This photo of a large chunk of ice breaking from the front of the Perito Moreno Glacier illustrates at least in part why it’s become one of the most important attractions in Argentine Patagonia: It’s a non-stop sensory spectacle in a visually stunning landscape of whites and blues with an equally compelling soundtrack of cracks, breaks, splashes and crashes served up in all-natural surround sound. At times it seems ethereally other-worldly.
When that chunk crashed through the still water of the Canal de los Témpanos (Iceberg Channel), the wake it produced was large enough to topple small boats. Which is why none are allowed nearby.
Lonely Planet calls it “one of earth’s most dynamic and accessible ice fields”; I can’t vouch for the former but can certainly agree with the latter. But please don’t let that accessibility and the inevitable crowds turn you off. Instead, consider yourself fortunate that you’re able to see and vist one of the world’s few glaciers that is actually growing –that in itself is astounding– and that it can be appreciated with such relative ease.
In the four hours I was there, I saw at least half a dozen calvings and several smaller breaks. All were humbling and unforgettable experiences.
The specs via wiki:
The terminus of the Perito Moreno Glacier is 5 kilometres (3 mi) wide, with an average height of 74 m (240 ft) above the surface of the water of Lake Argentino, in Argentina. It has a total ice depth of 170 metres (558 ft).
In all, it’s 30 kilometers long and covers 250 square kilometers, or 97 square miles. It’s one of 48 glaciers fed by the Southern Patagonian Ice Field in the Andes system shared with Chile, the third largest reserve of fresh water in the world.
Located less than two hours from El Calafate, there are plenty of options available for reaching the southern sector of Los Glaciares National Park, where the glacier calls home; the cheapest is to take a bus from the central bus terminal. Daily departures at 09:30, 120 ARS round trip. A 100 ARS park admission fee is extra and payable when you enter the park and where you will receive a brochure and plastic bag for your trash.
The first stop is a small dock, where you can hop on a boat that takes you within 250 meters of the glacier. That means big waves when you witness a calving. Roughly one hour, 90 ARS. You’ll regret it if you skip it.
The bus then delivers you to the main visitor center a bit further on where you can walk along the extensive system of walkways built into the side of a peninsula opposite the glacier.
The bus departs the glacier at 15:30 and should get you back in Calafate by 16:45.
Booking – Don’t wait. Like most people you’ll only plan to be in Calafate for one whole day in order to visit the glacier so reserve/purchase your ticket as soon as you know when you want to go. I was very lucky to get a bus ticket the late afternoon on the day before. Some have not been so lucky.
A 24-image gallery is below. Enjoy!