Just far enough from the bounds of civilization and urban dwelling, veiled by towering mountains and an expansive lake, the Perito Moreno Glacier epitomizes the natural beauty and splendor of Argentina. Unique in a variety of facets, including its size, scientific significance, and accessibility, the glacier is an essential stop for any traveler to the region. Visitors spend hours exploring its wonders and taking in its breathtaking vistas, barely believing their eyes as they gaze upon the picturesque sight which lies before them.
At first sight, you will be taken aback by the sheer magnitude of Perito Moreno, one of the largest glaciers in both Glaciers National Park and South America. Its walls tower over two-hundred vertical feet (forty meters) from the ground, where the ice meets the Lago Argentino, or Lake Argentina. At this height, equivalent to that of a fifteen-story building, the glacier maintains a commanding presence for approximately five kilometers of horizontal distance. At times the glacier will form an imposing panoramic wall, stretching as far as the eye can see in either direction. This undeniable physical beauty is only amplified when one learns of the scientific significance that the formation brings to Patagonia.
The most notable feature about the Perito Moreno Glacier is its dynamic and ever-changing facade. Unlike nearly every other glacier on the planet, which recede and dwindle in size over time, the Peritio Moreno formation actually swells with each passing day. Deemed an "advancing glacier," the ice is continually growing and expanding outward, gradually occupying more and more territory. While the glacier is said to move outward at a pace of up to seven feet each day, large chunks of ice falling from the walls make this growth a bit more subtle. This phenomenon also makes viewing the glacier all the more unpredictable and exciting.
There are many ways to experience the Perito Moreno Glacier, including Glacier Trekking and Viewing Cruises. Regardless of the option you choose, however, you'll never forget the time you spend exploring this one of a kind South American wonder.
Glacier trekking is the most first-hand way to experience the Perito Moreno formation. By mini-trekking across the icy surface, you'll feel the chill of Patagonia, hear the roar of falling ice blocks, and see beautiful vistas of Lake Argentina. This is typically a half-day tour, including a brief walk through the glacial forests, and introductory discussion on glaciology, and an hour long hike on the glacier itself. Because of the complex nature of the Perito Moreno Glacier, only guided tours are allowed to trek on the ice. Thus, travelers should remember to book their mini-trekking excursion in advance. Unfortunately, children under eight years of age are not permitted on the glacier trek.
Glacier Viewing Cruises
There are a number of boat excursions that allow visitors to observe the vastness of the Perito Moreno Glacier without actually setting foot on the ice's surface. While the boat will likely maintain a safe distance from the glacial walls, you'll still experience the exhilarating feel of rocky waters caused by the icy debris falling from the glacier. Atop a turquoise sea of chilly waters spotted with countless icebergs, your journey can last anywhere from a single hour to an entire day.
Accessing the Glacier
The Perito Moreno Glacier is located with the Los Glaciers National Park, on the shore of Lago Argentino about an hour and a half drive from El Calafate. Shuttles departing from the town of El Calafate provide the most convenient access to glacial tours, which depart at several times throughout the day. Visitiors are encouraged to leave early, however, to ensure ample time to explore the magnificence of Perito Moreno.
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