Today was a feast for the eyes, and for the imagination.
Even though I just was in Antarctica, this Patagonian glacier by El Calafate can give those in Antarctica a run for their money:
We first confirmed that Simon was safe and sound in Puerto Natales after being detained at the Chilean/Argentine border yesterday:
“There’s a lot more to that story … There were no more bus tickets available being sold from Puerto Natales to El Calafate till after Christmas. I barely had enough cash. The hostel had no printer. They didn’t accept Credit card and ATM machines are downtown. It was also late around 10PM.
Lucky enough the female teller at the bus terminal was kind enough to lend me her computer and printer to print out the reciprocity fee before they closed. (Another panic attack happened when I couldn’t locate the form online … turns out you have to expand the date range search.)
The super luck I had was the hostess at my hostel called a company and had one spot left to El Calafate then Perito Moreno Glaciers. I didn’t know how much luck I had left at that point … But during payment, she didn’t accept my $20 US bills because they weren’t new enough. Again, lucky enough, there was a person who stayed there who was bilingual from New York City that helped me out … Seriously … It was a challenge after another.
I also needed to pay for the entrance fee to the glacier tour but a nice old couple paid for me and paid for the option boat tour. What a crazy adventure.” — Simon
Knowing that he was okay, Anderson and I set out for El Perito Moreno Glacier the next morning.
The Perito Moreno Glacier is a must-see while you’re in El Calafate as it is the only glacier in the world known to be expanding instead of receding. That means it’s constantly calving and moving at an impressive 2 meters a day, and you’ll can literally see it in action when you’re here.
Since we didn’t want to wake up that early for an 8am bus (200 Argentinian pesos per person) that probably would have been fully booked anyway (it usually is, so reserve a few days in advance), we had hired a private driver for 780 Argentinian pesos the day before. Simon was supposed to be in on splitting for the cab fare with me and Anderson, making it to be 290 Argentian pesos per person, but since he was still stuck in Chile and paying for his own way back in Argentina, Anderson and I ended up absorbing the extra cost.
We didn’t mind the extra cost, as long as Simon was okay and that we got to move at our own pace:
Perito Moreno Glacier is about a 90min drive up from El Calafate, with an admission fee of 130 Argentinian pesos at the park’s entrance. They give you a guide in Spanish and English along with a plastic bag to deposit your trash in by the end of the day.
After about another 10-20min drive from the entrance, you’ll get your first glimpse of the glacier:
Driving a little closer, you’ll wind around a few hills until you see a few ships heading in its direction:
Eventually you’ll reach the main parking lot and drop-off area, from where you can walk down these elaborate, well constructed platforms that lead down to multiple viewing points from different angles.
We first headed straight for the lowest and closest viewing point:
Because the entire glacier is constantly advancing and expanding at a pace of 2 meters a day, you’re bound to witness the glacier calving if you wait at least half an hour. For us, every 5-10 minutes we heard a thunderous roar from the glacier. You can feel everyone’s eyes frantically searching to see where it was exactly coming from.
Thus, those with telephoto lens and binoculars would get the most out of witnessing the glacier calving:
Click on each image for a closer look, as you can literally see boulders of ice taking their death leaps as the glacier comes apart:
This was was the largest calving:
and it just kept going:
Besides the calving, the glacier in of itself is a wonder to behold. So bring something to eat from El Calafate and stick around here for a couple of hours; it’s just one of those places to kick back and appreciate nature at its persistent ability to make your spine tingle and your head shake in bewilderment:
If you drive down a little further down to sea level, you can get more fantastic views of the glacier from another angle, as well as the valley to the right:
And with that box checked, I headed back to my hostel at El Calafate, packed my bags and headed on a connecting Christmas Eve flight to Buenos Aires to catch my series of international flights out to Madrid, Dubai, and ultimately, Lahore.
– At time of posting in Perito Moreno Glacier, it was 48.2 °F – Humidity: 10% | Wind Speed: 5km/hr | Cloud Cover: partly cloudy