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Published: March 9th 2020
R: Today was the day we were off to Perito Moreno glacier. It is in the Los Glaciares National Park which is about an hour drive from El Calafate, which we did on the bus. Breakfast at the new hostel was a bit underwhelming, but we survived! Scambled eggs, Dulce du Leche pancakes and strong coffee - not much not to like really! We went the long way to the national park which is easily accessed by road from Calafate, but the route took us via Lago Argentino (the largest lake in Argentina) and various viewpoints to see hares, herds of vicuna and birds along the way. We stopped at an Estancia (ranch) along the way which was appreciating the tourist custom. Earning a living from cattle is hard in this area now so they have got used to using the tourists as a stream of income - the ranch had a campsite on which the mystery machine seemed to be parked. (This made we wonder what else was going on in the ranch!). It had an idyllic setting with sweeping views all over the surrounding countryside. There were also roaming goat kids who appreciated the attention they were getting and
a pack of puppies who were hidden under a log, being protected by mum. Most of our group were more interested in these but I was just marvelling at the countryside as it stretched out from the ranch.
We moved on and parked up at the side of the lake, and got out to stretch our legs. The glacier was now in view and was pretty impressive. After a period of photo taking, we walked down to the lakeshore for a stone skimming competition. As usual, I was pretty awful at this so I wasn't sad when we moved on. We walked around the lakeshore to a port where we caught a boat that took us up to the face of the glacier. Some facts; it comes from an icesheet which is the third biggest on the planet, this spur is larger than Buenos Aires, it is 30km long, 70m high where it falls into the water. It is also one of the planet's most stable glaciers - not receding at the rate of many others. Pretty impressive stats. The boat was fairly crowded and not really my kind of thing, but I used it as an excuse to
escape my group around the crowd for a bit and take some great photos. Being up close to the face of the ice was pretty amazing - the boat couldn't get too close because every so often a large chunk of ice the same size as a double decker bus dropped off into the water in front of us.
Then we headed to the visitors centre. This was a bit of a soulless place where I managed to pick up a rubber hamburger, an empanada that was the worst so far, and a bottle of Fanta. Near the face of the ice, they have set up numerous walkways to allow visitors to walk around in and view the face. I mosied around with part of the group looking at it from different angles. It was now extremely sunny, by the way, and I could feel the sunburn creeping in - totally different from being in Chile. We found several places to look at it from - then set up and just watched. You can stare it for hours and it doesn't get boring. Its so beautiful and so very blue. Its also nestled in amongst some pretty mountains, so
it is well worth watching. As you stand and watch it you can hear loud cracks and bangs as the ice breaks on the inside and you just have to sit and watch and hope that bits you can see will fall off. As light travels faster than sound - if you wait until you hear something, you have already missed it falling into the lake - so you have to stay fixed!
Eventually the time grew near to leave. We trudged away, taking backward glances at it as we did - still waiting for the largest pieces to fall off as we jumped on the bus.
That evening a few of us had signed up for an Empanada making experience. We stopped in at a local craft beer bar on the way which had a decent happy hour offering (mostly over 6%) and then we went to the lobby of a nearby hostel and got brought everything we need to make the local dish. This was all accompanied by red wine and chat with the owner. It was all quite fun and I got to know some of the Americans in our group who I hadn't spoke
to yet - one of whom ran goat yoga classes back home! Our Swiss friend, however, suddenly started feeling (and looking) a bit peaky - the 6% beers probably didn't agree with him! After some time lingering in the rest room, he returned, but didn't eat his Empanadas... We also got served a plate of meat and salad which was being grilled in a barrel outside the front of the hostel - all very delicious, especially the blood sausage.
This had felt like quite a "touristy" day, but overall, I will never forget seeing that Glacier. It is one of the most amazing natural things I have ever seen.
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