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There are very few glaciers in the entire world that are still expanding (thank you, global warming), but Argentina’s Perito Moreno is not backing down. About an hour drive from the town of El Calafate, Perito is also one of the most accessible and magnificent. Our day to Los Glacieres National Park began with the standard views from the nearby walk-ways, and ended with anything but the standard experience.
Taking our initial tour we learned that at the mouth of Perito Moreno glacier advances 2-3 meters every day. By the time the ice and a little sunshine reaches the face of glacier, the calving begins. The front layer of ice avalanches into the lake at frequent intervals throughout the day, resulting in icebergs and massive slushies in all directions, and lots of oooo’s and aaahhh’s.
After our literal “walk in the park” viewing session it was time to board our boat to get a closer look at this monster. We could see the remnants of the natural ice bridge–it collapses every 4-5 years and it went down just the week before we got there.
With jagged peaks as far as the eye can see and crevasses that could swallow a school bus, the thought of a six-hour hike across this glacier sounded like an insane idea but with the help of outfitter Heilo & Adventura we were going to do it anyway.
After a brief introduction to the do’s and don’ts of glacier trekking, we were given our crampons and began the 2km hike along side the ice field. Along the way we encountered ridiculous weather patterns, from sunshine to 60km mph winds and pelting sleet.
No, our guide did not have legs laden with fat rolls, that is the wind whipping up a storm like nobody’s business. Everyone walked head down, thinking to themselves, “They have gotta call off a hike in an ice storm, right?”
Here, a separate group traversing the glacier, with two guides for every 10 people. Though we were concerned there for a while, Hielo & Adventura did an excellent job keeping us all out of trouble.
With a constant pattern of melting and freezing, Perito Moreno is ever changing. This river was cutting through the glacier, dipping under the ice, only to reappear ten meters later above the surface at twice the size.
After a couple hours, the wind settled down enough for some smiling photos. You can see the harnesses everyone wore in case the glacier decided to bring us in for a closer look at a crevasse.
My boots and crampons straddle the deep blue ice channel. Depending on the weather in coming days the crack could expand with some sunshine or close with snow. (It snows about 300 out of 365 days a year at the back of Perito Moreno, keeping this puppy on the move).
Having successfully trekked 6km of the 30k that is the Perito Moreno glacier we were both exhausted and exuberant. It is hard to fully grasp the raw power that a glacier possesses without actually stepping foot on it, but hopefully the photos, and slideshow below get you excited to try one for yourself.
Have you been to Perito Moreno? Have you been to any other glacier in the world?
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