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San Rafael Lagoon

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A Glass of Whiskey on the (Glacier) Rocks

This one million 742 thousand-hectare lagoon sits in the middle of the San Rafael Lagoon National Park. Its stunning scenery and biodiversity made it worthy of the title of UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. It is the largest park in the south of Chile and contains the Campos de Hielo Norte ice fields -including Valle Exploradores- and Mount San Valentín, Patagonia's highest peak (4058 meters).

Begin your San Rafael adventure with a catamaran ride from Puerto Chacabuco, 79 km from Coyhaique, (boats depart daily) or sail from Puerto Montt past the Guaitecas archipelago.

No matter which starting point you choose, you'll have an opportunity to discover the unique, craggy geography of the islands, channels and fjords of southern Chile, which is home to underwater mountain ranges formed by the ice that gathered there at the end of the Glacial periods. There are only eight fjord systems in the world, and Chilean Patagonia is one of them.

While you sail, take in the deep green of forests that look as though they were immersed in the sea. Don't forget to keep an eye on the boat's wake –you might spot a Peale's dolphin (also known as a Black-chinned dolphin) surfing the waves.

Just before you arrive, you'll cross Témpanos River, which ships must navigate carefully in order to avoid the ice floating in the water. You will undoubtedly take many photographs on your way, including some of the glacier's huge wall. Wait for the magic and thunderous moment when ice detaches from it; this is the perfect time to give in to the Patagonian tradition of drinking a toast with a glass of whiskey cooled by a piece of prehistoric ice.


Featured Destinations of Northern Patagonia

aCarretera Austral
bIce Fields


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




Warm clothes Batteries From Puyuhuapi
Don't forget to bring good shoes, waterproof clothing and a parka. It will be cold on the ship's deck, but if the weather is pleasant you can use the zodiac services to go right up to the glacier. It is a magical moment but one that will undoubtedly chill you to the bone. Don't forget to bring a hat, gloves and sunscreen. Cold temperatures deplete camera batteries quickly. Bring spares and keep your camera in a pocket close to your body to keep warm. If Puerto Chacabuco and Puerto Montt aren't convenient, you can take a catamaran from Puyuhuapi Springs.



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