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My Journey to the Center of a Glacier:  Perito Moreno Trek


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I was first introduced to the joys of trekking, while I was very reluctantly starting my hike up to the Paro Takstang Monestry , Paro, Bhutan- at the height of 10,240 ft above the mystic Paro Valley. Not to mention, my physical agility was quite tending to negative back then, in 2013!

A journey , which started with an initial - "I am not doing this" and ended with a "I want more of it" , left me quite insatiable of the joys of taking a painstaking hike to reach a completely worthy-of-the-pain destination .

Then and now! A lot has changed - with the exception of my wanderlust ! And the insatiable adventure spirit in me, got a new dope to look forward to.

The Big Ice Trek! As the name rightly suggests, is a 5 hour long hike of which 3 and a half hour is ice walking on the Perito Moreno Glacier.

Advice: Bring out those running shoes and start doing some physical activity, at least for a month, prior to the trip! This is a moderate to difficult trek and although it may sound like "just walking", it gets a little hard on the feet and lungs, sometimes.

Pack in some hiking gear - shoes, rain wear, gloves(Must!), cap, a good - couple of warm layering to beat the strong winds,Polaroid sun glasses, a good sun screen , oodles of enthusiasm and you are all set to go!

My journey , started on a beautiful, pleasant, sunny morning, with an 80 km bus ride - from the El Calafate town to the Glacier port ; across breathtaking landscapes - of the road running thorough a desert on both sides, with the view of the spectacular Lago Argentino and some surrounding hills.

We stopped briefly at a viewing point , which took us face to face with the glacier , we were about to traverse! The massive block of moving ice - Right Ahead! The placid waters, the broken pieces of ice floating around! And the sound of the breaking ice - like some distant fireworks sans the light!! A cocktail of brilliant surreal sensations!!.

It was tough to pull away from the viewing balcony, but the anticipation of "the best is yet to come", did the trick!

My captures, can never do justice to what my senses experienced, however, for the sake of memory keeping..

Photos of Perito Moreno Glacier, Lago Argentino Department, Santa Cruz Province, Argentina 1/5 by Aparajita Bhattacharjee
Photos of Perito Moreno Glacier, Lago Argentino Department, Santa Cruz Province, Argentina 2/5 by Aparajita Bhattacharjee
Photos of Perito Moreno Glacier, Lago Argentino Department, Santa Cruz Province, Argentina 3/5 by Aparajita Bhattacharjee
Photos of Perito Moreno Glacier, Lago Argentino Department, Santa Cruz Province, Argentina 4/5 by Aparajita Bhattacharjee
Photos of Perito Moreno Glacier, Lago Argentino Department, Santa Cruz Province, Argentina 5/5 by Aparajita Bhattacharjee

Next on, was a boat ride on the Argentino lake to the Bajo de las sombras port. This was our gateway to the hike.

Photos of  1/4 by Aparajita Bhattacharjee
Photos of  2/4 by Aparajita Bhattacharjee
Photos of  3/4 by Aparajita Bhattacharjee
Photos of  4/4 by Aparajita Bhattacharjee

As we walked , 6 km on the pebbly, grainy terrain of the "Brazo Rico" or the Rico Arm of the Argentino lake, with some narrow hikes at a gradient of 60 degrees, our expert mountaineer guide talked of how the glacier stays on all year round, due the strong cold winds which keeps the ice from melting. While most glaciers in the world are retreating, this beauty here - quite enigmatically, is advancing!

After some hiking (which seemed like ages!!) , a lot of panting and sweating, we reached the edge of the glacier; where we were met with a group of fellow mountaineer guides, who helped us get our crampons on and enlightened us with a brief tutorial of "How to walk in your crampons like a pro!" .

Anecdote:- Despite the brief tutorial, the clumsy me, did land up on a thin crack in the ice - on my posterior (Read - bum!) Embarrassing - Yes, a lot! Painful- No, what with all the layers of cold protection. And like a fallen warrior, I gracefully got back on my feet (pulled up by two fellow hikers , actually) and blamed the tail of the crampon laces("Oh! you see, I tripped on these extra loose laces") , for my clumsiness.

For those of you , who are first timers of ice walking ( like me) -Crampons are metal plates with spikes, which are tied to the shoes , to help walk on ice. There are do's and dont's - like lifting the feet while walking , for the spikes to get the grip on the ice (picture yourself as a Sumo Wrestler in a ring, thumping your way towards your opponent..Bring it On!); careful with the angle at which you drop your feet ,else , you might end up twisting the ankles,etc. Sounds challenging? Not quite! Okay honestly, after half an hour of walking, not quite!

Armed with - crampons, harness (just in case the weather gets bad!) , lots of determination and excitement ; accompanied by Julio (our guide) and Walden (the man who would act like a human barrier on steep cliffs and our helping hand to climb across wider cracks) , we started our much awaited ice trek.

What lay ahead of us! Words are not enough to describe what the eyes beheld,so yet again - more of my amateur photography skills, could do the talking

Photos of  1/5 by Aparajita Bhattacharjee
Photos of  2/5 by Aparajita Bhattacharjee
Photos of  3/5 by Aparajita Bhattacharjee
Photos of  4/5 by Aparajita Bhattacharjee
Photos of  5/5 by Aparajita Bhattacharjee

As the glacier is in constant motion, the path traversed is ever new , so are the ice formations , like cracks, small lakes,sinkholes, tunnels,etc. The water in the lakes are absolutely pure, but devoid of minerals - good for a short trip as ours,however could cause dehydration if solely consumed.

Photos of  1/3 by Aparajita Bhattacharjee
Photos of  2/3 by Aparajita Bhattacharjee
Photos of  3/3 by Aparajita Bhattacharjee

After around.... well, I had surely lost track of time... we sat down for lunch, on the ice by the crystalline lake; with sheets of white all around and an unmatched serenity encompassing us , as we nibbled on our sandwiches and fruits. Our very generous guide offered us some of his delicious "homemade" banana cake and we continued on our journey with the promise of a "surprise" from him.

Photos of  1/3 by Aparajita Bhattacharjee
Photos of  2/3 by Aparajita Bhattacharjee
Photos of  3/3 by Aparajita Bhattacharjee

And here comes our surprise! An Ice Tunnel! Which we had to climb out of (with much help from Walden) . Quite enthralling! and we were enthralled, indeed! Like kids, who got access to a new slide in a regular park!

However, with this exciting surprise came the sad announcement, it was also the last leg of our ice walk and it was time to head back.

Photos of  1/5 by Aparajita Bhattacharjee
Photos of  2/5 by Aparajita Bhattacharjee
Photos of  3/5 by Aparajita Bhattacharjee
Photos of  4/5 by Aparajita Bhattacharjee
Photos of  5/5 by Aparajita Bhattacharjee

The journey back on our boat, was a quiet one. Apart from physical exhaustion, the reminiscence of our trek was quite thought provoking. Of what has been seen! And what is to be seen ! And there is so much to see! That a lifetime is never enough! Yet the traveler, in me, tries to gather as much as possible , from each one of it!

With this note, we said goodbye to our fellow hikers and the great team of our guides. And as all good things, our journey came to an end with a Grey Goose on the rocks (yes! the Glacier ice) , an Argentine Bonn Bonn Candy and a hope for more of this to come. Cheers to Life!

Photos of  1/1 by Aparajita Bhattacharjee
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