Walking on pre-historic ice at Perito Moreno glacier

We’re currently in Patagonia, experiencing everything hiking related that we possibly can. Having run out of options on dry land, we decided to tick off one of the bucket list items and opted to hike the Perito Moreno glacier in Parque Nacional de los Glaciers outside of El Calafate in Argentina.

Some facts on Perito Moreno glacier:

  1. It’s larger than the city of Buenos Aires (pretty much impossible to capture the scale of it in our photos!)
  2. It’s one of 48 glaciers in the Southern Patagonia Ice Field, an ice field that is the world’s third largest supply of fresh water after Antartica and Greenland
  3. It’s unusual in that it’s one of the few glaciers in the world that is advancing, but no one can quite agree why

We booked our trip with Hielo y Aventura mainly based on the fact they offered whiskey on the (glacial) rocks when you finish your trek. We found out on the day they’re pretty much the only company that offer trekking options into the park too, which made all that searching around for a bargain somewhat redundant. They picked us up right from our hostel and we headed to the park (about an hour drive from El Calafate) where we had to pay a cash entrance fee of 600pesos each. It is a constant source of minor frustration that a country where cash is so difficult to obtain is frequently the only payment method accepted, but you get used to it and come loaded with notes.

We then drove a bit further into the park and were loaded onto a boat to cross the lake towards the glacier. It was pretty captivating as it loomed ahead, getting bigger and and bigger as we approached and SO BLUE.

We arrived onto some land next to the glacier and after a short hike, got to a Refugio where the guides fitted us with some crampons so we could walk on the ice. The crampons are basically strap-on foot spikes, and make walking look like a bad mimicry of a zombie.

Off we went in our little group of around 14 other people, navigating what really is quite treachourous terrain. It looks like you’re just walking on snow to begin with but as you get further into the glacier, you realise there’s countless sinkholes and cracks in the ice with drops of hundreds of metres down. The guide made one too many jokes about throwing an elderly French woman down one if she couldn’t keep up.

After about an hour, we got what we really came for. Whiskey on ice collected from the glacier, chocolates and an opportunity for us to refill our water bottles straight from the glacial streams – the purest water we’ll ever drink, assuming no one has ever decided to go for a number one upstream.

After trekking back to the boat and going back to where we started, the bus brought us to the viewing point in the park which is built into the landscape in the least invasive way possible. It was only there that we realised the glacier we approached on the boat earlier wasn’t the entire thing, it was genuinely only a fraction!

It was impossible to see where the Perito Moreno glacier ended, it seemingly went on forever. At every slight noise, we’d peer over the railings, hoping to see a tiny bit of the glacier calving but more often that not, the constant creaking noises were the sounds of this huge mass of ice creeping slowing along.

It was an expensive day out – Patagonia is generally relatively expensively anyway – but a totally unique experience.

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