Perito Moreno Glacier, Patagonia, Argentina

They tell you to save the best for last but they assume that patience is a virtue we have all been blessed with. Certainly Pumpkin has but for me, the patience genes have skipped a generation. As much as I endeavored to unleash my South American adventures unto you in a chronological fashion, my excitement about sharing the ultimate highlight of my trip saw the boundaries of self discipline shatter into pieces. Out with chronology and in with the glacier.

Perito Moreno glacier

Perito Moreno Glacier

The Perito Moreno Glacier can be found about 80km and approximately an hour’s drive away from El Calafate, where most glacier hunters base themselves. A few facts to satisfy those of you with a thirst for stats – this towering glacier, which serves as the focal point of the Los Glaciares National Park, stands at an impressive size of 250 square metres, 30km in length and an average height of 74 metres. Does that mean anything to you? Me neither. I’ve never been one for facts and figures where travel is concerned. I can’t visualise something on the basis of a description like that and prefer to use my old-fashioned eyes to marvel at its beauty.

There are two ways of seeing the glacier and many tour operators combine both: either a boat tour along the pristine waters of Lake Argentino, which takes you closer to the glacier or a walk around the viewing platforms and balconies. Both options afford spectacular views, the main difference being the perspectives and angles.  For the more adventurous, there is also the option to disembark, get your crampons fastened and go glacier walking. If you have booked a tour in advance, clarify with your tour operator whether or not the boat trip is included in the price – we were caught a little off guard to find that our pre-paid tour didn’t in fact include the boat trip.Patagonia Argentina glacierOn the boat, the professional photographers make a mint from the queues of tourists lining up. At 5 USD per photo, the profit margins are clear but even I was tempted to pay above the odds to take home this once-in-a-lifetime photo but Pumpkin, ever the money “saver”, kept me in tow after we managed some decent shots on our own camera.

Los Glaciares National ParkThe boat stops for at least 45 minutes, allowing more than enough time for everyone to take in the view but rather like spotting geysers in Iceland, be sure to spend some of that time standing back to take in its beauty. My other tip would be to choose your spot well on the boat. The front of the middle deck on the outdoor balcony is probably the best place to position yourself. You’ll have a good view wherever you are but it can become almost a stampede to find a standing spot the closer you get to the glacier.

DSC_0401It has been no easy feat trying to recreate in words the sight of the glacier. There is nothing in my basket of travel memories to compare this to. I had seen one glacier before in Iceland, much flatter and smaller in its appearance and with a dusty, black smudge on the surface from the debris of volcanic ash. Perhaps the fact that just six months ago, I knew nothing about this glacier added to the heightened sense of marvel. Even after four hours of staring at it, we ceased to tire of the sight.

Perito Moreno glacier viewing platform balconyThe shards of ice gazed in differing planes, like maize crops in a windswept field. They coalesced into a glacial meringue, majestic in its vastness, boundless in beauty, delineated by radiant contours, white as a virgin. We continued our descent along the walkways, our fingers achy from the frequency with which we were clicking away, trigger happy, as if we had never used a camera, so compelled were we by the view bestowed upon us. There are various circuits that take between 1-2 hours and catering for a mixed variety of fitness levels and lifts are available for those unable to manage stairs to the viewing platforms.

Intermittently, the glacier sheds boulders of ice from its surface, sending echoes reverberating, the bellows identical to thunder. I tell Pumpkin that I am startled at how two entirely different geological phenomena can have such similarities in their voices. Pumpkin explains how the glacier formations occur. (The guide did tell us but I was unable to keep up). Pumpkin ever the scientist, me ever the dreamer. But it is hard not to be when you’re in a place like this.Lake ArgentinoThe desquamated ice fragments (they really are more like bricks than fragments) yield a topaz-like frosting to the still waters. I saw jewels. Pumpkin saw Fox’s mints – this is part of the charm of travel. Rather like art, you may all be seeing the same thing but everyone sees it just a little bit differently. Those visiting in February 2013 were fortunate enough to see the disintegration of an enormous ice bridge within the glacier, crashing into the water. The sounds of cheering tourists in this footage will give you an insight into how enthralling the sight must have been.

scenery Patagonia ArgentinaBefore booking our trip, we had wondered whether it was worthwhile taking the 3.5 hour flight from Buenos Aires to Patagonia or whether, with limited time, we would have been better placed maintaining our travel plans to Northern Argentina. Having now seen Perito Moreno, however, I now know it would have been a deep regret to miss it.

Have you seen any other beautiful glaciers in the world? Where were they and what were they like?

Part of the #SundayTraveler Link Up


40 thoughts on “Perito Moreno Glacier, Patagonia, Argentina

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) April 26, 2014 — 10:36 pm

      It really was a beautiful glacier – the hardest thing to capture in photos I found was a sense of how huge it really is. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting 🙂

  1. Absolutely stunning! I’ve been toying with the idea of visiting South America next and Argentina just moved up my list. Great post!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) April 26, 2014 — 10:40 pm

      Thank you so much 🙂 It really was beautiful and Argentina, in general, was an amazing country that I completely fell in love with so I definitely recommend moving it high up your list!

  2. Wow this is absolutely amazing – youve just inspired an even greater sense of wanderlust to get to Argentina!! Your photos are phenomenol – definitely didn’t need to spend the money on professional pics – good save!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) April 29, 2014 — 9:02 am

      Thank you so much for the lovely comments! I suppose I had better credit my husband for taking some of these pics but the glacier itself is so beautiful that it makes it quite easy! Hope you make it to Argentina – it’s such a varied and beautiful country that I’m sure you’d love it 🙂

  3. stunning. Just stunning. what an amazing world we live in.

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) May 2, 2014 — 8:48 pm

      That’s exactly the way I felt looking at the glacier! So much incredible natural beauty in the world & this was one of the sights I’ve been most awestruck by 🙂

  4. I’m starting to learn that I’m never going to tell all of my travel stories so I often tell my favourite stories first and often stop taking photos towards the end of my trips, knowing that I’d rather just enjoy myself because I’ll never get to tell all the stories anyway.

    I’ve never, ever seen a glacier before, only valleys forged of moving or melting glaciers. It must have been fantastic.

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) May 4, 2014 — 11:06 pm

      That’s really good advice actually! Often need to remind myself to enjoy the sight in the moment&not to waste too much time fiddling with cameras etc. It was only the 2nd glacier I’d seen myself but was truly breathtaking! Thanks for commenting 🙂

  5. I didn’t realize we had glaciers in Argentina. I’m going to Alaska this summer to see a few. Your pictures are amazing.

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) May 5, 2014 — 8:05 pm

      Thank you so much 🙂 I hadn’t previously realised that Argentina had such beautiful glaciers either until a little while ago. Alaska is another place where the scenery looks spectacular! I’d love to go there one day & hope you have an amazing time out there!

  6. The pictures are just gorgeous! And I loved your description of the experience. I’m currently in Buenos Aires and I’m thinking such a shame that I probably can’t make it down there to see the glacier. Thanks for letting me experience it through your pics!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) May 5, 2014 — 8:38 pm

      Thank you so much for your lovely comments 🙂 it’s so much further from Buenos Aires than I had realised before planning this trip so completely understand that it’s not always easy to manage it. I absolutely loved Buenos Aires though – such a great city & I’d love to return there! Hope you’re having a fabulous time!

  7. Such beautiful pictures! I especially like the one that contracts the green grass and viewing platform.That water is gorgeous too. I’ve seen a couple glaciers in Alaska, but they seem to pale in comparison to these ones.

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) May 7, 2014 — 12:06 am

      Thank you so much for reading and for the kind comments 🙂 It was a really beautiful sight and I’d also only seen one glacier before in Iceland so was blown away by this! I hear a lot about Alaskan scenery and would love to see it one day and be able to compare and contrast!

  8. I love how blue the glacier looks in parts! Your photos are great!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) May 7, 2014 — 5:47 pm

      Thank you so much! It really was so blue that the pieces of ice looked like jewels 🙂

      1. Wow! Thanks again for sharing with those of us who can’t see it live!

        1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) May 18, 2014 — 7:51 am

          Thank you so much for reading. I’m so glad you liked the post & pictures! One of the reasons I myself love travel blogs is because I get to “travel” to places I’ve never been through their posts 🙂

  9. Truly breathtaking….I would love to visit somewhere like this someday and I’m happy that you got to experience this!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) May 9, 2014 — 5:47 am

      Thank you so much, so kind of you! Really glad you liked the look of it & hope you get a chance to see it one day 🙂

  10. Awesome pics! That glacier is so huge. It’s humbling to watch ice chunks the size of skyscrapers drop into the sea.

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) May 16, 2014 — 6:28 pm

      Thank you for the kind comment! Yes I was blown away by it and really did feel a sense of how small we are in comparison to these enormous natural beauties.

  11. I loved the glacier. It’s just so surreal and I love the quietness of this place and then you hear a piece falling into the water. A definitely magical place!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) May 25, 2014 — 9:36 am

      Thanks for commenting Stef – I completely agree. It’s just so dramatic when the pieces of ice break off and how blue they look floating in the water – so spectacular 🙂

  12. Wow this has been on my bucket list for a long time now, what an incredible place!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) June 10, 2014 — 12:43 pm

      It was just breathtaking – a long way from Buenos Aires considering we were only in South America for a couple of weeks but when I saw it, I was so glad to have made the trip! Thanks for reading 🙂

  13. Beautiful photos and what a great experience! You’re right there is nothing to compare to when seeing glaciers up close – the colors, shapes, etc. I’m glad you took the flight to Patagonia. We’ve seen glaciers similar to this during a cruise in Alaska. It was breathtaking!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) October 30, 2014 — 4:41 pm

      I would love to see glaciers like this in Alaska – I really couldn’t find the words to describe how spectacular this looked!

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