If you visit Puerto Natales, one of the essential activities to do is the Balmaceda and Serrano glaciers boat trip or navigation, where the Patagonian landscapes and the high mountains will leave you speechless.
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Why do the Balmaceda and Serrano glaciers boat trip
Balmaceda and Serrano glaciers are located in the Bernardo O’Higgins National Park, next to the impressive Southern Ice Field.
The navigation is done through the fjord of Última Esperanza where you can see cormorants, condors, diverse marine fauna, the big Patagonian estancias, the mountains that surround the fjord, waterfalls and, of course, glaciers.
One of the most expected landmarks of the Balmaceda and Serrano glaciers boat trip, is precisely the first glacier that can be seen during the navigation, the Balmaceda.
You can clearly see how the glacier hangs for about 2000 meters from the slope of Mount Balmaceda, being able to view its course from different points thanks to navigation.
You can see at first glance that the glacier doesn’t reach the lake since there are rocks without vegetation. However, not many years ago, the glacier did reach it. This means that unfortunately this is a retreating glacier and that we all have to be aware of the negative effects of global warming on our natural heritage.
In spite of this, many tourists expect the glacier to fall into the lake, with its corresponding big noise. And while it is a spectacle to observe, in reality, hides behind the fact that it’s a piece of glacier which will not be recovered.
Another highlight of the tour is the trek from Puerto Toro to the base of the Serrano glacier, where there is a viewpoint. The hike is short and is done through a coihue forest. After carrying out this circuit, you return to the boat to start the return trip.
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Best time to do the Balmaceda y Serrano glacier boat trip
The excursion can be done all year round, even in winter, since it is mostly done on top of a boat (only a small trekking is done to reach the Serrano glacier). It is only suspended by adverse weather conditions.
What does the tour includes
The excursion is made in a catamaran and lasts about 8-10 hours. Consider it a full-day excursion.
Depending on the agency you book with, it includes the transfer and return to the hotel in Puerto Natales where you are staying, if it is in the central area of the city.
Otherwise, you have to go to the agency’s office or directly to Puerto Bories, where the catamarans depart. Please note that the catamarans depart around 8 am, so it’s early morning that day.
These are often included:
- Guide in Spanish or English
- Coffee and tea on board the boat
- Entrance to Bernardo O’Higgins National Park, where the glaciers are located
- Walk through Laguna Serrano to viewpoint
- An aperitif with ice from the glacier, which will be given to you on the return from the trekking
To go on the excursion, we recommend that you bring a windbreaker, warm clothes and sunscreen. It is a windy area and you must take care not to get cold, especially if you want to go outside the boat to take pictures.