An ice age

Travel through Patagonia and the natural wonders are countless. But none is as impressive as the enormous Perito Moreno Glacier near El Calafate.

Written by Michael Turtle

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle. A journalist for more than 20 years, he's been travelling the world since 2011.

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle and has been travelling full time for a decade.


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!


The best place to base yourself to visit the Perito Moreno Glacier is in the nearby city of El Calafate.


There’s a fun and social atmosphere at Lago Argentino Hostel, which also has clean and comfortable beds.


Although it’s in a quiet neighbourhood just outside the centre, La Alpina has lovely rooms at a good price.


Old charm is mixed with modern amenities at Patagonia Queen Hotel Boutique, which has a gym, game room, and bar.


Along with gorgeous interiors, there’s a beautiful view from Sierra Nevada, which offer spacious rooms and a free breakfast.


This site is on the UNESCO World Heritage List!
I'm on a mission to visit as many World Heritage Sites as I can. Only about 800 more to go... eek!

22 thoughts on “An ice age”

  1. 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!

  2. 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.

    • 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!


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