Here is all the information you need to do the Exploradores Glacier Trek, one of the highlights of the Carretera Austral and the closest glacier to the route that you can visit.
🔎 Check here the quide to travel to Carretera Austral.
If you are travelling along the Carretera Austral, the town of Puerto Río Tranquilo serves as a base for three of the most important visits along the way. These are the Marble Chaves, the Exploradores Glacier and the San Rafael Glacier.
The Exploradores Glacier is part of the Laguna San Rafael National Park and is imposing from any point of view. It is 23 kilometres long and about 3 kilometres wide.
🔎 Check here the top 5 things to do in Carretera Austral.
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Getting to Exploradores Glacier (map)
Unlike other glaciers on the Carretera Austral, you can get to the Exploradores glacier on your own. However, trekking on the glacier does require a specialised guide and special equipment.
If you have your own vehicle or a rented one, you have to take the narrow gravel road X-728 that starts in the town of Puerto Río Tranquilo. It is about 50 kilometres to Refugio de los Exploradores.
On the way you will see the beauty of Chilean Patagonia with Mount San Valentín as a backdrop, the highest mountain in Patagonia. You will also pass the lakes Bayo and Tranquilo and Cascada La Nutria, a waterfall worth stopping at.
Once at the refuge, you have to pay the entrance fee to the Laguna San Rafael National Park. From here the trail starts through the forest and, after a steep climb, leads to the Exploradores glacier viewpoint, a place to connect with nature and see the front of the glacier.
The trail is not very difficult and does not require special footwear; a good pair of hiking boots is enough to do it. There are even bridges to make the walk easier and there are toilets at the viewpoint.
Of course, the glacier is a considerable distance from the viewpoint. So if you want to walk on the ice it is necessary to hire a specialised guide through one of the agencies in Puerto Río Tranquilo.
Exploradores Glacier Trek: walking on the ice of the glacier
Although not recommended for all ages, the Exploradores Glacier Trek is one of the main attractions to do on the Carretera Austral.
To make the excursion to the Exploradores glacier with the ice trekking included you need the services of one of the local agencies that sell the tour in Puerto Rio Tranquilo.
The Exploradores glacier trekking excursion has an approximate duration of 10 hours. It starts with the transfer from the village from which the excursion is booked to the Exploradores Valley refuge. There, the guide usually gives an introductory talk about the precautions to be taken into account during the hike.
You begin ascending a path that runs through the forest until you reach the viewpoint (the same path we mentioned above if you do it on your own). And from here the adventure begins. You walk for two hours through the ice moraine with stones and sand, until you reach the «clean» area of the glacier with white ice and blue tones.
This is the moment when you put on your crampons and start walking on the glacier, observing the ice tunnels it produces and the sound of nature, a spectacle that is worth living. It is almost three hours of walking on the ice massif, to then retrace the path.
– What is included in the glacier walking tour?
The excursions usually include transport to and from Puerto Rio Tranquilo, entrance to the national park, crampons and gaiters for walking on the ice, snacks and a small refreshment and, of course, the specialized guide.
Tips for visiting the Explorers Glacier
Due to the wind, cold temperature, rain and constant temperature variation throughout the day, it is recommended to wear several layers of clothing including a warm fleece.
In addition, it is essential to have good footwear to reach the beginning of the glacier, preferably hiking boots, as the path is very rocky.
Because of the effect of the sun on the ice, it is advisable to wear sunglasses, sunscreen and a hat. Although it may not seem like it, the wind and the reflection of the sun on the ice burns the skin quite badly.
In case of hiking on the glacier, always follow the guide’s instructions, as there are many crevasses and it is dangerous to deviate from the path.
Carry a small backpack with a bottle of water (you can drink water from the glacier without any problems), camera, phone and some other small belongings. It is not advisable to walk on the ice with your hands full. Photos can be taken when you are standing on the glacier.
Entrance fees to visit Laguna San Rafael National Park, prices 2021
|Adults(1): CLP $ 4.200||Adults: CLP $ 8.200|
|Children(2)(3): CLP $ 2.100||Children(2)(3): CLP $ 4.100|
(2)From 12 to 17 years old.
(3)Under 11 years old: free entrance.
To consult how much it costs in dollars or euros, we have an online converter (you can also check in your country currency):