Perito Moreno Glacier

Perito Moreno Glacier and Argentino Lake from the air

The Perito Moreno Glacier is the most important one of the thirteen at the Los Glaciares National Park in Santa Cruz province.

This is one of the most spectacular views one can experience. A huge wall of ice extending up into the mists that hang over a long valley. The front is 4 Km long, and it is more than 60 meters high. An endless field of crystal blue glacial ice constantly clashes down into the Argentino lake.

You can approach it two ways. A launch takes you out on Argentino lake up to about 300 m from the front of the glacier. It looms large over you, and icebergs float past. The front face is incredibly craggy, broken and twisted, and also a deep blue color. The second approach is from a bluff toward which the glacier is advancing.

The Perito Moreno Glacier (50°29'S 73°03'W) is a glacier located in the Los Glaciares National Park in the south west of Santa Cruz province, Argentina. It is one of the most important tourist attractions in the Argentine Patagonia.

The Los Glaciares National Park is part of the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Watch the UNESCO video of Los Glaciares National Park

The 250 km² ice formation, of 30 km in length, is one of 48 glaciers fed by the Southern Patagonian Ice Field located in the Andes system shared with Chile. This icefield is the world's third largest reserve of fresh water.

The Perito Moreno Glacier is one of only three Patagonian glaciers that are not retreating. Periodically the glacier advances over the L-shaped "Lago Argentino" ("Argentine Lake") forming a natural dam which separates the two halves of the lake when it reaches the opposite shore. With no escape route, the water-level on the Brazo Rico side of the lake can rise by up to 30 meters above the level of the main lake. The enormous pressure produced by this mass of waters finally breaks the ice barrier holding it back, in a spectacular rupture event. This dam/rupture cycle is not regular and it naturally recurs at any frequency between once a year to less than once a decade.

The glacier first ruptured in 1917, taking with it an ancient forest of arrayán (Luma apiculata) trees. The last rupture occurred in March 2006, and previously in 2004, 1988, 1984, 1980, 1977, 1975, 1972, 1970, 1966, 1963, 1960, 1956, 1953, 1952, 1947, 1940, 1934 and 1917. It ruptures, on average, about every four to five years.

The Perito Moreno glacier, located 78 km from El Calafate, was named after the explorer Francisco Moreno, a pioneer who studied the region in the 19th century.

Size of Perito Moreno Glacier

Magic colours of Perito Moreno Glacier

Glacier Trekking:

Glacier trekking is the most first-hand way to experience the Perito Moreno formation. By mini-trekking across the icy surface, you'll feel the chill of Patagonia, hear the roar of falling ice blocks, and see beautiful vistas of Lake Argentina. This is typically a half-day tour, including a brief walk through the glacial forests, and introductory discussion on glaciology, and an hour long hike on the glacier itself. Because of the complex nature of the Perito Moreno Glacier, only guided tours are allowed to trek on the ice. Thus, travelers should remember to book their mini-trekking excursion in advance. Unfortunately, children under eight years of age are not permitted on the glacier trek.

Glacier Viewing Cruises:

There are a number of boat excursions that allow visitors to observe the vastness of the Perito Moreno Glacier without actually setting foot on the ice's surface. While the boat will likely maintain a safe distance from the glacial walls, you'll still experience the exhilarating feel of rocky waters caused by the icy debris falling from the glacier. Atop a turquoise sea of chilly waters spotted with countless icebergs, your journey can last anywhere from a single hour to an entire day.

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