The immense Patagonian ice fields are home to dramatic glaciers, which evidence not just the awesome power of nature, but also its contrasting fragility.
These often centuries-old and impossibly large masses of glistening ice are living and breathing creatures, made up of compacted snowfall and which expand and contract under the immense pressures they create. They slide off of mountains and veer gently downwards, before meeting the icy waters, the surface of which is often decorated with thousands of small chunks ice.
Most Chilean glaciers can only be reached by boat, though some can be reached by multi-day hikes in Torres del Paine. One of the most impressive is San Rafael, a UNESCO World Heritage site which commands its own national park. The glaciers of Amalia, El Brujo, Bernal, Alsina and Paredes can be seen from cruises from Puerto Natales, whilst departures from Tierra del Fuego whisk visitors down Glacier Alley in the Beagle Channel and to Pia Glacier, where huge chunks of ice detach from the mass of ice and crash thunderously into the Pia Bay below.
These wonderful cruises take you both up close to the glaciers on boats, as well also allowing you to disembark for hikes to panoramic views. The weather can be grey and gloomy or bright blue skies, one constant though is the cold, though this only adds to feeling of isolation and adventure in one of the most remote and unspoilt pockets of the world. This is nature in its rawest form, but with most glaciers now retreating, now is the time to see it in all its glory. One day it might be too late.
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