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Face to Face with Ice Giants

The Northern Ice Field is home to the famous San Rafael, Exploradores and Leones Glaciers, the first of which is part of Laguna San Rafael National Park. Each glacier in the Southern Ice Field is equally impressive. Pio XI forms part of Bernardo O'Higgins National Park and, at 265 square kilometers, is the largest in the Southern Hemisphere outside Antarctica. O'Higgins is located on the lake of the same name at the end of the Carretera Austral. Finally, Tyndall and Grey Glaciers are part of Torres del Paine National Park, and the latter is split by an island that allows you to explore it on foot.

Why come face to face with these giants? Because they're astonishing natural formations. You'll marvel at their irregular shapes, colors (which range from transparent to white and blue) and the hair-raising sounds created by pieces of ice breaking off of them.

Trekking through these parts is an unforgettable experience that includes walking on the glaciers' irregular surfaces. Special boat tours allow you to see the floes up close as they float silent and forgotten on lakes and seas. Before you leave, you'll have to enjoy a local custom: a toast with a glass of whisky chilled with a piece of thousand-year-old ice.

 

Featured Destinations of Northern Patagonia

aCarretera Austral
bIce Fields
cCoyhaique

 

Tours you can do

San Rafael Lagoon

Palena - Queulat
Pumalín - Futaleufú

Cerro Castillo National Reserve
Villa O'Higgins - Tortel

General Carrera Lake and Baker River
Exploradores Glacier



 

Getting There

en auto
By Car
Most of the glaciers are accessible via walking circuits (which take a few hours to complete), or by sailing along the Patagonian Canals. The Exploradores Glacier is only accessible by car. If you take the 52-kilometer gravel road from Puerto Río Tranquilo, you'll reach the glacier's lookout after a 30 minute ascent.
 

Tips

01

Walking on Ice    
Try ice trekking on the Exploradores and Grey Glaciers. You'll need to go with a specialized agency that will provide you with a guide and safety equipment. Don't forget to bring boots, waterproof and warm clothing, a hat, gloves, sunglasses and sunblock.    

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