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A Trip to the Perito Moreno Glacier

June 28, 2021

The Sound of Thunder

While sitting on the tour bus traveling the 70-kilometer (43.5-mile) distance from El Calafate, the nearest town to Los Glaciares National Park, I was full of expectation, wonder, and anticipation. Leonardo, our amazing tour guide, did not help very much with those feelings since listening to him so lovingly describe the Perito Moreno Glacier made me want to get there even faster! Luckily, time flew by, thanks to the beautiful views streaming by my window and Leonardo’s comforting and steady voice relating interesting information and fun facts.

The Perito Moreno Glacier stands in the glacial lake named Lago Argentino, and from the surface of these waters the glacier's walls can reach up to 70 meters (230 feet) high. Like me, you might not be able to grasp this scale while appreciating it from the walkways, which always happens when facing a panoramic view. But if you get closer on a boat cruise, you’ll feel very much like an ant!

View of the Perito Moreno Glacier

View of the Perito Moreno Glacier, taken from the walkways. Photo by Lucia Padilla, April 2021

Another fun fact about the glacier is that the water in Lago Argentino looks blue or turquoise from far away, but when you get close enough, you will be surprised to see that it actually has a milky color. This is due to the mineral particles that are so tiny they cannot settle on the bottom, and consequently they remain suspended in the water.

Also, if you like adventure, there are incredible trekking tours where you can walk on top of the glacier (which I highly recommend). And if you think this experience couldn’t be any cooler, just wait! Did you know that you can bring along your empty bottle or canteen and fill it up with glacier water? Yep, it is completely safe to drink and is delicious too!

View of the Perito Moreno Glacier and Lago Argentino

Right side view of the Perito Moreno Glacier, when the sun reflects on Lago Argentino, making the water look turquoise. Photo by Lucia Padilla, April 2021

There are a lot of things that I’ll take away from this trip—one being how lucky we are to have such beauty in our world and how much more appreciative we should be. But maybe the most important thing is what Leonardo reminded us of before we got off the tour bus.

Right when we were about to see the glacier in all its glory for the first time, he told us of the importance of taking mental pictures before digital ones. And, funnily enough, while he was saying that, I was in the middle of taking my phone out of my pocket in preparation. I was about to see this wonder through the lens of my camera first without even thinking about it! And then the bizarreness of it hit me—that someone has to remind us to not just see nature, but experience it.

View of the Perito Moreno Glacier from the coast

Left side view of the Perito Moreno Glacier, taken from the coast. Photo by Lucia Padilla, April 2021

So, when I stepped off that bus, I made a new resolution that I hope to keep from now on for all my trips: I will experience nature with my own eyes first before looking through a lens. And to tell you the truth, at least on this trip, it was so easy to do! Such powerful immensity in front of my eyes demanded that I be present and connect with my surroundings. It was at that time, in that moment, that I closed my eyes and heard the sound of thunder.

What does this sound mean? Was a storm coming?

This constant sound of thunder in the air is a friendly reminder of how this glacier is very much alive. There are always large chunks of ice breaking away from the glacier. This is called ice calving. If you are lucky enough to see ice calving, you will witness the most incredible show the glacier has to offer. So keep your ears open for this sound of thunder because it means ice calving is probably about to occur!

View of the Perito Moreno Glacier from a boat

Left side view of the Perito Moreno Glacier, taken from the boat cruise while crossing Lago Argentino. Photo by Lucia Padilla, April 2021

This magical glacier is the only one in the world that keeps growing every day (approximately two meters, or 6.6 feet, per day). So regardless of how many ice chunks it loses, it will recuperate the same amount of mass lost.

As the Perito Moreno Glacier advances, every three to four years it will reach its maximum growth, and thousands of tourists will flood the walkways of the Los Glaciares National Park to witness the most incredible ice calving of all, known as la ruptura (the Rupture). I have never seen it in person, but there is always a lot of media coverage from Argentina’s local news, and we can almost always watch it live from our homes. And I can tell you it's an amazing spectacle!




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Comments (6)

Deb S.(Teacher)

This looks wonderful! Is there a way I can assign this to a student or class? At the top it says for students, but how do they access it?

Reply to Comment

Tara Benwell(Author)

Hi Deb,
You can't assign a blog post yet, but you can share the link:
Our blog is free for anyone to view. We'd love it if you would share our For Students category with your students. Please encourage them to come back regularly for tips and activities from our publishing team:
Thank you!

Reply to Comment

Toni S.(Teacher)

This blog piece could be a counterpoint worthy of inserting into Climate Change content because it provides hope in the present without labelling or blaming ....

Reply to Comment

Tanya Trusler(Author)

Hi Toni, thanks for your comment! I've passed it on to Lucia. We totally agree that climate change can also be presented in a positive light. Hopefully teachers can use this post to help discuss such an important issue with their students!

Suzanne P.(Member)

I first visited Perito Moreno when I was 25. We hiked “the W” as well, a spectacularly beautiful 5-day hike. I returned to El Calafate for my 50th birthday and was saddened to see how much of the snow on the mountains had receded. Perito Moreno continued to grow and the thunder clap of the calving continued to amaze. I plan to return for my 75th!

Reply to Comment

Lucia Padilla(Author)

Hi, Suzanne! I wish I had the time to go hiking as well. I have heard so many wonderful things about it. I am sure the sights were amazing! I am sad to hear there is less snow than before.

Going back for your 75th sounds like the most wonderful plan, Suzanne! I can't imagine a better place to spend one's birthday.

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