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Patagonia Glaciers - Argentina Travel Information

Photos from Patagonia Glaciers

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(Parque Nacional Los Glaciares)

Los Glaciares (The Glaciers) national park is covering an area of 6,000.000 sq km of mountains, glaciers and lakes in Santa Cruz Province in Argentina, South Argentina. The park is situated in an area called Patagonia. Most of the park is inaccessible for visitors, except for 2 areas - the Fitz Roy mountain near the town of Chalten town (see separately) and the Perito Moreno area.

In the park's area there are 356 glaciers, of which 13 are defined as important.

UNESCO declared Patagonia Glaciers in 1981 as a World Heritage Site.

Perito Moreno Glacier

Perito Moreno Glacier is one of the "must sees" of Argentina. Few are the places where nature is so impressive and so accessible as this glacier. Contrary to most glaciers in the world, Perito Moreno Glacier is advancing and not moving backward.

In the past the glacier used to advance until it completely blocked the water-pass beneath it, until the waters carved a tunnel through. This phenomenon caused a 2 day event of huge glacier parts crashing into the waters. This phenomenon, however, hasn't occurred in 16 years, until the year 2004 when the glacier advanced once again, and blocked the water-pass.

The glacier is called by travelers the Crushing Glacier because of the explosion sounds that can be heard each time the glacier cracks. From time to time a huge ice block breaks off the glacier, falling into the water in an enormous powerful sound - an unforgettable sight.

The biggest crushes usually occur in the afternoon of sunny days.

The width of this amazing glacier is 4,500 meters and its height is 60 meters above the water level, and another 130 meters below the water level. Its length is about 37km. In order to get a perspective on the size of the glacier, it's enough to say that it can contain the entire of Buenos Aires area.

The glacier can be seen from several viewing points, promenades and balconies that were built for the traveler's comfort. It is also possible to walk on the glacier (for an extra cost) or to get near it by boat.

The distance from El Calafate to the glacier is about 80 km.


In the glacier area there is a camping area (for those who are interested staying over more than one day), but the way to the campsite requires a long walk from the glacier.


The park entrance fee is 20 Pesos per person.

Getting there

It is possible to get to the Perito Moreno Glacier by bus, taxi or a private car. The drive to the glacier starts from El Calafate.

Several companies operate minibuses to the glacier, usually accompanied by an English speaking guide, although the information provided by the guide is limited. The bus usually leaves at 9:00 AM and allows 4 hours by the glacier before returning. The prices can reach $25-$30 per person, not including park entrance fee and food.

If you wish to see the glacier by yourself, you can take a taxi (about $40 for a couple) and go before the tourist wave arrives. Another option is going by taxi, sleeping one night at the camping area and taking a bus back on the next day.

Upsala and Spegazzini Glaciers

Upsala glacier is the biggest glacier in South America. Its length is 60km and its width is 10km. It is not possible to reach it by foot or by car, but only by boat. Boats leave from El Calafate, going through Upsala and Spegazzini glaciers and some other glaciers.


The cruise leavs from Punta Bandera port, 47km from El Calafate. After an hour and a half of cruise, passing through huge amazing blue colored glaciers floating on Lake Argentino, you reach Upsala glacier. The cruise continues to Onelli bay, a meeting point for 3 glaciers. There you can have lunch in a restaurant (expensive). From there it continues to the impressive Spegazzini glacier that reaches 135 metersin height.

The cruise is about 10 hours long. Lunch is not included in the price, so bring your own food (food can also be bought on the boat, but it is expensive).


The cruise itself is an expensive experience for backpackers - around $150.

El Calafate

El Calafate, the capital of Argentina?s glaciers region, is on the southern banks of Lake Argentino in the Santa Cruz province. El Calafate is the place where most travelers stay on their way to see the Perito Moreno or Upsala glaciers.

No visit to El Calafate is complete without a visit to some of the town?s fine restaurants, which serve some of Argentina?s finest meat. The town?s chocolate stores are a great way to complete the meal perfectly.

A nice place around town is Laguna Nimez, a rather small laguna situated only a few kilometers from the town?s center. The laguna houses a small population of water birds, which can be viewed while walking a short (500 meters) circular trail around the laguna. In the entrance to the reserve you can view some photos of the various birds, so you can identify them during your walk.