”Live your life by a compass; not a clock.”
IF YOU ONLY VISIT ONE glacier in your life, Perito Moreno in Argentina would be a good one to pick. It towers above the turquoise glacial water of Patagonia’s Los Glaciers National Park, beaming blinding white and exuding cold blue hues. Unlike most of the earth’s other glaciers, Perito Moreno is still growing.
The Perito Moreno Glacier, named for a 19th-century explorer, is currently 19 miles long and raises an average height of 240 feet above the water. Altogether, the glacier covers about 121 square miles. It is part of an ice field located in both Argentina and Chile that is the third largest reserve of fresh water in the world. Part of an area known as Argentina’s Austral Andes, it became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1981.
One of the most intriguing things about this glacier is that even though it is getting thinner, it continues to advance while most of the world’s glaciers are retreating. Additionally, the glacier dams the southern arm of Argentino lake, causing water to rise and creating pressure as the weight of the ice bears down. This pressure periodically causes rupturing, which in turn sends water to Lake Argentino’s main body. This natural cycle occurs only occasionally, at intervals between one and ten years. If you’re lucky enough to witness it during your visit, you’ll be absolutely astonished at the sound and sight of so much water and ice shifting.
There are viewing platforms a safe distance from the glacier, overlooking Lake Argentino, the glacier’s terminus. You can get pretty close—to the point that you can basically feeling the glacier breathing cold air on your face.
If you wait for a while, you’ll likely witness huge chunks of the ice mass fracture off and crash into the water, creating a massive, reverberating roar. There are walking paths that allow you to check out the glacier from a few different vantage points, as well as a boat that takes you on a 45-minute trip around the base. There are also trekking tours that take you out to walk on parts of the glacier itself, surrounded by the beautiful Patagonian scenery of forests and mountains.
This magnificent glacier is not at all difficult to access. Your journey begins when you travel from Buenos Aires to El Calafate Argentina, or alternatively, when you make your way from Puerto Natales to El Calafate. It’s possible to take a bus to the site or hire a Glacier taxi if you prefer to travel privately.
There is an entry fee to visit the glacier, which you’ll be asked to provide before making your way into the park. After you’re inside the gate, you can begin to explore on foot, or spend a little more on a glacier boat tour.
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