El Calafate

Perito Moreno Glacier trek (Patagonia)

We went on a mini trekking tour of Perito Moreno Glacier on our second day in Calafate.

We were picked up by the tour company at our hotel early in the morning. In all of our travels, this was the first tour we’d been on where we were loaded into a large coach bus.

After a short drive, the bus pulled up to the shoreline of a lake that is fed by the glacier and we boarded a boat. The number of people on the boat and the boat’s max capacity seemed at odds with one another. It felt over capacity.

The passengers on the boat were aggressive. Everyone was vying for close-up shots of the face of the glacier.

I took a few photos on the boat thinking that photos taken from the water would give perspective on the height of the glacier, but it turned out that the true perspective shots occur from land with the boat in view.

The boat docked on the other side of the lake (the south end of the glacier), and we walked up a short hill to a small hut where backpacks and other personal belongings could be stored while on the glacier trek.

View from the storage hut

We did not store anything in the hut because it was insecure (no locks, no official bag check, etc.) but many people chose to store some of their belongings in the hut. 

The weather was warm, and we again found ourselves overdressed for the occasion. Apparently, this was a lesson we were not going to learn.

Similar to kayaking in a glacier-fed lake, we thought the temperatures would be cold, but they were in the mid-60s. A light jacket and breathable hiking pants would have been perfect.

We walked a short distance from the storage hut across the rocky shoreline to get fitted with crampons.

Against the demands of the guides (to keep us on task), we quickly stopped for a photo of me with the glacier in the background.

Ten minutes later, we arrived at the crampon hut. 

Crampons are metal contraptions that were strapped to our shoes, sort of like detachable roller skates of the 80s. 

They were tied tight and had metal spikes on the bottom.

Crampons do not bend, and in order to walk, you have to move like a stick figure, punching your feet into the earth (or ice). It’s a movement you want to avoid if you have a broken toe like I did.

It only took a few steps in the crampons for me to start crying behind my sunglasses. This wasn’t my first “broken toe cry” of the vacation, and it probably would not be my last. It felt like my toe was re-breaking with every punch of my foot into the ice. 

I had no choice but to continue on the trek.

The top of the glacier was crumbly yet dense and hard. It was uneven, which made walking difficult because my ankles kept turning over, like when you sprain an ankle. I exited the glacier with no new injuries, but I was wondering how many more days of hiking my broken toe could handle. 

We trekked on the glacier for 45 minutes, occasionally stopping to take a photograph.

There were tiny creeks on top of the glacier, and the water in the creeks was as pure as it gets.

It tastes delicious; however, we were told that a human would not be able to survive long-term drinking the creek water because it lacks the minerals that humans need to survive that typically accompany what we consider “spring water.”

Basically, the water is too pure.

Protip: Bring a mug or other vessel to dip into the lagoon and drink the water.

I marveled at the glacier’s size, and we were only experiencing a small section of the surface area. 

Below is a photo of a tour group that arrived before we did. Humans are tiny ants on the glacier. 

The trek ended with a shot of whisky on the glacier. I declined the shot. Peter took his shot and said, “That was gross.”

We hopped off the glacier, removed the crampons, and walked back to the storage hut. We waited an hour for the boat to arrive and transport us to the other side of the lake. We used this time to eat our picnic lunches and soak in the sun. 

Once on the other side of the lake, we were herded into the large coach bus and driven to the “visitor’s center” of Parque Nacional Los Glaciares where we spent two hours exploring the glacier’s observation decks and wooden walkways.

The next post on Argentina is here.

2 comments on “Perito Moreno Glacier trek (Patagonia)

  1. Is that a selfie stick?

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