San Rafael Lagoon, World Biosphere Reserve

The San Rafael lagoon is a proglacial lake and measures approximately 15 kilometers (north to south) long and 10 kilometers wide (east to west), and is up to 200 meters deep.

It is one of the most important tourist attractions of the region of Aysén and Patagonia, the gigantic San Rafael glacier, has a front of 2 kilometers wide (north to south) and an approximate length of 20 kilometers. Its wall exceeds 50 meters in height, from which huge pieces of ice fall over the lagoon. In the southern hemisphere is the glacier that reaches the sea level closest to the line of the Equator.

The glacier is monitored for studies of climate change, whose tracks are present on the slopes eroded by ice over thousands of years.

The San Rafael lagoon and its glacier are located in the Northern Ice Fields, which in turn are entirely located in the San Rafael Lagoon National Park, where CONAF maintains a nursery and infrastructure in the park near the camping area sector.

In this national park it is also possible to appreciate the terrestrial and marine fauna of the region, among the birds stand out: the huala duck (Podiceps major navasi), the black-necked swan (Cygnus melancoryphus) and the cormorant (Phalacrocorax atriceps). In the sea, they can be observed habitually: tonina (Cephalorhynchus eutropia), wolves of a hair (Otaria flavescens), chunchungos (Lontra felina) and southern marine elephant (Mirounga leonina).

In 1979, this park was declared a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO.

The San Rafael National Park, where the lagoon is immersed, was created on June 17, 1959. It has a Total surface area: 1,742,000 hectares.

Distance and estimated time from Coyhaique: 5 hours, 1 hour to Puerto Chacabuco and 4 of Navigation.


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