Glaciar Perito Moreno; the giant meringue.

Its sounds are almost as impressive as the sight itself. An incessant soundtrack of gurgles and murmurs; of deep, resonant rumbles and thunderous crunches. In this frozen river of ice, a soft, ethereal blue light seeps through cracks and crevices, glowing like an aura as the sun moves moves across the sky, or in and out of the clouds.

Like everyone else, I’m waiting for the moment. At every snap and crackle, we jump forward like nervous sprinters on the blocks, cameras at the ready. A few false starts. Time passes. People wander off.

And then it happens. An almighty crack – like a bowling ball strike amplified across the valley. A towering shard of ice, the size of an old oak tree, pulls away from the main wall of the glacier, and comes tumbling down. In slow motion it seems, like a great big belly flop into a pool.

The numbers:

Named after an Argentinian explorer and academic, Perito Moreno is a glacier of extreme wonder and beauty, fed by the Southern Patagonia Icefield. This giant meringue extends almost 4km wide, and veritably bulldozers its way down the valley, creeping forward at 2m a day. It’s 14km deep. It sits 50m above the waterline, and although it’s close to sea level, the surrounding peaks are almost 3000m high.

But these are just numbers. It needs to be seen, to appreciate the power and fragility of our planet.

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Here’s the deal: 

You can ride 80km each way to get there, you can hitch (we tried, unsuccessfully), or hand over 200 pesos (almost $30 at official rates) for an overpriced tourist bus. That’s before you bid farewell to another $20 to get you into to the park for a few hours (which you’re not allowed to camp in). Compare this to our trip to Glaciar Grande, in the same Los Glaciares National Park, but on the other side of the valley – which cost a total of $0, including use of the refugio.

But the fact is, despite the inflated price of visiting Perito Moreno, it is in it’s own way (and without meaning to sound overly dramatic), a true wonder of the world.

My advice? Stay late in the afternoon; the crowds thin, and you can find yourself a solitary spot to gape at this extraordinary, sensory spectacle. I explored the length of the walkways, then sat down with a picnic, and just tried to take it all in.

13 thoughts on “Glaciar Perito Moreno; the giant meringue.

  1. Lars Henning

    14 km deep?! It’s unfathomable!

    Wow, absolutely stunning! Shame to hear about the prices, but not surprising I guess.

    Great you were able to witness a rift while you were there. So jealous!

  2. Kovlb

    Fantastic photos as usual. Re Patagonia: did you know that when John McCarthy was incarcerated with Brian Keegan (they were held for 5 years) they spent some of their time devising a plan to breed yak in Patagonia. Some years after they were freed they visited Patagonia together and wrote a boom about their time there. Any knowledge I have of Patagonia comes from that book and your blog.

  3. Bob R

    Nice shots. They did a nice job of taking me back to my visit of a year ago.

    Sure, the fees do add up, but that shouldn’t keep anyone from visiting. Glaciar Grande was very nice too, but a different experience altogether.

    1. Cass Gilbert Post author

      I loved the solitude of the Glaciar Grande and the adventure to get there. But you’re right – don’t miss Perito Moreno. It’s just a shame it’s increased in price so much in recent years.

  4. Sam Hochheimer

    Cass, Rohloff question- do you ever check the oil for oil change into luggage for airplane flight? Can’t tell if (US) TSA will confiscate it as engine oil, Google searches not coming up with any info.

    Everything about South America looks great, hard right now to leave Mexico but good to know some of what’s ahead!

    1. Cass Gilbert Post author

      Sam, I’ve never heard of that to be an issue amongst Rohloff users. Think you’ll be fine.


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