Argentina // Patagonia //

The southern sector of the park

The exalted glaciers in the southern sector of the Los Glaciares national park attract huge numbers of visitors from all over the world and it takes a bit of planning to find the magic and avoid the crowds. The main sites cluster around Lago Argentino, the largest of all exclusively Argentine lakes, and the third biggest in all South America, with a surface area of 1600 square kilometres.

The three hotspots in the southern sector of the park are: the easy-to-reach and not-to-be-missed Glaciar Perito Moreno, which slams into the western end of the Península de Magallanes; Puerto Bandera, from where boat trips depart to Glaciar Upsala and the other northern glaciers that are inaccessible by land; and, to the south down the RP-15, the much-less-visited Lago Roca and the southern arm of Lago Argentino, the Brazo Sur.

Within the boundaries, be especially aware of the dangers of fire – an area of forest near Glaciar Spegazzini that burnt in the 1930s still hasn’t even remotely recovered. Mammals in the park include the gato montés wildcat, pumas and the endangered huemul, although you are highly unlikely to see any of these owing to their scarcity and elusive nature. There is plenty of enjoyable flora on display, though, such as the ubiquitous notro (Embothrium coccineum, known in English as the Chilean firebush or firetree), with its flaming red blooms between November and March. Commonly seen birds include the majestic black and red Magellanic woodpecker (Carpintero patagónico).