“It isn’t the biggest but it’s the most beautiful!” would say anyone who you ask about Perito Moreno. It is situated in the South part of Los Glaciares National Park, about 80 km from El Calafate, in Lago Argentino. It towers 70 m above water and the overall thickness of the ice is 170 m. The unique thing about the glacier is that it allows you to witness the ice breaking which is an attractive show by itself. The broken pieces are normally the size of house or a car. A collapse can happen anytime, especially during summer. We may have managed to capture this occurrence with our camera even though it requires a lot of lying in wait and luck. The sound of breaking ice makes you get goose bumps.
The beautiful landscapes started revealing themselves just a bit after we pass the park entrance. The lake and the surrounding mountains are just a warm up for the upcoming view – Perito Moreno Glacier.
Several kilometers later the eyes catch a unique picture, which makes the soul vibrate and the patience diminish in desire to touch it – the Perito Moreno Glacier.
We feel the bus become suffocating and the whole pressure and impatience pours itself into the small boat which should save us the swim in the lake. Just 20 minutes later we are unloaded several meters away from the glacier.
There we are welcomed by a guy and the rest of the staff of the only tourist agency which is authorized to organize trips on the glacier itself.
Several minutes of instructions later we are completely ready to put on the crampons and take a walk up there. It was hard to concentrate on what was being said to us when once in a while a huge chunk of ice detached itself with roaring noise and fell in the water.
Perito Moreno is made for sightseeing. It is easily accessible, you can reach it through the beach or the forest. Not to mention that there are toilets on the side of the glacier. Several wooden tables have been set up for lunch, you’ve prepared yourself a good meal and in the meantime you can contemplate the glacier’s long end, which juts out into the water. It is so beautiful that at times you forget to watch your step.
We had experience from Viedma and it seems that the climbing is easier here – the weather is favorable, the paths are beaten tracks and there are only 2 guides to 16 of us. “Climbing is easier” turned out to be a lie. On a long descent along the line you can observe swaying, problems with the crampons, ow-s and aw-s, tries of sliding on our bottoms. Here the ice doesn’t have as much sediment on it and it is white everywhere. It is summer, the surface is melting and the water must go somewhere.
The fact that the ice moves at different speed in the center and on the sides of the glacier helps. This creates a difference in pressure and a lot of fissures, which form lagoons and small waterfalls. We were told that it is only an optical illusion, but the blue of the fissures and holes add eerie beauty to the glacier.
We had almost reached the beach and we were talking how this agency is stingier and how they didn’t even offer us a drink with this nice and old ice when after a turn and a steep descent we were greeted by a beautiful lagoon and a table with whiskey. A little farther one lady guide filled a bowl with ice and poured us generously. The perfect end to a perfect walk on ice.
It was lunchtime and we almost inhaled the sandwiches, which we had whipped up that morning. We made haste towards the rocky shore to enjoy the view and wait for ice collapses.
It looks cool and it would be great if that was all for today. However, there is more to look at beyond the next hill. We went back to the boat and 15 minutes by bus later we are admiring the Northern part of Perito Moreno Glacier. There are paths created especially so you can get front row seats to the show.
When we reached the last part of the path a collapse happened. This time it wasn’t the glacier, but Bistra. She stumbled and we had to finish our trip at the emergency room of the National Park and later at the hospital in El Calafate. Fortunately, she wasn’t seriously hurt but it cost her a lot of pain and several days of walking with both legs bound in bandages. Walking on the ice isn’t the only dangerous part, but you can fall on the spiky metal paths around it. We were compensated for the shock, the stress and the pain with nice weather and the unique wine list of Mendoza, the wine capital of Argentina.
This article was brought to you in English by Marta Petrova.
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