Los Glaciares National Park

Santa Cruz
S50 0 0 W73 14 57.984
Date of Inscription: 1981
Criteria: (vii)(viii)
Property : 726,927 ha
Ref: 145
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The Los Glaciares National Park is an area of exceptional natural beauty, with rugged, towering mountains and numerous glacial lakes, including Lake Argentino, which is 160 km long. At its farthest end, three glaciers meet to dump their effluvia into the milky grey glacial water, launching massive igloo icebergs into the lake with thunderous splashes.

Los Glaciares National Park is located in the Southwest of Santa Cruz Province in the Argentine part of Patagonia. Comprised of a National Park and a National Reserve it has a total surface area of 600,000 hectares. Los Glaciares owes its name to the numerous glaciers covering roughly half of the World Heritage property. Many of these glaciers are fed by the massive South Patagonian Ice Field, the most extensive South American relict of the glaciological processes of the Quaternary Period. In addition, there are impressive glaciers independent of the main ice field. The property therefore constitutes a massive freshwater reservoir.

The Upsala, Onelli and Perito Moreno Glaciers calve into the icy and milky waters of the huge Lake Argentino, which is partly included in the property. The most striking sight is the famous Perito Moreno Glacier. This large glacier blocks a narrow channel formed by Lake Argentino thereby raising the water level temporarily. This in turn causes regular thunderous ruptures of the glacier tongue into the lake.

Criterion (vii) : Los Glaciares National Park is embedded into the enchanted and remote mountain landscape of the Patagonian Andes shared by Argentina and Chile. Dominated by rugged granite peaks exceeding 3000 m.a.s.l. the landscape is modelled by massive, ongoing glaciations. About half of the large property is covered by numerous glaciers, many of which belong to South America’s largest ice field. Despite the name’s focus on the impressive glaciers there is a remarkable landscape diversity encompassing a large altitudinal gradient of more than 3000 metres and very diverse ecosystems.

The glaciers feed the huge mountain lakes of Viedma and Argentino. The overwhelming beauty of the landscape is epitomized where the Perito Moreno Glacier meets Lake Argentino. The vast front of the slowly and constantly moving glacier, up to 60 metres high, regularly calves bluish icebergs into the waters of Lake Argentino, an audiovisual spectacle attracting visitors from all over the world.

Criterion (viii) : Los Glaciares National Park is an excellent example of the significant process of glaciation, as well as of geological, geomorphic and physiographic phenomena caused by the ongoing advance and retreat of the glaciations that took place during the Pleistocene epoch in the Quaternary period, and the neoglaciations corresponding to the current epoch or Holocene. These events have modelled – and continue to model the landscape of the area and may be recognised by the lacustrine basins of glacial origin, the moraine systems deposited on the plateaux, or by more recent systems pertaining to the current valleys, and, the many large glacier tongues fed by the Ice Fields of the Andes. The property also provides fertile ground for scientific research on climate change.

Suggested Bases:

El Calafate is a small town in the Patagonia region of Argentina. El Calafate has grown due to the tourist influx into Patagonia. It is set on the glacial blue Lago Argentina and is full of eager trekkers. El Calafate’s climate is cool and dry. Summers are mild and windy while winters are cold and slightly wetter. Temperatures can even drop to below freezing in the middle of summer while the strong winds, characteristic of the climate in Patagonia makes the temperatures feel colder than it should be. Snowfall occurs from May to September. See the Perito Moreno Glacier is located 80 km (50 miles) away from El Calafate and is a premier attraction in the area. You can see the enormous glacier just meters away from you, and listen all the sounds that the cracking ice makes 24 hours a day. And when a front wall of the glacier falls down, well, it is simply breathtaking [read more]!

El Chalten is in the Patagonian region of southern Argentina. El Chaltén was founded in the late 1970s/early 1980s as an outpost of Argentina to anticipate land claims of Chile for that area. It is still a small town that is best known for being the gateway to Mount Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre, two of the most rugged and impressive peaks in the Patagonian Andes, as well as the Viedma Glacier, the biggest one in Argentina. The growing number of hiking tourist has led to an increase in construction and in summer the town is full of tourists. El Chaltén is also called the trekking capital of the world and offers trails of highly varying degrees. Most tourists go for the easy Mount Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre trails, while more enthusiastic hikers go for the Viedma Glacier trek. Besides that free salmon fishing, pricey glacier boat tours and even crossing over into Chile are possible here [read more].

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