Carretera Austral stands out for the diversity of its landscapes. On its extensive route, it crosses fjords, Valdivian rain forest, transition forest, Patagonian steppe, huge lakes, fast flowing rivers and, of course, impressive glaciers.
In this post, we will make a brief tour of the 10 main accessible glaciers of our Carretera Austral (Claro ... With 2 huge Ice Fields, there are many more!).
All have characteristics, accessibility and particular beauties, for which, we have preferred to list them in strict geographic criteria, starting with those located further north, and ending in the south. (source: http://www.carretera-austral.pro/los-glaciares-de-carretera-austral/)
1. Yelcho Chico Ventisquero
This glacier is located 44 kilometers south of Chaitén, on the summits of the beautiful Yelcho Lake, which it feeds with its eternal snow. There is a 6-kilometer round-trip path that goes through a temperate rain forest, through which you can reach the viewpoint. Do not forget to take the traditional photograph from the Yelcho Suspension Bridge!
2. Hanging Ventisquero
An icon of Carretera Austral is the photograph of the Hanging Glacier, the Flying Glacier. It is located in the Queulat National Park, 18 kilometers south of Puyuhuapi. As its name indicates, its particularity is that it hangs from the peaks, which are populated by a dense rain forest, of an intense green color. There are 3 trails that, depending on your availability of time and physical capacity, allow you to explore this sector of the park and have an approach to make excellent photographs of the snowdrift.
3. Cerro Castillo Glacier
This small and beautiful glacier is located at the foot of the impressive Cerro Castillo, just 93 kilometers south of Coyhaique, within the Cerro Castillo National Reserve. To access the glacier lagoon, from where you have the best view of the millenary ice and the valley of the Ibáñez river, you can take a horse ride from Villa Cerro Castillo, and then start a climb hike that takes you to the top prize.
4. San Rafael Glacier
Another icon of Carretera Austral, although its access is mainly by sea, since this glacier reaches the Laguna San Rafael, which then drains into the sea. It is located in the huge San Rafael Lagoon National Park and is part of the Northern Ice Fields. Since 2011, there is a beautiful navigation that begins in Bahía Exploradores, to the west of Puerto Río Tranquilo, which due to the distance, gives time to descend in the park and walk it, including, you can sleep one night there, and perform a path even closer to the glacier. The image of the brands stands out, indicating the impressive retreat that the glacier has suffered since 1978.
5. Explorers Glacier
This valley glacier also belongs to the Northern Ice Fields and is located in the beautiful Exploradores Valley 52 kilometers west of Puerto Río Tranquilo. Like all glaciers in this ice field, it is in the process of retreat. There is a path to which you can reach a viewpoint and witness the advance of the glacier. If you have time and you cheer up, you can also live the experience of a walk on ice with crampons.
6. Leones Glacier
In my personal opinion, the most impressive, surprising and beautiful glacier of Carretera Austral. It is also located in Campos de Hielo Norte, 38 kilometers south of Puerto Río Tranquilo. Actually, it is about three huge glaciers, with 3 different colors, that all arrive together at Lake Leones. There are 2 ways to get to the glacier. You can take a hiking trip, several hours, among the most beautiful native vegetation or, if you enjoy the adrenaline, go up the river Leones in a Jeat Boat. In both cases, the prize is similar ... Touch, literally, the Leones Glacier !!
7. Cayuqueo Glacier
The Cayuqueo or Calluqueo, according to the name given by the missionary and mountaineer Alberto Agostini, is located at the foot of the south west face of Monte San Lorenzo, south of Cochrane. Therefore, it does not belong to the Ice Fields. In it, you can make an unforgettable ice walk with crampons.
8. Steffens Glacier
It takes in the name of the German Hans Steffens, great geographer and explorer of the Patagonia, to the service of Chile. It is also located in the Campo de Hielo Norte, 5 hours from Caleta Tortel. In addition, navigation through the fjords, you must walk a beautiful path, bordering the river Huemules, to reach the glacier.
9. Ventisquero Montt
Named in honor of Marino and President Jorge Montt, it is located in the Campo de Hielo Sur, in the Bernardo O'Higgins National Park. Also, a navigation through the fjords is required, sailing from Caleta Tortel (Tortel has the privilege of being near 2 important glaciers, one in each Ice Field). It is not strange to find Huemules walking on the beaches near the glacier.
10. O'Higgins Glacier
This huge glacier, also called Vestinquero Grande, is the second largest in Chile and is located in the Campo de Hielo Sur, on Lake O'Higgins. The ice wall has the incredible magnitude of 3 kilometers wide and 80 meters high. To reach it, you can make a beautiful navigation, on the comfortable Quetru boat, from Villa O'Higgins, the last town and end of Carretera Austral.