Glacial Southern Patagonia

Trip Start Mar 01, 2010
Trip End Oct 08, 2010

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Flag of Argentina  , Patagonia,
Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tuesday: once again the barren flatlands slowly give way to rolling hills and then ice-capped mountains as we approach the Southern Andes. The lakes are turquoise-blue from the rock-flour from the glacial meltwaters, which augments an already dramatic scenery. There's more life down here near the end of the world, but only just. Started seeing some parasitic growths on the trees not unlike mistletoe although it's an alien-looking bright yellow/green. 

El Calatafe is better than I'd been led to believe and thankfully still small enough to walk across in 10 or 20 mins, making trips to the supermarket, restaurants, and bus station to book onward tickets easy. It's quite touristy but still OK. Not much to do here except the glacier and a stop off for Torres Del Paine (Chile), which I'm planning on doing at the weekend. The hostel is good and cheap, and I met up with some friends I met in the first hostel (BA), second hostel (Bariloche) and third hostel (El Bolson). Everyone seems to be getting on well although there's an irritating Aussie who thinks he's God's Gift and is quite frankly a complete arse. 

Getting to really like bus journeys; much prefer them to flying.  There's a sense of journey that you don't get on aeroplanes, and having time to read, contemplate and digest events is a luxury not afforded by a significant proportion of the western world from my experience. I find I can't read much or watch a lot of films and instead spend hours daydreaming and somehow the time just flies (and incidentailly this is where I find the time to update the blog). 

The next paragraph should please my mother: I'm eating well and managing three square meals a day, and snacks. Although breakfast was hard to eat at first, I find my body quickly adapts. I'm eating far more regularly and healthily than I do at home and can only conclude that it's work that's been screwing with my schedule and making me thin . Not sure if I'm putting any weight on yet but have come up with something that should help: "The Empanada Challenge". An Empanada is a savoury snack not too dissimilar to a Cornish Pastie, that seem to come in 2 flavours, Jamon y Queso (Ham and Cheese) or Carne (meat - like mince beefy goodness). I've vowed to try to have one per day, and if I miss a day to make up for it the next. So far I've managed at least one per day since the 2nd, although I've got some catching up to do as I've missed the last 3 days. Tasty! You too can join in from back home, substituting the Empenada with a foodstuff of your choice: cake/kebab/dog-meat/catfood/salt-and-vinegar-squares - it's not only fun, but as it's spread out over each day in moderation and not to excess, it's healthy!

Wendesday: I've booked myself on a tour to see the Perito Moreno Glacier today. I really enjoyed climbing Fox Glacier in New Zealand with my brother last year so figured that if this was as good it would be worth the cost. Moreno juts out between Lago Moreno and Lago Idontknowwhatthisoneiscalled and engenders magnificent vistas as icebergs and icecubes are slowly but surely shed off.  After initially being told that Perito Moreno is one of the worlds few advancing glaciers, I later discovered that it's currently in equilibrium but moving by as much as 2m every day, and is thankfully clean and dust free so good for trekking on. Still not exactly sure on the differences between Trekking and Hiking and no-one else seems to know either. It takes about 400 years for the ice to travel from the top to the edge, over 25km distance, and 25 meters fall every year. And the Patagonian Ice shelf is the third largest mass of ice in the world after Antarctica and Greenland.

After spending a couple of hours at the bottom taking in the view and making a couple of photographs, we head back onto the bus for a trek out onto the ice. Coincidentally bumped into Amardeep again, my old work collegue that I met up with in Buenos Aires.

I took a 20min boat ride across the lake and in front of the glacier - a good chance to take some great shots. The tour group trekked through the forest and along the beach for a short while before donning the crampons and heading up the ice. Swirls of twisted ice greeted the eyes with impossible hues of blue and white. And the views are so transient, you can hear the creaking ice and regular ice falls from the face into the lake. Managed to catch a huge chunk falling into the water on a series of photos. The surrounding panoramas were just as stunning. We trekked up and down for about 2 hours before being greeted with a glass of scotch on glacial ice - it was a great touch and a complete surprise to the group.

Seems to be a lot of Germans and French out today.  End up speaking to two nice German girls who are here for 5 months who I might see later on in my travels, and an interesting Austrian (aren't they always). The French, like the English, are their usual selves in not quite managing to interact with other races. It's funny: out of the Europeans, I feel I have a lot more in common with Germans, Spanish, Finnish, Swedish, Norwegians, Austrians but not really the French - partly due, I suspect, to the fact I was lucky enough to work in a very international environment but with very few French. Not that I've got anything against the French, I just don't mix with many. 

Bags packed for our trip into Chile for the epic Torres Del Paine 5 day trek around the infamous 'W' circuit. Going to be going off the radar for a few days and expect to be back on Wednesday. Peace... out. 
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Toby on

But you told me you hate the French! :-)

Mel on

Typical bloody Aussie...... fair dinkum, throw another snag on the barbie ya flamin galah!

Lynz on

Daily Empanada for you - Daily Cadburys Creme Egg for me :)

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