Los Glaciares National Park is a protected area located in the Argentine province of Santa Cruz and which covers an area extending over 14,000 square kilometers. It was established in 1937 and incorporates the Patagonian Steppe and the sub polar Megallanic Forest as well as Lago Argentino. Its biodiversity led UNESCO to declare it a World Heritage Site in 1980.
The park boasts outstanding beauty that comprises towering mountains, glacial lakes, and a vast Alpine ice field called the Patagonia. The Patagonia is the world’s largest ice field outside Antarctica. It features 47 glaciers and another 200 smaller glaciers that are separate from the main ice field.
The Los Glaciares National Park is the place to go to see the glacial activity in South America. The most popular site is on Lago Argentino and Lago Viedma where massive blue icebergs tumble into the milky glacial waters creating a thunderous splash.
This fact will surprise you – I was too; Los Glaciates is one of the few glaciers in the world that are getting larger rather than melting from the effects of global warming. The Mereno glacier has been advancing so fast that sometimes it cuts of the outlet of Lake Rico forming a large natural dam. During the summer, the glacier will melt. The dammed water will then roar downhill with great pleasure – woe to you if you are on the water’s path.
The region has two major types of vegetation; the Patagonian Steppe and the Sub-Antarctic forest. This vegetation is an ideal habitat for a host of wild animals such as Chilean Flamingoes, black necked swans, Andean Condor, and Darwin’s Rhea. Notable mammals in the ecosystem include Andean Heumul, Argentine Grey Fox, Guanaco and Austral Hog-nosed Skunk. The region also features some introduced species such as the European Hare
The earliest recorded inhabitants of this region were a hunter-gatherer community that relied mostly on guanaco for food. Later, the area was invaded by the Tehuelchian Indians who were completely exterminated during the Spanish colonization of the region. There are 14 sites in the area that showcases the best of Tehuelchian culture. The Los Glaciares National Park features all the Alpine scenery, but it is a cheaper destination. If you are travelling on a lean budget, then you are better off in this park than in the European Alps.