- Nature Reserve / Wildlife Observation / Safari
The San Rafael Glacier is about twenty kilometres from Aysen in Chile. It's part of the Northern Patagonian Ice Field.
The best way to see it is to take a boat from Puerto Chacabuco, situated a dozen or so kilometres from Aysen and 80km from Coyhaique.
Once on board, your guide will tell all about the Northern Patagonian Ice Field, which is otherwise known as the Campo de Hielo Norte. This vast expanse is over 18,000 years old, being 4,200 km2 of ice that borders the Andean Cordillera. The San Rafael Glacier is the park's main attraction and was classified a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve in the 80's.
As we crossed the San Rafael Lagoon, we spotted sea lions, cormorants and other birds. It wasn't the first time we'd seen such wildlife, but each time we marveled at the beauty of Patagonia's fauna.
As with all of Patagonia's glaciers, the San Rafael Glacier is a neon blue colour and when ice caps break off they disrupt the tranquility of the natural reserve. We went out on a Zodiac so as to get as close as possible. The best bit? A tumbler of whiskey at the end of the trip, served by the boat's captain and chilled with ice from the glacier!
You can also reach the ice field by land from Puerto Tranquilo.