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Published: April 9th 2009
We arrived at our hostel in El Calafate at around 1am on Tuesday night. Our hostel, called I Keu Ken, was a small taxi journey from the bus station. As we had just had a long journey we went straight to bed. We had no plans for the next day and decided to use it as a day to catch up on stuff like laundry. We hung around the hostel and only ventured outside to the supermarket to buy some food for the next few days. We had decided to do a tour of the Perito Moreno Glacier the next day which was to cost about 220 pesos each, about €100. There were other treks as well and one of particular interest was the trek actually on the glacier. This would have cost €125 each and was a bit out of our budget. Some people had told us that it is cheaper and better in New Zealand, so we decided to hold out. Luckily though, two Irish guys, Simon and Pat, were renting a car and needed 2 more to tag along to make it a bit cheaper for them. When I saw the Fiat Fire (same as Fiat Uno) I
knew we just had to go with them! We made dinner that night in the hostel and chatted to all the travellers there. In the whole hostel there were 7 Irish in 3 different groups. It’s amazing how many you meet along the way and wonder at times who the hell is at home. Everyone was sound and we had a nice bottle of red to enjoy with our dinner!
We had to get up at 5:30am as, if you go to the park before 8am you don’t have to pay the park entrance fee of €13. We’re getting proper economical these last few days! Also the price of the car was quarter the price of four of us going on one of the organised tours. Simon was the designated driver and we hit the road at 6am in search of the national park, 80km’s away. On route a few rabbits like to play dares with the cars. Needless to say a lot of them lost. It was hard to avoid them as there were everywhere and hitting one was inevitable. We arrived at the glacier well before the Park Rangers came on duty to start charging for
entering. It was cold out and as you can imagine going to see a glacier was never going to be warm. We had our flask in tow (now called Tommy the Thermos) and a few rolls made for the day. The Perito Moreno glacier is one of the few glaciers in the world that is actually advancing. Most glaciers are retreating so it was an honour to see an active one! The glaciers moves 2 metres per day and loses 2 metres per day so it is actually going no where.
The sheer size can only be appreciated by actually visiting the glacier and pictures do it barely any justice. It is 2km’s wide and between 50 and 60 metres high at some points. I have a picture up loaded with a boat in the water beside the glacier to show the sheer size of it. As we had got there before sunrise we had the place to share with only a handful of others. We made our way to the viewing platforms so we could watch the glacier in action. What makes it such a tourist attraction is that it ‘calf’s’ regularly. Calving is when parts of the
glacier fall off into the surrounding lake. When this happens, the sound of the ice hitting the water makes a thunderous noise. Depending on the size that calf’s, the waves and noise can be heard from a long distance away. We were lucky in that we saw a lot of action that morning. Small bits would fall off, making the sound of a very big belly flop. We had the viewing balcony to ourselves most of the time. A bit would fall off, leaving behind it an over hang of ice. More smaller bits would go and we would watch in anticipation for the big overhang to crash into the water. It was amazing to watch the large bits finally give in. Some as high as 40 metres long and 10 metres wide. I have labelled two sequences, 1-21 and A-U, so that you can see the ice crash into the water. Shortly after we arrived something huge started to move below the water. We were unsure what it was and thought maybe it was a whale or something of the sort. With our excitement we had forgotten it was a lake! Soon we realised it was a huge lump
of crystal clear ice, the size of a football pitch rising from underneath the water. It was perfectly rectangle from a distance. It was amazing to see it and it sent waves everywhere. We stood watching the ice fall of the glacier for three hours and never once felt bored. You could spend many more hours there, just watching it calf.
We had heard of boat trips that bring you out close to the glacier. We set out in search of a pier and a boat to take us even closer. We found one that goes out for an hour. I’m afraid we had used up all our luck the previous few hours as when we went out in the boat we didn’t see one piece of ice fall off. It was disappointing but we definitely got our fair share earlier. We got back in the car an headed back to El Calafate. When we got back we went to an ice cream parlour and chatted about the glacier.
That evening we had dinner with the two lads and then joined tables with a few Americans near us. We had a few drinks there and as it was
our last night there everyone decided to head to the pub. Last nights in hostels are probably the worst, especially when you meet a few that you get on with. You generally end up having a few drinks and forget about the 7am rise that you have, so you can make your 8am and 4 hour long bus journey to your next destination. The two guys we had spent the last day with were really sound and it’s disappointing saying goodbye to people you had just met and got on with. We might see them again some where along the line and we will definitely meet plenty more. Its funny as well seeing the same faces over and over from different towns who are obviously doing the same route as us.
We got up in time to get our bus and slept most of the way. A four hour bus journey is now nothing and only like going for a short spin. We are now in El Chalten and intend on doing some trekking here for a few days. It looks pretty cool and the town was only set up on the 12th Oct 1985. The roads are mainly
unpaved and I would say the main road in the town was only recently paved, as in a few weeks ago. I don’t know the population of the town but I presume it’s only a few thousand. It is like driving into a new housing estate with only a few houses occupied and a handful of shops open. It is surrounded by mountains which provided a very picturesque view of the town. We are here to see the Fitz Roy mountains. We’re here to do a few days trekking and are really looking forward to it. I need to start losing a few of those empanada pounds I’ve put on!!
In a bit. DH
Song of the blog: Take me to the river - The Commitments (Andrew Strong)
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