PARQUE NACIONAL LOS GLACIARES
Parque Nacional Los Glaciares is located in the Argentinian side of the Patagonian Andes. On the south end of the Park is access to the Glaciar Moreno, and on the north end is access to Cerro Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre.

 
CONTENTS 
El Calafate
Glaciar Moreno
Cerro Fitz Roy & Cerro Torre
     For a close-up view
click on a pic! 

 
El Calafate 

El Calafate is a dusty but booming town full of visitors in the South American summer months. It is home to 1,000 or more chocolate shops and a handful of roaming dog gangs. It is also the middle point between Glaciar Moreno and Fitz Roy / Cerro Torre.

Getting there

The town is accessible by bus or by plane, although plane availability is dependent upon demand. From Puerto Natales, bus trips are available once or twice daily. We went with Cootra for 6,000 Pesos each, and left at 6:30 am. The 4-hour drive travels through steppe desert. On a clear day (apparently rare but we were lucky enough to have one!), Torres del Paine is visible out the left rearview mirror and about 2 hours later, Cerro Torre and Fitz Roy are directly ahead on the horizon.
 

El Calafate

 


 

Camping

There are several basic campsites in town. We chose the police-sponsored campsite just a 4-minute walk from the bus station.  For just US$4.00 each, we got a great deal: the bathrooms are kept very clean and hot showers are included in the price.

Food and Supplies

Everything you need is available in El Calafate, albeit at an inflated price. DO NOT MISS the Panaderia (bakery) kitty-corner to the bus terminal before you leave town! Yum!!!

El Chalten

 

 
Glaciar Moreno

This glacier is one of the few in the world that slides forward rather than recedes. It is beautiful in a huge kind of way, with a face about 80 m tall above water. The turquoise peaks that jut out from the glacier look like nature was having a bad hair day. 

Between long stretches of silence, other than the continuous sound of snapshots, the thunder of ice chunks falling into the water is echoed by the ooohs and aaaahs of tourists.

 

Glaciar Moreno

 
Getting there

The one-way bus ride to Glaciar Moreno costs US$10, and travels along a gravel road for 2 hours. Leaving at 19:00, the bus arrives just in time for sunset over the majestic glacier. We hitchhiked back, but if you donít want to live on the wild side, there are plenty of return trips that can be arranged before leaving El Calafate.

Camping

There are 3 campsites within the park, the closest to the glacier being 7 km before the glacier. Camping is free, and water and bathrooms are available. Bring toilet paper.
 

Glaciar Moreno

 

 
 
Cerro Fitz Roy & Cerro Torre

Getting there

Return bus trips between El Calafate and El Chalten are available daily. If you have a backpack cover, be sure to use it, otherwise when your backpack will be infested by dust from the gravel road. There is a halfway stop in the middle of nowhere at Hotel La Leona.  By playing Scrabble with La Leona, one can spell AL(L)  ALONE.

From the bridge there is a good view of the mountain range.
 

Santa Cruz River

 
Camping

Camping is free in the park. Water is available from the river. Bring a small spade or shovel to cover your nuggets; bathrooms are not available and the forest should not be used as one!

Hiking in the Park

We used the 1992 edition of Lonely Planetís Trekking in the Patagonian Andes as our source. The paths are well used, so no need to worry about going the wrong direction. Even fully packed with gear, we were consistently 75% faster than printed hiking times. Maybe we were just too excited about the excellent weather and scenery around us!!

Cerro Fitz Roy

 
Journal, 10.02.98

After a quick stop at the panaderia, we jumped on the bus at 7:30 to El Chalten. The weather was perfect, and once again, even from far off, the peaks of the mountains looked like the Emerald City in the land of Oz. I think those stories that Cerro Torre is always in the clouds is just a line that the climbers use to keep the sight to themselves!!

The booming town of El Chalten is all told maybe 40 buildings. Leaving town, the first few kilometers are all uphill, and the combination of a heavy pack and blazing hot sun was nevertheless forgotten in the excitement of seeing Cerro Torre up close. This view came at Torre Lookout. WOW! One hour later, after hiking through a calafate bush-invested sandbed, we reached the Bridwell Camp.

 


 

Sunrise on Cerro Torre


 


 

In the middle of Bridwell Camp is a jigsaw-puzzle creation of a shack, and although people are allowed to stay here for a maximum of 30 days, many climbers will stay longer in order to finally achieve climbing this infamous peak. There is also a bench that looks directly up to Cerro Torre and nearby a little replica of C.T., about 80 cm tall, at the entrance to the camp - perhaps the climbers stare at this version of the peak when the real one is hiding in the clouds.

Other than the permanents, the site was full of tents, half belonging to seasonal climbers, ¼ to wannabes and ¼ to hikers like us. There, everybody was in a good mood; the climbers were on Cerro Torre or else heading to/from it and the view was spectacular. We hiked up to the Maestri based camp on the other side of the lake, and have spent the remaining time this afternoon updating our travel journals.

At the end of the day, not a cloud was in the sky. The sun stroked the side of CT, and as it left, the almost full moon lit the sky.

Journal, 11.02.98

Sun rise on Cerro Torre!!
 


 
 
 

Sunrise over the Pampas


 

 
Copyright 1998 Uwe Kazmaier und Alison Jones, erstellt am 25.10.1998