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Laguna San Rafael National Park

Laguna San Rafael National Park is a southern Pacific coastal conservation area in Aysén Province and Capitán Prat Province, Aysén Region, Chile, to protect the San Rafael Lagoon formed by San Rafael Glacier retreat which has a long fjord of more than 16 kilometers (10 miles). The park was declared in 1959 for an area of 17,420 sq kilometers (6,726 sq mi) and includes the Northern Patagonian Ice Field.

Icefields extending over mountains and hills create 19 glaciers and the San Rafael Glacier is one of the most impressive. The Laguna San Rafael National Park is secluded among other Patagonia glaciers, but has a 70 meter (230 feet) fjord extent in the Aysén Region as a breathtaking sight and one of the remains of Patagonia remains.

Xvlor Laguna San Rafael National Park is spectacular fjord in Patagonian ice field

Xvlor.com Laguna San Rafael National Park is spectacular fjord in Patagonian ice field

The park consists of several higher Andean mountains in Patagonia, such as Monte San Valentín, Cerro Arenales, Cerro Hyades and Cerro Pared Norte. Scientists say climate change and rising global temperatures in the past 136 years have caused the San Rafael Glacier to shrink as far as 12 kilometers. If it continues at this level, the estimate will be lost by 2030.

The park covers the highest peak in the South Andes is Mount San Valentín (4,058 meters or 13,310 ft). Laguna San Rafael National Park has 1,742,000 hectares as the largest park in Aysén and covers the entire Northern Patagonian Ice Fields (Campos de Hielo Norte) where it produces many rivers and lakes.

San Tadeo River at Isthmus of Ofqui and flows into San Quintin Bay in the northern Gulf of Penas. Other rivers are the Baker River and the Exploradores River, while the Témpanos River connects the San Rafael Lagoon with Elefantes Bay to the south of the Moraleda Strait.

The national park is home to a variety of aquatic and terrestrial animals. Mammals include Pudús (Pudu pudu), Kodkod (Oncyfelis guigna), Sea otter (Lontra felina), Huemul (Hippocamelus bisulcus) and Andean fox (Pseudalopex culpaeus).

Birds include Black-necked swan (Cignus melancoriphus), Seagulls (Larus sp), Condors (Vultur griphus), Cormorants (Phalacrocorax sp), Chucao tapaculo (Scelorchilus rubecula) and Black-throated huet-huet (Pteroptochos tarnii).

Flora includes Magellan's beech (Nothofagus betuloide), Coihue (Nothofagus dombeyi), Mañio (Podocarpus nubigenus), Michay blanco (Desfontainea spinosa), Chiloe's Coigue (Nothofagus nitida), Winter's bark (Drinys winteri), Guaitecas Cypress (Pilgerodendron uvífera), Tepa (Laurelia phillippiana), Magellan barberry (Berberis buxifolia), Chilco (Fuchsia magellanica) and Chaura (Pernettya mucronata).

Location: Aysén Province dan Capitán Prat Province, Aysén Region, Chile.

Activity: Sailing, Fishing, Trekking, Wildlife observation, Photography, Mountaineering.

Complementary facilities: Park administration office in Río Saltón area. The camping area at Caiquenes lagoon with five rural areas providing tables, benches, bins, showers, and bonfires is forbidden.

www.xvlor.com Laguna San Rafael National Park is spectacular fjord in Patagonian ice field

Xvlor Laguna San Rafael National Park is spectacular fjord in Patagonian ice field

Routes and public transport: Flights to El Tepual Airport in Puerto Montt City, then a sea trip to the San Rafael National Park Lagoon. The tour is generally started from Puerto Montt City.

Advice: Plenty of rain in the coastal areas (3,500 mm or 137 in per year) and the average annual temperature is 5C (41F). There are several ways to get to San Rafael Lagoon with different fees and time periods. Adventure trail to the glacier, across the pine forest and allow to observe vegetation differences due to the ice recession.

The lagoon is located on the southern side of Moraleda Channel at the foot of Northern Patagonian Ice Fields with San Rafael Glacier flowing into it. The lake has an incredible floating iceberg, the San Valentín glacier, and the ice removal that can be seen from the various sailing boats in the lagoon.

It is advisable to wear suitable clothes for rain. Be sure to buy everything you need in big cities where supplies in the countryside are very limited and prices are higher. Shops in the countryside are open all day, but close between 13.00 and 15.00. Bring local currency Chilean peso.

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