Big Ice!!

Trip Start May 20, 2010
Trip End Sep 05, 2011

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Where I stayed
Hostel Calafate

Flag of Argentina  , Santa Cruz,
Thursday, January 27, 2011


Day : 257
Temperature : 14 degrees
Weather : Cloudy morning, sunny afternoon

Wow! Wow! Wow! It's like a living, breathing monster which continually groans and creaks. Then, every so often, there are the most incredible loud, hollow, echoing booms and cracks. You turn to search the origin of this amazing noise and you see chunks of ice collapsing into the lake, huge splashes and mini tsunami like waves. Then the water is left swirling and bubbling as new icebergs float to the surface.

This, is like nothing I have EVER seen in my life. The sheer size of this glacier is breathtaking. It’s 60 metres high at it’s terminal face. And it’s blue. The most beautiful blue. Every shade of blue imaginable. And then on the top, it’s the brightest white ever. On the very edge it’s criss-crossed with a multitude of dark lines, like scars from where it’s obviously cracked in the past. This is natural beauty on a mind-boggling scale. It exceeded all of our expectations by miles and left us both totally speechless.

The first thing you see when approaching this glacier is a huge expanse of white. Then the enormous terminal face of the glacier can be identified. You can only see half of it’s entirety, and you know that you are going to witness something truly spectacular.

We had 2 hours on the balconies where we stood mesmerised and enchanted by the sights and the sounds of the glacier. We then headed down to the nearby dock where we boarded a boat along with everyone else and their dog (slightly disappointed by the vast number of people that are doing the same as us…but what can you expect I guess!?!). We passed the southern edge of the glacier and reached the land where we were met by our guides and given a brief introduction. After a short walk we arrived at a camp where we donned the heaviest, chunkiest crampons that I have ever seen in my life…in fact, I don’t think they were crampons, just huge chunks of metal! Anyway, we were then led to the edge of the glacier, which is apparently more stable, hence you can walk on it. Our tour lasted an hour and a half. Although it was fantastic being on the glacier, this whole affair really was a conveyor belt. We’d asked in the office of Hielo y Aventura the previous evening how many people would be on our tour. We were told there would be a maximum of twenty. We don’t like big groups, and although twenty was on the large side, we decided to go with it. What we weren’t told, is that there would be another group of twenty about ten metres in front of you, and another group of twenty ten metres behind, and you could see several other groups of twenty elsewhere on the glacier. There would be another group waiting to come on the glacier and another group leaving or getting on the boat. In effect, it felt like there were hundreds of people. We tried to linger at the back to take photos, but we were repeatedly told to keep together and to hurry up, and we were more or less rounded up and ushered along because the next group was literally on our heels. This was not the "ice experience" we were looking for.  I really wished that we’d gone for the alternative trek which was 4 hours on the glacier and 7 hours trek in total….more expensive, but with far fewer people, and I think probably a more rewarding experience.

We did get the chance to escape the crowds once back at the refugio. We wandered down to the lake edge and once again sat and marvelled at the glacier. On the way back to the mainland, the boat took a quick detour reasonably close to the ice, and once again, the views were incredible.

There’s not much else to say here really. I will let the pictures do the talking and you can see for yourselves….enjoy!

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Holly on

Loving the photos of this incredible scenery and great NZ hat Dom x

yattonkey3 on

Really amazing photos.

Eileen on

Ok ..pardon my ignorance .... but why is the ice blue !! xxxx

nomadic-brands on was absolutely amazing!

The ice is blue because it is compressed for years. The ice at the terminal face of the glacier could be up to 700 years old!

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