Located in the Andes on the Argentine side of Patagonia is the Perito Moreno Glacier, a massive, moving field of ice and compacted snow. The Perito Moreno Glacier starts in the high mountain peaks, flows down through a valley, and ends in the chalky, turquoise waters of Lago Argentino. This enormous, icy mass spans a total distance of 18 miles. At its terminus with Lago Argentino, the glacier is three miles wide, with an average height of 240 feet above the lake water. All totaled, the glacier takes up an area of 97 square miles. The Perito Moreno is one of the few glaciers in the world that is still advancing and not retreating.
To view this frozen spectacle of nature, I took a boat cruise on Lago Argentino. The boat was a large, ultra-modern catamaran. The boat’s main deck had a large cabin with comfortable captain’s chairs for the passengers. There were people from all over the world on the trip, which was full.
Even though it was the austral summer, the weather was cold and windy. Standing on the boat’s deck, exposed to the full force of the gale, I had to wear everything I’d brought. I was bundled up tight. Thank goodness for windproof clothing and down feathers.
Lago Argentino was beautiful. Its mysterious opaque, turquoise waters were surrounded by mountains of dark, bare rock. The tallest mountains were capped in ice and snow. Icebergs that had calved from the glaciers floated in the lake. At one point, our boat Captain positioned the boat next to a flotilla of icebergs. The bright sunshine of the day cut through the cold air, shining down on the icebergs, which glowed fluorescent blue.
Before heading to the Perito Moreno Glacier, we first visited the Upsala Glacier, a smaller ice field. The Upsala and Perito Moreno Glaciers are part of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field. There are a total of 48 glaciers in the field. The Southern Patagonian Ice Field is the third largest reserve of fresh water in the world.
Eventually the boat reached the terminus of the Perito Moreno glacier. Our boat held its position before the three mile wide wall of snow and ice. The color of the glacier was a blue that I’d only seen before in ice pops that used artificial dyes. It was a fascinating color, a type of blue that draws attention. Everyone on the boat pressed into the bow to take pictures. Most of the passengers were well-behaved.
After floating in front of the glacier for a while, we returned the way we had come. I stayed outside most of the trip, enjoying the beautiful scenery of the lake.