Glaciers are incredible marvels of nature and Perito Moreno in the Southern Patagonian Ice Field is no exception.
If you’ve got a trip to Patagonia planned then this should be right up there on your bucket list. And if you don’t have a trip to Patagonia planned, then start planning one because its faffin’ amazing!
When Argentina and Chile eventually decided on where their borders fell, the glacier was named after Argentinian explorer Francisco Moreno. The word ‘perito’ actually means something along the lines of proficient or expert.
El Calafate is the town where everyone stays in order to see Perito Moreno, but unlike some glaciers that are difficult, impossible or very expensive to access, there are many ways to experience this 250 square kilometre chunk of ice: take a private tour, half day boat trip, public bus or even climbing/walking on the glacier. If you’re an adventurous type on a generous budget then you should definitely try the ice climb. This is not detrimental to the glacier and it came highly recommended by our friends who did it.
The more price conscious traveller might do as we did which was take the public bus and view the glacier from a number of platforms with an optional boat trip if you want to get a bit closer. The 80km bus ride takes about 90 minutes and costs around $15. The driver will drop you off and agree to pick you up at a designated time, usually around four to five hours later. The boat trips, run by Southern Spirit, can be booked online in advance or in person two minutes prior. The trip costs around $17, takes an hour and departs every 75-90 minutes.
We took the earliest boat trip at 10:30am and, although originally sceptical about whether it would be worth it, didn’t regret it one bit. To get that close to those intensely blue jagged peaks, stretching more than 70 metres tall and five kilometres wide was pretty incredible, as was seeing the chunks of falling ice before we heard them crumble, which is so much louder than you’d ever think.
The Southern Patagonian Ice Field is the third largest reserve of fresh water on the planet and, despite global trends, this is one glacier that apparently is not retreating, instead maintaining a state of equilibrium.
After the boat trip we spent the rest of our time admiring Perito Moreno from the many different viewpoints connected by a series of walkways, stopping at one of them to eat our packed lunch and crack a bottle of malbec (we weren’t the only ones!).
Then it was back on the bus and off to our favourite pub for dinner – La Zorra – satisfying all our comfort food needs.
Perito Moreno: a day well spent!