An ice age

perito moreno glacier, patagonia, argentina

An ice age


Perito Moreno Glacier, Patagonia, Argentina

When people say that something moves a ‘glacial speed’, I’ve never really known what to imagine. Obviously it means something is moving slowly, but how slowly? The expression conjures up images of cold and unrelenting progress that, although gradual, is inevitable and unstoppable.

When people talk about this kind of speed, it’s normally in the negative – a criticism of something that is taking too long or is painfully slow. I can now tell you from firsthand experience that there is nothing painful about a glacier. It is one of the most beautiful sights you could see in Patagonia.

perito moreno glacier, patagonia, argentina

Argentina’s Los Glaciares National Park has almost fifty glaciers within its boundaries but there is one that really is the icing on the cake (so to speak). The Perito Moreno Glacier near El Calafate is the largest of them all and by far the most impressive to see up close.

perito moreno glacier, patagonia, argentina

The face of the glacier stretches across for more than five kilometres. From the front, where tourists get the best view, all the way to the back of the ice is more then thirty kilometres. To give you a sense of the scale, the Perito Moreno Glacier is three times the size of Manhattan!

perito moreno glacier, patagonia, argentina

perito moreno glacier, patagonia, argentina

Ready for a collapse

It’s also quite noisy. That seems strange, because you expect the huge mass of solid ice to be quite peaceful, but there are a lot of unseen forces at work here. There is enormous pressure within the glacier and, as we all know, pressure eventually needs a release. A constant cracking and crashing of ice occurs at the front of the glacier as chunks fall off into the lake.

Crack – the sound echoes across the lake and bounces off the nearby mountains. The splash into the water is just as loud and the sound seems to carry for kilometres. The silence of everything else only accentuates the moment.

perito moreno glacier, patagonia, argentina

perito moreno glacier, patagonia, argentina

The Perito Moreno Glacier is one of the most popular tourist stops in southern Patagonia. Busloads of people come in and out of the site every day and it’s one of the main reasons travellers bother to stop in the nearby town of El Calafate (although it is actually quite a nice place in its own right). In fact, the whole region seems to be going through a tourist boom at the moment and visitor numbers are definitely on the rise – and not at a glacial speed!

UNESCO world heritage siteThis is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. For more info click here.
You can see all the UNESCO World Heritage Sites I’ve visited here.

  • Bret @ Green Global Travel | Mar 30, 2012 at 9:51 pm

    Cool photos, Michael! I’m really enjoying the sights and stories you’re sharing from your journey!
    Bret @ Green Global Travel recently posted..GO GREEN TIP #89: Eco-Friendly Gardening For SpringMy Profile

    • Turtle | Apr 2, 2012 at 1:13 am

      Thanks Bret. This will be the end of Patagonia (for now), though. I can’t wait to get back there sometime soon…

  • AlexBerger | Mar 31, 2012 at 11:48 pm

    Looks like you had a spectacular day at Perito. Lovely shots. One of my favorite places in Argentina!
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    • Turtle | Apr 2, 2012 at 1:14 am

      It was stunning there. The photos will never do it justice, though!

  • The Time-Crunched Traveler (Ellen) | Apr 1, 2012 at 2:06 am

    Absolutely awe-inspiring! I keep begging my husband to take me here 🙁
    The Time-Crunched Traveler (Ellen) recently posted..The Weekly Worldview: The lone kite in the skyMy Profile

    • Turtle | Apr 2, 2012 at 1:14 am

      Ha ha… hopefully you’ll have some luck soon. You won’t regret it!

  • Angela | Apr 1, 2012 at 9:02 pm

    Gorgeous pictures, staring at those views must be overwhelming.
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    • Turtle | Apr 2, 2012 at 1:15 am

      Awe-inspiring is a great way to put it. It’s a place that really takes your breath away.

  • Rease | Apr 2, 2012 at 11:22 am

    Gorgeous photos! I definitely imagined it to be peaceful, but the explanation of the noisiness seems a lot more logical.

    • Turtle | Apr 3, 2012 at 4:36 am

      The noise is a bit unexpected but it definitely adds to the whole experience!

  • Nate @yomadic | Apr 2, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    Incredible. Being there must give you a new perspective on the forces of nature. So amazing!
    Nate @yomadic recently posted..Quit Your Job. The Life You Have Imagined, Awaits.My Profile

    • Turtle | Apr 3, 2012 at 4:36 am

      It’s strange to see something so solid that clearly has a lot going on inside!

  • Liz | Apr 2, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    That was a real Ice Age. I can’t imagine how freezing in The Perito Moreno Glacier. But I wanna visit the place.

    • Turtle | Apr 3, 2012 at 4:37 am

      It’s pretty cold down in Patagonia – full stop. But, yeah, the glacier would be pretty freezing!

  • Stephanie - The Travel Chica | Apr 4, 2012 at 8:02 am

    Really like the second shot. Wish I had thought to get that angle 🙂
    Stephanie – The Travel Chica recently posted..The Driest Place on the Planet is FloodingMy Profile

    • Turtle | Apr 4, 2012 at 8:43 am

      I don’t believe for a second that there’s something you haven’t done in Argentina! 🙂

  • Wanderplex | Apr 6, 2012 at 6:30 am

    What a stunning landscape – it looks almost alien! And that’s surprising about it being so noisy because you’re right, it looks incredibly still and tranquil. Definitely putting this on my bucket list!
    Wanderplex recently posted..Video: Chinese hotpot with a side of… nail polish and kung-fu noodles?My Profile

    • Turtle | Apr 11, 2012 at 5:47 am

      The noise was a surprise, even though I had been told about it beforehand It’s a great addition to your bucket list!! 🙂

  • Jeremy Hauscher | Apr 11, 2012 at 2:24 am

    Intrigued by what you said when you said it was noisy. There’s something crystal like about ice, but you’re right – I expected it to be pretty quiet and serene.

    Do you have video of this? I’m interested in hearing what these glaciers sound like.

    • Turtle | Apr 11, 2012 at 5:51 am

      I don’t have a video, but I’m sure there are some floating out there on the net. The sounds comes just occasionally but it’s really loud when it happens!

  • Franco | Jun 1, 2012 at 6:04 am

    Thanks to you I’ll be checking this place out in a couple of weeks. A weekend excursion.

    • Michael Turtle | Jun 1, 2012 at 6:51 am

      Oh, fantastic. You’ll love the glacier. In fact, all of Patagonia is so beautiful – I hope you get a bit of a chance to see some of it.

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