Trekking in Argentine Patagonia - National Parks

Tierra del Fuego National Park
Tierra del Fuego National Park

Argentina's chunk of Patagonia is every bit as stunning as Chilean Patagonia, with matching pampas, peaks and glaciers in the south and, further north, forests of giant Alerce trees, snow-clad volcanoes and Argentina's very own Lake District.

Los Glaciares National Park, Santa Cruz

Los Glaciares National Park is probably best known for its massive exploding glacier, Perito Moreno, but hikers tend to head for El Chalten and the Fitzroy Sector in the north of the Park, where treks rival those of the world-famous Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia Chile.

Los Glaciares National Park
Los Glaciares National Park

Perito Moreno National Park, Santa Cruz

Perito Moreno is one of Patagonia's wildest and windiest national parks. Even the park's pampas is 900m above sea level, and that is crisscrossed with snow-capped mountain chains, rising to 2,770m, interspersed with glacial lakes, sub-antarctic forests and fjords - in all some 115,000 hectares.

Trekking can be challenging, but the day trek to Cerro León (1,434m) is worthwhile.

Average summer temperatures are 15C and wind speeds can rise to 100km/hour.

Tierra del Fuego National Park

Tierra del Fuego (Land of Fire) makes the wilderness of Torres del Paine in Chile seem tame. At the end of the world's southernmost highway are 63 square kilometers of pristine forests, awe-inspiring glaciers and translucent lakes.

Tierro del Fuego National Park is on the archipelago's largest island, Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego.

Los Alerces National Park, Chubut

Patagonia's giant sequoia-like trees, Alerces (Fitzroya cupressoides), can grow up to 70m and live for 4000 years. The Forest of the Alerces (El Bosque de los Alerces) is Los Alerce National Park's main attraction. A combined trekking and boat trip from Limonao Port will take you there, and also on to the Torrecillas Glacier.

Lago Puelo National Park, Chubut

Lago Puelo is a glassy turquoise lake linking Argentina and Chile. All around are balmy Valdivian rainforests, High Andean Steppe and and snow-tipped mountains - nearly 28,000 hectares of them.

This is Patagonia's warmest national park, with summer temperatures reaching 32C, and Lago Puelo's small sandy beach is popular with bathers. For trekkers, there are lakeshore campsites and hikes ranging from half a half-hour stroll in the Forest of the Shadows (Bosque de las Sombras) to a spectacular six-day trek to the Pacific via Chile.


Los Arrayanes National Park, Neuquén

Myrtle or Arrayánes trees (Luma apiculata) have beautifully contorted rust-colored barks, small glossy evergreen leaves, snow-white flowers and purple fruits. Arrayanes National Park is the only place to see them en masse, and the effect is quite something. Add dappled sunlight and it's easy to believe local claims that this golden woodland inspired Walt Disney's Bambi.

Get there by trekking from the park entrance 12km (7.5miles) or by boat via Nahuel Huapi lake.

Lanín National Park
Lanín National Park

Lanín National Park, Neuquén

For some reason Lanin National Park is one of the least visited in Northern Patagonia. The reason can't be the scenery, which is spectacular and diverse, with 35 lakes, endless forests, rocky peaks, lush valleys, and an extinct volcano crammed into 1,600 square miles.

Treks don't disappoint either, with mountain-framed lakes, Argentina's largest colony of monkey puzzle trees, secret thermal pools, Mapuche villages, and one rare plant or another at every turn.

Laguna Blanca National Park, Neuquén

A birdwatchers' paradise, Laguna Blanca National Park was first created to created black-necked swans. Head to the laguna to see them, and also sandpipers, flamingoes, coots and waterfowl. Higher up, look out for peregrine falcons and other birds of prey.

Nahuel Huapi National Park
Nahuel Huapi National Park

Nahuel Huapi National Park, Rio Negro and Neuquén

Argentine Patagonia's biggest National Park is a massive 7050 km2. Within its borders is Argentina's largest Lake, Nahuel Huapi (210 sq miles), snowy peaks up to 3491m, rain forests, and two largish towns, one of them - San Carlos de Bariloche - the chocolate capital of Argentina.

The trekking is spectacular, diverse and well serviced, with ten refugios and 16 campsites as well as a host of hotels.

Lihué Calel National Park, La Pampa

The Sierra de la Vida (Lihué Calel in Mapuche) is a short but dramatic mountain range rising from flat pampas to just 590 metres.

Treks tend to be short too, with spectacular mountain-top panoramas, cave paintings and abundant wildlife among the highlights.

Monte León National Park, Santa Cruz

Argentine Patagonia's newest national park is one of only two coastal National Parks in the country. Some 62,000 hectares includes 30km of shoreline, with rocky headlands, sandy beaches, caves and 60,000 penguins, the fourth largest colony in the world.

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