If you’re planning a trip to Patagonia, you’re going to want to visit Laguna Esmeralda. This pristine lake, set amid a stunning backdrop of mountains and forest, offers incredible views and a relatively relaxed hiking environment. Even better, it’s not far from the Argentinian city of Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world and a hub for many Patagonia visitors. To help you plan your trip, we’ve put together this useful guide of what to do and see at Laguna Esmeralda.
What is Laguna Esmeralda?
Laguna Esmeralda is an impossibly picturesque glacial lake in Argentina’s Tierra del Fuego province. The lake itself is accessible by a hike through a terrain of lenga forest and muddy trails. Many visitors find the trek relatively relaxed in comparison to some of Patagonia‘s more demanding hiking trails. Others find the muddy terrain featuring peat moss to be deceptively tricky. Everybody that visits agrees on one thing, though: The view at Laguna Esmeralda is simply spectacular.
Things to see at Laguna Esmeralda
The trail leading to the lagoon itself is remarkable in its own right. Before you come to Laguna Esmeralda proper, you will navigate a fairytale forest of lenga trees. The trees’ roots are shallow, and it’s a common sight to see entire trees uprooted and on their sides, roots in the air. The extensive beaver population at Laguna Esmeralda certainly play a role here. The forest is a sight to behold in itself and provides a lot of unique photo opportunities.
The hike to Laguna Esmeralda from the entry point, Valle de Lobos, takes around two hours. The forest landscape is complemented by open hillsides and a limited amount of steep uphill hiking. The environment is often wild in its appearance, from muddy peat to felled trees. The atmosphere is typical of Patagonia’s untouched natural beauty, but the real reward comes when you reach the lake itself.
What to do at Laguna Esmeralda
The pristine waters of the lagoon are surrounded by the most magnificent glaciers, mountains and forest. The lake’s icy waters may not be enticing for many, but it’s possible to swim here. Many visitors opt to simply observe the serenity of the lagoon itself, however. You can set up a vantage point along the rocky shores of the lake, and those of a particularly active persuasion may choose to hike further up to the glaciers.
Things to know when visiting Laguna Esmeralda
Whether you are planning a leisurely stroll or a tough hike, there are some things to keep in mind when planning a trip to Laguna Esmeralda.
- It’s slippy. Don’t underestimate that muddy hiking environment, especially if it has rained recently. Bring proper footwear at the very least.
- It’s windy. Seriously, it can get very windy up there. Dress accordingly.
- Check in before you start your hike. The trek starts at Valle de Lobos, and it’s vital that you register before your hike. This way they can track who makes it back – and who doesn’t.
- Timing is everything. Allow two hours to get from Valle de Lobos to Laguna Esmeralda, and another two hours to get back. Keeping an eye on the time is crucial, as many bus and van services operate strict timetables and you might find yourself stranded.
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