Published: January 26th 2008January 8th 2008
After leaving Bariloche and the chocolate behind, we took the luxury of a flight down to El Calafate in southern Argentina, deep inside patagonia. The views from the plane were spectacular and got us very excited to be there. El Calafate is a nice but very touristy town. Everyone there is here one reason only... Glaciers. The town is the perfect spot to base yourself to do trip the Parque Nacional Los Glaciares, home to the famous Perito Moreno Glacier. We quickly booked our trip as things book up quickly here. The tourist demand can outweigh the supply so prices are also high.
The next morning with our sandwiches, hat and gloves, we were ready to go. The bus took us about an hour and half to get to there from which we caught our first glimpses of the glacier. After jumping off the bus, we had 2 hours to look at the glacier. One of the first things that strike you when seeing the glacier is incredible shades of blue that appear in the ice, not white you first imagine. We later learned that the blue colour was due to the compaction of the ice, the more compact the
bluer it is. The sound of the glacier is what next hits you. It is constantly creeking and pushing and is more active and alive than you might think. Aoife and I soaked up this amazing sight. It was one of the amazing, brilliant things we had done on our trip so far. We sat in silence just listening to glacier. Whats unusual about this glacier is that it is not receding like most of the world´s glaciers, it is stable. Luckily for us this means that there is a very good chance of seeing the glacier calve off an iceberg which we did. You hear the crack of the ice giving way, then quiet as the iceberg fall towards the lake and then the huge splash as the iceberg crashes into lake. An incredible sight.
After eating our sambos on bench in front of a glacier, we headed off to meet our tour again to go a boat trip across the southern face of the glacier. The boat trip was great and we got to see the glacier up close but as up close as what we were going to do next and actually going trekking on the
glacier! After a short walk along the side of glacier, we were taken to have crampons fixed to our shoes. The crampons took a little to get use to but we soon did with a little techniques the guides showed us. We climbed on the glacier and went trekking for about an hour. We saw the different parts of the glacier, amazing ice formations and the sinkholes that drain the water away to base of the glacier. It was amazing, running around, jumping over mini cervices and just looking around. The guides were really nice and helpful. At the end of the tour, the guides said that the Perito Moreno Glacier had one feature that no other glacier had in the world and to follow her. As we climbed over the ridge we saw a wooden table with glasses on it and bottle of scotch. We laughed as the guides cut ice straight from the glacier to have with our drinks and it went down smooth. We caught the boat back across the lake to get our bus, happy that we had just done one of the best days of our trip so far. We rounded the night off in
typical Argentinian fare with a steak and bottle wine.
Still not finished with glaciers, the next day we went on the Todo Glacier tour. This was not the most ideal way seeing the other glaciers on Lago Argentina with 200 people on a slightly cramped catamaran but it worked out fine. People were very friendly and scooted out of the way for your photos, people also offered to take photos with our cameras of us, naturally we offered back and everyone was really cordial. That day we visited the Upsala Glacier the largest one in Argentina. This glacier was massive, it stretched out into the distance and calved some of the biggest, titanic-sinking icebergs i´d ever seen. The baot then dropped us off on a beach, Bahai Onelli, where after a short walk we saw three receding at once, the Onelli, Bolado and Agassiz Glacier. All the glacier feed into the one lake and there was lots of icebergs to look while enjoying our lunch. The view was amazing and really something to look at the icebergs floating along by. Back on the boat we passed by the Seco Glacier en route to the Spegazzini Glacier which was one
of the most spectacular as it travelled formed coming down the mountain so you could see the looming over you.
As you can see we really enjoyed our two glacier days but as ever it was onwards and upwards and our next stop was El Chalten. It is tiny town of only 200 people, north of El Calafate but recently in the last 10 years it has boomed as popular spot to do day treks to view the Fitz Roy and Cerro Torro mountains. On arrival we truly experienced the famous patagonian weather and especially the wind and were happy to be inside our warm, cosy hostel. We wandered around the tiny town for the evening and had dinner in a local micro-brewery, (seriously there was food there too). After dinner while wandering back to hostel, Aoife glimpsed the Fitz Roy Mountain Range and said "quick! take a picture, it might be the only time we´ll see it". Sadly that turned out to be the case, the weather was against us.
The next day we attempted the Fitz Roy Trail. Things didn´t start out to well with clouds rolling in in the distance and things got worse when
a half into the trail we got battered with rain and sleet for about an hour. We trudged on hopefully but realistic. The weather eased up and was sunny for the most of day except for the odd spell of rain. The trail was gorgeous, tramping around mountains, seeing the odd glacier on the mountain and having a snack by a lake. It was a great days walk. The next day undetermined, we headed out to view the Cerro Terro. We knew that it was unlikely with the clouds but the weather along the trail was fantastic, sunny and warm. The trail was even better than the previous days. We trekked by waterfalls, glaciers, rivers and lakes. We didn´t get to see the Cerro Torro or Fitz Roy Mountain but we had a great time in El Chalten and it was the nicest place we stayed in ages.
There are more photos below