Land of the Ice Giants

Panoramic of Perito Moreno

El Calafate is home to the National Park of the glaciers. Located just 80km out of El Calafate, this park is home to 47 glaciers, but only  3 of them are accessible, either by boat or land. The most famous of these glaciers is the Perito Moreno glacier. We were driven up there by bus and went into the park. When we arrived, it was raining, so we couldn’t get onto the mountainside to see the glacier, but when we did, we could not believe our eyes. This may sound contrived, but the sight of that glacier was the most amazing and spectacular natural phenomenon I have ever seen.

Full length of Perito Moreno
Perito Moreno - HDR shot
Francis as we enter the walkway to Perito Moreno
Big Blue

The Perito Moreno glacier is 30 km long and in total is 250km square of ice and rock. The front face of the glacier is 5km long and on average it is 74m tall (above the water) To say that it is majestic is a gross understatement, this glacier is nothing short of breathtaking. Firstly, when you stand in front of it, you realise that it is not static, it groans and creaks, sometimes it sounds like rolling thunder as it heaves forward. The glacier is constantly moving, but it is not noticeable, but you can hear it. Every now and then you hear a loud crack, similar to a gunshot, as it moves…occasionally pieces of ice from the front wall will fall off, this is called calving. Calving happens on a regular basis, but it is totally unpredictable, so you will be looking in one direction and hear shouts from the other direction, you swing around quickly and will see only the last pieces as they fall into the water below. It is spectacular to see it, there is a sharp crack, a deep rumble and then a roar as a piece of ice, the size of a few small houses, comes crashing into the water. I managed to catch one calving, you can see the pic with the 3 shots of it happening.We spent a few hours just looking at the glacier and it was mesmerizing, it was as if you couldn’t stop looking.

Perito Moreno Calving

The next day we went on a boat trip to see Glacier Spegazzini and Glacier Upsala and then to see Perito Moreno, from the water level. This too was completely amazing. We came up close to an iceberg in Lake Argentino, there are plenty of them floating around, and lots of amazing sights to see.

Up close with an Iceberg in Lake Argentino
Francis view the iceberg
Up close to the Blue Giant
The Blue Giant, from a distance...

Glaciers Spegazzini’s front wall is over 100m tall above the water, but not as wide as Perito Moreno, but still impressive. We could not get close to the front wall of Upsala Glacier. In recent time, because of the increasing temperatures, Upsala is calving much more often and when it calves, the whole front wall comes off. This is now happening once ever 20 days or so, therefore the bay in front of it is packed with icebergs and pieces of ice. This debris is 3km long, so the closest we could get to Upsala was 3km away.

Glacier Spegazinni - full front wall

By far, the trip to the glaciers was the highlight of our trip so far, these Ice Giants are something quite spectacular and no photo can do them justice, to see, hear and almost feel them is what makes a visit to them so worthwhile…a once in a lifetime experience.


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