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30 November 2012 / leggypeggy

The unexpected magic of ice—I love glaciers!

Perito Moreno Glacier

A long view of the north face of the Perito Moreno Glacier

It may have been freezing and snowing, but I was hooked. In fact, I’m hooked for life.

I had no idea glaciers were so breathtaking, so awe-inspiring, so mesmerizing, so colourful, so completely fascinating.

Perito Moreno Glacier

Approaching the Perito Moreno Glacier

My introduction to the world of these ice behemoths came in the Argentine Patagonia.

That’s where the Perito Moreno Glacier heaved, belched, cracked and groaned it’s way into my heart. Who knew these beasts made so much noise and created so much action?

We stood spellbound on the viewing platforms, waiting for the slightest indication that a chunk of ice was about to tumble into Lake Argentino in Los Glaciares National Park. You hear a crack, almost a mini explosion, and scan the face for a sign of falling ice.

Perito Moreno is immense. Its face is five kilometres long. The glacier stretches back 30 kilometres and covers a total of 250 square kilometers. It stands an average of 74 metres in height above the waters of Lake Argentino.

Perito Moreno Glacier

A block of ice breaks off and tumbles toward the lake

Perito Moreno Glacier

Ker-splash! Can you see where the the block fell?

It is one of 48 glaciers fed by the Southern Patagonia Ice Field in the Andes straddling Chile and Argentina. The ice field itself is the world’s third largest reserve of fresh water.

Perito Moreno is one of three glaciers in Argentina that is still growing, sometimes with spectacular results. The glacier is constantly advancing until it joins an opposite peninsula. Water then backs up behind the wall of ice until the pressure brings on a gigantic rupture. For days prior to a rupture, spectators wait for the big event. Everyone missed the last one in March 2012.  It very uncooperatively came at 3am.

Perito Moreno Glacier

On the shores of Lake Argentino

We approached the glacier on foot, walking on the shores of Lake Argentino for almost an hour before rejoining a small bus that took us to the visitor’s centre. Then we spent ages roaming the viewing platforms and watching the north face. Our patience paid off and we saw a couple of mini icebergs ‘calve’ into the lake. I even caught a photo of one.

Later we had about an hour in a boat on the lake to get a closer look at the south face. Because we were at water level, we got a real appreciation for just how tall the glacier is, but we didn’t see much ice action (traveller’s tip: it’s probably not the best value-for-money option).

We learned a bit about the colours. Blue ice is old. The brown and yellow streaks come from sand and grit picked up as a glacier advances.

Some of our group—including Super Jong—had the extra adventure of glacier trekking, and I’ve included two of his pics.

Another member, Janet, visited the glacier in 2005. At that time, the 40,000 tourists who arrive each year had limited access to the glacier face. Today there are 10 times as many people coming. They can enjoy kilometres of elevated walkway, with large viewing platforms that get them up-close-and-personal with the ice.

I plan on getting up-close-and-personal with a glacier again soon. It’s an amazing and highly recommended experience.

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14 Comments

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  1. teamrpmblog / Nov 30 2012 5:02 pm

    Glacier in Argentina…. it must be my ignorance, because i never imagine there is glacier in south america.

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    • leggypeggy / Nov 30 2012 5:12 pm

      Hey, I know how you feel. I never knew there were so many glaciers in South America. But we are so far south now, I guess I shouldn’t have been so surprised. 🙂

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      • teamrpmblog / Nov 30 2012 5:32 pm

        how jaded our mind can be

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      • leggypeggy / Nov 30 2012 5:33 pm

        If we’re lucky, we get over it. 🙂

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  2. lmo58 / Nov 30 2012 9:07 pm

    Wow! Wow! and Wow! Peggy, that really is spectacular and awe inspiring! It must have been quite overwhelming being in a boat and under that glacier. They are incredibly beautiful. Thank you for sharing such beautiful photos.

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    • leggypeggy / Dec 9 2012 2:36 pm

      The Perito Moreno is one of Argentina’s top tourist sites. It’s easy to see why.

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  3. mickeydownunder1 / Dec 1 2012 12:49 am

    WOW WOW WOW WOW WOW!! I LOVE glaciers too! And have the PROUD achievement of climbing a glacier and crossing a 40 foot cravace when I lived in NZ! Not bad for someone with a balance problem, but lived to tell the tell! Yes they ARE AWE inspiring and breath taking 🙂
    Thanks soooooooooooooooooooooooo much for continuing to share you adventures!
    Does it take quite some time when you arrive back home for all of this to really sink in? 🙂
    WHOO HOO Hope today is a good day for Poor John and you!

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    • leggypeggy / Dec 9 2012 2:39 pm

      Thanks Joanne. We continue to have the most amazing time. I’m gobsmacked every day.

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  4. Potsie / Dec 1 2012 12:52 am

    I’m so happy for you and Poor John. You two have been all over the world and seen just about everything man and nature has to offer… glad you saw a different something that awes you.

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    • leggypeggy / Dec 9 2012 2:41 pm

      Thanks Potsie. I tried to picture the Perito Moreno wearing Dame Edna’s glasses, but that honour is reserved for you and her.

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  5. skippersy / Dec 1 2012 12:56 am

    Hello Leggy Peggy,

    Your adventures traveling in South America is amazing, from the forests of the Amazon to now glaciers in Argentina. Interesting that the glaciers are growing and not melting like we hear about often from galciers in the North Pole and global warming.

    Sy S.

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    • leggypeggy / Dec 9 2012 2:35 pm

      Hi Sy, I think only three or four glaciers in South America are growing. All the rest are shrinking. 😦

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  6. Colin Bennett / Dec 9 2014 12:33 pm

    In Argentina, the beautiful nature and scenery, I love to travel on it.

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