swimming in laguna de los tres - don't forget to pack your swismsuit to patagonia!
Argentina

Things to do in Los Glaciares National Park – not just glaciers

The name of parque nacional Los Glaciares in Argentinian Patagonia literally translates to “the Glaciers” in English. So when thinking of things to do in Los Glaciares national park, “visit glaciers” would be the obvious answer.

Yes, it is true, there are 47 major glaciers and about 190 smaller glaciers there, plus the South Patagonian ice field! So visiting and seeing glaciers is one of the main things to do – and one you definitely must do!

But!

There is just so much more to Los Glaciares national park.

So let’s check out some of the things you can try to fit into your itinerary.

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Things to do in Los Glaciares National Park

Explore the glaciers

Ac lose-up view of a piece of ice calving off the front wall of Perito Moreno glacier in Patagonia.
Huge chunks of ice regularly calve off the front wall of Perito Moreno, causing a little “tsunami” as they fall into Lago Argentino – a natural spectacle that is guaranteed to send shivers down your spine 🙂

Well, I know I said there are many more things to do in Los Glaciares National Park than visiting the glaciers, but I couldn’t not mention it here, could I?

Anyways, there is more than one way to enjoy these timeless pieces of ice.

The most popular glacier in Los Glaciares is, of course, the Perito Moreno. It’s definitely an item to add to your Patagonia bucket list!

Perito Moreno is one of the easiest to access, and there are a lot of tours available for exploring it from all sides. You can go ice trekking on it (definitely recommended by us!), kayaking, on a boat tour, or just enjoy it from the balconies. After our trek on the glacier, we spent hours just watching and listening to the ice calving.

But there are other incredible glaciers to see (which you probably figured out for yourself as well).

In the South of Los Glaciares, near El Calafate and the Perito Moreno, there are Upsala, Secco and Spegazzini glaciers.

In the north, feeding into the second biggest lake in Los Glaciares National Park – lago Viedma – is the glacier Viedma. The view of the mountains, the glacier, and the milky blue water is exceptional.

Other than glaciar Viedma, there are a lot of smaller glaciers in the north of Los Glaciares which you can see by hiking around the park.

The best way to explore the glaciers of national park Los Glaciares? Well, it depends on you, honestly.

You can go trekking on some of them, which is definitely an incredible experience. Most famous for trekking is Perito Moreno, but I’ve seen tours to go hiking on Glacier Grande, Cagliero Glacier, and I’m sure there are many more available.

If you don’t want to go hiking, another way to get close to glaciers is on a boat tour.

Boat trips

perito moreno glacier, a boat, and lago argentino
The boat looks so small compared to the glacier Perito Moreno /Image by ©tankbmb via Canva.com

There are numerous boat rides with different companies and with different prices available. The companies will take you rather close to the glaciers, so you can see how majestic they are for yourself.

You can go to specific glaciers – Perito Moreno, Spegazzini, Vespignani or other glaciers -, or choose an “All glaciers” type of trip. And then, between those, there are trips that even have “gourmet” experiences and open bars!

The tours usually last for at least half a day, many are even full-day trips. Not all of them include food, though, so make sure to research them properly before buying a ticket!

Kayaking

Whether you’re an experienced kayaker or just a beginner, you can go on a kayak trip to the Perito Moreno glacier.

Float along the icebergs that have just calved off the 60m wall of Perito Moreno, listen close-up to the rumbling of the ice, and take pictures that take your breath away.

End the trip by going on the foot-bridges and looking at the glacier from afar.

Will you manage to take a picture of the iceberg actually falling off the Perito Moreno?

Join an expedition to the South Patagonian ice cap

If just seeing a glacier doesn’t seem enough to you, consider joining an 8 to 10-day expedition of the South Patagonian Ice Field!

During such an expedition, you’d climb and sleep on glaciers, hike across the ice field to Cerro Torre, Paso del Viento, Cerro Huemul and back to El Chalten.

It looks like it might be an incredible experience, but make sure that you are in the right shape for it. This expedition is bound to be both physically and mentally exhausting.

Plus, don’t think that it would be cheap!

But if you’re up to it, definitely go! And then send me an e-mail detailing your experience!

Rafting

You can do rafting on some of the rivers in Los Glaciares national park. The official website of Los Glaciares state that it’s possible on River Santa Cruz and River De Las Vueltas, although I found tours available only on the Santa Cruz River. At this time, they are not available but should start again in November 2021.

The tour that I found is a half-day tour. You cross rapids of varying difficulty – from calm waters to exciting rapids that make the raft move up and down.

All this time, you can enjoy the views of Cerro Fitz Roy and other mountains around El Chalten.

Sounds like a fun adventure, doesn’t it?

Climbing (mountaineering)

climbing cerro solo is one of things to do in Los Glaciares national park
Cerro Solo looks pretty cool /Image by ©SteffenHuebner via Canva.com

Climbing might be one of the most adventurous things to do in Los Glaciares national park – right along with the whitewater rafting.

If you are up for it, though, head over to El Chalten, where some of the most notable peaks of the park are. There are climbs that are accessible to beginners and some that are very advanced.

Cerro Vespignani, for example, is one of the peaks that is good for intermediate climbers and can be used for an introduction to glacier climbing. The ascent can be done in basically any weather. Plus, unlike other peaks, it can be done as a full day trip instead of multi-day.

Cerro Solo is another peak to climb, and it’s already a lot more difficult. It takes 3 days to reach the top. On the first and last days, you hike out of El Chalten and around Mount Fitz Roy, and the second day is for ascending the peak itself.

If you’re up for something really advanced, some of the best ones are the famous Cerro Torre or Cerro Fitz Roy themselves. Both are very technically challenging climbs, and you need to be extremely fit and an advanced climber to do either of them. But, when climbed, the views are most definitely worth them.

Ride a bicycle around Los Glaciares

I don’t think a bicycle ride is one of the things to do in Los Glaciares National Park that many people think of. The distances are too far for it, aren’t they?

Well, theoretically, yes, but on the other hand, this is quite a quiet way of enjoying the backroads where there’s no access with cars.

Since bicycle pretty much (hopefully) doesn’t make a lot of sounds, you get to see some of the animals and birds that would otherwise run away from you.

Maybe you would even come face to face with a puma? Although, on the other hand, that might not end too well.

Horse riding

horses in los glaciares national park
One of these guys perhaps? /Image by ©Marco Ramerini via Canva.com

What better way to visit hard to reach places than on a back of a horse?

Unlike a bicycle, a horse doesn’t need a road.

Explore the landscapes from angles that are seldom seen, visit hidden glaciers and lakes, and see animals that roam further away from the crowded places.

It’s possible to rent a horse for yourself and just explore, or better yet – join a guided tour and have yourself taken to the hidden gems of Los Glaciares National Park.

There are tours that take you to glaciers, lakes and lagoons, different estancias and sheep farms, and other interesting places. If you combine the horse-riding tour with an actual stay in a Patagonian ranch, you get to enjoy so much more than just the hidden gems of Los Glaciares!

If you are in good horse riding shape and have the extra time, this might be a really incredible experience to have in Los Glaciares.

Visit an estancia

argentinian mixed grill - a selection of meats and vegetables cooked on a grill
Argentinian BBQ in an estancia anyone? /Source: Shutterstock

Learn about the life and work of the original Patagonian gauchos or cowboys by visiting or actually staying in an estancia.

Whether you go on a day trip to the estancia or stay the night there, you’ll learn how the gauchos go about their day and care for the farm.

There are horse-riding tours available where you not just visit one farm, but multiple during the same trip.

Many of these tours offer a traditional Argentinian BBQ at the end – the food that they make tickles all the senses, not just the taste.

Sightseeing

One of the best things to do in Los Glaciares national park is just plain old sightseeing.

There is so much to see in the park, and you don’t even have to pay for most of it.

Just like with Torres del Paine national park in Chilean Patagonia, just get in your car, drive, stop randomly, and enjoy the views.

Visit the lago Argentino – the biggest fresh-water lake in Argentina and the third biggest in South America.

Check out lago Viedma with the glacier Viedma.

Drive a bit out of El Chalten and take in the view of the impressive Fitz Roy massif.

It’s so useful to have a car in Patagonia so you can just stop wherever and enjoy the Patagonian steppe.

Just… enjoy!

Fishing

With so many lakes and rivers available, fishing is an easy thing to do in Los Glaciares national park.

There is a variety of fish available, such as rainbow trout, king salmon, and lake trout.

Some places where fishing can be done are Rio Caterina; Lago Roca and Rico river, which are located 51km from El Calafate; and River De Las Vueltas near El Chalten.

Be sure to obtain the permission to fish from the local authorities or, for ease of it, join a tour, like the one from Inter Patagonia.

Joining a tour is easier than trying to fish on your own, as the guides will provide the equipment, accommodation, transport, and food, as well as, they know where the best spots are. On the other hand, it does make the trip more expensive, so you have to weigh all pros and cons.

Hiking in Los Glaciares national park

There are so many incredible hiking trails in Los Glaciares, especially near El Chalten that they deserve a separate entry from the other things to do in Los Glaciares national park.

Well, honestly, the whole Patagonia is a hiker’s paradise.

In Los Glaciares, you can find trails for all skills. There are just relatively easy walks available, as well as multi-day treks.

We personally managed to do three hikes in Los Glaciares – Mirador Los Condores and Las Aguilas, Perito Moreno ice trek, and Laguna de los Tres. All of these had different difficulty levels and were impressive in their own ways.

So, let’s check out some of the hiking in Los Glaciares national park that you can do when visiting.

Perito Moreno ice trek

happy couple hiking on glacier perito moreno
Happy puppies at the end of our Perito Moreno glacier hike

One of the highlights of our trip to Patagonia!

One of the only hikes in Los Glaciares that you can’t do without a guide. And it makes a lot of sense – the Perito Moreno glacier constantly changes, as it moves approximately 2 meters a day, so it would be too dangerous to let people just roam on it by themselves.

The ice hike itself takes approximately 1,5h hours, and it’s said to be of moderate difficulty. We thought that it was quite easy, actually, but, admittedly, we were in really great physical shape then.

At the end of the hike, you get to drink some whiskey with ice as fresh as it gets – the ice is swooped up straight from the glacier! Good that the pollution levels in Patagonia are very low!

After you’ve hiked the Perito Moreno, definitely walk over to the balconies to enjoy the view of the glacier’s 60m tall wall. You can hear thundering sounds from the ice breaking off in the distance, plus occasionally huge chunks will fall off directly in front of you from the wall.

Duration: 10 hours (1,5h on ice); includes transfer times (optional)

Difficulty: moderate

What to carry: food for after the hike, warm clothing

Paid? Yes

Mirador Los Condores and Las Aguilas

mirador de las aguilas viewpoint in Los Glaciares national park
The view is pretty nice. /Image by ©DanFLCreativo via Canva.com

Technically, it’s two different hikes, but they are both at the same place. Just at one point of the trail, there’s a fork – if you turn left, in 10 minutes you’ll reach the Los Condores viewpoint, and if you turn right, it’s 30 minutes to the Las Aguilas.

The starting point of this walk is at the National Park visitor’s centre in El Chalten. The trail is well signed, and it gives you the opportunity to enjoy some incredible views just a short and easy walk away.

We did this hike the next day after doing Laguna de los Tres, when I wasn’t even sure that I’ll ever be able to walk properly, haha.

As the name suggests, if you go to the mirador Los Condores, you’ll get a chance to observe one of the most incredible birds of Patagonia – Condors. Plus, it lets you see a panoramic view of El Chalten and the Fitz Roy massive. Incredible during sunset hours.

The viewpoint of Las Aguilas is a natural balcony that overlooks the lago Viedma, the Cerro Huemul and the Cerro Piramide.

Duration: 2h

Distance: 4 or 6km

Difficulty: Easy, minimal elevation gain

What to carry: water, food, first aid kit

Paid? No

Laguna Capri

sign of a hiking trail in los glaciares
Wich way now? /Image by ©karenfoleyphotography via Canva.com

This is another easy Los Glaciares hiking trail. It’s just a short 2h walk to a lagoon located in the middle of a Patagonian forest with nice views of Mount Fitz Roy.

In the beginning, the trail is a bit steep, but after the viewpoint of the De las Vueltas river valley, it levels out.

At the end of the trail, you have a choice to go to Laguna Capri (to the left) and towards the viewpoint of the Mount Fitz Roy and Laguna de los Tres (to the right). Do both if you have the energy for it!

Duration: 4 to 5h

Distance: 8km

Difficulty: easy, 400m elevation gain

What to carry: water, food, first aid kit, windproof jacket, warm clothes, sunscreen

Paid? No

Piedras Blancas glacier viewpoint

A view of couple hiking in Los Glaciares natioanl park, El Chalten, Argentina.
Jagged mountains, glaciers, lagoons, grey clouds, white clouds, lenga trees and two happy hikers.

This hike begins just a bit outside of El Chalten, in the De Las Vueltas River Valley. It’s actually part of the Laguna de los Tres trail, so we got to enjoy the views of the Piedras Blancas and even have a picture!

It’s quite an easy walk to the viewpoint of one of the low glaciers that descend from mount Fitz Roy.

Be aware that the walk begins on private property. The owners allow free access as long as the visitors are mindful: don’t leave trash behind, don’t stray off the paths, be quiet, and remember that there are no public toilets available.

The two-hour hike goes mostly through the forest and near the Polo stream. Along the trail, you can catch glances of Mount Chaltén and the great wall of its North face through the trees.

At the viewpoint, you’ll get to enjoy the full beauty of the Piedras Blancas glacier that is located some 2km away. If you’re lucky, you might even catch some ice fall from the front face of it.

Duration: 4 to 5h

Distance: 8km

Difficulty: easy, 230m elevation gain

What to carry: water, food, first aid kit

Paid? No

Laguna de los Tres

View of Laguna de los Tres and Mt. Fitz Roy in national park Los Glaciares in Patagonia - hiking is one of the best things to do in Los Glaciares national park
One of my favourite pictures from our whole trip.

One of the most popular and most beautiful day hikes in the whole of Patagonia.

This means – expect crowds!

But, on the other hand, it means that there are people who can take pictures of you, so no selfies needed!

The hike to Laguna de los Tres is HARD. Well, the first part is not, but in the last hour you basically just go straight up.

There were some families with children hiking the trail, but I’m not sure they actually made it all the way up to the laguna – we met them both on the way up and down.

But, if you’re up for it, definitely put this hike on your Patagonia bucket list – the view at the end of the trail is breathtaking.

The peaks of Mt Fitz Roy, Poincenot and Torre – the tres in the name of Laguna de los Tres – reflect nicely in the lagoon.

And don’t forget to check out laguna Sucia, which is located just a bit to the left from the Laguna de los Tres.

Duration: 8 to 10 hours

Distance: 23km

Difficulty: moderate to hard, cumulative approximately 960m elevation gain

What to carry: Hiking poles, WATER, food, extra layers, first aid kit

Paid? No

Laguna Torre and Mirador Maestri

view from mirador of torres glacier
View from Mirador Maestri /Image by ©AndreiTunesClaro via Canva.com

Laguna Torre is another incredible hike, just like Laguna de los Tres.

This relatively easy hike offers several incredible lookouts (miradores) where you’ll have a chance to see the peaks of Cerro Torre. Most of the hike is along the shores of the Rio Fitz Roy, until you reach the glacial laguna Torre.

On the way, you get to enjoy some incredible views of Cerro Solo, Adela range, Cerro Torre and the Mount Fitz Roy. 15 minutes into the hike, at a viewpoint, you can see Margarita waterfall across the river.

15 minutes after you pass the De Agostini base camp, you reach the crest of the path. From there, it’s possible to go to the Laguna Torre or continue for 2 more kilometres to Mirador Maestri, where you can enjoy a view of the Grande and Torre glaciers going down in the laguna below.

Duration: 5 to 6h

Distance: 20km

Difficulty: easy, 250m (350m to mirador Maestri) elevation gain

What to carry: water, food, first aid kit

Paid? No

Loma del Pliegue Tumbado

view from loma del pliegue tumbado
View from the top. I’m so sad that we didn’t get to do the hike! /Image by ©Serjio74 via Canva.com

“Hill of the lying fold” in English, this hike is one of the very few that doesn’t go into the valley but ascends above it. That means it offers some incredible panoramic views of the entire El Chalten area.

The trail to Loma del Pliegue Tumbado starts at the same spot as the mirador Los Condores and Las Aguilas – at the National Park visitor’s centre in El Chalten. Just at the beginning, there’s a small fence where it’s shown that the trail to the left goes to Los Condores and Las Aguilas viewpoints, and to the right – towards Pliegue Tumbado and Laguna Toro/Paso del Viento.

There’s a complete lack of trees on the top of the mountain, so make sure to take windproof clothing and warm clothes, as well as sunscreen. Don’t be surprised to be caught in a small snowstorm – even if you’re visiting in the middle of the summer!

As a side note, it’s very important to have these items on your Patagonia packing list.

During the hike plain called “Pampa De las Carretas” from which you can enjoy incredible unobstructed views of the mountains Huemul, Torre, and Chalten and the Viedma lake.

After the pampa, there’s a bit of the forest. When you exit it, you have to walk through rocks and stones, which hide remains of marine fossils such as ammonites and belemnites which are about 100 million years old.

From the summit, you’ll get incredible panoramic views of the whole Chalten area including the Fitz Roy Range, Cerro Torre, Adela Range, Solo Mountain, Toro Valley, Huemul Mountain and Viedma Lake.

At the top, though, be very careful. As always when hiking in Los Glaciares national park, and the whole of Patagonia, there can be very strong winds.

The whole Loma del Pliegue Tumbado trail maintains a gradual ascent, with the steepest part of it being at the end.

Duration: 7 to 8h

Distance: 18km

Difficulty: moderate, 1100m elevation gain

What to carry: water, food, first aid kit, hiking poles, windproof jacket, warm clothes

Paid? No

Huemul circuit

Huemul lagoon and glacier in los glaciares national park in Argentina
Huemul lagoon and glacier ©jlazouphoto via Canva.com

When talking about the best hiking trails in Los Glaciares National Park, I couldn’t not mention the Huemul Circuit.

The Huemul Circuit is considered to be one of the hardest hikes in Patagonia. Only experienced hikers should go on these.

It goes over two mountain passes, is badly marked, and you cross rivers which sometimes requires ziplining. Since it’s a very demanding hike, you wouldn’t meet a lot of people, which means that you need to prepare for emergency situations as well.

On the other hand, the views definitely are worth it. There are massive glaciers, incredible mountain views, turquoise waters, and lush greenery. The view from Paso del Viento of the Southern Patagonian Ice field, though, definitely makes this one of the best hikes in Patagonia.

To go on this hike, you need to register with the Centro de Informes Ceferino Fonzo for the national park in El Chaltén to get a hiking permit, plus the rangers will check that you have the safety gear and know-how to use it. You need (per person) 1 harness, 2 carabiners, 1 safety line or sling, 1 thin cord or rope (35m long), a map of the circuit, and a cooking stove.

Location: Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina

Duration: 5 days

Distance: 64km

Difficulty: hard

What to carry: Safety equipment, map, compass or GPS. Camping and cooking equipment. Trekking poles. Bigger (45l at least) hiking backpack.

Paid? Not, unless you go with a guide.

Tour companies that provide things to do in Los Glaciares National Park

If there is something you want to do in Los Glaciares National Park, there’s probably a tour available for that. Some of them even include airfares from places like Buenos Aires!

It’s possible to book tours in Los Glaciares national park both through big and international agencies like Get Your Guide and directly with the smaller local firms.

Of course, since there are so many things to Los Glaciares national park, there are many more companies. But I wanted to list at least a few.

Hielo y Aventura

The original Perito Moreno ice-trek company, so I feel obligated to mention it, although they don’t seem to run the treks at the time of publishing this article.

But! There’s a nautical safari available!

The tour guides speak English, Spanish, and Portuguese. They not only take you on the trek but provide you with information about the glacier and glaciology in general.

  • Maybe they’ll run the Perito Moreno Ice Hikes again, hopefully! Because we really enjoyed it.
  • Safari Nautico

GetYourGuide

Get your guide is an international company that runs tours all over the world, so it might feel a bit safer to book tours with them instead of the smaller local ones.

The company is basically a mediator between the travellers and the local guides and different tour companies. It’s just like booking.com, but for tour companies.

Get your guide aims to make looking for tours easier for you by having them all in one place, so to say.

Obviously, not all of the tour agencies and guides are on the platform, so make sure to check others as well to find the tour that is perfect for you!

Things to do in Los Glaciares National Park run by GetYourGuide

  • Trips to glaciers by boats
  • Perito Moreno kayaking
  • Native Cultures excursion
  • Glacier treks
  • Hiking

Viator

Another one of the big companies, a part of Tripadvisor.

Same as GetYourGuide, they show you and help you book tours by different travel agencies and tour companies.

If booking through Viator, they promise free cancellation and different payment options. Also, they hint that if you find a lower price somewhere, they’ll match it. But it’s just a hint, not stated openly.

Things to do in Los Glaciares National Park run by Viator

  • Big Ice Perito Moreno glacier trek operated by Tangol
  • Visit El Calafate from Buenos Aires with a guide
  • Glacier hikes
  • Glacier boat tours
  • Rafting
  • Estancia visit
  • Hiking and trekking
  • Best of Patagonia tours

Local guides in El Chalten

On the website about El Chalten, you can find information about local tour guides running different excursions.

Elchalten.com gives you a lot of information about everything in and around El Chalten, so it’s easy to plan your visit there.

The website gives you a way to contact them and arrange everything.

Activities in El Chalten that you can book through elchalten.com

  • Horseriding
  • Bicycle ride
  • Fishing
  • Exploring a petrified forest
  • Kayaking
  • Icetrek on Cagliero glacier
  • Lake tour and trekking Vespignani glacier
  • Rafting

Mountaineering Patagonia

Mountaineering Patagonia is a guide company with national AAGM and international UIAGM-IFMGA certifications, who run tours in Southern Patagonia. It’s located in El Chaltén. Mountaineering Patagonia has been running activities since 1998.

Tours in Los Glaciares national park that are run by Mountaineering Patagonia

  • Hiking
  • Trekking
  • Mountain Ascents
  • Rock Climbing
  • Ski Touring
  • Southern Ice Field Expeditions.

Cascada travel

Cascada travel was founded in 1991 in Chile to, in their words, create a unique company that showed off the best of Chile and the south of South America through thrilling and immersive adventures.

They are partnered with EcoCamp – a sustainable hotel located in Torres del Paine, Chilean Patagonia, so some of their tours are extensions of the stay in EcoCamp.

Activities in Los Glaciares National Park run by Cascada

  • Hiking
  • Glacier explorations – multi day
  • Hiking Perito Moreno – extension of stay in EcoCamp
  • Visiting Perito Moreno from Torres del Paine national park

Summary about things to do in Los Glaciares National Park

Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina is definitely one of the most beautiful places that we’ve visited. It’s an incredible place, and I definitely understand why it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site.  

There’s an incredible number of things to do in Los Glaciares National Park – for every single taste, I would even say. Whatever it is that you decide to do, it’s bound to be exciting.

Which activity caught your eye the most?


Kristine is the owner and main blogger of Wanderlust Designers. Her main goal is to show everyone that you can travel and see the world even when working full time.

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