Hiking On Patagonia’s Most Famous Glacier: Perito Moreno

perito moreno While there are many excellent hiking destinations around the world, not many can hold a candle to the one of the planet’s most picturesque glaciers, Perito Moreno. Famous for its one-of-a-kind forest and mountain views, Perito Moreno is said to be one of the only glaciers in the world that is still growing – about two to six feet per day. And for those who heard about the rare glacial collapse last month at Perito Moreno, don’t worry, you can still trek it.

Recently, I wrote a post on hiking the trails in Los Glaciares Nacional Park. Looking at that gallery, it’s hard to believe this is the same place. However, the park encompasses a variety of landscapes and experiences, all of which are worth exploring during a visit to Patagonia.

There are many striking features about Perito Moreno that pop out during the trek. One is its massive size – 1,740 miles in distance. The glacier has a 3.1-mile front and rises almost 200 feet above sea level. While hiking on it, it seems like an entire town could build a civilization on the ice. Additionally, the milky-turquoise color of the water is majestic and – combined with the crisp cool of the ice and serene silence – instantly puts a feeling of calm over you when you look at it.The area is actually one of the world’s biggest drinking water supplies. Ninety percent of drinking water comes from glacial areas, with Antarctica and Greenland being the main suppliers followed by this particular region of Argentina. Furthermore, every so often you will hear a loud thunder-like sound. This is due to the moving of the glacier as chunks of ice fall into Lake Argentina.

hiking To hike on Perito Moreno for yourself, you can choose a home base in El Calafate. Personally, I booked a Mini Trekking Tour with Hielo & Aventura. The cost was 540 Argentine Pesos (about $123), plus entry fee into Los Glaciares Nacional Park, which is 100 Pesos (about $23). The company will pick you up from your accommodation in the morning as well as drop you back off once the tour is over. A group hike is included and will lead you on a moderately intense trek on the ice for about an hour to an hour and a half. At the end of the tour, participants are given a shot of whiskey and mini dulce de leche alfajor on the ice – excellent for helping you to warm up.

There are a few things I recommend to bring with you on the trek, and to keep in mind during it:

  • Wear layers. On the day of my hike, the morning was rainy and cold, then warmed up, and then drizzled again. Remember, you’re near a glacier, and it is not uncommon for the weather to be wet and unpredictable. If I hadn’t worn long johns under my sweatpants and two pairs of socks, I know I would have been uncomfortable. It’s better to wear too much and be able to take layers off when you get warm.
  • Bring as many waterproof items as you can. For example, your shoes, jacket, pants and camera. Additionally, gloves are required for the hike, as the ice is sharp. While the park supplies them for you, they were soaking wet before we even put them on. Bring your own, and an extra pair in case it rains and they get wet.
  • Follow the guides. They know the safest paths as well as the best lookout points for photos. Likewise, there are many sinkholes that you do not want to fall into.
  • Take some time before trekking to get used to your crampons, which are the spikes they attach to the bottom of your shoes to walk on ice. They are heavy and will feel funny at first, but once on the ice you’ll be happy to be wearing them. Don’t be afraid to use force and stamp into the ice. Also, never walk sideways, and when walking uphill, pretend you’re a duck and turn your feet out a bit. When walking downhill, bend your knees, point your toes forward and lean back just a bit so you don’t fall forward.

The most important thing to remember when doing the trek is to have fun, and take a lot of pictures. Many people consider Perito Moreno to be the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” due to its unique beauty and picturesque location. Remember how lucky you are to be surrounded by such rare scenery, and no matter what else is going on in your life or with the weather, just enjoy it.

A Rainy Day Option For Exploring Torres Del Paine In Patagonia, Chile

torres del paine No trip to the Patagonia region of South America is complete without a trip to Torres del Paine National Park in Chile. The park is regarded by many as the “trekking capital of the world.” After visiting for myself, it was easy to see why.

While many travelers choose to spend three or four days hiking the “W” circuit, this is not feasible for everyone. Some people may not have the time, while others might not feel up to the intensity of the hike or the planning. Furthermore, Torres del Paine tends to be extremely windy, and if you add rain to the equation, long-term hiking can be unpleasant.

For me, the problem was a mixture of all these things. I knew if I tried to do a day hike I wouldn’t see a lot. Additionally, the forecasted rain did not make me excited to be outside. On the other hand, I wanted to experience the park and hike at least a bit of it. The solution? A 4×4 tour with Patagonia Extrema Viajes. I was able to book the tour at Chaltén Travel in El Calafate, Argentina. The experience allowed for three hours in the park driving to different sites, some of which included Salto Grande Waterfall, Bitter Lake, the Rio Paine, Paine Grande and, of course, the Horns of Paine. There was also a one-hour hike to help visitors get even closer to nature.

Don’t let bad weather stop you from exploring Torres del Paine. Even when raining, its beauty and unique features are inspiring. To get a visual of my experience on the 4×4 tour on a rainy day, check out the gallery below.

%Gallery-152989%

Hiking Los Glaciares Nacional Park In El Chalten, Argentina

el chalten During a trip to El Calafate in the Patagonia region of Argentina, I asked a local travel agent about trekking options. I was informed the best place to do this was in a town called El Chaltén. Nicknamed the “trekking capital of Argentina,” a traveler could spend days hiking around the beautiful mountains, forests and rivers of the area. Lucky for me, day trips are possible from El Calafate for 180 Argentine Pesos (about $41) round trip. The bus leaves from El Calafate at 8:00 a.m., and picks you up from El Chaltén at 6:30 p.m. Each way takes about three hours.

While I highly recommend spending a few days in El Chaltén to explore Los Glaciares Nacional Park and Mount Fitz Roy, it is possible to see a lot in just a few hours. In the gallery below, you can see my trek, which took me about four hours total. To access the Fitz Roy trailhead, cross town from the bus station via San Martin Avenue. Walk until the road ends and you’ll see a sign that says “Sendero al Fitz Roy.” Enter here, veering to the left, and follow the trail for Laguna Capri. You’ll be able to complete a moderately intense circuit with unbelievable views that will make you feel like you’re in a real-life Bob Ross masterpiece. From Laguna Capri, walk to Poincenot for excellent views of Mount Fitz Roy. Afterwards, continue walking in a circle in the direction of Mirador, another lookout point that makes for an excellent photography stop.

To see my experience, check out the gallery below.

%Gallery-152879%

Exploring The Diverse Landscapes Of Bariloche In Patagonia, Argentina

bariloche San Carlos de Bariloche, more commonly known as Bariloche, is located in Patagonia in Argentina. It is one of the most diverse and picturesque regions in the world, and a hotspot for hiking enthusiasts and nature lovers. In fact, it is the most popular tourist destination in Patagonia, and the third in Argentina.

Some of the photos below were taken during a drive through Bariloche, while others were snapped during various hikes. The first hike was to Cerro Campanario, which presents a 360-degree view of the land from 3,442 feet high. You can take bus 20 there, which costs 6 pesos, and get off at the sign that says “Cerro Camanario.” Note: Don’t ask the monorail ticket seller for directions to the trailhead, as they tend to try to trick locals and give them wrong directions. Simply walk behind the sign and the trailhead will be there. It is a steep, uphill hike that takes about an hour. Once you make it to the top, however, the mountain, water, and forest views will have been worth it.

The other hike was up Cerro Catedral, a 7,835-foot high mountain with many different trails to trek. Most of the sections are intense; however, the diverse landscape of the area will keep you preoccupied. There are many slopes, jumps and special paths for other activities as well, like mountain biking, skiing, mountain boarding, rappeling and riding quads. To get there, you take the Catedral bus line, which costs 8 pesos. Unlike with the other buses, you pay the driver directly instead of purchasing a ticket beforehand.

The photos below were taken by me on a recent trip to the city. While I’m in no way a professional photographer, Bariloche in so stunning, the pictures seem to take themselves. No matter where you go in Bariloche, you’ll be immersed in vibrant nature. See for yourself below.

%Gallery-152576%

Outside magazine’s inaugural ‘Travel Awards’ winners

travel awardsWith twenty-three categories and every continent up for consideration, the competition is fierce, but today Outside magazine released its picks for its new Outside Travel Awards. The winners include everything from travel companies and locales to cameras, suitcases, hotels, and apps, road-tested by those in the know (you know, those people).

Amongst the chosen is Seattle-based Mountain Madness, a mountain adventure guide service and mountaineering school, for its new Tsum Valley trek in Nepal, named “Best Trip in the Himalayas.” Known in sacred Buddhist texts as the “Hidden Valley of Happiness,” the Tsum Valley lies on the edge of the more visited Manaslu Conservation Area, which opened just three years ago to tourism.

Best travel company Geographic Expeditions (GeoEx) has “consistently taken travelers to the most remote regions of the world, from Everest’s north side to Patagonia’s glaciers to the far reaches of Papua New Guinea. This year its trailblazing new terrain with a 27-day trek to the north face of K2 ($11,450).” Bonus: “the price of every GeoEx trip includes medical assistance and evacuation coverage from Global Rescue and medical-expense insurance through Travel Guard.” Not too shabby.

Also making the list: Myanmar is the “Best New Frontier;” Canon Powershot G-12 makes the “Best Camera;” the “Best New Adventure Lodge” is the Singular, outside of Puerto Natales, Patagonia, Chile; and the “Best Eco-Lodge” is the architectural marvel, The Mashpi in Ecuador.

[Photo credit: Flickr user tarotastic]