Walking on Thick Ice!

Trip Start Jun 16, 2007
Trip End Nov 13, 2007

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Friday, September 14, 2007

Thursday 13th September - Monday 17th September

As we were enjoying Argentina so much, we couldnīt resist heading further south to see the glaciers in the Patagonian National Park (Nacional Parque Los Glaciores).....despite our previous threats to fly to warmer shores.

This was to be our longest bus journey yet..a total of 22 hours to the town of El Chalten via Rio Gallegos. To top it off, our Spanish had let us down once again and just as we were prepared to settle into our armchair like seats and relax, we discovered we had booked the budget bus! (We now knew why the tickets were such a bargain!).  Survived the journey, including 3 hours of the Green Mile in dubbed Spanish (was this a punishment for our poor Spanish!?) , and arrived to glorious sunshine, and a gorgeous hostel with underfloor heating!  Hostel staff fantastic (America Del Sur) and helped us plan our next 5 days. 
01  Long road south....18 View from our hostel........09 Clear blue skies.....
The next day we departed early for a dayīs boat trip to see various glaciers in the national park, including the largest called Upsala.  Boat turned out to be a luxury catamaran, rather different to our rubber dinghy dolphin tour. We cruised past enormous icebergs which had broken off from the glaciers, and then we saw the glaciers themselves, including Upsala and Spegazzini.  The catamaran was able to get 800m from the "snout" of the glaciers (but not too close in case a house sized piece should fall!).  Beautiful scenery, and glorious sunshine all day.  Understood effects of global warming first hand as we learnt from the guide how far the Upsala glacier had receded in the last 2 years.  Stopped for a picnic lunch beside a frozen lake (Lago Onelli) which was full of icebergs and surrounded by glaciers and snow y mountains.  
02 Icebergs.......03  Another 75% is below the water............05 Cruising through the ice...........
The following day we took a different trip to a glacier in the park called Perito Moreno.  This is one of the few glaciers in the world which is moving and still advancing.  We first drove for an hour and a half through Patagonia landscapes before arriving at the glacier.  There are viewing platforms built into the hills from which you can watch the glacier.  You can get really close and hear the glacier creak and also hear the crashes of the ice breaking off.  In the afternoon, we took a boat ride to view the glacier from the water on the way to an area from where it is possible to take a walk on the ice!  After a short walk through the forest we were fitted with ice crampons and given a crash course on how to wear them - basically walk like a penguin!  We trekked on the ice (60 - 100m deep) for a couple of hours, viewing various features of the huge glacier, and the surrounding scenery. At the end we were rewarded with a large scotch, chilled with the glacier ice, courtesy of the guide and his ice axe (hope this was not too detrimental to the glacierīs future).
13  60m - 100m high......12 Beside the ice.......14 Walking on ice.........
Returned to the hostel, where the hostel chef cooked up a Parilla feast for the residents.  Yum!
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