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Argentino Lake, the largest freshwater lake in Argentina, covers a massive 362,255 acres in the Patagonian province of Santa Cruz, Argentina. The lake lies within the Los Glaciares National Park, tucked away in the Andes Mountains. The landscape of the area is definitely unique with its massive ice fields and gigantic glaciers, and serves as a popular tourist destination. Cool in the summer and warm in the winter, visitor can enjoy fishing, boating, camping and spectacular close up views of the magnificent glaciers.
Lago Argentino is fed by the glacial meltwater of several rivers and many mountain streams. The lake is a whitish green color due to the abundant glacier lime. Two colossal glaciers use Argentino Lake as a meeting point. The Perito Moreno Glacier is a continuously moving ice mass from which massive blocks of ice break off and fall with a thunderous crash into the lake. Opposite Perito Moreno, in the Northern Arm of the lake, is Upsala Glacier at 31 miles long and 6 miles wide. These two glaciers keep the lake full of gigantic, yet beautiful icebergs. Once in the lake, these icebergs, which may vary in color from pure white to sapphire blue, are adrift until they completely melt.
The Los Glaciares National Park was established in 1937 and covers an area of 1,722 square miles. It has two distinct regions: forests and grassy plains in the east and mountain peaks, lakes, and glaciers in the west. The highest point is Mount Fitzroy at 11,073 feet in the northern area of the park. Along with Perito Moreno and Upsala, there are 200 minor glaciers in the park. For those who like to commune with nature, the park offers lakes and rivers, hiking trails through forests and over snow covered mountains, and boat excursions affording spectacular views of the glaciers. The park is home to varied wildlife such a fox, rabbit, deer, and some endangered species of miniature deer. On the shore of Lago Argentino, there is a campground, with restaurants, a picnic area and restrooms. Most visitors come to the park to view the Patagonian ice field. The ice sheet covers an area of about 1000 square miles and is the second largest in the world after Antarctica.
Although the water is cold, fishing in Argentino Lake is popular with perch, lake trout and rainbow trout being the predominant species. Boat launches can be found at Los Glaciares National Park and at small parks and boatyards surrounding the lake. One of the best spots for fishing is at Punta del Lago (End of the Lake), a large bay known for is rainbow and lake trout. Fly fishing in the many mountain rivers and streams is also a great way to spend the day. Fishing guides are available.
If looking for a place to stay, the city of El Calafate is situated near the southern border of Argentino Lake. Known as the national capital of the glaciers, El Calafate is a popular tourist destination in the summer months with many hotels and group tours offering trips that takes tourists to the base of the glaciers and the tops of the mountains. In El Calafate you will find all kind of shops with unique local handmade items, restaurants offering fresh fish from the lake, and all sorts of lodging and vacation rentals. Guides are available to take you into the mountains by horseback or all terrain vehicle as well as to the tops of the glaciers. If dressed appropriately, you can hike through and walk along the top of the glaciers.
When planning a vacation to Argentina, remember that in the southern hemisphere the seasons are the opposite of those in the northern hemisphere. Mild summer temperatures and longer days are ideal for visiting Lago Argentino and the Southern Andes region. Winter travel is recommended for visits to the north and northwest parts of the country: tropical temperatures are a bit cooler and rains less frequent. Autumn and spring are perfect for a trip to Cuyo, Buenos Aires and the pre-mountain areas of La Rioja and Catamarca.
Whether you join a group tour or plan a vacation for yourself, it's assured you'll have a great time at Argentino Lake and Los Glaciares National Park. Rent a car, horse or boat and explore all that the area has to offer. From spectacular glaciers to mountain peaks, you're sure to have a vacation filled with adventure, relaxation and fun.
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