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El Calafate Glacier: 25 Photos that Will Make You Want to Visit

Check out images of El Calafate Glacier (aka Perito Moreno Glacier) in Argentinian Patagonia and inspire yourself to visit.
El Calafate is a windswept town in Argentinian Patagonia and a 'must do' on a 2 week Patagonia itinerary

El Calafate's main claim to fame is the stunning Perito Moreno Glacier, a sheet of craggy luminous blue ice almost 100 square miles in area. 

El Calafate's glacier was one of the most picturesque places that we visited in South America. Check out my images of Perito Moreno Glacier and inspire yourself to visit El Calafate.

El Calafate Glacier: The blue ice of Perito Moreno Glacier near El Calafate Argentina

How to Get to El Calafate Glacier

El Calafate is accessible via non-stop flights from Bariloche,  Buenos Aires, and Ushuaia in Argentina. Perito Moreno Glacier is situated about 1.5 hours outside of El Calafate town. We hired a private taxi through a travel agency associated with our hotel for $1500 ARS (about $125 USD at the time of writing) to take us to the glacier. Our driver, Alan, didn't speak any English so we got to practice our limited Spanish along the way. We had fun trying to learn about Alan's family and making general small talk.

Panoramic Views of Perito Moreno Glacier

Panorama of Perito Moreno Glacier near El Calafate Argentina
I promised 25 photos of Perito Moreno Glacier and the surrounding area. Off we go! The thing that impressed me the most about El Calafate's Glacier was the sheer scale. The awesome size of the glacier (it's 19 miles in length) could only be appreciated via panoramas.
Panorama of Perito Moreno Glacier near El Calafate Argentina

Birds of Patagonia at Perito Moreno Glacier

Bird soaring over the ice of Perito Moreno Glacier near El Calafate Argentina
We especially enjoyed watching majestic Patagonian birds of prey soar over the blue ice.
Patagonia Sierra Finch bird near El Calafate Argentina
We also spotted plenty of forest birds like the Patagonian sierra finch.

SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: If you have a sweet tooth, consider bringing alfajores, a traditional Argentinian snack, with you when you visit El Calafate glacier: Alfajores are Argentinian cookies filled with dulce de leche. Alfajores come in a wide assortment of flavors and are often covered in chocolate.

Behold the Blue Ice of Perito Moreno Glacier

El Calafate Glacier: Blue icebergs

Perito Moreno Glacier was made up of blue glacial ice. The ice looks blue because as snow falls and is compressed into the glacier, the added pressure enlarges the ice crystals which then scatter blue wavelengths. The blue color is most apparent at El Calafate Glacier after a large hunk of ice calves into the surrounding water. 
Blue ice of Perito Moreno Glacier near El Calafate Argentina

However, you can also see the bright blue tint on the main part of the glacier as well.
Blue ice of Perito Moreno Glacier near El Calafate Argentina

Forest Walk at Perito Moreno Glacier

Boardwalk trails at El Calafate's glacier in Argentina
A series of well-maintained boardwalks wind through the area adjacent to El Calafate's glacier. There are a number of different loop walks that you can do. One of the walks leads through the forest where you'll be surrounded by mossy trees. As the trail rises above the treeline, you'll catch glimpses of the glowing ice beyond.
Mossy trees near Perito Moreno Glacier near El Calafate Argentina
Are you looking for a more adventurous hike? Check out this post about ice trekking on Perito Moreno Glacier.

Craggy Peaks of Ice at Perito Moreno Glacier

Close up of the craggy peaks of Perito Moreno Glacier near El Calafate Argentina
I think there is a natural tendency to think of glaciers as flat, slippery sheets of ice. In reality, the tremendous forces acting upon the glacier create intricate craggy peaks.
Craggy peaks of ice that are part of Perito Moreno Glacier near El Calafate Argentina

Watch Out for Calving Ice at the Corners of El Calafate's Glacier

Perito Moreno Glacier and water beyond near El Calafate Argentina
Calving ice sounds like a clap of thunder or a gun shot. It's hard to pinpoint the sound and know where to look or point your camera. We were lucky enough to see a major piece of the glacier shear off and rumble into the water below. I saw it with my eyes but wasn't fast enough to point the camera. In our experience, keep an eye on the corners of the ice. It can actually be a quite mindful experience to pick a spot and stand and observe for a while. You might just be in the right place at the right time.
Perito Moreno Glacier viewed through the trees in Argentina
A corner of El Calafate Glacier (Perito Moreno) in Argentina
Calved ice beside Perito Moreno Glacier near El Calafate Argentina

 Mountain Backdrops at Perito Moreno Glacier

Mountains behind Perito Moreno Glacier on a stormy day near El Calafate in Argentinian Patagonia
Perito Moreno Glacier also features a stunning mountain backdrop. We enjoyed photographing the glacier in the context of the surrounding landscape.
Perito Moreno Glacier and mountains beyond near El Calafate in Patagonia
Perito Moreno Glacier with mountains behind in Patagonia
Perito Moreno Glacier viewed from below near El Calafate Argentina

The Boardwalk at Perito Moreno Glacier

As mentioned previously, there is a trail of boardwalks snaking their way from the Perito Moreno Glacier visitors center to the ice shelf itself.
Boardwalk, Perito Moreno Glacier and blue water beyond near El Calafate Argentina
These photos illustrate just how close you can get to the ice while still maintaining a safe viewing distance.
Boardwalk and Perito Moreno Glacier near El Calafate Argentina

 Icy Close-up Images of Perito Moreno Glacier

Close up image of the ice of Perito Moreno Glacier
There are so many different faces to El Calafate's glacier. I enjoyed getting up close and personal to photograph the fissures and instabilities in the ice itself. 
Close up image of the ice of Perito Moreno Glacier
Close up image of the ice of Perito Moreno Glacier

 River of Ice at Perito Moreno Glacier

Ice floating down-river from Perito Moreno Glacier near El Calafate Argentina
Unless you arrive at El Calafate glacier early (before 10 am), you won't be able to drive up to the visitors center. Instead, you'll have to stop in a larger parking area and take a free shuttle bus to the top (a less than 10 minute ride). Near the parking area, you'll find a trail leading down to the water. You'll see El Calafate Glacier in the distance but what impressed me the most were the large icebergs; formerly part of the glacier, floating downstream against the mountain backdrop. 

How can you not want to visit this gorgeous scene in Patagonia?!

Put the Glaciers of El Calafate Argentina in Context with a Visit to the Glaciarium

A picture may be worth a thousand words but a museum is priceless for giving context to the world around you. Situated on a windswept hill between El Calafate town and Perito Moreno Glacier, the Glaciarium gives visitors a crash course in the science behind the glacier and the history of the ice sheets in this part of Patagonia. If you visit Perito Moreno Glacier by private taxi, arrange to be dropped off at the Glaciarium on your way back to El Calafate and then catch the free shuttle bus back to town.

SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Looking for other destination ideas in Argentina? Why not consider:

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Pictures of El Calafate Glacier (aka Perito Moreno Glacier)

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Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog: El Calafate Glacier: 25 Photos that Will Make You Want to Visit
El Calafate Glacier: 25 Photos that Will Make You Want to Visit
Check out images of El Calafate Glacier (aka Perito Moreno Glacier) in Argentinian Patagonia and inspire yourself to visit.
Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog