If you’re yearning for an amazing adventure amidst nature’s beauty, then embark on an expedition to see the world’s most breathtaking glaciers. Often hundreds of years old, glaciers are slow-moving rivers formed at a high altitude where temperatures are cold enough to form ice. It is not unusual to see great chunks of ice break away from ice shelves and crash into the water below. Many glaciers are disappearing at an alarming rate, so book your vacation rental soon to witness these natural wonders while they are still in existence. These destinations are home to the most breathtaking glaciers.
Greenland and Antarctica hold 99 percent of the world’s glacial ice with some of the most amazing formations you are likely to encounter anywhere. To ensure the safest travel for you and the environment, it’s recommended that you book your trip with a member of the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO), a volunteer group dedicated to preserving this pristine wilderness. The continent’s magical, surreal, and unforgettable glimpse of nature in its purest form has no restaurants, tourist shops or tanning beaches. But you can take kayaking expeditions to the towering ice shelves or visit the indigenous Emperor penguins. Book a vacation rental and an expedition in the austral summer season from November through March.
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2. Eqi Glacier, Greenland
This glacier is one of the most active in Greenland, still advancing rather than receding which results in the constant carving of the ice. To visit the Calving Glacier, as it’s known, you can take six- to 12-hour boat tours from the quaintly beautiful tourist town of Ilulissat. This tour takes you to the edge of the majestic glacier, where you can spend a day taking spectacular photographs of the enormous splashes as huge blocks of ice drop into the fjord below. Day tours are conducted from June 1 through September 30.
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3. Glacier National Park, Montana
This beautiful area, once known as the Switzerland of America, is nestled in Montana’s Rocky Mountains and filled with glacier-carved peaks and forested valleys. The unique terrain is spectacular and offers numerous ways to enjoy its beauty and view wildlife that includes mountain goats, marmots, deer, big-horned sheep, and grizzly bears. The Sperry glacier has spectacular backcountry hiking trails, or you can rent equipment from Glacier Outfitters to kayak or paddle board on Lake McDonald as bald eagle soar overhead. Photographers love Two Medicine Lakes at sunrise, and if you prefer a leisurely stroll, try the Cedars Nature Trail.
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4. Quelccaya Ice Cap, Peru
Quelccaya is the largest ice cap in the tropics and offers visitors breathtaking views of the mountains and glacier ice shelves, along with wild mountain alpacas and llamas. Adventure Tours offers a short, challenging, high-altitude trek that begins at C’ochas and follows the Quelccaya Ice Cap. This is a remote, little-known route which offers solitude, physical challenge, and panoramic views. Ayni-Peru Expeditions has guide-led tours that take you through well-known areas in the Southern Andes, as well as along remote trek routes and to archaeological ruins.
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5. Fox Glacier and Franz Josef, New Zealand
This pair of glaciers are unique in that they sit at 984 feet above sea level amid lush temperate rainforest greenery. Explore the glacier on a Franz Josef Glacier heli-hike where a professional guide lets you explore ice caves and view fabulous panoramic views. After landing between the two glaciers, you head off for a two-hour hike among towering ice-blue pinnacles and past deeply furrowed crevasses. Cruise on the waters of Lake Mapourka and photograph the sweeping panoramas of the Southern Alps, then take a bush walk through the rainforest to see the rarest kiwi bird at the Okarito sanctuary.
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6. Maligne Canyon Ice Walk, Canada
The Maligne Canyon is the deepest accessible canyon in the Jasper National Park. Maligne Adventures takes you on a two-hour tour through the extensive system of underground caves where you can photograph frozen waterfalls, naturally shaped ice sculptures, fossils, and fissures. The very adventurous enjoy a half-pitch ice climb along the deeply carved limestone walls of the river canyon. This climb is only doable in winter, and to avoid crowds, go on a week day.
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7. Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina
Often referred to as the eighth wonder of the world, this glacier is the world’s third largest fresh water reserve. Begin the journey through this Icelandic wonder in El Calafate on a Big Ice Tour, a guided hiking tour that takes you from Bajo de las Sombras Port to the center or Perito Moreno. Along the way, you can closely view giant drains, caves, blue lagoons, and deep cracks. Combine the hike with a boat ride that takes you up right up to the glacial wall.
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8. Mendenhall Glacier, Alaska
The Mendenhall Glacier finds a home in Alaska’s capital city, Juneau, and flows more than 11 miles from the Juneau Ice Field. Inexperienced hikers can see the front side of the glacier from the Visitor’s Center and view glaciology exhibits, a relief map of the ice field, and enjoy an observatory and theater. Very experienced trekkers can reach the glacier via the West Glacier Trail, a 3.5-mile trail that takes you past naturally formed ice caves. At the top of the trail, enjoy incredible views of an ocean of ice, the Mendenhall Glacier.
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9. Baltoro Glacier, Pakistan
Baltoro Glacier, the longest glacier in the world outside of the polar region, is in the Baltistan region of Pakistan in the impressive Himalayan Karakoram mountain range. The Concordia is the awe-inspiring confluence where the Baltoro Glacier and the Godwin Austen Glacier meet. KE Adventure Travel takes adventure seekers on a strenuous 22 days trek through the vast glacial wilderness. Views of the majestic K-2 mountain, the second highest in the world at 15,750 miles high, accompany you along your journey.
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10. Grey Glacier, Chile
When you visit Torres Del Paine or Puerto Natales in Chile, you discover that the Grey Glacier is the area’s star attraction. Extending nearly 12 miles, this glacier is an impressive and breathtaking construction of natural ice. The Big Foot Patagonia Adventure company offers the Ice Hike Grey Glacier tour that takes five to six hours and includes 2.5 hours walking on ice. Explore the glacier from a kayak and soak in the excitement of paddling among floating icebergs and being close to a massive ice wall. Grey Glacier Navigation has a 45-minute boat ride that gives you a different angle of the glacier from an island that divides it.
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