We survived the Moreno glacier.

This web page comes to you from a car park about 1000 metres from the the Moreno glacier.

According to our guide books, the only reason for the existence of the town of El Calafate is to act as a gateway to Los Glaciares National Park.

According to the woman at the tourist office in El Calafate, there are three camp sites within Los Glaciares National Park and the map she gave us showed them all.

On arriving at the park we were presented with a new map and told firmly that all the camp sites have been closed. When we passed them, they looked as if they had closed at least a year ago!

So we and three other campervans (one Canadian and two Argentinian) are parked in a car park (S50.469092 W73.029857) overlooking the glacier (ignoring the "no overnight camping" notice) and hoping that nobody will come and throw us out.

It is now 21:59, but still light.

Every ten minutes or so there is a large crash from the glacier and every few hours a substantial piece of ice breaks off. Below is (almost) the view from the car park! It is one of the most active glaciers in the world.

Los Glaciares National Park covers an area of 600,000 hectares and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981. The park's main attraction, the Moreno glacier, is both very active and very accessible. Whilst many glaciers remain silent for hours and very rarely produce icebergs, the Moreno glacier is almost guaranteed to do something spectacular if you watch it for an hour or two.

The Moreno glacier's catchment area covers over 250 square kilometers and the glacier moves forward at a remarkable two metres a day! The glacier towers 50 meters above the lake water and 180 meters below.

Calving takes place both above the water (as shown right) or occasionally huge chunks of ice detach below the water and rise dramatically to the surface.

Even quite small chunks of ice produce loud shattering sounds and one meter waves at the shore. When a large chunk falls off, the noise resembles that of crashing thunder! An impressive show.

Descending from the car park are a series of boardwalks that can get you within 200 metres of the ice. You are definitely not encouraged to leave the boardwalk. A sign claims that between 1968 and 1988 there were 32 people killed by ice falling from the glacier.

As well as viewing the glacier from the boardwalks you can also take a boat trip or walk along the shore, but only under the supervision of a park ranger.

The park is very popular and in the afternoon the boardwalks can be very crowded.

Even if you have just been to Antarctica, the Moreno glacier is well worth a visit. Highly recommended.

Stephen Stewart.

Home - This page last changed on 2007-01-21.
This page contains the latitude and longitude (from GPS using WGS84 Datum) of places of interest.