Los Glaciares is a spectacular UNESCO World Heritage site in Patagonia that is divided into two sections. The northern part of the park is home to the Fitzroy mountain range and some of the best trekking in the whole of South America (when the weather holds!). A particular highlight is the dazzling Huemul Circuit – one of the toughest but most rewarding treks in Patagonia. You can read about our experiences on the circuit here. This area of the park is accessed from the small town of El Chalten. The southern section is accessed from El Calafate and offers views of one of the most breathtaking glaciers in the world – the beautiful Perito Moreno. If the stunning scenery isn’t enough, there is also the chance to see Andean condors, flamingos, guanacos, rheas, the endangered huemul deer, and possibly even pumas!
Average rating: 4.0 (very good)
Average cost: hiking trails in the area are typically free to access. For the Huemul Circuit average costs including food and equipment hire can be around $40 per day. A bus from El Calafate to Perito Moreno costs around $20 and entrance to the park costs another $20 – although the Argentinian exchange rate can vary rapidly!
Best time to visit: October – April is the Patagonian Spring / Summer period when the weather is best for trekking.
How to get there: there are plenty of buses to the towns of El Chalten and El Calafate – from there it’s easy to reach the major trials or arrange trips into the park. There’s a nice guide to accessing the Perito Moreno glacier here and pretty much all you need to know about the Huemul Circuit here!
Typical activities: bird watching, boat trip, camping, hiking
Number of reports: 3
Wildlife in Los Glaciares
According to reports submitted to WildSide, the species visitors most want to see here are as follows:
Puma – 0% of visitors to the area (0/3) reported sightings
Los Glaciares has the potential for supporting pumas although there are very few recorded sightings. Unfortunately, most reports we came across were from hunters. That said, there is a report of a female puma named Mocha that was born and lived in Torres del Paine National Park. Mocha became famous for having no tail and was featured in several wildlife documentaries. She disappeared from Torres Del Paine in 2014 and was reported to have been seen in some fields west of El Calafate. So look out and if you do see a puma (with or without a tail) let us know!
Andean condor – 100% of visitors to the area (3/3) reported sightings
Hiking through the Fitzroy mountains is a great way to see condors soaring overhead. Self-guided treks through the park can be arranged (for free!) at the small town of El Chalten. When the weather is clear the trails are stunningly beautiful and condor sightings are pretty common. We saw them (at a distance) every day we spent trekking – although we also spent a few days huddled indoors out of the snow. The best places to see Andean condors are the viewpoints of Los Condores and Las Aguilas. You can also see them in the southern section of the park at Perito Merino although sightings are harder to come by and typically much further away.
Guanaco – 33% of visitors to the area (1/3) reported sightings
As with pretty much everywhere in Patagonia, guanacos are not hard to spot in Los Glaciares. We saw them not far outside of El Chalten and at several points along the access road from El Calafate. Take care when driving in the area as they can jump out onto the road right in front of you. It’s not uncommon to see dead guanacos lining the empty highways. You can also spot them on the Huemul Circuit although the density of guanacos is lower than other areas in Patagonia. Which means less food for pumas!
Huemul deer – 0% of visitors to the area (0/3) reported sightings
Huemul deer used to be found throughout much of South America. However, they are now highly endangered. The IUCN estimates that their population has fallen by 99% and their range by 50%. The last remaining huemuls are found clinging on in the rugged mountainous areas of Patagonia. But chances of seeing one of these secretive creatures are low. If you want to look for huemul try the Los Huemules Reserve near El Chalten. This private reserve has been set up to protect the endangered deer. There are a number of trials from which you can explore the park. If you do see one please let us know!
Rhea – 0% of visitors to the area (0/3) reported sightings
One of the reasons that Los Glaciares is designated a World Heritage site is due to its rich birdlife – including an important breeding population of Darwin’s Rhea. Sometimes called the ‘South American ostrich’ and locally known as the ‘choique’. While there are plenty of rheas in the park they can be more elusive than in other areas of Patagonia – such as Torres del Paine. Look out for them in open, grassy areas. As with guanacos, the road to El Calafate is also reported to be a good spot to see them.
Flamingo – 33% of visitors to the area (1/3) reported sightings
The park supports a population of Chilean flamingos. The best place to see flamingos is in the Laguna Nimez Natural Reserve. Here they feed in the icy blue waters of Lago Argentio against a background of white-capped peaks. You can reach the reserve by walking (~ 1 km) from El Calafate in the southern section of the park. Entrance costs around $2 and gives you access to a series of well-marked trails and signs. Staff at the reserve can loan equipment such as bincoulars.