Day 17 (Perito Moreno Glacier)

Trip Start Feb 13, 2007
Trip End Apr 13, 2007

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Thursday, March 1, 2007

Internet is outrageously expensive in El Calafate,so still no photos uploaded,next 2-3 days is in the Torres with no internet, so I am thinking 5 or 6 march will be a big update, loads of stories and catching up on photos
Last night we had met Tim, the other guy that took the shuttle from the airport, at 9pm for supper, he is German by birth but lives in New York, he also brought along Christina from Spain and Bart from Holland, we had a great meal, steaks for all, but grilled lamb for me, it just sounded the best, syl asked for a medium but got rare, apparently its not rude to send back for more cooking so back it went, twice, but then it was melt in the mouth perfect
We popped by their hostel, which is a 100m from ours, for drinks after supper, had a few beers and a couple bottles of red wine and only got to bed at 3:15am, bad cos we had a trip at 8am, good cos their hostel is awesome, about 8 or so people up for drinks, two of them Irishman who were a good laugh, we had almost stayed there for our 3 nights but they didnt have enough beds so we went down the road to our place, their hostel is America del Sur and is highly recommended
Bart, Christina and Tim had all been on the perito icewalk and had hated it, said it was a waste as they walked so slowly and kept stopping for old people to catch up, then it ended and they had hardly walked anywhere, we now felt better about not doing it, the icewalk is run by hielo y aventura if you want to look it up, costs 250 pesos, they are the only company that walks on the glacier
And so on to today, in the morning our bus picked us up, small tour, only 19 people and the driver who is also the guide, we set off for Perito which is about 45km to the park entrance where you pay your 30 peso entrance, and a further 30km to the glacier
To clear up the tour, we just booked through our hostel, we thought it was 80 pesos which incl pickup,drop off and a english speaking guide, its actually far better, read below what we got up to, 3 companies offer this tour to Perito - always glacier, don los pinos and patagonia backpackers - they all charge 80 pesos
The first shock of the day was the first sight of the glacier - its an object of sheer beauty, only pictures can explain how incredible a wonder it is, even when driving back to El Calafate and you look out the back window, even after the whole day being near it, even then you marvel at how huge and awesome it is
Our next surprise on the tour itself was that we go hiking along the side of the lake towards the glacier, an awesome walk, not physically challenging, but offering enough tough terrain to make it interesting, we had a young crowd, so progress was smooth, its a good hour and 20 min, and the views of the glacier are spectacular as you slowly get closer and closer
We ended at the viewing platform, where we had just under 3 hours, I had thought there were 2 or 3 platforms, there are in fact many many more, at all different heights, its pretty confusing cos they all link together somehow, you just walk around till you have seen the glacier from every level
The glacier is 50-55 metres high above the water level of the lake, it goes 14km into the distance, and is about 4-5km wide, those 55 metre high ice cliffs are beyond belief, and you get pretty close, the whole area is so wide, you get a huge panoramic view of the whole glacier, along the edges the ice goes down into the lake about 120m and nearer the middle the depth of the ice is up to about 400m - just think those numbers through, its freakin huge, the ice is blue/white, the entire lake and glacier are ringed by snow covered mountains that form part of the Andes mountain range
That all might sound incredible but there is something that tops it all - the glacier is alive, it makes a huge noise, like occasional lightning cracks, whip-lashes or thunderous sounds that you can't help but be amazed by, your eyes are fixated on it cos you want to see what's making those loud noises, chunks of ice fall off every now and then and splash into the lake making huge noises that would scare any little kid, its haphazard, cracks are everywhere, but somehow it all sticks together, if you picture the top of a meringue, those little peaks at the top, that's exactly what the top of the Perito Moreno looks like, hundreds of giant meringues
And you only pay 80 pesos for this full day excursion, and for that you are allowed to witness one of the wonders of the natural world
It is hands down the biggest experience of the trip so far, I will be looking at my photos for a long long time
Tomorrow we leave El Calafate and head into Chile for some hard core trekking, the mighty Torres del Paine National Park, Sylvia is quaking in her boots, especially after the two irishman told us they abandoned their 7 day trip last week after only 2 nights cos the weather was too extreme...bring it on
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