Northern Ice Fields and Southern Ice Fields are a great extension of a mass glacier, of which around 85% belongs to Chilean territory.
Campos de Hielo Norte (Northern Ice Fields) and Campos de Hielo Sur (Southern Ice Fields) are a great extension of glacier, of which around 85% belongs to Chilean territory, and the rest to Argentina. It is the third largest extension of continental ice in the world, after Antarctica and Greenland, and most of it is currently protected, given that the glaciers are located within different national parks such as Bernardo O’Higgins and Laguna San Rafael.
This territory has great scientific value, especially for monitoring Global Climate Change.
Campo de Hielo Norte may be accessed through various routes:
- From the north: By sea from Puerto Chacabuco to Laguna San Rafael.
- From the east: From Puerto Rio Tranquilo and through Exploradores valley you may access the glaciers Exploradores and San Rafael lagoon; from Puerto Guadal you may access Leones Glacier; and from Puerto Bertrand or Cochrane you may access the glaciers that are located at the birth of the rivers Neff and Colonia.
- From the south: Leaving Tortel, you may access the valley of Huemules River by sea, and from there go towards Steffen Glacier.
Campo de Hielo Sur may be accessed through the following routes:
- From Villa O’Higgins: sailing through O’Higgins Lake towards the glaciers O’Higgins, Chico, Bravo, Mellizo Sur, Oriental and Quiroz.
- From Tortel: you may sail towards the glaciers Jorge Montt and Bernardo.
The highlights of Campo de Hielo Norte are San Valentín Mountain, San Rafael lagoon, Exploradores valley and Leones valley, as well as Steffen Glacier.
San Valentín Mountain, which is located north of these continental ice fields, dazzles by its greatness, given that it is the highest summit of the Chilean Patagonia, reaching 4,100 meters.
The highlights at Campo de Hielo Sur are the glaciers Montt and O’Higgins. Another remarkable route is Ruta de los Glaciares (Glacier route), that starts from O’Higgins lake and reaches Paso Marconi at the foothills of Mount Fitz Roy. The route is accessible through expeditions.
a- General Information
Total Area: 16,800 km²
Location: Patagonian Andes. Their extension from north to south covers 350 kilometres, from 48º20 ′ S until 51º30 ′ S
Nearby Towns: Tortel, Villa O’Higgins, Puerto Tranquilo, Puerto Bertrand.
b- Access Routes (by land/ by sea/ by air)
By land, by lake, by sea
c- What to do / Activities:
To enjoy Campos de Hielo you may engage in different maritime and lake excursions, as well as walks on ice and hikes between glaciers. You may also book trail rides for one or several days towards the borders of the glaciers, which are areas of exceptional beauty.