- 1 Introduction to Portal La Ascensión
- 2 History of La Ascensión
- 3 Estancia La Ascensión
- 4 Trails to Explore
- 5 Wildlife Observation
- 6 Local Development
- 7 Tour Operators
- 8 Services and Accommodation
- 9 What to See Near Ascensión
- 10 Photo Gallery
- 11 References
Discover the Portal La Ascensión, a gateway to Patagonia National Park in Argentina, known as "Estancia La Ascensión." A gateway to the park located near the northern boundary. This unique location, situated between the towns of Los Antiguos and Perito Moreno, invites you to immerse yourself in an unforgettable experience on the Patagonia Park Circuit.
Introduction to Portal La Ascensión
Location of Portal La Ascensión
Portal La Ascensión is located between the towns of Los Antiguos and Perito Moreno, on the shores of the impressive Lake Buenos Aires, along Route 43 towards Los Antiguos.
Unique Nature and Culture Experience on the Patagonia Park Circuit
Portal La Ascensión offers a unique nature and culture experience on the Patagonia Park Circuit. Here, old buildings like the school and the "matera" have been transformed into open spaces where you can enjoy local culinary delights and admire the crafts of local entrepreneurs.
History of La Ascensión
14400 years BP (before present): The glacier retreat begins, forming the current Lake Buenos Aires.
13800 to 8000 years BP: The lake level drops from 550 meters above sea level to approximately 260 meters (the current level is 210 meters).
10500 years BP: The first human occupations in the Northwest of Santa Cruz region are recorded.
7800 to 4500 years BP: Catastrophic eruptions of the Hudson Volcano occur, with a power 20 times greater than the 1991 eruption.
Year 1520: The first contact between the Tehuelches and Europeans occurs in San Julián.
Year 1700: Lake Buenos Aires starts to appear on maps.
Year 1870: Traveler George Musters mentions that the Tehuelches tell him that the current Meseta Lago Buenos Aires is the place where the world was created.
Year 1880: Carlos Moyano provides the first geographical descriptions of the area and is considered the discoverer of the lake, although it already appeared on ancient maps.
From 1890 to 1910: Explorers and adventurers of different nationalities explore the region and leave written accounts of their journeys, such as Mohler, Ap Iwan, Roth, Hatcher, Prichard, Skotsberg, among others.
Year 1896: Perito Moreno visits the region during the work of the Boundary Commission.
From 1896 to 1902: The El Rincón and Borde de la Meseta outposts are established in La Ascensión.
Year 1911: Jesús Larrañaga founds Estancia La Ascensión.
Year 1918: La Ascensión serves as a base for the Army during the "War of Chile Chico."
Year 1928: Geologist Carl Caldenius studies the glacial chronology and ancient lake levels in the La Ascensión area.
From 1970 onwards: The natural and cultural value of the Meseta Lago Buenos Aires is recognized, attracting the attention of the National Parks Administration and other conservation organizations.
Year 1991: The eruption of the Hudson Volcano affects the entire region, including sheep farming.
Year 2015: Patagonia National Park is created, and the Flora y Fauna Argentina Foundation acquires La Ascensión to be incorporated into the park.
Year 2016: The program to restore the fields and develop trails for public use begins.
Year 2017: The first archaeological survey of La Ascensión is conducted, and public use activities and tours of the plateau’s lagoons intensify. In addition, the first four-day cross-country hike of the plateau is carried out on foot.
Estancia La Ascensión
The Estancia La Ascensión, with its rich history in the northwest of Santa Cruz, has acquired a new purpose as an integral part of Patagonia National Park since 2015. It is located along Provincial Route 43, 17 km from Los Antiguos and 40 km from Perito Moreno.
Currently, the ownership of Estancia La Ascensión belongs to the Flora y Fauna Argentina Foundation, an NGO that has promoted the creation of Patagonia National Park and actively works on its expansion, including the incorporation of La Ascensión and other nearby properties.
With an area of 20,000 hectares stretching from the lake to the Meseta Lago Buenos Aires, La Ascensión has become open to the public free of charge. This free access aims to promote nature tourism throughout the Circuito Binacional Parque Patagonia region.
The opening of La Ascensión to the public provides visitors with the opportunity to explore and enjoy the natural beauty of this unique area and contributes to the promotion of sustainable tourism in the region. Furthermore, being managed by the Flora y Fauna Argentina Foundation ensures the conservation and preservation of this valuable natural heritage for future generations.
Cultural Center and Activities
Old buildings such as the school and the "matera" have been transformed into open spaces where you can enjoy local culinary delights and admire the crafts of local entrepreneurs. In addition, the old shearing shed, carefully renovated to maintain its essence, now functions as a Cultural Center where musical and artistic shows are regularly presented.
Trails to Explore
The true treasure of Portal La Ascensión is its self-guided trails. With over 40 kilometers of routes of varying difficulty, these trails invite you to explore the natural beauty of this corner of Patagonia.
Below, some of these trails are described:
Historic Center and Lake Trail
At Portal La Ascensión, you can find buildings with significant historical value, such as the old school, the office, the "matera," and facilities used in the past for sheep farming work. A tour of the historic center will take you to the shearing shed, which marks the beginning of the Lake Trail.
Walking among beautiful willows and centuries-old poplars, you can reach the lakeshore, a distance of 1.5 km (approximately 45 minutes of walking). From there, you will have the option to continue to the right or left, each path with a length of 800 meters, leading you to different environments and panoramas. Before reaching the lake, you will find fire pits where you can enjoy a good time around the fire, and there will also be designated camping areas.
Trail to Cerro La Calle and Laguna Coa
The trail to Cerro La Calle and Laguna Coa is a breathtaking experience that combines stunning geological formations with a natural viewpoint. Continuing south, under the majestic condor nests of Cerro de la Calle, you will reach the beautiful Laguna Coa, home to a diverse birdlife.
To access this trail, you should head to Puesto Cisne, which has a camping area and is the ideal place to rest at the end of the excursion. If you start from La Ascensión headquarters, you will follow the following sections:
- Puesto Cisne: At a distance of 5.5 km, it will take approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes to reach.
- Cerro La Calle: Continuing along the trail, you will cover 7.6 km in approximately 2 hours and 40 minutes, reaching the imposing Cerro La Calle.
- Laguna Coa: The lagoon is located 10.5 km from La Ascensión headquarters, and the walk will take about 4 hours. The difficulty of this section is considered medium.
It’s worth noting that Laguna Coa can be connected to the Meseta Trail via a 4.5 km vehicular track, providing the opportunity to expand the adventure and explore other natural corners of the area.
Trail to La Meseta
The trail to La Meseta is an exciting journey that, while the longest and most challenging, can be enjoyed in stages that are also excellent independent excursions. If you decide to start from La Ascensión headquarters, you will encounter the following stages:
- Mirador Roca Guacha: at a distance of 4.5 km, you can reach this point in approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes of walking. The difficulty in this stage is low.
- Puesto Amarillo (camping area): continuing on the trail, you will cover 6 km in approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes. Here, you will find a place to camp and rest. The difficulty remains low.
- Puente Viejo: the next stage will take you to a distance of 8.5 km from La Ascensión headquarters, which will take around 3 hours and 30 minutes of walking.
- Mirador Cóndor: continuing on the trail, you will reach this viewpoint after covering approximately 10.7 km in about 4 hours and 45 minutes.
- Puesto El Rincón (camping area): this stage will take you to a camping point at a distance of 12 km from La Ascensión headquarters. The walk will take about 6 hours and 15 minutes. Here, the difficulty is considered medium due to steep slopes, requiring good physical fitness.
- Borde de la Meseta: the last stage of this challenging trail will take you to cover 16 km from La Ascensión headquarters in approximately 8 hours and 30 minutes. This stage is the most demanding, with steep inclines, and it requires good physical condition and hiking experience.
Trail to Cerro Negro
The trail to Cerro Negro offers a unique experience with a panoramic view from its summit, which is at an altitude of 575 meters. From there, you can enjoy a 360-degree view that encompasses the lake, the plateau, and the mountain range, providing a breathtaking spectacle.
Along the trail, you can observe striking rocks that have been polished by glaciers, helping to understand how the landscape has formed. These geological features add a fascinating element to the hike.
The trail starts at the Virgen del Camino, located 5 km west of La Ascensión headquarters on Provincial Route 43. Starting from the Virgen, you will cover approximately 6 km in a hike that will take around 2 hours and 45 minutes to reach the summit of Cerro Negro.
The difficulty of this trail is considered moderate, so it is recommended to have an appropriate level of physical fitness. It is important to bring water, sun protection, and the necessary equipment to enjoy the hike safely and comfortably. Upon reaching the summit, you will be rewarded with a stunning view that is well worth the effort.
The Moon Trail is an amazing experience that will take you to a spectacular viewpoint located on a high cliff, from where you can enjoy an incredible view of the lake. Additionally, you will have the opportunity to descend to the coast and appreciate the layers formed by ancient volcanic eruptions.
The beach you will find on this trail is perfect for exploring during calm days, where you can observe the native flora, including beautiful specimens of ancient black thorn trees (Colletia histryx). These trees are unique in the southern coast area of the great lake and provide a fascinating landscape.
Access to the Moon Trail is done on foot from Route 43, approximately 7 km east of the Los Antiguos police checkpoint. The total distance of the trail is 2.2 km, and you can complete it in about 50 minutes. The difficulty of this trail is considered low, making it suitable for most visitors.
It is advisable to bring water, sun protection, and suitable footwear to enjoy the hike safely. Upon reaching the coast, you can marvel at the beauty of the surroundings and explore the beach at your own pace, immersing yourself in the tranquility of the place. The Moon Trail is a must-do experience for nature lovers and those who want to enjoy unforgettable panoramic views.
It’s a true paradise for nature lovers. Here you can spot the spectacular native fauna of the region, including guanacos, foxes, choiques, condors, and hundreds of birds. With a bit of luck, you might even come across the tracks of a puma.
Native Fauna of the Region
Here you can spot the spectacular native fauna of the region, including guanacos, foxes, choiques, condors, and hundreds of birds. With a bit of luck, you might even come across the tracks of a puma.
Visitors are advised to wear suitable clothing for long hikes, bring an ample supply of water, nutritious food, and bags to carry back any waste.
Meeting Space for Local Entrepreneurs
In addition to being a stunning natural destination, Portal La Ascensión is also a meeting space for local entrepreneurs. Here, you can discover a variety of crafts, flavors, and cultural activities that reflect the rich culture of Patagonia.
Available Tourism Services
For those who prefer a guided experience, Portal La Ascensión has experienced tour operators offering group tours. These experts will lead you through the trails and provide insights into the history, geology, and natural environment of the region.
You can contact the following experienced tour operators:
- Zoyen Turismo: Visit their website at www.zoyenturismo.com.ar for more information on the group tours they offer. Zoyen Turismo has expert guides who will accompany you on the trails and provide information about the history, geology, and natural surroundings of the region.
- Chelenco Tours: They offer group tours with guides who will take you to discover the beauty of Portal La Ascensión and its surroundings. You’ll enjoy an enriching experience and learn about the history and culture of the region.
- Guido Vittone: If you prefer a more personalized experience, Guido Vittone is a recognized expert in the history, geology, and natural environment of the region. You can contact him via email to arrange private excursions from Los Antiguos or Perito Moreno. He will provide you with in-depth knowledge of the area and guide you on a unique and personalized experience.
These tour operators will give you the opportunity to enjoy the trails and nature of Portal La Ascensión under the guidance of professionals with extensive knowledge of the region. Be sure to get in touch with them for more information about their services, schedules, rates, and any other inquiries you may have.
Services and Accommodation
Services Available in Nearby Towns
In the nearby towns of Perito Moreno and Los Antiguos, you will find a wide range of accommodations, fuel stations, supermarkets, and services.
Details on Registration and Portal Access
Upon arrival at the portal, registration at the Information Center is requested to ensure a safe and enjoyable visit. Access to Portal La Ascensión, Caburé campsite, campfires, and shelters at El Cisne, El Rincón, and Puesto Amarillo is public and free.
What to See Near Ascensión
- Ascensión Information Brochure (pdf version – Spanish).