Perito Moreno Glacier and The Smoking One

Trip Start Aug 09, 2007
Trip End Jul 29, 2008

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Flag of Argentina  ,
Wednesday, January 30, 2008

ZOOOOOOOOOOM, CREEEAAAK, CLUNK our bus took off for a blazing start to El Calafate (El Café Late) Argentina.  Well not really, but, I thought I might make this exciting.  After the W hike in Torres Del Paine (Towers of PAIN, man my legs hurt) in Chile we headed for the border and for El Calafate.  After entering Chile about a week ago they gave me this little pink paper, I sort of looked at it thought it was a receipt ant then crumpled it up and shoved it into a bag.  I thought I had thrown it away for good.  When we approached the border all everyone on the bus had this little paper in their passports, so I was thinking that it was probably pretty important and then when we arrived at the exit window I realized it was very important.  It turned out that the woman at the window wouldn't give me an exit stamp because I didn't have this little stupid paper.  Oh crap, well good thing Sarah saved it and it wasn't too much of a hassle we just had to dig it out from under the bus, where our bags were.  Welcome to Chile the land were they loooovvvveee paper work, if you don't have little papers they can't make little piles of paper and then shove all these useless papers into useless envelopes and then send them to Santiago, where someone probably removes them makes another stupid useless little pile of papers from little useless tiny border crossings of all the foreign tourist then the papers are filed in alphabetic order and then sit in a box for 7 years before some one throws them in the garbage.  Useless I tell you, what the hell is a passport for when you still need a stupid piece of pink paper with your name, passport number and country of origin written on it.   
After that little rant we ended up in El Calafate, along the way seeing lots of guanacos (llama like animal) and nandoos (emu like) along the way. We looked around for about an hour moving around for availability and also good prices.  We have noticed that any listing in the Lonely Planet guide is about 15% more than hostels not in the book. So we found one slept 4 (Bret, Oksana, Nik and Sarah) took it easy for the rest of the day (looking into trips to the Glacier) and then at 8pm we went to a common ´all you can eat´ Parilla.  A Parilla is a form of Argentine barbecue, where they have lamb, steak, sausage, chicken and any other form of meat product.  We gorged ourselves at this establishment and then hit the sack for the next day at the Perito Moreno Glacier.
The Perito Moreno Glacier is the only advancing glacier in the world.  This means that the glacier is basically always the same distance away from the viewing platforms. It is a pretty neat glacier, you can hear the cracking and creaking of the ice breaking off the glacier and then crashing into the lake that it has created below. The other thing is the glacier is not floating; it is about 70m above the level of the lake and 500 meters deep.  We left from our hostel in a hired cab and got to the glacier before all the tour buses arrived, we then took in the enormity of the glacier from all the view points and catwalks at this time still with limited people. About 2 hrs later we went on a boat/catamaran tour of the glacier to see it closer up.  It was amazing on the boat, but, you couldn't hear the cracking and crashing of the ice pieces just see them.  The boat tour ended and then we decided to have lunch on the shore, just then a huge piece of ice off the glacier broke off where the next boat was, it was about the size of a van and it made an incredible noise.   We were all cursing the people on the boat for being really close, but, at least we still saw it break off and crash. 
After the glacier we left for another mountain town, El Chalten.  Both the Perito Moreno glacier and the 2 mountain formations are both located in Los Glaciars Parque Nacional.  We had planed another 3 day trek around the mountain formations there, but, at this point most of us were all in a little pain from the ¨W¨ hike in Torres Del Paine. One good thing about the north part of the park (El Chalten) was that it was free, no entrance and no fees for the campsites.  We spent 2 nights in the park, 1 night sleeping at the base of Mt. Fitz Roy (also called El Chalten) which is called The Smoking One because the snow at the peak sublimates (solid to gas) and it looks like the mountain is smoking.  Supposedly they thought originally that this mountain was a volcano, but, after climbing it noticed that there was no crater.  On the second night we camped at the base of Cerro Torre, which is not as high as Fitz Roy, but, is claimed to be one of the most difficult rock climbs in the world.  We were very lucky to see both ranges in clear view, because Cerro Torre only has about 60 days where you can fully see the peak exposed.  The whole area was incredible and it was refreshing to see all the different peaks and glaciers.  To be honest I liked both the TDP hike and the Los Glaciars Park, but, the LG Park was less hyped than Torres Del Paine and it was less crowded and felt a little less like Disneyland.  There were some people on the TDP hike that had no friggin clue about where they wanted to stay in the park and what side they wanted to enter on, a little irritating because its not as if you are buying a set tour, you actually have to think for yourself.  After Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre we left the park and then headed back to El Calafate and essentially for the Atlantic coast more in the north in a place called Puerto Madryn.  We are making this stop to see more marine wildlife; penguins, sealions, elephant seals and possibly orcas.      

That`s it for now.  Talk soon, Us. xoxo
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