We were in Argentina for two months and had Perito Moreno Glacier near the top of our list of things we wanted to see. We always try to experience as many outdoor respites as possible, as we usually prefer nature-made over man-made. Already we had enjoyed taking in the natural grandeur of Peninsula Valdes and Iguazu Falls. We were anxious to see Perito Moreno Glacier, a major tourist attraction in southern Patagonia, in southwest Santa Cruz Province of Argentina. This glacier is one of three in Patagonia that is not retreating. We also learned that this field of ice is the world’s third largest reserve of fresh, not salt, water.
Located in the Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina’s Perito Moreno Glacier is something to behold. We took at least 1,000 glacier pictures that day as we couldn’t get over the beauty of the glaciers. Of course, photos never can capture the true magnificence, but we still tried.
Photos from Perito Moreno Glacier
Perito Moreno Glacier with fire flower in the front
More Fire Flowers (also called the Notro Bush)
Perito Moreno Glacier up close
Pictures from our boat
Mountain with a UFO (like) cloud
We were so lucky to have experienced the Perito Moreno Glacier. What now?
We had been in Argentina for months exploring so many places. The magnificent Perito Moreno Glacier was the last of the “big things” we wanted to see. Afterwards, we had several weeks to explore the rest of the country at our leisure. Some of the other stops we made included Trelew, Punta Tombo, Mendoza, Maipu, and San Martin de los Andes.
Places we went to in addition to Perito Moreno Glacier
Trelew: Real life in Argentina
“What are you doing here?” a local teenager asked us after he learned we were from the United States. Trelew isn’t exactly the top spot on most “Places to Visit in Argentina” lists. But perhaps it should be. Situated between Puerto Madryn, Punta Tombo, and Gaiman (a Welsh village with tea houses), Trelew is a great stop for anyone on an extended visit in Argentina. Because so few tourists visit, cheap accommodations were hard to find. But if you do decide to stay, you’ll be rewarded with a true taste of Argentine life.
We stopped here during the middle of our trip for five days to relax and get some work done. While there, we enjoyed doing things Argentines do: shopping for groceries and chatting with the checkout person; ordering and waiting for made-on-the-spot empanadas and sampling Argentina parrilla; and sitting on the park bench in the center of town watching kids throw water on each other to celebrate the end of the school year. (Because it was November, not exactly the end of the school year for Americans, it took us a while to figure out what the teenagers were doing when they were ripping up notebooks, playing drums and singing, and flinging liter bottles filled with water.)
In Trelew, there’s also a paleontology museum with some interesting exhibits — including one where visitors can touch a real dinosaur bone.
We stayed in an apartment with a view of the city. There was a fantastic owner, Miguel. I accidentally left some posters at the apartment, and a few days later Miguel emailed and arranged to ship them to us in Buenos Aires, where we were going to be at the end of our trip. I am so thankful to him for doing that. If you’re on extended trip in Argentina and looking for a place to sit back, relax, and settle down for a few days, check out Trelew.
Still thinking about the Perito Moreno Glacier, we made our way to Mendoza
Buses and buses. We were excited to take the trip to Mendoza, the heart of Argentina’s wine region. We were looking forward to a wine tour by bike. Is is hard to believe we could be on a boat beholding the amazing Perito Moreno Glacier and then days later be on a wine tour by bike in Mendoza. We also thoroughly enjoyed the fine Argentine cuisine and the typical Argentine breakfast in Mendoza.
Hiking to the Mirador Arrayan Tea House: San Martin de Los Andes
After experiencing the amazing Lake Agnes Tea House in Lake Louise, Canada, I was excited to learn that San Martin de los Andes, Argentina has the Mirador Arrayán Tea House. The local city guide pamphlet promised the tea house would have “excellent bakery pastries that can be also appreciated … and eaten.” Appreciated and eaten? I’m there.
We set out for our 10 km hike late morning on the part paved, part dirt road that leaves San Martin de los Andes near Lake Lacar. San Martin is a cute town of about 20,000 people nestled in a valley in the Patagonian Andes.
A gorgeous spring day with just a few clouds in the sky provided the backdrop for our hike and within 15 minutes of our hike we had a spectacular view of the city below.
Despite the trek being on a road and not a trail (you can drive to the viewpoint) we only saw a dozen or so cars. The hike was peaceful, and we made it to the Mirador Arrayán in about an hour. We marveled at the view, trying but failing to capture its majesty on film. Glancing to the west you see the entirety of Lake Lacar with snow capped mountains in the background.
Looking to the east is the city of San Martin de los Andes.
We hiked the 1km further up the road, looking forward to the Mirador Arrayán Tea House, and to appreciating and eating its pastries.
We approached the Tea House, only to find a sign on the door indicating their hours of 4pm-8pm. We weren’t going to hang around for another four hours so we turned back to the lookout point, lunching instead on our backup food– smoked trout and cheese, a local specialty. I guess we’ll never experience the Arrayán Tea House’s pastries, but the view and serenity were well worth the hike.
Bike & Wine Tour in Maipu: It’s Better After a Bottle
We had high hopes for our wine tour by bike through Maipú, in the heart of Argentina’s wine region. What could be better than a leisurely bike ride through a cute old town with wineries on one side and the Andes on the other? But our experience didn’t quite match up with our expectations.
We hopped off the bus in Maipú and rented two rickety bikes. Winery map in hand, we started pedaling toward the first winery. Based on the map, it should have only been a few blocks away. Then again, the map didn’t have a scale. Eight kilometers later we pulled into the old-fashioned bodega, exhausted and happy to be there. The bike shop didn’t have any helmets and the bike lane ended after a few blocks. The wine route turned out to be a run-down major road, with cement trucks whizzing by at 70 mph, barely swerving to avoid us and kicking up dust and spewing exhaust in our faces.
Not quite the majestic, peaceful experience we’d hoped for, but we tried to look on the bright side.
Not the scenery we’d imagined
Two large dogs greeted us at the first winery, which consisted of five unlabeled buildings. We ventured into one and found a winery tour in progress. We tagged along for 15 minutes during which I learned 1) you should always store wine on the first floor of your house and the bottle should be kept horizontal and 2) when you buy wine at the store, take a bottle from the back of the shelf because it’s been exposed to less light. At least I think that’s what the guide said. It was all in Spanish, and I struggled to keep up. Then the tour group went to do a tasting, which was a bit too expensive for us, and we left.
The next winery looked close, but I feared the map might be deceiving us again. Fortunately, it only took 10 minutes to get there, and this bodega was much more scenic, less busy, more reasonably priced, and served food. That’s more like it. We did the tour, ordered a delicious meal, and proceeded to split a bottle of wine.
Wine and food — that’s more like it
Feeling content, we stopped at one last winery. We walked through its museum and saw an entire cow skin that had once been used to filter wine. We sampled one of their wines, then decided it was time to call it quits for the day.
We headed back to the bike shop, stopping only to sample exotic liqueurs at a store along the way (a delicious but bad idea after aforementioned bottled of wine).
Content after a five hour day of bodega tours, we returned our bikes and got on a bus headed for Mendoza. The day wasn’t what we expected, but we still had fun. With good weather and good wine, you can’t go wrong.
A wonderful time at Perito Moreno Glacier and afterwards
We were lucky to be able to have time to explore Perito Moreno Glacier and many more cities while spending time in Argentina. The Perito Moreno Glacier is a must-see spot. Given the extra time we had, we were fortunate to also experience off-the-beaten-path locales of Trelew, Punta Tombo, Mendoza, Maipú, and San Martin de los Andes.
Argentina Money Tips: Costs, ATMs, Coin Shortage & More
Backpacking South America – 5 Green Backpacker Activities
Bariloche Argentina – Chocolate Taste Test and More
Biking from Alaska to Argentina: Ultimate Green Travel Experience
Chacra Millalen: Volunteering on an Argentina Organic Farm
Long Term Travel – Too Much Time to Think?
Prepare for Extended Travel – 7 Steps to Mentally Prepare Yourself
Tikal National Park, Guatemala – Hidden Ruins, Animals & More
Travel Burnout – To go or not to go to Tierra del Fuego
11 Things to Know Before You WWOOF