Nearly all of the 1,742,000-hectare (3,832,400-acre) Parque Nacional Laguna San Rafael is inaccessible fields of ice, and only a handful of the people have ever set foot on land. Most travel by boat from Puerto Chacabuco or Puerto Montt through the maze of fjords along the coast to the expansive San Rafael Lagoon. Floating on the surface of the brilliant blue water are scores of icebergs that rock from side to side as boats pass. Most surprising is the variety of forms and colors in each iceberg, including a shimmering, translucent cobalt blue. The massive Ventisquero San Rafael glacier measures 4 km (2½ miles) from end to end but is receding about 182 meters (600 feet) a year. Paint on a bordering mountain marks the location of the glacier in past years. It's a noisy beast, roaring like thunder as the sheets of ice shift. If you're lucky, you can see huge pieces of ice calve off, causing violent waves that should make you glad your boat is at a safe distance.
Wildlife lovers can glimpse black-browed albatross and elegant black-necked swans here, as well as sea lions, dolphins, elephant seals, and chungungos—the Chilean version of the sea otter.