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Published: January 22nd 2016
We landed in El Calafate and immediately liked the place. The view from the airport was spectacular – snow-capped mountains in every direction – and once we arrived in the town, we found a café with a gluten free menu! The first since we left Chicago 3 months ago so that was exciting. Our experience cooking in the hostel was fairly horrendous – let’s just say the breed of backpackers that make it this far south seem to be more interested in outdoor pursuits than cleaning up after themselves or being considerate to others – but we found some nice beef in the supermarket so all was good.
El Calafate was a brief stop for us on the way to El Chaltén, the other entrance to Los Glaciares National Park, but it did have one big draw… the Perito Moreno glacier. After finding out that the bus was only £5 cheaper than the ‘alternative tour’ offered by the hostel, we booked onto the tour. This ended up being a brilliant decision as, instead of just going along the main road, we were taken along a bumpy, gravel road past the most incredible scenery! We stopped for a stunning viewpoint over
Lago Argentino, the biggest lake in Patagonia and a brilliant turquoise colour due to the milky residue left behind by the glaciers. Here we managed to see some eagles as well, before continuing to a little ranch for more very friendly wildlife. The hilarious looking guacanos (like llamas) were waiting to meet us, practically queuing up for selfies, along with many, many sheep! The views from here looked exactly as you imagine Patagonian wilderness. A small hut, a windmill, a horse in the foreground and a lake, grazing cattle and incredible mountains in the background. We loved it.
Next up was the main event. We rounded a corner and there, rising abruptly from the lake ahead of us, was the South face of the glacier. It didn’t look real. We could see it stretching back as far as the eye could see into the mountains, apparently it covers around 250 square kilometres. We walked down from the side of the road to the shore of the lake, where of course we had to put our hands in to test the water… it was freezing (probably should’ve seen that coming)! Then we went on a boat tour, which enabled us
to see the glacier from another angle, travelling alongside its North face, past all of the icebergs which were once part of it. This showed the scale of the glacier, as it rises about 70 metres out of the water. The view in the opposite direction was also spectacular, and anywhere else in the world would have been an attraction in its own right! As we were coming back on the boat, the sun came out and started to really show off the colours in the cracks of the glacier. We started the coast walk which follows the lake to give a different view of the North face, when we started to hear loud cracks, sounding like thunder. Obviously it turned out that this was the glacier “calving” and we were able to see huge pieces of ice fall off the glacier, creating enormous waves in the lake. The largest one we saw was roughly the same size as the boat which was in the water. Unbelievable! The other spectacular view was from above, where, particularly with the afternoon sun, we could see every jagged edge and the different shades of blue in between, contrasted against the brilliant white of
the glacier itself.
By the end of this unforgettable day, I had taken over 200 photos! It took some hard work to get it down to the 67 we are left with. With this in mind, I thought it deserved a blog all to itself. Yes, it’s touristy and yes, it’s expensive… but if you’re ever in Patagonia, Perito Moreno is definitely worth the trip!
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