Alaska,  Argentina,  Chile,  Iceland,  Natural wonders of the world,  New Zealand

The best glaciers in the world!

A new episode in our natural wonders of the world series! Today we’ll be talking about glaciers. Unfortunately we haven’t been to the Arctics and Antarctics (yet) where they supposedly have some of the most amazing glaciers. However, we’d still like to share the world’s best glaciers with you, at least the ones we’ve seen!

Can someone describe the sound of a calving glacier for us? Because we just can’t. Saying a piece of ice cracking and then hearing plunge into the water doesn’t do it justice. Neither does thundering sound or thrilling sound. We’re not native English speakers … Suggestions are more than welcome!

1. Perito Moreno – Argentina
It’s the busiest glacier in the world (or at least, one of them) yet it’s also one of the most active ones. This massive ice tongue finds its way down from the Patagonian ice cap into Lago Argentino. As it’s a growing glacier it is always moving a lot, resulting in a lot of calving. If it wouldn’t have been for the flight home we needed to catch, we could have stayed on the boardwalks forever, observing the falling ice of Perito Moreno.

perito-moreno-1 perito-moreno-collage


2. Vatnajökull, Iceland

The second biggest glacier in Europe is called Vatnajökull and can be found on Iceland. It covers about 8% of the country and various ice tongues glide away from this massive icefield. Many of them can be observed from the famous Jökulsárlón glacial lake or from Skaftafell National Park.

Vatnajokull


3. Pia Glacier, Chile

This beauty can only be reached by boat and therefore it’s unique. During our sailing with Cruceros Australis we got on land here and admired this giant from up close and personal. Pia Glacier comes from the Darwin Range located in Tierra del Fuego, all the way down south in Patagonia.

Pia Glacier


4. Knik Glacier, Alaska

Knik Glacier has a very special place in Anto’s heart. It’s located within an hour drive from Anchorage, yet it’s not visited by many people. However when she went to Alaska for the first time, she was up in a bushplane flying over it within 12 hours after her arrival. Ever since she went back a couple of times, always very impressive with this giant.

knikglacier-3


5. Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand

Although this may not be the world’s most spectacular glacier, this one still has a special place in our hearts as it’s the first real glacier we ever got to see. And got to set foot on, too. Back in 2002 we were here for the first time and did a guided glacier walk. We just had pouring rain but that didn’t spoil the fun for us. When we were back in 2011 we were shocked to find out that Franz Josef has drastically receded and you can’t even access it by foot from the valley anymore…

franz-josef-glacier


6. Grey Glacier, Chile

Glaciar Grey is found in Torres del Paine National Park. Like Perito Moreno it comes from the Patagonian ice cap but it is less active. You can get there by foot (a day of walking with an overnight in a refugio) or by boat, which is always a bit unpredictable because of the strong winds that howl on Lago Grey. However, if you made it all the way to the deep-frozen south of Patagonia, you might as well stay here for a bit longer… (you can read more about Grey Glacier here)

Grey


7. Child’s Glacier, Alaska

This one is located close to the fisher town of Cordova. The only way to get to Cordova is by airplane or by boat, so there’s usually not many tourists here. A couple of years ago, Child’s Glacier was still accessible from town by car but the road leading through the massive Copper River Delta has been washed away. There for Child’s Glacier can only be reached by boat nowadays. Anto feels honored to have been to such a pretty place.

childs-glacier


8. Viedma Glacier, Argentina

This once is also found in Patagonia, close to a small town called El Chalten. As many people have already been to Perito Moreno before going to El Chalten, they usually don’t bother going to the Viedma Glacier. So we were pretty much the only ones on the boat taking us there. The water in Lago Viedma has a spectacular color and having a bright day made it even more special for us…

Viedma


9. Ventisquero Negro, Argentina

This one is also in Argentina, just a couple of thousand kilometers further up north than the other mentioned ones. The name of the glacier literally means “black snowdrift” because it’s all black. If you wouldn’t know it’s a glacier, you probably wouldn’t even recognize it as one. You can’t get too close however because at first sight it doesn’t look like a glacier, we added it to our top 10.

ventisquero-negro


10. Holland Glacier, Chile

Our own glacier! I’m just kidding of course and even though it could barely be seen, we still felt proud having seen Holland Glacier! On our Australis sailing we passed by Glacier Alley, which has 5 glaciers in a row. All of them are called after countries, so we passed France, Spain, Italy and Germany before finally seeing Holland Glacier. The weather was horrible though and the pictures are not really worth posting here, however we felt this one should not be missing in our list.

holland glacier

So if you love glaciers, Argentina, Chile and Alaska are your best places to go, followed by Iceland and New Zealand. While you are reading this we are in Norway, hoping to see a couple more glaciers. Hopefully we can update this list of our best glaciers soon and impress you with more natural beauty!

Now tell us, did you ever see a glacier? And which is your favorite one of the ones above? We could have mentioned at least 10 more to make the list longer but we won’t … there’s simply too many of them. Luckily, because for all we know, they may be gone for good before we know it…

The Natural Wonders of the World series is an inspirational recurring series on we12travel, made of pictures and stories of natural features that we came across during our travels. We love to share our passion for nature with you. Earlier episodes are about geysers , volcanoes and waterfalls.

Psst: sharing is caring!

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Anto is a 30-something outdoor fan who travels the world about 100 days a year, combined with a full-time office job. She loves to go hiking, enjoys a good class of wine and can usually be found with an iPhone in her hand. Favorite destinations: New Zealand, Patagonia, Austria and Alaska.

33 Comments

  • Murray Clark

    Great blog on glaciers of the world.
    Have just returned to Auckland from the South Island in New Zealand, and it is quite remarkable how much the Franz Josef Glacier has receded since I was there a few years ago. Have seen some of the glaciers calving on the Inside Passage to Alaska and in Alaska and it is a great sight to see how the huge blocks of ice break away from the glacier.
    Love your blogs and great travel information.

  • Travel Underwriters

    Wow, these are beautiful pictures! Alaska also does helicopter tours, where you get to fly over and land on a glacier. It’s an amazing experience. If you ever get the chance to do it, don’t miss out!

  • Pieter

    Spaan, we are also keen hikers, but in much warmer areas in South Africa. Your area appears like pure magic to us, who have never even seen a glacier before. Maybe we must swop areas for a year? 🙂

    • anto

      Would be a great plan guys! I heard that South Africa is great for hiking, it’s actually really high up on our list to go to SA and get some walking done 🙂

  • Emily

    I really wanted to go south and see the glaciers in Chile and Argentina, and now you’ve made me wish I had even more. We just didn’t have time and it’s winter so we weren’t sure how far we’d get! Planning to come back someday and spend a month or two in Patagonia 🙂

    • anto

      Great – in one month you will definitely be able to see many glaciers, they are incredibly pretty! The first time we went to Argentina and Chile we didn’t go north at all, the countries are just too big to be explored at once, unless you have a lot of time on your hands…

  • Dave Cole

    I really need to get down to see Perito Moreno. Your shot of it is perfect and I’m sure the in-person experience is unforgettable. I’ve been enjoying reading your posts, they’re very inspiring for adventure travel!

  • Brianna

    I would recommend Exit Glacier in Kenai Fjords NP in Alaska. You can view it from the water or hike up near it. Those adventurous enough can also get a guide to trek across its icefields.

  • Alli

    Absolutely stunning . . . again, your photos are just terrific. How amazing it is that you’ve been to all these glaciers and have such incredible photos. Just wow!

  • Michael Huxley

    Wow, they look stunning! I love that photo of you two at the Franz Josef Glacier, you look soaked but really happy to be there! Haha! You’ve convinced me to head away from the tropics for a bit and add a few of these to my bucket list!

  • Bob R

    I have visited Perito Moreno and a handful of others in Patagonia, in both Argentina and Chile. Besides Perito Moreno, which is actually growing and is a rare exception, the others were all receding at an alarming rate. See ’em while they’re still around.

  • Christina

    I´m jealous. 😉 You´ve been to some amazing places. The colors of the ice are awesome. I can´t say which one I like the most. They are all beautiful.

  • Sabina

    What a great post! I’ve never seen or been near a glacier before! Or maybe once in the Alps, but when I was young. These look fascinating… I’m not very sporty, but this sounds like quite an experience!

  • Anna | Anemina Travels

    I visited Jökulsarlon back in 2012 and I was totally awed by the experience. It was my only glacier experience though (well, except for glacier snowboarding in the Alps if that counts…) Seems like there is a lot to add to my bucket list 🙂

  • Margherita @The Crowded Planet

    Stunning post Anto. I have only been to Perito Moreno out of the ones you listed, it was so beautiful it brought me to tears. Morteratsch in the Bernina massif is also beautiful, and that’s where I tried piolet-traction climbing for the first time!

  • pavitra

    Hi,you explain about glaciers nicely. I never visited any glacier but i dream to visit glaciers. What a natural beauty. Its beyond imagination. Thanks for sharing.

  • Remo

    Sounds like a decent list. I know there are many of them and it is hard to make a list. Maybe you have visited in the meanwhile but I honestly think that some of the most spectacular and biggest glaciers in the world are in tadjikistan, kyrgyzstan and Pakistan.

  • German

    Thanks for explaining that Viedma and Perito Moreno are different glaciers. I’m from Argentina but didn’t know it! Shame on me! I never bothered travelling that far (I’m from Buenos Aires), but everyone is telling me I should visit Perito Moreno. This is at the top of my bucket list, as well as Ushuaia is.

  • Pablo

    Hi!! Thanks for sharing your experience.

    If you go back…again to Patagonia, I recommend you to visit some of the most beautiful glaciers in the Northern Ice Field and Southern Ice Field (Both in the Northern Patagonia)

    In Chile:
    – Hanging Glacier “Ventisquero Colgante” (Queulat NP)
    – Laguna San Rafael
    – Exploradores Glacier
    – Leones Lake and Glacier
    – Pio XI Glacier
    – O´Higgins Glacier
    – Cerro Tronador (chilean-argentinean frontier)
    – El Amarillo Glacier (Michinmahuida Volcano)

    *You can watch them following the “Carretera Austral” (Road 7, 1300 km north to south), one of the most impressive road in the world*

    Argentina:
    – Upsala Glacier (Glaciers NP)
    – Spegazzini Glacier (Glaciers NP)

    • anto

      Thanks for the suggestions! I’d love to come back one day to explore the Chile region of the Carretera Austral, this is one of the places I haven’t been to yet but I know there’s many places to see glaciers there. I can’t wait to go back one day!

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