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Perito Moreno Glacier Tour, Patagonia

The Perito Moreno glacier, located a few kilometres away from the Patagonian town of El Calafate and inside Los Glaciares National Park, is one of the park’s most famous attractions. There are plenty of ways to visit the Perito Moreno glacier in Patagonia and loads of tour operators who can arrange a trip from El Calafate. It’s about an hour and a half journey to the glacier from the town.

Whiskey on the Rocks

The Perito Moreno glacier, located a few kilometres away from the Patagonian town of El Calafate and inside Los Glaciares National Park, is one of the park’s most famous attractions. There are plenty of ways to visit the Perito Moreno glacier in Patagonia and loads of tour operators who can arrange a trip from El Calafate. It’s about an hour and a half journey to the glacier from the town.

When I was studying geography many years ago, human geography always seemed to be a little bit boring (counting different types of shop in the central business district of a small town) compared with physical geography and meteorology in which we learned about about oxbow lakes, karst scenery, lapse rates and glaciation. Moraine, especially terminal moraine, seemed to be exotic and exciting and, well, very different from any geographical feature to be found in suburban Surrey. To be able to see a glacier up close – and actually walk on it – was an ambition fulfilled.

The Perito Moreno glacier is unusual in that it is one of the few glaciers in the world that is still advancing. Most are shrinking as a result of climate change. You have to enter Los Glaciares park and pay the entrance fee. There are choices – you can walk along an excellent viewing trail but it is also possible to don crampons and undertake a trek on the glacier itself. There’s the Big Ice for hardy young souls, where you’ll spend about 8 hours on the ice and traverse a wide section of glacier, or the Little Ice which is a taster for people who are less intrepid. Or just old – you cannot do the Big Trek if you are over 45 years old.

If doing the glacier walk, you’ll be taken to a ferry and will then cross the lake – it takes about half an hour and the view of the glacier is wonderful. There’s a full briefing available in English and Spanish and you will be accompanied on the glacier by several guides.

Perito Moreno Glacier tour

Little Ice Trek On The Perito Moreno Glacier

Even the Little Trek is a marvellous experience. You need to wear long-sleeved tops and gloves as the ice is surprisingly sharp so you don’t want to hurt your arms or hands if you fall over. Sturdy shoes are essential. You’ll be loaned some crampons, spikes that strap to your shoes (hence the need for good footwear) which will enable you to walk on the ice without slipping over. They’ll be fitted by people who know how to fit crampons and will ensure safety on the ice.

crampons  Perito Moreno Glacier

Crampons take a little bit of getting used to, especially when walking downwards on the ice. When walking straight or uphill, just walk firmly, keeping your legs slightly apart, about the same width as your shoulders (so they don’t get all tangled up), making sure the spikes embed themselves into the ice. When walking downhill, keep your feet facing forward, (penguin style doesn’t work), again with legs slightly apart and walk steadily.

Once on the glacier there are some amazing sights.

The End Of The Treck

At the end of the trek there is a table, and on that table is a bottle.

Yes, the end of the trek offers a warming whiskey on the rocks, the rocks, of course, being large chunks of glacial ice.

Whiskey on the rocks Perito Moreno

Fire and ice. Fortunately, it’s close to the edge of the glacier so you can stagger off in your crampons after enjoying a tipple.

Perito Moreno Glacier Tour – The Boardwalk

When visiting the Perito Moreno glacier in Patagonia there’s a lovely walkway on the other side of the glacier to get some amazing views.

Perito Moreno Glacier

As the glacier advances, it cuts off part of the lake, effectively creating a dam. Over time, the water pressure causes this ice bridge to rupture and large parts of the glacier calve off.

The last rupture was in March 2018.

Perito moreno glacier calving

Even if you’re not around to see the rupture (it happens every few years) there will still be opportunities to see chunks of glacier calve away from the main ice. You’ll see it first. From a distance a chunk of ice will fall into the water. It looks pretty small from a distance but is probably a fairly large piece. Then you hear the sound – it’s a loud cracking sound, like a shotgun.

Perito moreno glacier calving

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7 Comments

  1. 45 is the cutoff huh. Well I guess I’m out 😂. Beautiful photos and the whiskey at the end is a great touch.

    • 45 is the cut-off for the Big Ice trek bit it’s still possible to do the Little Ice – where you get a two hour trek and the whiskey! Walking on the glacier is such an amazing experience!

  2. That’s interesting they cut this off at 45. I wonder why. I know and have seen plenty of people much older than that who are better hikers than people my age.

    I love that they include whisky at the end of this trip! I think every hike, excursion, or just about anything should include a reward of whisky at the end. Finished the day of work? Here’s a dram for your effort as you walk out the front door!

    • We were surprised by the 45 year cut off, as you say, there are a lot of older people who are really fit and excellent hikers. The Little Ice trek was still great fun though. And I think you may have hit upon a brilliant idea – whisky rewards! Cheers!

  3. I would love to visit this place. The shorter trekking sounds perfect to me, I am too old to go on the long trek in any case 😂
    Your photos are gorgeous, definitely one for the travel wish list.

    • Thank you so much for your kind comment. Yes, we’re too old for the Big Ice as well but we thoroughly enjoyed the shorter trek and definitely felt that we were trekking properly on the glacier. We do hope you get to visit one day.

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