As the name would suggest, Los Glaciares National Park is home to some pretty impressive glaciers. Even if you haven’t had the pleasure of seeing a glacier in person, you probably have an idea in mind of it looking a bit like a massive sheet of ice. You probably imagine Antarctica or the Arctic Circle, which is in fact where most of them are. However one of the most accessible and important glaciers can be found in Argentina, in Los Glaciares National Park…Perito Moreno Glacier is its name, and it is massive!
This beauty is visited by thousands of tourists each day, eager to experience its radiance first-hand. At 550 feet high and covering an area of 97 square miles, it’s humbling to say the least. And this is just one of 47 large glaciers in the Patagonic Continental Ice, the largest ice extension after Antarctica!
Accessible through the tiny town of El Calafate, this southern end of the national park should have a place on every itinerary to Argentina. Not only impressive for its size, the Perito Moreno Glacier also boasts its status as one of only a few remaining glaciers to be growing instead of shrinking! It continues to advance forward into Lago Argentina every day. This is made all the more impressive as the Patagonia region lies directly below the hole in the ozone layer, meaning exposure here to intensely direct sunlight.
However, as part of the ebb and flow of its glacial cycle, Perito Moreno loses chunks of ice regularly each day as well. This is arguably the most exciting part about visiting an otherwise immobile attraction. A few times each hour, it can be seen and heard throughout the viewing area the falling of ice chunks off the glacier and crashing into the lake. A small chunk may fall first and everyone jumps from their benches and picnics to the edge of the viewing platform. Someone points to where it fell and we all wait with baited breath for the eventual fall of another chunk. If we’re lucky, a big section will fall in seeming slow motion and crash into the water, causing a splash that elicits oohs & aahs from the crowd. Watching for glacial ruptures is practically a sport here!
This and other glaciers in the park are responsible for glacial runoff into the rivers and streams, providing a source of pure water, some of the cleanest in the world. For all these reasons and the simple truth that this place will make your jaw drop straight to the floor, I urge you to come see the Perito Moreno Glacier! For the adventurous type there’s also the opportunity to go trekking across the glacier, or on a boat ride to get up close. Rest assured though that a few hours at the viewing deck will be sufficiently spectacular as well!
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