So, you’ve landed here with the aim of testing your endurance, strength, and mental fortitude? And you want to achieve this by climbing a glacier? Those are some lofty ambitions you’ve brought with you under your arm; and good for you!
If you’re still here with us, then might we assume that you’re thinking about climbing in Perito Moreno Glacier, in particular? Allow us to commend you on your choice; it’s one of the safest and most easily accessible glaciers in the world. Moreover, no experience is required for ice trekking this scenic wonder.
Indeed, should you only hike one glacier in your life, make it the Perito Moreno Glacier. This sheer, snow capped route is as dramatic as it comes, and requires both a guide and some serious experience on your feet. Come armed with both and you’ll be rewarded with ice tunnels, glaciers, and a sense that, maybe, actually, your trials and tribulations eventually turn to dust and irrelevance…
Where Is Perito Moreno Glacier?
Perito Moreno Glacier, located in the Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina’s southwest Santa Cruz Province, is one of the most stunning glaciers on the planet. Standing at an impressive 240 feet above Lake Argentino, the glacier attracts adventurous explorers from all around the globe, keen to feel that, at once, they are not all that magnificent.
It’s good to be humbled once in a while, and the glacier is renowned for its breath-taking, natural beauty. With its towering ice formations, pristine snowcaps, and deep blue crevices, the view from the top is like no other.
Argentine Patagonia’s largest glacier, one of the truly unique features of Perito Moreno is that it is one of the only glaciers globally that continues to grow and advance rather than shrink. This results in the dramatic calving of icebergs, a natural spectacle that is amazing to witness. Accordingly, it’s an incredibly picturesque area, which makes it a haven for photographers and nature lovers keen to capture that shot.
When Is The Best Time Of Year To Visit Perito Moreno Glacier?
The best time of year to visit Perito Moreno Glacier is generally between November and April, which is the late spring to early autumn period in the southern hemisphere. During this time, temperatures are relatively mild, ranging from 50°F to 60°F (10°C to 15°C) and the weather conditions are typically good, with clear, sunny days and, as such, fantastic visibility.
That said, arguably the ideal months are usually December, January, and February because the glacier activity is at its peak during the summer. This means that visitors have a higher chance of witnessing the breaking and falling of ice walls into the water, which is a sight to behold.
Remember, the weather in Patagonia can be unpredictable, so it’s always good to be prepared for changing conditions no matter when you choose to visit.
Where Can You Stay?
As we mentioned, Perito Moreno Glacier is located in Argentina’s Los Glaciares National Park. Here are some popular places to stay near this natural wonder:
El Calafate: This town is the gateway to the Los Glaciares National Park. It offers a wide range of accommodation, from budget hostels to luxury hotels. Some popular ones include Xelena Hotel & Suites, Eolo Patagonia Spirit – Relais & Châteaux, and Design Suites Calafate.
Los Notros: This is the only accommodation with a view of Perito Moreno Glacier. All the rooms in this hotel have glacial views and the opportunity to explore the area with guided walks and boat trips.
Estancia Cristina: An old sheep-farming ranch turned into a luxury lodge, accommodation here is accessible by boat and offers immersive experiences including horse riding, hiking, and historical tours.
El Chalten: If you’re up for a bit of a drive, El Chalten is a small town around 3 hours north of El Calafate and is considered Argentina’s trekking capital. It’s home to many comfortable lodges and charming guesthouses.
Patagonia Eco Domes: For a unique stay, these ecological domes offer the perfect combination of comfort and nature.
Estancia Nibepo Aike: This is a traditional Patagonian ranch that offers a unique experience of rural Argentinian life. They provide horse riding tours and a chance to participate in the sheep shearing process.
It’s always wise to make your reservations well in advance, especially during the peak season (December through March) as accommodations can fill up quickly.
Top Tips For The Climb
Prepare for the Climb: Before you attempt this climb, you need to be in good physical condition. The ice trekking excursion is challenging and requires full body effort, so it’s crucial to have good stamina and cardiovascular endurance. It goes without saying that you should also make sure to pack the right equipment. This includes warm clothing, waterproof hiking boots, sunglasses, a hat, gloves, and sunscreen.
Hire a Professional Guide: The Perito Moreno Glacier is not a place for amateur climbers to navigate alone. For safety reasons, and because it is mandated by the park, you have to be accompanied by a certified professional guide. They will help you navigate the icy surface, educate you about the area and environment, and oversee your safety.
The Big Ice Trek: The most popular option for climbing the glacier is known as ‘Big Ice’, lasting roughly 5 hours and covering quite a bit of ground. Your tour will start with a boat trip across the south wall of the glacier. Once the boat anchors, you’ll disembark and receive crampons, which are attached to your boots to provide traction on the ice. Your guide will instruct you on how to walk on the ice and then lead the way.
Safety Precautions; The trek on the glacier is full of crevasses, caves, seracs and other formations which can be dangerous. Always follow your guide’s instructions. They will know the safest routes to take and which areas to avoid.
Admire and Respect the Glacier: While the Perito Moreno Glacier is an exciting climbing opportunity, it’s also a beautiful piece of nature. Take the time to admire its beauty from different points. Also, follow all the instructions to minimise your impact on the glacier to help preserve it for future generations.
Post-Climb Activities: After the trek, you can take a guided boat tour to see the glacier from different angles. You can also visit the viewing platforms to watch and hear the awe-inspiring spectacle of ice breaking off the glacier.
What Else Can I Do Nearby?
Visiting the Perito Moreno Glacier is a breathtaking experience. However, after the climb, well, it can be a bit of an anti-climax. But worry not, there are plenty of other activities you can enjoy during your visit, including:
Ice Hiking or Ice Trekking: There are tours available for small groups where you can walk on the glacier with crampons. This is an exciting way to experience the glacier up-close.
Boat Tours: As mentioned, you can take a boat ride on Lake Argentino to see the glacier from the water. This gives a different, up-close perspective on the immense size and beauty of the glacier. Some tours also include visits to other glaciers in the park.
Observation Platforms: With well-marked paths leading to various viewing platforms, you can observe the glacier from different angles and possibly witness large chunks of ice calving off.
The Glaciarium: Visit this interactive glaciology museum, located near El Calafate, to learn more about glaciers, their creation, and their impact on the Earth’s environment.
Visit El Calafate: Even if you don’t plan on staying there, the town of El Calafate, offers several attractions of its own. From local cuisine, shopping for Argentinian and Patagonian crafts, to bird watching at Laguna Nimez Reserve, there’s plenty to keep you busy.
Wildlife Watching: The region is home to several unique species. You might spot Andean condors, Magellanic woodpeckers, guanacos, and, if you’re lucky, a puma.
You’ll need to feed yourself well to tackle the climb and you’ll be hungry after. Here are some of the must try dishes in the area.
Cordero al Asador (Roasted Lamb): Patagonia is famous for its lamb, and this traditional dish allows its flavors to shine. The lamb is slowly cooked on a spit over an open flame, giving it a smoky, delicious taste.
Trout: Patagonia is known for its fresh river and lake fish. Trout is often served grilled or in a sauce.
Empanadas: These are traditional Argentine turnovers filled with a variety of ingredients. In Patagonia, they often feature lamb or Patagonian king crab.
Patagonian Lamb Stew: This hearty dish is perfect for warming up after a day exploring the cold Patagonian outdoors.
Calafate Berry Desserts: A fruit native to Patagonia. You’ll find this berry used in various desserts, from pies to ice cream. Trying a calafate berry dessert is a must!
Asado: This traditional Argentine barbecue usually features beef ribs, sausages, and sometimes chicken or lamb.
Locro: A traditional Argentine stew made with corn, beans, potatoes, and meat, often served on national holidays.
Mate: This traditional South American caffeine-rich infused drink is a big part of Argentine culture. It’s definitely worth trying.
Argentine wine: Argentina is renowned for its wine, especially Malbec.
And one that note, it’s time to raise a glass of wine – you’ve just climbed Perito Moreno Glacier with your imagination! Now, let’s take in that view together…