While the Perito Moreno Glacier might be the most famous of Argentinian Patagonia's glaciers, the Viedma Glacier holds the title of largest. The enormous glacier has an area of 977 km² and dominates the ice field of Southern Patagonia. But, the Viedma Glacier is not just something to look at — it is an interactive experience. Visitors to Patagonia can organize expeditions that will allow them to delve deep into the icy crevices of the glacier. It’s an exhilarating journey but one that will stay with your forever. Here is everything you need to know about the Viedma Glacier and how to get the most out of your visit.
Depending on how much time you have and your level of fitness, there are various different ways you can experience the Viedma Glacier. Each Viedma Glacier tour has its advantages and disadvantages so weigh them up and work out which option suits you best.
If you really want to get the most out of your trip to the Viedma Glacier then you should consider doing an ice trekking tour across its surface. Tours usually last around two hours and include a drink filled with ice from the glacier. The crowds at the Viedma Glacier are much smaller than those at the Perito Moreno Glacier. This means you can have a much more tranquil and intimate experience.
Guides help you strap on crampons before you set off to explore icy caves and climb snowy slopes. Bear in mind that the Viedma ice trek tour is difficult. Participants should have a good level of fitness and preferably some previous ice trekking experience.
Ice trekking is certainly not for everyone and if you want to see the glacier in a more relaxed manner then a boat tour is definitely a better option. From El Calafate or El Chalten, you will drive to the harbour on the edge of Lake Viedma and board one of the boats. Once everyone is on board, the boat will embark on its journey across the beautiful Lake Viedma.
The boat trip in itself is spectacular as the vessel weaves through mini-icebergs that sit in the water as you approach the glacier. The views of the Viedma Glacier from the boat are incredibly impressive and the tour usually lasts just under three hours.
While you’re visiting the Argentinian section of Patagonia, you might as well cram as much in as you can. First, if you’ve got a taste for glaciers, you would be crazy not to check out the nearby Perito Moreno Glacier. There is a reason this glacier is so popular — find out why for yourself. Boat tours and ice trekking excursions are both available for the Perito Moreno Glacier. Note that if you go in summer, you may have to share the experience with quite a few other people.
Viedma and Perito Moreno are located inside the famous Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina. And while the park is known for the glaciers, they just a part of what makes this park so great. There are dozens of hiking trails that visitors can take on solo. These routes and circuits will take you through some of the most beautiful parts of the park, past lookout points and through miles of rugged wilderness.
Finally, if you want something a bit more peaceful during your trip, you should check out an estancia. These are lodges that are surrounded by natural beauty in the heart of Patagonia. They are usually the only buildings to be found for miles on end and offer weary travellers comfortable accommodation as well as a number of activities. Guests can choose from horse riding, hiking, wildlife-spotting and more.
The best time to visit the Viedma Glacier is from November to March. This is the warmest time of the year in Patagonia. December through to February is summer in this part of the world and can get a lot busier than the shoulder months of November and March. Do not visit outside of this window as extreme weather conditions make many of the attractions inaccessible.
Before you head off on the adventure of a lifetime, it is worth taking note of the following things:
- The Viedma Glacier is a challenging trek. If you are nervous about whether you can cope, do the Perito Moreno Glacier first as it is an easier climb.
- There are not very many ATMs in Patagonia so make sure you load up on cash before you go.
- The weather in Patagonia is unpredictable and can change multiple times within a few hours. So, pack for every possibility. Check out the best time to visit Patagonia for more information.
- Be respectful of the nature here.
The Viedma Glacier is a natural wonder unlike any other and is capable of completely taking your breath away. If you are planning a trip to Patagonia, the Viedma Glacier will make a fantastic addition to your itinerary.