Patagonia including Nahuel Huapi national park and the Los Glaciares ice field, Argentina and Chile
Patagonia is to the east of the Andes, and overshadowed in the nearer parts, however, covering 900,000 square km, or 347,000 square miles, it is vast and is not all protected. Economic activities in the area have included mining, whaling, Agriculture (sheep and wheat growth) as well as extracting oil.
The northern lakes area of the Argentina lake district has a few national parks in the foothills of the Andes, and are stunning to visit. The southern lakes adjoin the Los Glaciares national park. This area has hundreds of glaciers, which remain from the original vast ice sheet that covered this area. The most famous is Perito Morena. This is 5km across its face (3 miles). It occasionally advances across Lago Argentina and blocks it until the mass of water held back behind this frozen dam becomes to great and it ruptures, crashing into pieces as the water surges through. Another of these national parks is the Nahuel Huapi national park which covers 2700 square miles, and ranges from 700m up to 3000m. With a variety of habitats from grasslands to rainforests. Similar wildlife to the other reserves in this area.
With a range of habitats from high volcanoes to pampa and beaches means that there are many varied wildlife species. While Condors fly overhead, emperor penguins rheas hummingbirds, flamingoes, steamer ducks, upland geese and long-tailed parakeets. Land mammals include the Brazilian fox, Guanacos and cougars.
The Los Glaciares national park is in the Southern Patagonia ice field. This contains the third largest ice sheet in the world (after the Arctic and Antarctic). It covers 1720 square miles (of which more than 1 third is covered in ice. 47 large glaciers as well as 200 smaller unconnected ones. Normally occuring above 2500m, here they are found as low as 1500m making them some of the more accessible in the world. The park is dominated by 2 lakes. The range of habitats, from volcanoes to pampa and beaches mean that it has a huge variety of wildlife.