Anyone for the incredible Perito Moreno? This glacier is absolutely memorable and will leave you grasping for words – moonwalking on ice!
Organising the tour
After arriving at El Calafate, we organised a day tour (AR$500 per person) at Perito Moreno, which involved a mini-trek. Shop around as the prices vary depending on the time of season.
Remember that whatever tour price you pay, add another AR$100 for the park’s entrance fee.
To give you an idea of entrance fees, international tourists pay AR$100, South Americans pay AR$70, and Argentinians pay AR$40. This discrimination in pricing can be found throughout Chile and Argentina, so far, and can get quite annoying, especially if you’re on a budget and long-term travelling. As an operator or National Park, you would never get away with this price variance in Australia and to my knowledge, it just doesn’t happen; thankfully.
The incredible Perito Moreno!
The day at Perito Moreno was spectacular! And although it poured with rain all day, quite overcast and moody, nothing prepares you for what is around the corner…
As the bus nears the first viewpoint, taken aback, you just cannot believe your eyes at the expanse of this last advancing glacier.
Covering 250 square kilometres, measuring 30 kilometres in length, and 5 kilometres wide, an average of 60 metres in height of which 130 metres is below water; this glacier is bigger than Buenos Aires. Mesmerising and spectacular!
The memorable day
Once you arrive by bus, a 30-minute boat trip ferries visitors to where the glacier trekking guide meets for a short walk through the forest. Catching glimpses of Moreno along the track, is a tease for what’s to come.
Reaching a little base area in the ice with a makeshift tent, crampons are sized up and strapped on to our boots.
Our 2 guides then led the way to the start of the trek.
Safety instructions and how to walk on ice with crampons are demonstrated to our group of 12 English-speaking travellers before starting the trek.
Groups are split up according to language spoken to facilitate instructions, safety, and so on.
Off we went for the little trek…
The sensation of walking with crampons on this mammoth piece of history is incredible! Apart from not wanting to destroy any piece of this glacier, which you can’t really, I found myself trying to walk softly and gingerly anyway.
It is a privilege to experience such a natural wonder and think that everyone should try and make the effort to see this glacier. I hope that my post inspires you to travel to this incredible destination.
Although icy rain whipped our already wind-swept bodies (my 6 layers of clothes just did not cut it), we pushed ahead regardless. Climbing up and down the ice, sometimes slipping, but trying to keep a balance on the slippery ice, makes the steep trek exhilarating.
The scenery resembled a white and multi-hued blue iced lunar scape – stunning! Small snippets of sun occasionally broke through the gloomy clouds to shine onto the glacier, changing the ice colours dramatically. I would love to revisit when the sun is shining as this whole area would be magical.
A lovely touch
Towards the end of the trek and in the middle of nowhere it seemed, we stopped off by a 30 metre-deep cavern.
A table was set up and out came a new bottle of whiskey, glasses, and packets of chocolate biscuits.
Our friendly and hilarious guide that sounds Russian but is in fact Argentinian, collected a little ice from the cavern. He was so close to the cavern’s drop that I thought he would fall in but obviously, has done this hundreds of times before.
Filling our glasses with glacier ice then topping these with a generous amount of whiskey, our pleased little group gathered together for a toast all round. Think everyone is glad not only at surviving the 1.5-hour trek, but also the bitter cold and freezing rain.
The whiskey certainly warmed the body and the chocolate biscuits contain enough sugar sustenance for the short walk back to base – everyone is more than content and grateful!
An excellent touch to the end of an even more memorable experience and one that I will never forget – one for the library of memories. Argentinians really know how to enjoy life and also in style.
After the trek, the day allows time for you to walk along the boardwalk to catch better views of Moreno and from different angles. I strongly recommend that you do this walk, regardless of how cold and miserable the weather is; and don’t stay indoors drinking café, as many did.
We braved the bitter cold and walked everywhere that we could. You’re probably only ever going to be here the once, so make the most of the vistas and absorb this amazing region!
Bring your own lunch and snacks as you do work up a hefty appetite, especially in the cold, but also as the shop does not open until 3 pm. The park’s shop is a cafeteria-style restaurant that serves overpriced ordinary food and beverages.
Other tours and boat trips
If you have the time and cash, think about doing the different 7-hour boat trip (AR$340), which is to Moreno but also takes in other glaciers around the area, which would also be an excellent experience.
Tourist companies offer the same trips to Moreno at differing prices and sadly, at similar prices and without much discounting. You can book the one-day sight-seeing to Moreno only for AR$130 or with a short boat trip across to the glacier for AR$150 (special price).
Depending on the weather and season, there is also a 9-day trek to Moreno and several other glaciers available, so check this out if you have some time to spare.
For now, it’s time for the return trip to El Calafate for a wonderful and well-deserved hot shower, a warm drink, some hot food, and a very long rest…