The crown jewel of Los Glaciares National Park in Patagonia, Perito Moreno is the glacier by which all others are revered. Colossally grandiose, thunderously alive and breathtakingly unstoppable, Perito Moreno is a visual feast like few others on the planet. A visit here is like taking a trip to the end of the world. And, of course, it almost literally is. If you want to experience first-hand one of nature’ most mesmerising spectacles, then a trip to Perito Moreno is an absolute must.
So head to the southernmost tip of South America and get ready to be completely overawed. This is, without a doubt, one of the most unforgettable sights you’re ever likely to see.
To get you ready for the adventure of a lifetime, here are 7 incredible facts about Perito Moreno that are sure to impress.
1. Perito Moreno is simply HUMONGOUS
Rising out of the depths of Lake Argentina, Perito Moreno is the world’s 3rd largest freshwater reserve. It rises 75 metres above the surface (whilst 170m of it is underwater) and is over 30km long and up to 5km wide. All up, it covers a mind-boggling 250 square kilometres.
2. It is one of nature’s most brutal forces
More than 30 people have been killed in the last 50 years, after being hit by flying shards of ice following a major rupture. The distance of the viewing platform is there to keep visitors safe from projectile glacier bullets.
3. Perito Moreno is a remnant of the last Ice Age
The glacier is part of the Southern Patagonian Icefield which covers the southern end of the Andes Mountain Range in South America. This, together with the Northern Patagonian Icefield, is a remnant of the last Ice Age which occurred approximately 18,000 years ago. Back then, the field of ice across Patagonia was believed to have covered half a million square kilometres.
4. It advances exceptionally fast
The most awe-inspiring aspects of a visit to Perito Moreno is the fact that it is so ‘alive’, advancing at a rapid speed of just over 2m a day (while all others are receding) in a phenomenon which not even glaciologists can fully understand. As it advances, chunks of ice break off, plummeting to the lake surface with tremendous thunder. Perito Moreno advances so fast, that every few years it actually reaches the shores of the lake, effectively blocking off its southern end. Eventually, the pressure of dammed water gets too much and the glacier ruptures and breaks off, receding back. Just last year, Perito Moreno lost a huge chunk due to a phenomenal ice bridge collapse.
5. You can walk on it!
Nothing beats taking a walk atop Perito Moreno glacier, something you can actually do. Various glacier treks are on offer, ranging from 1 hour mini-treks to 5-hour long expeditions. For reasons which may or may not be obvious, you may want to wear several pairs of thick thermal socks. All at once, naturally.
6. The glacier is named after an illustrious Argentinian
Perito Moreno is named after Francisco Moreno, a late 19th century prominent Argentinian explorer and an avid protector of his country’s rights in Patagonia. Moreno discovered and named Mt Fitzroy and donated land given to him to establish the Nahuel Huapi National Park, the exceptional reserve which frames beautiful Bariloche. Various natural history museums around the country started with Moreno’s personal collection of priceless artefacts.
7. You need plenty of time to really enjoy Perito Moreno
Many Patagonia-novices think that they’ll just rock up to Perito Moreno, spend an hour photographing it, and move on to something else. Yet just about everyone who’s been will urge you to plan pleeeenty of time there. Us too! There is a great maze of catwalks which meander their way around the front of the glacier. Considering all the ice action, a visit here can take upwards of 3-4 hours. Seriously! And that’s not even including a trek on top of it, or a cruise alongside it. Don’t underestimate the hypnotic magnetism of the place and, whatever you do, don’t rush your visit. Full-day boat cruises are also on offer and grant you incredible views you won’t get any other way, so if you want to plan 2 full days here…don’t let us stop you!
Best Time to Visit Perito Moreno
The best time of year to visit Perito Moreno is between November and March, during the southern Austral summer months. Statistically, the most number of ice calving occurs in the afternoon on particularly sunny days, as the sun warms up the ice enticing chunks to fall off. The glacier is part of the UNESCO-listed Glaciares National Park, and is one of 48 glaciers found in the region, so you’d be well advised to plan an itinerary which includes the best attractions in the region. Take a look at the tours of Perito Moreno we offer to get an idea of just how much you can explore in this area of Patagonia.
How Best to Visit Perito Moreno
The base town for visits to Perito Moreno is El Calafate, which is an hour and half away by road, through simply spectacular landscapes. The viewing platforms and walkways are extremely well maintained and do a great job in dispersing the crowds and granting everyone fantastic views from every angle possible.
What to Include on a Visit to Perito Moreno
El Calafate is a delightfully remote town, home to a Glaciarium museum which showcases plenty of interesting information on the Patagonian icefield. If you’re interested in the geological aspects of the glaciers, and this entire region, you may find a visit here very worthwhile. Patagonian ranches in the area also offer great chances for a horseride with a difference, so if saddling up is right up your alley, ask us how you can include a day (or two!) in a local estancia.
Contact us for a list of fantastic tours of Patagonia which include a visit to Perito Moreno, or ask us to plan a bespoke itinerary to include all of your most desired destinations.
Author: Laura Pattara
“Laura Pattara is a modern nomad who’s been vagabonding around the world, non-stop, for the past 15 years. She’s tour-guided overland trips through South America and Africa, travelled independently through the Middle East and has completed a 6-year motorbike trip from Europe to Australia. What ticks her fancy most? Animal encounters in remote wilderness, authentic experiences off the beaten trail and spectacular Autumn colours in Patagonia.”