The spectacles of Patagonia are truly remarkable. And there are not many places in this world, where a dream meets the reality. Located in southern America, Perito Moreno glacier is a science fiction dreamscape. If you aim at visiting only one glacier in your life, Perito Moreno has to be it. At an impressive scale of 30 km in length and over 250 sq km in size, Perito Moreno Glacier is true “The wall in the north” ( of course minus the wildlings from The Game of Thrones;). Intrigued, yet? Yes it is one of the only three glaciers in the world that are growing rather than receding — the other two being Pio XI glacier in Chile and Franz Josef Glacier in New Zealeand. While the size of the glacier is bound to leave you speechless, this Unesco World Heritage Site located in Los Glaciares National Park in southwest Santa Cruz Province, Argentina, has the most number of ice ruptures in a day. Visiting this spectacle is like catching nature live in action. All you need to do is — keep your camera ready.
Glacier Perito Moreno moves about 2 metres a day making it come closer to the shore until every few years a dam of ice is formed between the glacier and the land. This in time becomes a bridge and eventually the pressure builds so much that the bridge ruptures and vast chunks of ice fall into the Lago Argentino. Last time this massive ice rupture happened in 2016.
It is one of the few areas in Patagonia, which does not require extensive hiking and without a doubt is the most exposed secret of Patagonia.
How to reach: The Perito Moreno Glacier is part of the Los Glaciares National Park and is located about 80 km from the small town of El Calafate. It is best to make this touristy town as your base and take a bus or a day trip with a tour company to Los Glacier National Park. The journey takes about two hours from El Calafate to reach the park entrance and it is nearly 600 Argentinean pesos for a return ticket by bus. If you are visiting Perito Moreno between November and March, it is the peak season and hence it is advised to book the tickets well in advance. In any of the packages offered , the park entrance fees is not included and is about 500 pesos on top of your tour prices.
When on a tight budget
Visiting Perito Moreno is not going to be a cheap excursion. But if you are on a tight budget, here are some important tips.
- El Calafate has many hostels, lodges, guest houses and hotels for all budgets. However, keep in mind that El Calafate thrives on tourism, so it is a little expensive town. You can also try to bargain the last minute deals.
- Try visiting Perito Moreno in the shoulder season (late March to late April). You will have more leverage to bargain with the tour companies for better prices.
- The best option is to buy a return ticket of bus from city centre and pay the park entrance fee on top of it. The ticket must be bought a day before you want to visit.
- If you want to do a glacier trek, you’ll need a tour, there is no other option. To save money, mini trekking is more economical over the “Big Ice” trek, where you just spend longer walking on the glacier.
- At the entrance of trails, there is a big cafeteria but being the only cafeteria in the area, it is quite expensive. Hence, do not forget to bring your own snacks, water and a packed lunch with you.
- The entrance fees of the park (500 pesos) must be paid in cash. This is paid once your bus arrives at the entrance and is not included in any of the tour or transport costs.
- Even though the glacier can by fully admired from the boardwalk, a boat trip for an up-close look of the glacier is a must. It is optional and costs extra but it’s so worth it to go!
- Do not forget to carry warm clothes with you as the temperature drops drastically. You will be only metres away from the glacier (at a safe distance though) admiring different shades of blue with the loud thunders of cracking ice breaking the silence in every few minutes.
- If the boat tour does not fit in your time and budget, follow any of the trails on the boardwalk and they will get you closer to the glacier than you expect. You can walk along the metal grated walkway for miles and stop at all of the viewing points that surround the trail. The trails are easy to navigate and are color coded. Since the glacier is continuously crumbling , the toughest part is to predict where the next ice chunk will fall, to take that perfect shot.
- To get more up close and feel the pulse of the glacier, you can book a mini trek. It will cost you much more but this is an experience of a lifetime.
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