Anyone for a little moon walking on ice on the incredible Perito Moreno? This glacier is absolutely memorable and will leave you grasping for words!
After arriving in El Calafate in the Southwest Santa Cruz Province, we quickly organised a day tour (AR$500 per person) for Perito Moreno. The tour also involves a mini-trek, which I’m super excited about.
Shop around as the prices vary depending on the time of season.
Remember that whatever tour price you pay, add an additional AR$100 for the entrance fee to the Los Glaciares National Park.
A rant on entrance fees…
So far in Argentina and Chile, there appears to be a discrimination in pricing of entrance fees.
To give you an idea for this particular park, international tourists pay AR$100, South Americans pay AR$70, and Argentinians pay AR$40.
You may think this is fair and as a tourist, I don’t mind paying more than a local, although not more than double the price as this becomes quite annoying, especially if you’re on a budget or long-term travelling.
As an operator or National Park in Australia, you would never get away with this price structure and to my knowledge, it just doesn’t happen, thankfully.
Onwards to why we’re here…
The incredible Perito Moreno!
The day at Perito Moreno was spectacular!
Although it poured with rain all day, so, quite overcast and moody, nothing prepares you for what is around the corner…
As the bus nears the first viewpoint, taken aback, you will not believe your eyes at the expanse of one of the last advancing glaciers on earth.
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 you to the trekking guide’s meeting point, for a short walk through the forest.
Catching glimpses of Moreno along the track, is a tease for what’s yet to come.
Reaching a little base area on the ice with a makeshift crude tent, crampons are sized up, and strapped on to our boots.
Our two guides then lead the way to the start of the trek.
Groups are split up according to language spoken to facilitate instructions, safety, and so on.
Safety instructions and how to walk on ice with crampons are demonstrated to our group of 12 English-speaking travellers, before starting the trek.
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 very softly and gingerly over the ice.
For those that may be thinking all these tourists are breaking away and destroying the glacier, the trek is only on a particular piece of ice and is very much controlled. Tourists are not allowed to wander off aimlessly from the group or on their own, to walk all over the glacier.
It is a privilege to experience such a natural wonder and believe 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, which is one that I will never forget.
Although icy rain whipped our already wind-swept bodies (my 6 layers of clothes just didn’t cut it), we pushed ahead regardless for the hour and a half, but very slowly. Climbing up and down the ice, sometimes slipping, but trying to keep a balance on the smooth slippery ice, makes the steep trek exhilarating. Unlike us clumsy tourists, our guide has no problems walking over the ice and instead, is light footed and seems to dance over the ice.
The scenery resembled a white and blue multi-hued 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 even more 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, which our guide carried from the base tent.
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 contented little group gathered together for a toast all round. Think everyone is glad not only at surviving the one and a half-hour trek, but also the bitter cold and freezing rain.
The whiskey certainly warms the body and the chocolate biscuits contain enough sugar sustenance for the short walk back to our base – everyone is more than ecstatic but also grateful!
An excellent touch to the end of an even more memorable experience – one for the library of memories.
Argentinians really know how to enjoy life but 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 on the day. Don’t succumb to staying indoors in the café drinking coffee or a hot chocolate, as many tourists did.
We braved the bitter cold and walked everywhere that we could in this park, for as long as possible, and until it was time to leave.
For me, it isn’t feasible to pass up the opportunity of taking photos but also absorbing the spectacular nature presented before us in this park.
When travelling, I never know if I will ever return to a destination. I make the most of the time whilst in any destination, regardless of the conditions. It’s not just ticking something off a To-do checklist. More often than not, you are probably only ever going to be here the once, so enjoy the incredible 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. This boat trip would also be an excellent experience.
Tourist companies offer the same trips to Moreno at differing prices and sadly, at similar prices, so 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.
For those that are fit and into their trekking, 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.
Returning to El Calafate
For now, it’s time for the return bus trip to El Calafate for a wonderful and well-deserved hot shower, a warm beverage, some hot food, and a very long rest…