Thinking of a visit to Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentinian Patagonia? Here’s what to expect from a visit to this natural wonder and how to do it.
“A man who keeps company with glaciers comes to feel tolerably insignificant by and by” Mark Twain
Everyone should visit at least one glacier in their life, and the Perito Moreno Glacier is a fantastic choice. Stretching back as far as the eye can see above the turquoise water of Argentinian Patagonia’s Los Glaciares National Park, it is an extraordinary sight. Here’s what to expect from your visit to Perito Moreno Glacier and some tips on how to do it.
Perito Moreno Glacier – some facts and figures
Here’s the section for you data geeks out there. If this doesn’t rock your boat, scroll on.
Glaciers are dynamic systems, growing as a result of precipitation and shrinking because of melting. Most glaciers are receding because they are melting faster than they are growing. Climate change is a major cause of this. Perito Moreno is rare because it is an advancing glacier, creeping forward by 2 meters each day. Think of it as an ‘ethical glacier’.
This glacier is over 30km in length, 5km wide and towers 70 meters above the surface of Lago Argentino. All in all, it covers an area of 250 square kilometres.
And in case you were wondering, Perito Moreno was a 19th-century explorer
What to expect from your visit to Perito Moreno Glacier
Perito Moreno Glacier is nature’s sight and sound show. Multiple viewing platforms, connected by colour-coded walkways, provide different vantage points, each one seemingly better than the last.
Although its beauty means you can barely tear your eyes away from it, what makes it so spell-binding is its activity. As it advances, immense ice chunks break off, plummeting into the lake, a process called calving. This is extraordinary to witness. First, there is a low rumble, like thunder. Visitors wait in eager anticipation, cameras at the ready. Then as the ice mass fractures and crashes into the water, there is a collective gasp of awe.
There is also a boat that takes you on a 1 hour trip around the base. This is well worth the ticket price, stopping a mere 100 meters from the ice wall. You can almost feel the glacier’s icy breath! This affords yet another perspective of the glacier, its jagged peaks reaching skywards like giant icy fingers striated with irregular blue veins. Just stunning.
This may have been my most expensive day in Argentina. However, it is certainly a day that I will never forget. And as for that gin and tonic water … that would have made it a perfect day 🙂
The practical stuff
- The town of El Calafate is the springboard for a visit to Perito Moreno Glacier
- Getting to the glacier from El Calafate is quite simple. Multiple tour operators which line the town’s main street offer day trips, you can take a taxi, rent a car or take the bus from the bus station. The drive takes about 90 minutes.
- I took a day tour with Chalten Travel. At a cost of 700 pesos (35 USD), this was only marginally more than the return bus fare, and I did not have the inconvenience of hiking to the bus station which is now on the outskirts of town. Although we had a guide on the return bus journey, who gave us a useful introduction to the park, once we were inside we were left to our own devices, which suited me just fine.
- However you get there, you will need to pay the entrance ticket on arrival. This costs 500 pesos (25 USD). Only local currency accepted (no credit cards).
- The boat trip cost 500 pesos (25 USD). There is no need to book this in El Calafate. I recommend deciding on the day in case of inclement weather. Reportedly, the boat trip is only cancelled if the weather is really, really bad!
- The weather is highly unpredictable and it can be very windy. Layer up!
- As dining options are limited and expensive, I suggest bringing a packed lunch. Not much can beat munching on your cheese sarnie whilst revelling in one of Mother Nature’s great shows.
Do you have any top tips for visiting Perito Moreno? Have you visited any other great glaciers across the globe?
PIN THE FLASHPACKER!