Catch a Tiger by the tail

Catch a Tiger by the tail
Baker - O'Higgins Area

This seven kilometer, guided hiking excursion, climbs up to the El Tigre Glacier, along a trail which begins 24 km north of Villa O?Higgins. This hike allows you to develop first-hand understanding of the footprint left by glaciers as they move through a landscape.

  • Data sheet

    Activity Type: Hiking with a steep slope up to the summit.

    Where to Start: Valley of the swans Lake, 27 km north of Villa O’Higgins

    Place of term: Valley of Lake Swans

    Distance: 10 Km

    Activity Duration: 6 - 8 hours

    Season: November to April  

    Special Considerations: The trail is not well marked. We recommend hiking this trail with a local guide who can interpret the natural history of the sector and point out the traces of the glaciers visible during the entire route. You’ll want trekking boots and poles, layered and waterproof clothing, sunglasses, a brimmed hat and sunscreen. Carry water, a snack, and your camera.

    Reservations: There are several guides in Villa O’Higgins that offer this trek. Guides include:

    • Alonso Díaz (Coya), Excursiones Entre Patagones – Carretera Austral, located in the north entrance to town; (067) 2431810; (09) 66215046;;
    • Mauricio Melgarejo, Tsonek Expediciones – Carretera Austral, 1.6 km north of town; (09) 78929695;;
    • Hans Silva, Villa O’Higgins Expediciones – Carretera Austral, Km 1240; (067) 2431831 - 2431832;;
    • Andrea Rosas, Vulturpatagonia - Lago Cisne 215; (09) 93508156;

This hike is a constant climb up to the base of this mid-mountain glacier but don’t let that intimidate you; there will be plenty of opportunities to rest as you pause to take picture after picture of the incredible views you’ll be treated to along the way.  The idea is to take your time, enjoy the views and notice the details painted across this beautiful landscape that will allow you to see the retreat of the glaciers for yourself. 

Twelve thousand years ago the entire valley that spreads out before you during this hike was completely covered in ice. During this era, the Tigre Glacier that you will find at the top of your climb, reached down the entire mountain into the valley below. Today, only remnants remain, complements of the climatic conditions that exist at its higher altitude. 

As you make your way up to these remnants, look for the evidence of the glacier’s movements that accompany you along the route. For example, along the sides of the route and across the valley’s floor, you will notice large boulders that don’t match the rest of the rocks in the area; seemingly tossed into the landscape by a giant. These are called “erratics” and the giant was the glacier itself, which carried the rocks through the landscape, leaving them in its wake, as it made its retreat. 

The trail becomes less clear as you reach the mid-mountain; however, the area is open and clean, and your guide should be very familiar with the route.  It takes around 21/2 hours to reach the top, (1,000 M), where you be rewarded with views of the El Tigre Glacier and its turquoise lagoon. Here, the hike levels off.  As you get closer to the glacier, you will see the striations, or stripes, that have formed on the rock walls on one side of the narrow valley, marking the direction that the glacier’s ice followed, as it descended along its course.

As you descend down into the Valley, notice the signs of the changes that have occurred in this ecosystem over the previous 12,000 years.  In the higher reaches the striations of the glaciers movements are especially pronounced. As you leave the ice you will notice a gradual change from bare rocks to rocks covered by lichen and moss. As you continue to descend you’ll reach areas with tiny flowers and then, stunted lenga trees, which will get bigger as you continue your downward course.  By the time you reach the valley, enormous coigües, thick forest undergrowth, ferns, and mosses will surround you. Always, the presence of water is nearby, carrying rich glacial sediments that provide the nutrients and base for the biodiversity of the wetlands.

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Photographs that complement this story


If a picture 's worth a thousand words, a video is worth a million , is not it? Here you will find some of the best for this sector.


To go this route , you'll need a good map. Find the details and steps here in georeferenced and downloadable version Smartphone, Tablet and GPS .

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