Perito Moreno Glacier

Trip Start Sep 29, 2010
Trip End Nov 30, 2011

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Where I stayed
Hostel del Glaciar Pioneros

Flag of Argentina  , Patagonia,
Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Monday morning we woke in Ushuaia, alongside the dock, and were greeted by heavy rain outside - ugh! After more than a week on the boat cruising and exploring Antarctica it was now time to say goodbye to the Expedition crew and our fellow passengers.

The earlier rain had cleared while we were having breakfast, but just as we were getting off the boat the heaven's opened again and it bucketed down. We had been told by the crew that when we got off the boat we had to locate our bags and load them on to a truck to go to the luggage store. With no truck in sight, and the rain pouring down, confusion reigned. Some passengers ran for the vans, others stayed to get their luggage. Our bags were getting soaked as quickly as we were! But with no truck ready we were told to leave them and get in the buses. Fortunately our bags didn’t suffer too badly.

With our flight to El Calafate not scheduled until the evening, we had most of the day to kill before heading to the airport. We managed to find a nice café, with comfy sofas and wi-fi, and spent the morning catching up on our email and all the news that we had missed while being cut off from civilization for the past ten days. In the process of checking everything for some reason I decided to check our flight status – and lucky that I did! Aerolineas Argentinas had moved the flight forward one hour, and hadn’t told us! Our flight that we thought was going just after 8.30pm was now going just after 7.30pm. The change suited us fine as we arrived in El Calafate a little earlier, but it would have been nice if they had bothered to tell us about the change.

Flying into El Calafate you could have convinced me that we were in Africa. From the plane the surrounding landscape looked flat, and very brown and scrubby – very different to what I was expecting. But as the Geography teacher explained to me, the brown, scrubby landscape was not unexpected due to the rain shadow effect caused by the Andean mountain range, sitting not very far to the west – of course, I should have realised!

Arriving into El Calafate from the airport, my initial impression was of an odd sort of town. The unsealed roads through some of the residential neighbourhoods added to the rustic, frontier-type feel created by the many log-cabin style homes. But one of the first things we noticed is that for a relatively small town its quite spread out - with houses dotted here and there, and large spaces in between. As we would come to see over the next day or so, El Calafate seems to have just happened as a town, rather than been planned. From what we could see there was a distinct lack of town planning going into its development.

By the time we arrived at our hostel it was beginning to get late. With only one full day in El Calafate we had organised a tour to go to Perito Moreno Glacier on Tuesday. So with an early start in the morning to go to the glacier, we decided to forgo looking for dinner, and to get some sleep instead.

Tuesday morning we headed into Los Glaciares National Park, about 80km outside El Calafate to see the Perito Moreno glacier. Our first stop once inside the national park was to take a boat ride to view the southern face of the glacier up close.

The hour long boat ride seemed to go by quickly as we snapped photos and shot some video of the imposing, jagged 15-storey wall of ice. It wasn’t action-packed by any stretch of the imagination, but it was interesting in the sense that the perspective you get being down at the foot of the glacier is very different to the one you usually get looking up along a glacier. It was also interesting to be able to see the deep scars left in the rockface where the glacier once flowed – something else you don’t ordinarily see quite as obviously as we did.

From the boat ride we headed up to the main viewing area – a series of boardwalks along the hilltop which primarily look out over the more recognisable, and photographic, northern face of the glacier. We enjoyed the better part of three hours wandering along the boardwalks taking in the different views, pausing at the sound of each pistol crack to watch for falling debris, and stopping occasionally to wait for the next large chunk of ice to calve off the face of the glacier.

As we got into the early afternoon the sun started to appear and the temperature began to increase slightly. Having wandered most of the boardwalks and taken most of the photos that we wanted, Kerry and I decided to stand and watch the glacier for a while. The increasing temperature meant that within minutes huge chunks of ice, some as big as cars, others as big as houses, were beginning to calve off the face of the glacier in spectacular fashion. In the space of twenty minutes we saw three huge sections break off – waterfalls of falling ice plunging into the lake below. Really spectacular! We were fortunate to get at least one of the large sections collapsing in an amazing photographic sequence, so make sure you check out the photos attached. Hopefully some of them can do justice to the incredible sights at Perito Moreno.

Our next stop is the beautiful Lake District, and San Carlos de Bariloche.

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Daniel on

How much did you pay for the Perito Moreno Glacier tour?

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