A Magical New Year’s Eve in Southern Patagonian Ice Field

Perito Moreno Glacier, near El Calafate, Argentina.

My wife and I embarked on a month long trip to Brazil, Argentina and Chile during the Christmas/ New Year period 2007/08. I had been visiting Brazil and Argentina virtually annually for the past twenty years on business, but had never had an opportunity to be a tourist. This was my chance!

Our trip was organised by Steppes Travel (who I can thoroughly recommend if you like personalised journeys to exotic locations) and took in Iguaçu Falls, Corrientes, BA, Patagonia, Torres del Paine park, the penguin colony near Punta Arenas, Atacama desert and Parity on the Atlantic coast; a great place to chill out at the end of a long trip!

Is that J&B on the rocks?We thought that Iguaçu was spectacular, especially as our hotel balcony looked out over the falls. The other locations were also wonderful, but for that magic moment my wife and I agree that New Years Eve on and around the Perito Moreno Glacier near Lake Argentina in Patagonia just stole the show!

We were not expecting too much when the guide picked us up for the short drive from El Calafate to the glacier, but when we arrived it was clear that we were in for a treat! The glacier towered in front of us about half a mile wide and circa a hundred foot high. We boarded a boat to get a closer look. As we cruised across its front very large chunks would occasionally fall off, reminding us that the glacier is constantly on the move down the valley. It’s a spectacular sight to see many tons of “ice cliff” break off the front of a glacier and plunge into the water close to you.

Guides fit our cramponsWe were asked if we would like to trek over the glacier. Despite a few doubts, being not terribly fit late fifties at the time, we decided to give it a go and I am glad we did. The going was not very demanding. We had to fit crampons to our boots which obviously helped prevent us from slipping on the ice and away we went. We had to walk in single file and occasionally cross crevasses, but our guides did a good job and no-one was in any danger. It felt very special to be walking all over this monster piece of shifting ice.

Now for the magical moment! As we rounded a steep bluff towards the end of our trek, we were confronted by the sight of one of our guides stood by a table full of glasses and a bottle of scotch in each hand! We all received a glassful and for those of us who like it on the rocks, an ice pick was used to chip a few chunks from the glacier!

A moment to remember.

Feature written by Adrian Barnes

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