The following article may contain affiliate links.
It was time to leave Puerto Natales and cross the border into Argentina to El Calafate. Excited to see the Perito Moreno glacier, we donned our backpacks and took the short walk to the bus station for our coach. The border formalities were swift. After receiving our exit stamp from Chile the bus drove a little further to the Argentinian border for our entry stamps. Our daughter was very tired and grumpy which made for an unpleasant trip for Mum who was sat next to her. She swapped with Dad when the coach made a toilet stop at a local gas station to get some peace!
There was not much to see along the way to El Calafate until we started to get close to the town. Far in the distance we could make out Mount Fitzroy and an older French couple sat behind Mum got excited. The Frenchman told her that it had been his lifelong dream to hike and see Mount Fitzroy and that he was finally here. As the coach made its way into the station Dad noticed that there were not too many taxis at the taxi stand so when we got off he made a quick dash for the bags and grabbed a taxi.
We were staying on the outskirts of town at a small AirBnB apartment. Having communicated with our host in Spanish using Google Translate we were greeted by her Spanish speaking husband to show us around. He was a little shocked to find out we didn’t speak much Spanish but managed to explain everything well. Just in case, his wife rang up and went through everything again in English! Dad popped to the little convenience store down the road for some dinner supplies and we settled in for the night.
The next day we took a walk into town to see what El Calafate was all about. Really there was not too much to see in town. A main road through the town seemed to be the focus of all the restaurants and gift shops. We sat down for lunch before finding a taxi and negotiating a price for an afternoon trip to the nearby Perito Moreno. Luckily for us our taxi driver, Sergio, was studying to be a tour guide. He spoke very good English and was super keen to show us all the best sights along the way to Perito Moreno, stopping at various viewpoints and explaining what we could see. The drive to Perito Moreno took around an hour and a half, the last part being along winding roads. However, when we saw the glacier for the first time everyone was impressed! Sergio stopped at a viewpoint where the sheer size of the glacier could be appreciated!
The Perito Moreno glacier is unique in that it is advancing at a time when other glaciers in the world are retreating. At a rate of up to two meters a day the glacier creaks and groans as it advances. What makes this so good is the high percentage chance of seeing ice calve from the glacier and fall into the lake below. Sergio dropped us off and gave us two hours to make our way down the walkways for views of the glacier.
At first we were not sure how we would spend the time but the reality is that staring at the glacier and waiting for ice to calve from it is one of the most amazing things we have done on our trip so far. The glacier is huge, yet it somehow doesn’t sink it just how big it is. As we stood and watched ‘small’ pieces of ice calve and fall into the lake we had to take a moment to realise that these were probably the size of cars, trucks or even houses!
Then the moment we had all been hoping for happened. A huge cracking sound broke the still of the air and ice the entire height of the glacier (think skyscraper sized) calved from the main glacier and crashed down into the lake. As the ice sank under the water a massive wave was produced and reminded us just why the passenger boat that took tourists for a water level view stayed so far away! It was a breath-taking moment that will stay with us for a long time to come.
Two hours later Sergio picked us up as promised and we headed back to El Calafate after a memorable day at Perito Moreno. The following day we relaxed and headed into town briefly to get ready for the next stage of our Patagonian adventure. Dad really wanted to go to El Chalten to see the Mount Fitzroy range….