Hiking On Patagonia’s Most Famous Glacier: 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.

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

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.