It attracts thousands of visitors on a yearly basis hoping to witness the advancing glacier in action. an overwhelming natural phenomenon that started early last century (1917) and repeats itself every now and then - last time was in 2003.
In fact, the "crushing glacier" as it's often referred to is one of the three glaciers in Argentina's Patagonia that is not retreating, actually advancing at a rate of about two meters (6,6 feet) daily.
However, due to the fact that it losses mass in about the same proportions, its facade (terminus) remains more or less constant.
Perito Moreno glacier's dynamic and ever-changing facade expands 5 km (3 miles) in width and a height of about 60 to 80 meters, comprising 250 square km (97 square miles). It's not the biggest in South America. Upsala glacier - also within the boundaries of The Glaciers national park - is considered as such, but receding at an alarming rate of about 200 meters per yer.
It is located in the Andes mountains range, SW of Santa Cruz province, Patagonia, Argentina and named after Francisco Moreno, a 19th. century explorer who formulated the "high peaks" theory to resolve an international border dispute with Chile.
The fracture of the glacier is an awe-inspiring experience that can last for two or three full days. The essential stop for travellers to Patagonia. Ice blocks detach from the glacier and fall into the waters of Lake Argentino with an astonishing sound.
To reach Perito Moreno glacier takes about two hours (78 km) ride from the town of El Calafate - there are daily buses but you are better off by taking an early one and have the full day to explore it.
If you are part of the adventurous crowd go for ice trekking on the glacier - from 10 to 60 years old. This is adventure travel Argentina at its best.
Check Patagonia Photo Gallery and Patagonia Photo Gallery Part Two to see some stunning imagery of the place, or through the unusual perspective of astronaut photography: South America from Space.
There are two versions of it: the "mini trekking" (about 1.5 hours) and the "big ice" experience (some five hours). Do not worry about crampons as they are usually provided by eligible tour operators.
In all circumstances do bring trekking shoes with thick socks, wind-breaker, sweat shirt, long pants plus sun glasses, sun-block and a cap.
There is another, very impressive option to explore Perito Moreno glacier: a boat excursion sailing the waters of Rico arm at Lake Argentino. You will be able to fully appreciate this glacial majesty from a different perspective as well as to catch a glimpse of caverns, inner lagoons and rivers.
Since November 2000, El Calafate has an airport that regularly receives from within Argentina as well as Chile.
Previously, the main airport connexion for international travelers was the city of Rio Gallegos - capital of Santa Cruz province - around 300 km. from the town of El Calafate.
Whether hostels or hotels, there is plenty of lodging options in El Calafate.