The little boat stops just a few meters from the huge silent white wall. The Perito Moreno Glacier, seen from so near, looks like a gigantic castle. Its impenetrable walls stand high in front of the little boat and everyone is admiring it.
These walls, the front of the glacier, are 5 km wide and more than 70 meters high. The Perito Moreno Glacier is slightly higher than the Tower Bridge in London, to give you an idea, and it is three times the length of the Brooklyn Bridge in New York.
It is surrounded by the beautiful Lake Argentino, famous for the particular shade of light blue of its water, the azul. The same shade of light blue that colours the stripes of the Argentinian flag.
Unexpectedly an enormous thunder clap breaks the silence of the valley and huge blocks of ice collapse into the azul water of the Lake Argentino, emerging again as little icebergs a few meters away. It is a unique experience.
The Perito Moreno Glacier is rightly one of the most famous of the natural world’s wonders. It is also one of the sights of Patagonia you shouldn’t miss. It was my first sight of Patagonia and it is maybe the one that will remain forever in my memory.
I was impressed by the Perito Moreno Glacier from the moment my plane started its landing manoeuvre to El Calafate, the nearest airport to the Glacier. I saw the Lake Argentino from the airplane’s window, a wonderful mirror of light blue water surrounded by the snow capped Andes all around. Then from further away appeared an immense ice platform looking like a huge roof built above the water of the lake. I felt as if soon I was going to start some kind of polar expedition. I was so excited looking out from the little window of the plane, I couldn't wait and so I went to visit the Glacier straight away that first afternoon I landed in Patagonia and I think I did the right thing.
The weather is very changeable in Patagonia and you should not miss the chance to visit the Glacier on a sunny day. Under the sun the reflections of the ice and of the water of the lake make the visit truly unforgettable. Because it will be relatively warmer, there are more chances to see a huge block of ice detaching from the Glacier and splashing spectacularly in the water. So when I landed in Patagonia and I realized it was a sunny afternoon, I immediately took the bus from El Calafate, a pretty and the only village in the area, and an hour and a half later I was at the gate of the National Park, the Parque Nacional de Los Glacieres.
After having seen the front of the Glacier I walked along the path to the viewpoint in front of the Restaurant and Visitor Centre. From the viewpoint you can see the Glacier from higher up and it is the best way to appreciate its size. Seen from there the Glacier impresses for its greatness: behind the ice wall a huge and immense uneven block of ice extends till the horizon ends. This ice field is more than 30 kilometers long, but seen from the viewpoint it appears even longer than that.
The Perito Moreno is not the only glacier of Patagonia Argentina but it is certainly the one more popular. In Patagonia there are around 30 glaciers, but on the whole only two can be easily visited: the Perito Moreno Glacier and the Viedma Glacier. The Perito Moreno Glacier is only two hours by bus from El Calafate Airport. In less than five hours you can leave Buenos Aires and enjoy the fantastic views of this amazing ice wall.
El Calafate is situated in the southern border of Lake Argentino, in the southwest part of the Santa Cruz Province and it is the main hub to visit the Glacier and the highest mountain peak in Argentina: the Fitz Roy Mountain. Along Avenida del Libertador, hotels, hostels and restaurants offer plenty accommodation. But before leaving El Calafate for the Fitz Roy Mountain, you should consider, as I did, going back at the Glacier a second time, even better in the morning.
I wanted to walk on the Glacier. Walking on the glacier is an enthralling experience. It feels like walking in an iced desert, in front of you, you will see an endless white plain. So the following morning I joined a guided trekking tour of the glacier, I dressed with the crampons provided, and I walked for more than 5 hours in surreal beautiful scenery. The big trek in fact lasted around 5 hours and it was very tiring but it was also certainly hugely rewarding. If you don’t feel up for that, you may opt for the shorter version a mini-trek of an hour and half.
This was my fantastic start of my travel in Patagonia Argentina, than I travelled South, visited the famous Estancia Cristina and theless touristy Viedma Glacier, before ending my travel at “The End of theWorld”, at Ushuaia and La Tierra del Fuego where you can spot sea lions andMagellan penguins in their own habitat. If you have never been there Patagoniashould be your next destination.