Published: February 27th 2008January 30th 2008
The only advancing glacier in the world
After 46 hours of busing in 3.5 days, we finally arrived. The southernmost point of our adventure: El Calafate and El Chalten, both situated in Parque Nacional Los Glaciares. These glaciers are another example of Argentina´s national wonders that we had no idea even existed until we got down here. That's one of the coolest things about traveling, you get to see and experience amazing things that you had no idea even existed. Sure, everyone knows about Maccu Pichu, The Great Wall, Mount Everest, etc. but for every one of those places, there are 10 more just waiting to be discovered.
Things were about to get hardcore.
As Californians, these glaciers and the icebergs that come crashing off of them were a rare and special sight (though honestly, seeing these has got to be a pretty special sight for anybody). When we got to the MarcoPolo Hostel (by far the nicest hostel we have ever seen) in El Calafate
, we attemped to book our highly anticipated glacier trek on the famed Perito Moreno glacier. Unfortunately, all the treks were booked for the length of our stay. We settled for a less participatory, but very cool glacier cruise. While cruising
along the tropical blue colored waters of Lago Argentino, we saw 5 impressive glaciers, with Glaciers Bosetti and Upsalla being the most impressive. The highlight of the day was bobbing and weaving through the icebergs. These things are huge and many of them are crystal clear or brilliant shades of blue. Apparently only 10-15% of these glaciers are visible.
The next day we went to see the most famous of the glaciers, Perito Moreno. On the ride there, we sat across the aisle from a really douchey American (there aren´t a whole lot of Americans down here...a real shame. Israelis probably outnumber us 8 to 1). After listening to this rich prick talk about all the things he owns, I discovered that he was a UCSB alum. I decided to say something. I wish I hadn´t. It was a long bus ride. We ran away from him as soon as the bus came to a stop.
Perito Moreno was incredible; this vast, beautiful chunk of ice, that was constantly shedding layers of ice into the lake below. The sounds of the ice falling were thunderous and could be heard for miles. The glacier is just one of those
The biggest of them all. The face is probably 10 stories tall and it goes for miles
things that you could just stare at for hours. It's really not fair that the same country that has Iguazu Falls, the tallest peak in the Americas (bet no one knew that), and the most creative mullets that you´ve ever seen also gets to have these amazing glaciers. Apparently, the douchey UCSB alum was the only person on earth not impressed...after all, the man did own over 40 guitars.
An interesting side note about El Calafate: the grocery stores do not have bags, paper or plastic. For environmental reasons, it is actually illegal to possess them. I think that is wonderful, but the least they could do is tell you this before you buy 3 or 4 bags worth of groceries. That was an interesting walk back to the hostel.
The next leg of our adventure took us to the remote, but highly touristed El Chalten
. Most people come here to hike for days (usually with 30 pound bags full of their camping gear). Many others attempt to climb El Chalten´s very scary mountains: Cerro Torre and El Fitz Roy. The town of El Chalten is only about 20 years old and was created entirely with tourism in
There it is!
Cerro Torre finally makes an appearance
mind. This place will probably be much bigger in a decade, and rightfully so--it is absolutely breathtaking. Surrounded by dramatically steep, tree-covered mountains and a river (also tropical blue) with two amazing peaks in the background, El Chalten is paradise.
We had two amazing hikes to the feet of each of these famous peaks. The first was to Cerro Torre. It was a beautiful, mostly flat hike that took about 8 hours roundtrip. Hardcore. All the water in the National Park is potable, so whenever we got hot and thirsty, we just got down on all fours and took a gulp from the river rushing by. Definitely the best water we have ever tasted. We waited a while for the clouds to part, but when they finally did, we got amazing views of the highest of the 3 jagged peaks that make up Cerro Torre. We got pretty lucky, many people come all the way down here and never get to see the peaks because they are usually surrounded by a thick cloud cover.
The next day, we took a shorter, but more challenging (entirely uphill...very
hardcore) hike to El Fitz Roy, another amazing natural wonder that we
El Fitz Roy
had no idea existed until we got down here. Another beautiful day of weather gave us amazing views of El Fitz Roy from the shores of Lago Capri (also potable). There are definitely taller mountains in the world, but few more jagged and dramatic than El Fitz Roy.
The adventure, the hikes, the weather, the views were all amazing--and very rewarding, because you had to earn
it all, none of these places are easy to get to. Two people who have not always taken full advantage of the great outdoors vowed to do it more in the future. These places change people. We are now hardcore. I cannot believe we made it this far, pretty much the end of the world. Even crazier, we would be sipping caiparinas on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro in only 2 short weeks.
There are more photos below