The glacier is one of those natural wonders that leave us speechless. Glaciers are massive ice rivers that grow over thousands of years as falling snow is crushed into layers of ice.
Glaciers form over a long period, often centuries, and solely on land, unlike icebergs that float on the water. Icebergs and glaciers hold most of the world’s freshwater, but many are vanishing.
Glaciologists anticipate that some of the world’s glaciers will be gone entirely over the next two to three decades as the planet’s ice melts fast.
It isn’t very comforting to realize how few of these incredible natural wonders have survived since they were first documented over a century ago.
While they may be merely amazing spectacles to us, the communities who live beneath them value them greatly. Animals, plants, and other living things rely on them to survive.
Their obliteration signifies a lot more than a few fewer Christmas selfie options. Now is the chance to witness the most stunning before they vanish.
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1. Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina
One of the most critical sites in Argentine Patagonia is the South Patagonian ice field in the Andes. Unlike most glaciers, this one is growing rather than retreating.
The Perito Moreno Glacier, located in the center of the Patagonian glacier region in Los Glaciares National Park, is one of the world’s most spectacular natural wonders and a significant tourist attraction.
Many tourists fly from around the world to El Calafate, about 48 miles distant, only to see it. Massive pieces of ice can be seen breaking off the glacier and tumbling into Lake Argentino, or the braver can take a helicopter ride and stroll right on top of it.
2. Vatnajokull Glacier, Iceland
The Vatna Glacier is Iceland’s largest enormous ice cap, and after the Severny Island ice cap of Novaya Zemlya, Europe’s second-largest area.
The majestic Jokulsarlon, a mythological lake filled with icebergs that have broken off Vatna over time, surrounds this top natural wonder of Iceland, which reaches over 6,500 feet and encompasses 3,100 square kilometers.
It’s so unique that it was used as the opening sequence in the James Bond film “A View to a Kill.” Natural terrain with towering volcanoes, gorges, highland plateaus, waterfalls, and rivers creates a diversified and magnificent scenery. Forty outlet glaciers spill from a steep crest on the south side.
3. Aletsch Glacier, Switzerland
The Aletsch Glacier is the Alps’ most prominent, with a length of about 14 miles and a surface area of nearly 47 square miles.
The Aletsch Glacier is one of many glaciers in the Bernese Alps east of the Gemmi Pass that run between the cantons of Bern and Valais.
The Aletsch Glacier comprises four smaller glaciers that meet at Concordia Place and have a thickness of about 1 km, according to the ETH (3,300 ft).
Most tourists get their first glimpse of Aletsch from Jungfraujoch, part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Jungfrau-Aletsch Protected Area, but the beautiful riverbank Fiesch is genuinely the best place to see it.
The cable car, which rises 7,257 feet above the hamlet, may be taken there.
4. Athabasca Glacier – Alberta, Canada
The Columbia Icefield, which originally blanketed the Canadian Rockies, comprises six “toes,” the greatest of which is the Athabasca Glacier.
This one is rapidly dwindling, having lost more than half of its volume in the last 125 years. A driving drive along the Icefields Parkway from Banff to Jasper reveals its breathtaking beauty.
With the accessible spit of ice that squeezes into a valley below the glacier, you can even take a guided tour or a snow coach ride.
The melting ice has revealed bare bedrock, allowing you to see firsthand the emergence of pioneering plant life on the desolate surface.
Tourists are transported by standard buses from the city center to the glacier’s edge, where they board. It is also said to be one of the most dangerous glaciers to visit. People have died after sliding into the glacier’s deep crevasses.
5. Margerie Glacier -Glacier Bay, Alaska
The Margerie Glacier, a famous Alaskan sight, is a must-see. This tidewater glacier is located in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve in Alaska.
It is a valley glacier that begins on land and flows out to sea due to falling snow. Only air or water can get you to the 21-mile-long, one-mile-wide glacier.
Cruise ships and boats can dock nearby, providing breathtaking vistas. It’s one of Glacier Bay’s most pristine glaciers, with jewel-like blue ice, but it’s also one of the most active.
Those who are lucky enough may be able to watch calving, accompanied by the magnificent sound of ice splitting and tumbling thunderously into the ocean below.
6. Biafo Glacier – Karakoram, Pakistan
The Biafo Glacier, one of several glaciers in Pakistan’s Karakoram Mountains, is 39 miles long.
Outside of the polar regions, it is the world’s third-longest glacial highway, crossing with the 30-mile-long Hispar Glacier to form the world’s longest glacial route, which runs from Askole in Shigar Valley to Hispar in Gilgit Baltistan’s Nagar Valley.
These glaciers are massive freshwater reservoirs, with their progressive melting feeding Pakistan’s 60 main and small rivers. Biafo offers hikers many days of exceedingly difficult rock hopping, as well as breathtaking views.
Snow Lake is one of the world’s most significant snow or ice basins, formed by parts of the upper Biafo Glacier and its tributary, Sim Gang.
A variety of species, including the Ibex, Markhor mountain goats, brown bears, and, on rare occasions, snow leopards, can be observed along the road.
7. Furtwangler Glacier – Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
The Furtwangler Glacier is one of the world’s most famous glaciers. Hemmingway made the snows of Kilimanjaro favorite years ago, but the ice is gradually melting here as well.
In reality, between 1912 and 2000, 82 percent of the ice was said to have vanished. All of the glaciers on top of the mountain are anticipated to be gone by 2020.
8. Pasterze Glacier, Austria
At the foundation of the towering Grossglockner, Austria’s most significant peak is the country’s largest glacier. It’s a popular tourist site because it’s close to a popular lakeside resort.
The Pasterze Glacier is accessible in Austria through the Grossglockner High Alpine Road and a funicular railway.
It is Austria’s longest glacier, measuring 5.2 miles and located in the Eastern Alps, immediately beneath the Grossglockner, Austria’s highest mountain. The glacier’s length is currently shrinking by around 33 feet every year.
One of the most acceptable ways to see it is on the Gamsbruben Trail, which runs above the massive glacier and has icefalls, moraines, and glacier tongues. It takes roughly 30 minutes to walk around on foot.
9. Franz Josef Glacier – South Island, New Zealand
Local iwi first discovered Franz Josef Glacier in 1865, and geologist Julius von Haast named it after the Austrian ruler.
One of the world’s most accessible ice rivers is the Franz Josef Glacier. It provides tourists to New Zealand with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see a dynamic glacier ecosystem in a temperate climate.
The glacier lies five kilometers from the same-named town, and a 1.5-hour trek will get you within 750 meters of its terminus.
You may hike the entire glacier and then relax and soothe tired muscles by soaking in the Glacier Hot Pools when you’re done.
There are guided treks and various ways to observe them, such as flying in a helicopter or soaring through the sky.
10. Yulong Glacier – Yunnan Province, China
The ultimate observation platform on this mountain is so high that it typically necessitates the use of oxygen, rendering it inaccessible to all but the most experienced climbers.
Jade Dragon Mountain looms above the tiled rooftops and vermilion walls of Lijiang, one of China’s picturesque beauties.
Its name derived from its look as it resembled a dragon lying in the clouds. It’s also home to one of the country’s most stunning and accessible glaciers.
People can roam around the glacier by riding a gondola right up to its edge on an awe-inspiring viewing excursion that will take your breath away.
Because it’s at an elevation of 12,000 feet, many people bring oxygen canisters to avoid altitude sickness, but it’s well worth the effort.
Glaciers are essential to life on the planet. They support the planet’s living systems and have an impact on our daily lives, even for communities far away from them, as vast freshwater reservoirs.
Glaciers, on the other hand, are vanishing. The melting of glaciers reveals the previously unseen. It makes present climate change visible, which can be difficult to notice in different ecosystems.
You mustn’t turn these remarkable natural wonders into another Instagram post when seeing them. We should also consider their conservation and preservation as responsible travelers.
(Last Updated on May 26, 2022 by Sadrish Dabadi)