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Los Glaciares National Park, Santa Cruz

Argentine Patagonia, Argentina, Central + South America: Perito Moreno glacier, Los Glaciares National Park, Argentine Patagonia
Santa Cruz
Argentina's insider take:

Los Glaciares National Park is one of South America's most compelling natural spectacles. It is here that the 250-mile-long Southern Patagonian Ice Cap—the largest expanse of permanent ice outside Antarctica and Greenland—spills over into 13 glaciers that cascade through sheer-sided fjords to milky-turquoise meltwater lakes. The most viewed is the three-mile-wide Perito Moreno glacier (pictured), which regularly calves huge columns of ice that collapse spectacularly into Lake Argentina. Drive the 50 miles yourself or take a taxi from El Calafate; alternatively, from September to March, local bus companies Interlagos Turismo (54-2902-491179) and Taqsa (54-2902-491843; run day trips from town. Hielo & Aventura offers guided hikes onto the glacier itself, crampons included (54-2902-492205; Topography and transport conspire to funnel all visitors through fast-growing tourist trap El Calafate, where poor service and unjustifiably high prices have long gone unpunished. The village of El Chaltén, at the northern end of the national park, once a rustic cluster of chalets and huts inhabited by climbers and nature lovers, is now connected by paved road to El Calafate airport. It has become a bustling outdoor-activity center, favored as much by hikers doing the day trails around the park as serious alpinists intent on tackling 11,073-foot Cerro Chaltén (also known as Cerro Fitz Roy) or 10,278-foot Cerro Torre, twin peaks of unparalleled beauty, renowned as among the toughest ascents in South America.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.