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glacier hiking in patagonia

Recently I was lucky enough to go to Patagonia. It’s somewhere I’vewanted to go for years so to finally get there was unbelievable. We flewinto El Calafate in Argentina and it didn’t matter which direction welooked there were snow-capped mountains. El Calafate is a small townwith an American ski town vibe, right on Lago Argentino, the largestfreshwater lake in the country and one of the biggest in South America.When we arrived we knew we had to make the most of our time there andone activity we couldn’t leave without doing was hiking on the PeritoMoreno Glacier. So the first thing we did was check the weather and booka day trip to the glacier. You can’t really trust weather forecasts butit gives a slight indication of where to place your bets for the bestweather. There are 3 tours offered to Perito Moreno Glacier.
1. Big Ice. This is the tour we did and boy it’s expensive but completelyworth it. It is a full day excursion that starts at the balconiesoverlooking the glacier and then a guided tour hiking right into theglacier, feels like you go right up close to the mountains but they arestill kms away. We hiked about 12kms and were on the glacier for almost 4hours. The cost was over $400, again worth every cent. (more infobelow)

2. Mini Trekking. This is like a sample of glacier hiking. It is an all-daytour but you’re only on the glacier for about 1.5 hours.

3. Bus to the balconies that overlook the glacier, incredible views but youdon’t get on the glacier.

[ Photo below is from the main balcony ]

our day

Big Ice tourOur day began at about 7:00am from our hostel, we were picked up anddriven about 1.5 hours to the balconies that overlook the glacier. Theview is incredible but literally only got better throughout the day.From there it was a short drive to a boat that took us over to theglacier.Off the boat, there was a small hut where the crew checked all ourequipment, made sure everyone had gloves and gave us time for a snack.Then a short walk through the forest to get fitted out with a harnessand crampons.The crampons were serious business, I don’t know what they weighed butthey weren’t light! Once we got to the glacier we put on the cramponsand the group was split off into smaller groups.

We had about 8 peoplein our group which was good because we had to walk in single file(following the steps of our guide) and everyone could still hear hisinstructions and all the information about the glacier. There was alsoan assistant guide who followed at the back or at the side to ensureeveryone was safe.The guide asked us if we wanted to have a real go, to which we obviouslyanswered yes.


[ Photo of other groups in the distance below us ]

This meant we went further than the other groups, and atour furthest point we could see the other groups in the distance belowus. The guides were next level, so knowledgeable and told us in depth allabout where we were, what we were seeing and why things were the waythey were. The views were incredible but learning about the environmentand the phenomenon of the glacier was the highlight for me

so what is a glacier?


A glacier is an immense mass of ice and this particular one is hugebeing 30km long and 254 square km in area. Our guide told us there are 3reasons this particular glacier is so phenomenal.


1. Access onto the glacier. There aren’t many glacier around the worldthat can be accessed so easily to walk on or just to have such closeviewpoints.


2. The size. Our guide told us since 1917 the glacier has remainedstable. Glaciers have two zones, accumulation and percolation. Thestability of the glacier means the snow increase in the accumulationzone is enough to compensate what is lost in the percolation zone.


3. The breaking. Now the science behind this is a bit beyond me, but,because of where the glacier is in relation to the lake means theglacier is constantly breaking. We were lucky enough to see twobreakages while on the balconies. The sound is unbelievable. Like you’rein the middle of a huge thunderstorm.


what to take hiking

I’d go one with a hydration component, it’s like any other hiking, youshould keep up your fluids. I normally have an Osprey pack hiking butthis time I took the Go Pro Seeker backpack so I could mount my Go Profor POV footage without wearing a chesty

Down Jacket -

Shell jacket -

Gloves!

If you don’t have gloves they have spare ones. I took the Oyuki glove liner with the grip so I could still use my phone for photos without taking my gloves off.

Hat and beanie -

Take both, weather can change and you need to be prepared to rug up. We got lucky we had a beautiful day so only needed a hat.

I am the biggest fan of Go Pro and I think you’d be crazy to gosomewhere like this without one. I had the Go Pro 5 and a Sony camerabut the Go Pro is so small you use it more often. The photos on the GoPro’s these days are such good quality.

Sunscreen!

And then more sunscreen! The sun has twice the reflection on the glacier just like the snow so put it on then put it on again.



Same again, the sun has double the power, protect yourself

Lunch and Drinks!


We got told to bring waterproof pants but no one had them, I just sat on my waterproof jacket at lunch.

 go pro hero 9



what to wear

Good socks -

Good socks. None of these socks made from synthetic materials. Get yourself some proper socks, merino bamboo blend socks from Le Bent are pretty hard to beat.





LE BENT ULTRA LIGHT SOCK


Hiking boots –


You can get away with joggers but it didn’t look like fun. Chances areit's not the only hike you’ll do in Patagonia so get yourself a pair ofproper hiking boots.










Thermals or base layers -


I had Mon Royale base layers,full merino but they aren’t itchy. I actually had the singlet top,T-shirt and long sleeve with me so I could react to the conditions.- I wore thermal skins, I have used them before for hiking and lovethem.


MONS ROYAL - REDWOOD ENDURO L / S TEE



WHEN TO GO

Early August to Late May. We went in November and the weather wasamazing. I don’t know if that was luck or time of year. Our guide didtell us that because of the heat there was more liquid around thannormal.


THINGS TO NOTE


The price of the excursion doesn’t include lunch or the national parkentrance fee.- The Big Ice tour is considered to be physically demanding and you needto be physically fit to go on it. They won’t allow you to do theexcursion if you are pregnant or obviously unfit.- Talk to your guide – seems obvious but let him know what you wouldlike from the day, we wouldn’t have trekked so far if he didn’t know wewere keen.- Put your spare batteries in a pocket where they can keep warm, coldair drains batteries.- I took spare SD cards and a battery charger. I would hate to get allthe way out there then find a problem.Patagonia is such an amazing part of the world. This was just how wespent 1 day. There is so much to do, look up what you want to do andrough prices because it isn't the cheapest place to visit but in sayingthat there is a lot you can do by yourself without a guide.





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Posted by Emily Dorahy on

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