Although we’ve mentioned this stunning sight before, I can’t help but reiterate how remarkable this enormous ice mass truly is. With a surface area of over 250 square kilometers, Perito Moreno is one of the world’s most well-known glaciers.
The glacier is located within the Parque Nacional Los Glaciares, which offers all kinds of other activities, like horseback riding, kayaking and world-class hiking. But, of course, the main event is the bright blue hunk of ice that gives the park its name.
If you spend a day at the glacier, you’re bound to hear ice falling from all sides, and if you’re lucky enough, you might see a large chunk fall crashing into the icy water below. Don’t worry, though– this isn’t another effect of global warming; the regeneration that occurs is part of the natural cycle of the glacier. And, wow, is it a powerful sight.
One company, Hielo y Aventura, monopolizes the glacier trekking business at Perito Moreno, but luckily they do a pretty darn good job. The guides are young, friendly and, most importantly, knowledgeable. There are three choices for you to see the glacier: Safari Náutico, Mini-Trekking and Big Ice.
Safari Náutico: The view of Glaciar Perito Moreno from the water is unlike any other. Boats carrying up to 130 passengers will take you along Lake Rico to view the front side of the glacier. The boats depart hourly from 10am to 4pm, except June through September, when they only leave at noon. This is a great way to see the glacier from afar, but if you wanna get up close and personal with this ice mass, you’ve gotta do one of the trekking adventures.
Mini-Trekking: I have to put in my two cents here: this trek is not aptly named in the slightest. It sounds rather cute, doesn’t? Prissy, even. “Mini-trekking” seems to invite you to bring the kids and ice cream cones and we’ll all go skipping along in the snow. Well, I’m here to tell you, friends, that the “mini-trek” is not kidding around. It begins with a short boat ride offering a view of the south side of the glacier, dropping you at the opposite shore, where you’ll meet your trekking guides. A short explanation of the glacier and the surrounding flora and fauna is given, crampons are distributed, and then it’s time to get to work. The mini-trek is a two-hour ice trek, where you’ll see streams, lagoons, and magnificent ice formations. Be sure to try a sip of the water… it’s delicious! The trekking isn’t extreme, but for most people two hours will be plenty of time to enjoy the glacier and get the gist of what ice trekking is all about.
(This would be my friend Jesse getting “up close and personal” with glacier water. Note: you technically aren’t supposed to do this. You know, that whole falling in issue… Ah, the things we do for a photo.)
Big Ice: This is the real deal. The big kahuna. If you wanna know what ice trekking is really about, then you want to tackle Big Ice. Think twice before signing on for this adventure, though– it’s seven hours of walking over rough terrain. If you think you can handle it, then prepare yourself to see some of the most incredible sights nature provides. You’ll see all the usual suspects– lagoons, streams, and ice formations– but you’ll also traverse into the center of the glacier, where you’ll encounter caves and crevices, and learn “the ways of the ice.” This is a serious trek, but well worth the effort if you can do it.
Both the Mini-Trekking and Big Ice culminate with a special treat: whiskey served over glaciar ice. Now, I don’t know if it was the fancy schmancy ice, but I’m pretty darn sure that was some of the tastiest (and most deserved!) whiskey I’ve ever had.
Be sure to wear close-toed athletic or hiking shoes for the treks, and warm outerwear. Also note: none of the excursions include the National Park entrance fee or lunch. Hielo y Aventura is headquartered at Avenida Libertador 935 in El Calafate, but you can also book these tours and treks through your hostel or hotel.