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Perito Moreno

First off, let’s be clear. You have arrived in the village of Perito Moreno—not to be confused with the famous glacier Perito Moreno or the little-visited national park, both to the south. This village, located just east of Lago Buenos Aires (Lago General Carrera for Chileans), doesn’t have much to hold the attention of visitors. It is, in truth, only a way stop for many travelers. This is where, in summer months, they come from other points in southern Chile and eastern Argentina to meet up with the Mad Max-esque bus plowing the mythical Ruta 40. (Perito Moreno town is the highway’s most important stop between Bariloche and El Calafate.) Another reason to stop here for a night or two is to plan an outing to Patagonia’s most significant archaeological site, Cueva de las Manos (163 km / 101 mi southeast).

Perito Moreno is western Santa Cruz Province’s principal city. This is where workers laboring in isolated mines throughout the region come “back to civilization.” The town has many shops—anything anyone needs can be picked up here. (Travelers doing the 40, especially on bicycle, should keep this in mind.)

Even long before the first Europeans arrived in this area, the valleys around Lago Buenos Aires and the various rivers feeding off it were important byways and hunting grounds for the Aónikenk (Tehuelche). The monument “Che Pari Aike,” created by sculptor Jeremias Salgrado (2005), is dedicated to the generations of indigenous who traveled and lived in the region (south end of Av San Martín).

One of these rivers, the Fénix which runs along the eastern edge of town, played a strategic role in the border dispute between Argentina and Chile in the 1880s. Chile argued lands with rivers emptying into the Pacific should be part of its territory. Argentine arbitrator Francisco “Perito” Moreno thought it was a silly premise. To prove his point, he had a team of men dig a new course for the Río Fénix, diverting its waters flowing westward to Lago Buenos Aires to the Río Deseado, southeast of the village. Although no-one thought it would work (especially the rebelling laborers), the river’s hand-dug shores are proof.

About the same time, explorers founded a settlement here, calling it Pari-Aike, which in Aónikenk means Place of the Reeds. On December 7, 1927, it was officially made the village Nacimiento, though commonly called Lago Buenos Aires for its proximity to that lake. Later, the town’s name was changed to Perito Moreno, in honor of the man who helped define southern Patagonia boundaries with Chile.

During the first decades of the 20th Century, Perito Moreno was an important provisioning spot for regional estancias (ranches) and for the new settlers in southern Chile for whom it was more convenient to trade with Argentina than with their own country. Buildings from those heydays yet stand, though many are now abandoned. Salón Iturrioz, built in the 1930s, is the temporary home of the Museo Regional (Av San Martín and Rivadavia). Another shop of this era is Casa Ramos, where writer Mini Mood Thomas has a private museum and is eager to sit and chat about the area’s history (Av San Martín and M Moreno). Parroquia María Inmaculada Reina de las Victorias is a national historic landmark, as an example of how a community can join efforts for a common cause (Av San Martín and Av Juan Perón).

(Altitude: 429 m / 262 ft, Population: 3,588, Phone Code: 02966)


Other places nearby Perito Moreno: El Chaltén, Parque Nacional Perito Moreno , Cueva De Las Manos , Rio Turbio, El Calafate, Los Antiguos , Lago Posadas and Gobernador Gregores.

By Lorraine Caputo

Upon re-declaring her independence at age 29, Lorraine Caputo packed her trusty Rocinante (so her knapsack's called) and began...

24 Aug 2010

Things to do in Perito Moreno

Parque Laguna De Los Cisnes

140954The city’s signature black-necked swan finds a home at Laguna de los Cisnes, which the Aónikenk called Pari-Aike, or Place of the Reeds. It is also an important spot for flamingos, gulls, ducks ...
City Park
Perito Moreno, Argentina

Museo De Historia Regional Y De La Cueva De Las Manos

Until the new Museo de Historia Regional and the Museo de la Cueva de las Manos are built, they share a common home in Casa Iturrioz. The walls of this historic café are lined with photos of Perito ...
Perito Moreno, Argentina

Poema Ilustrado

The Poema Ilustrado—Illustrated Poem—is a world where literary art meets the visual arts. For 20 years, Perito Moreno hosted competitions in this unique pictorial form, allowing poets and artists ...
Perito Moreno, Argentina
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