informed about trail conditions and safety guidelines by consulting park authorities or visitor centers before embarking on your hike.

Best Time to Visit Los Glaciares National Park

The best time to visit Los Glaciares National Park in Patagonia depends on your preferences and the activities you plan to undertake.

Summer (December to February) is the peak tourist season with warmer weather, longer days, and accessibility to trails. It’s ideal for hiking, boat tours, and glacier walks, but expect crowds.

Fall (March to May) offers milder temperatures, fewer crowds, and picturesque autumn colors. Some trails may be affected by changing weather, but it’s great for photography and tranquility.

Winter (June to August) brings cold temperatures and snow, limiting trail access. However, it’s perfect for winter sports like skiing and snowshoeing, offering a serene snowy experience.

Spring (September to November) is a transitional period with mild weather and reopened hiking trails. It’s a good time for wildlife observation but be prepared for variable weather.

Remember, weather conditions can be unpredictable, so check forecasts and come prepared. Booking accommodations and activities in advance, especially during summer, is recommended.


Average temperatures in Celsius of El Calafate.

How to Get From El Calafate to Los Glaciares National Park

Map of Perito Moreno Glacier trails and travel route from El Calafate Airport to Los Glaciares National Park.

To travel from El Calafate to Los Glaciares National Park, you have several transportation options for a convenient and enjoyable journey.

Renting a car or hiring a taxi is the most convenient choice, offering flexibility and a scenic drive of approximately 1.5 to 2 hours on well-marked routes. The picturesque landscapes along the way will enhance your experience.

For a hassle-free transfer, many tour companies and shuttle services operate regular bus services from El Calafate to Los Glaciares National Park. These buses depart from the main bus terminal in El Calafate and take you directly to the park’s entrance or visitor center. Booking your transfer in advance is recommended to secure your spot.

Joining organized tours that include transportation from El Calafate is another option. These tours provide a guided experience, often with additional activities such as glacier walks or boat tours. It’s a convenient way to make the most of your visit. Check out our Perito Moreno glacier tour from El Calafate.

Public buses also operate between El Calafate and Los Glaciares National Park. These buses depart from El Calafate’s bus terminal and take you to the park’s visitor center. Be sure to check the bus schedule in advance as it may vary.

Once you arrive at the park entrance or visitor center, you can explore the park on foot or join guided tours offered within the park based on your preferences and planned activities.

The most common route from El Calafate to Los Glaciares National Park is driving on Provincial Route 11 (RP11). This scenic road will take you northwest for approximately 80 kilometers (50 miles) through breathtaking landscapes, including vast plains and rugged mountains. Just follow the signs and directions along RP11 to reach the park.

Before your journey, it’s essential to check for any road closures or restrictions that may affect your route. Additionally, always adhere to the provided signs and directions to ensure a smooth and safe trip.

How to Get From Buenos Aires to Los Glaciares National Park

Map of the air route from Buenos Aires to El Calafate

To travel from Buenos Aires to Los Glaciares National Park in the southern part of Argentina, you have several transportation options to consider. The fastest and most convenient way is to take a domestic flight from Buenos Aires’ airports (Aeroparque or Ezeiza) to El Calafate, which is the closest major town to the park. The flight duration is approximately 3 hours. From El Calafate, you can then reach the national park by bus, taxi, or organized tours.

Another option is to travel by long-distance bus from Buenos Aires to El Calafate, which can be more budget-friendly and offer a scenic journey. Multiple bus companies operate routes from Buenos Aires’ main bus terminals, and the journey takes around 36 to 48 hours, depending on the specific service and stops.

During high season, you may also have the option to arrive from other cities like Ushuaia or Bariloche. However, it’s important to note that during the low season, the flight from Buenos Aires might be the only available option.

Consider factors such as travel times, costs, and personal preferences when deciding on the best transportation option for your journey. Flights provide a quicker option, while buses can offer a more budget-friendly and scenic experience.

Facts of Los Glaciares National Park

Discover key facts about Los Glaciares National Park:

  • Location: Situated in southern Argentina, within Santa Cruz province, in the southern Andes mountain range.
  • Size and UNESCO World Heritage Site: Spans over 7,000 sq km and was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981.
  • Glaciers: Home to renowned glaciers like Perito Moreno, Upsala, and Spegazzini, part of the vast Southern Patagonian Ice Field.
  • Perito Moreno Glacier: Most famous glacier, stretching over 30 km and exhibiting dynamic growth.
  • Biodiversity: Diverse ecosystems, supporting wildlife such as guanacos, condors, and various bird species.
  • Ecotourism: Offers hiking, wildlife watching, boat tours, and glacier walks, promoting conservation and sustainability.
  • Climate Change Impact: Glaciers’ retreat highlights the effects of climate change and emphasizes the need for conservation.
  • Indigenous Heritage: Tehuelche indigenous communities have ancestral ties and preserve cultural traditions in the park.

Entrance Fee for Los Glaciares National Park 

In order to visit Los Glaciares National Park, an entrance fee is required. This fee is essential to access the park and contributes to its conservation and maintenance. The specific fee may vary based on factors like nationality and visit duration. For the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding entrance fees, it is advisable to consult the official website or contact the park authorities directly.

Hotels & Accommodations in Los Glaciares National Park

Los Glaciares National Park does not have traditional hotels within the park itself. However, accommodation options are available both inside the park at Estancias and in nearby towns that serve as gateways.

Estancia Nibepo Aike, located near El Calafate, offers a traditional Patagonian ranch experience with rustic rooms and cozy cabins. Full-board packages include meals and activities like horseback riding and farm tours.

The main towns near the park are El Chaltén and El Calafate. El Chaltén is about a 2-hour drive from the park entrance, while El Calafate is approximately 3 hours away. Both towns offer a range of accommodations, from hotels to campsites, catering to different budgets and preferences.

Advance reservations are recommended, especially during peak season. Some accommodations may also provide packages or guided tours for exploring the park. Check official tourism websites or contact local accommodations for the latest information on availability, prices, and options.


Is a visit to Los Glaciares National Park worth it? Absolutely! Los Glaciares National Park is an absolute gem, boasting breathtaking natural beauty, magnificent glaciers, and a rich variety of ecosystems. It offers an unparalleled experience that combines adventure, education, and a deep appreciation for the wonders of our planet.

When you visit Los Glaciares National Park, make sure to include Glacier Watching as a must-do activity. Immerse yourself in the awe-inspiring presence of the Perito Moreno Glacier, marveling at its massive ice formations and unparalleled natural splendor. Additionally, don’t miss out on the opportunity to explore the park’s diverse landscapes through hiking and trekking. Embark on thrilling trails like Laguna de los Tres or Laguna Torre, treating yourself to awe-inspiring views of mountains, lakes, and glaciers. To truly experience the park’s magnificence, take a boat tour or sail across its pristine lakes and rivers. These excursions allow you to witness glaciers up close, navigate icy waters, and soak in the surrounding scenery.

As you explore the park, keep an eye out for its diverse wildlife. Guided tours or simply observing keenly during your adventures may lead you to encounter guanacos, condors, foxes, and a plethora of bird species. Don’t forget to capture the park’s stunning landscapes and natural wonders through photography, preserving the memories of your time in this Patagonian wilderness.

Los Glaciares National Park is an unparalleled destination that promises a unique and captivating experience. It is a place where you can truly connect with nature, immersing yourself in its wonders and appreciating the importance of conservation. Prepare to be enchanted by this remarkable corner of the Earth, a true paradise awaiting your exploration

Picture of Ramiro Rodriguez

Ramiro Rodriguez

25 years working in travel market, as Sales & Marketing Manager in RipioTurismo, Marketing Manager in Nuevas Ideas Travel Consulting Group. Writer and travel lover.

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