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- 1 Start of the Big Ice Perito Moreno tour
- 2 First stop on the tour: the walkways
- 3 Free time on the walkways
- 4 Road to the Bajo de las Sombras port
- 5 Navigation on Rico Lake
- 6 Hike to the beginning of the glacier
- 7 First ice treading
- 8 Time for lunch on the glacier
- 9 Big Ice Perito Moreno, the trekking
- 10 Back on the boat and end of the tour
Hello, Javier on the line! I’m traveling in Argentina, country of tangos and asados, but also of amazing landscapes and glaciers. The other day I took the opportunity to do the Big Ice Perito Moreno trekking and today I’m going to tell you my travel diary, my review, so you can get an idea of what it’s like to live this adventure. Some time ago I told you about my experience doing the Minitrekking, and I liked it so much that I didn’t want to miss the full version. I can tell you in advance that it was incredible, here we go!
Start of the Big Ice Perito Moreno tour
At 6:45 am the transfer picks us up very close to the lodge for the Big Ice tour. We get up early but here the sun is always the first to rise. We pick up more people at different points until we start heading to the park.
At 8 am we are at one of the official entrances. To facilitate the purchase of tickets, an employee gets on the bus, we give her the cash and notes our nationality (foreigners pay 4 times more). If you want, you can also pay by card, but for that you have to get off the bus and you lose a bit of time.
💡 Tip: take cash.
After the formalities, the tickets are handed to us. Remember to keep them, because if you want to re-enter the park during the next 72 hours, you get a 50% discount if you present them.
First stop on the tour: the walkways
At about 8.30 am the first stop arrives: the walkways. It looks like we are going to be lucky, there are only three cars in the parking lot. The restaurant and the souvenir store are closed but luckily the toilets are already open. The silence becomes a gift as we descend the first balconies. Birdsong and the creaking of the glacier shiver me.
Free time on the walkways
During that first hour of the morning that we have free time on the walkways, we enjoy the main balconies, seated and well covered, as the wind always accompanies us and recording in the memory those moments. A constant crackling in one area puts us on alert, something is going on. And suddenly, that crackling with a powerful echo paralyzes us. From the wall of the glacier a huge chunk of ice breaks off as we blink. I had already heard about this and a colleague even wrote about the rupture of the Perito Moreno, but seeing it with your own eyes, you can’t contain your emotion. I am speechless.
Road to the Bajo de las Sombras port
It’s time to climb the stairs because the bus is waiting for us. The next stop is at the Bajo de las Sombras port. There the boat awaits us to take us to the south face (by Brazo Rico). During the whole trip and from the departure from El Calafate, our guide Guadalupe shows us the flora and fauna of the place. She also shows us the beginnings of the glacier on different maps so that we can visualize the route we will take, and tells us about the extension of the Perito Moreno glacier. It is not the largest in the park but it is the best known for its accessibility.
At 10 am we are crossing the lake. Our mountain guides Nicolás and Fernanda are waiting for us on the other side.
Upon arrival we are welcomed and after walking a few meters, we stop at some huts to put on our harness and helmet. The adventure begins!
Hike to the beginning of the glacier
We begin to ascend the mountainside and an hour later we arrive at the first stop: an information sign where our guide Nicolas tells us the route we will take on the glacier. We go in parallel while continuing to climb a steep path, with steps, sand and good slope. The difficulty is medium-high. We have had a drop in the group, as it is not for everyone and this companion was not able to do it (she was offered to change the activity for mini trekking, which is much less demanding).
You have to be in good physical condition and not just “healthy”. Footwear is the other important factor; basic running shoes are not enough. Either you have a good grip, or it is easy to slip or get badly hurt on this excursion.
After 30 minutes of a continuous ascent there is a viewpoint to catch your breath, where you can see tiny people doing the mini trek.
We continue walking up at a good pace until we reach an area where we have to rope ourselves for safety with the harness and carabiners. It is not dangerous, it is simply another safety measure.
A few minutes later we reach a second dome: it is time to try on the crampons and load them in the backpack. We have been warned of the steep downhill slope ahead. The most desired moment arrives: putting on the crampons.
First ice treading
The first step on the ice is made at 12.30 am. Crampons on and walk like ducks. The beginnings are always a little orthopedic until you normalize the tread and the force of your steps is more controlled.
We enter the glacier and see the first blue crevasses. Different ice that with the passing of the minutes we understand thanks to the explanations of Nicolás and Fernanda. Deep sinkholes in which we look out with the precautions taken by professionals, streams that form like streamers … A beauty of white and light blue, which allude to its flag. Good job!
Time for lunch on the glacier
We look for a sheltered area between the grooves of the Perito because the weather is unsettled, the wind is relentless. Time to eat; we each sit down as we can. The table and chairs are the same ice, so anything goes for sitting pants/jacket/backpack cover…but make it waterproof. What a restaurant with a view, my Michelin Star for that place.
Time to eat is running out. We can’t sit still because the body needs movement to warm up again.
Big Ice Perito Moreno, the trekking
Both Fernanda and Nicolás go off in sections to check the trail and decide which one to take for the rest of the group. During the days they have not been there, new formations have been created. The glacier is in continuous movement, changing day by day. That is why there is no set path and each outing is a new adventure.
At about 15h, after having explored the flattened area and going slightly into the rougher area, we are back on the edge of the ice. Arriving at the mountain, it is time to take off the crampons and undo the path walked with its unevenness.
An hour and a half of descent for the last gift of the day: an ice cave! Whites, greens and blues; a play of translucent colors, so many wonders of nature!
The last stretch we do before boarding again, is a wooden walkway that takes us to a shelter about 15 minutes away where there are toilets, coffee/hot tea and spectacular views of the south face of the glacier.
Back on the boat and end of the tour
The surprise that awaits us on the boat is a glass of whiskey with glacier ice (yes, yes, from Perito himself) and some chocolate bonbons (which are more to my liking, although less than the cookie they gave us at the beginning of the tour).
We got on the bus and returned to El Calafate with the backpack, always more loaded than on the way because now what weighs are the experiences lived.
This has been our adventure on the Big Ice Perito Moreno. As you can see, it has been intense and we have enjoyed it very much, the review is totally positive. A memory that we will take with us forever. Would you dare to live it?