Walking on ice

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ARGENTINA

PERITO MORENO GLACIER

March 2014 • Canon 60D camera



UNESCO World Heritage site
Part of the Los Glaciares National Park

Glacier stats

5km (3m)

Width

74m

Average height

30km (19m)

Length

We woke up at 6am today to make sure we ate breakfast and caught the 7:15am bus ride to Lake Argentino in time. This will be where we will get to see and trek on the famous natural wonder Perito Moreno Glacier. This giant glacier, was one of the main reasons why I chose to go on this tour. A long river of ice flowing down into a narrow corridor into a part of Lake Argentino called the Brazo Rico. The sun was still rising in the sky filling it with beautiful colours of orange, pink and purples this morning.

The plan for today was to visit the south side of the glacier up close and then get a chance to trek on it. Reaching the glacier we had to cross Lake Argentino. A boat that fits around 40 people, transported us across the Lake. There was light rain in the air with clouds and the sun from time to time breaking through. As we crossed the lake we got our first breath talking view of the glacier front wall. It was enormous. Amazing colours of white and turquoise blue sparkling and glistening as the sun hits it.


We disembarked across the other side of the lake. Our team along with other people on the boat then split into three groups. We walked through a small forest and reached a shore of gravel and stones on the south side of the glacier. The glacier almost looks fake. Something alien compared to the recognizable landscape around us of mountains and trees. The out–of–this–world look made the glacier more fascinating to view.

It was amazing how detailed the carving lines and jagged tops were. The wind was picking up but the light rain had now stop. We took photos and posed for a group photo before we made our way to the crampon station on the edge of the glacier. This was exciting as we were now going to have a chance to trek on the glacier. After a short tutorial from the guide, we strapped on our crampon which would help us walk on the ice.


Did you know...

The Perito Moreno Glacier is one of only three Patagonian glaciers that is still growing. It seems to have withstood the climate change of global rising temperatures. A mystery that scientists still don't understand why it is constantly and continually growing.





Walking in single file, we followed our guide as we slowly walked up a hill and onto the glacier. The light rain had stopped which was great as we could take photos without the inference of the rain. It was still very cold. Our guide would cut a path or steps on the ice with his small axe as we walked on the glacier. Our crampons easily gripped the ice and was told to take small steps as we walked on the ice. We would zig–zag up and down the glacier. From time to time we would stop for our guide to explain the history and certain parts of the glacier. On the glacier, large cracks filled with the most vividly blue hues reaching deep inside.

There was one deep hole that some of us took turns to lean over the edge to take photos. The guide would stand next to us ready to grab us if we lost our footing. The glacier was almost like waves of ice. Small streams of water trickled down in certain areas. The sun was shining bright, bouncing off the glacier making it sparkle. We spent just over an hour or so on the glacier. At the end of the walk before we got off the glacier we all celebrated with a 150 year old whiskey with ice from the Glacier. It was quite an experience to walk on such a beautiful natural wonder.


As soon as we stepped off the glacier the weather turned grey and spots of rain appeared. We had our lunch in a small shelter that was in the forest we walked past as a heavy rain fell down for 10 minutes. Perfect timing! After waiting for the boat to take us back across the lake, we jumped back on our bus and set off to the viewing platforms of the glacier 15 minutes away.

From different level platforms you had panoramic views of the glacier. It was gigantic stretching back many miles into the distance. It was a little bit touristy with quite a few people around. After snapping a lot of photos, we headed back to the bus and back to El Calafate.


Where to eat


La Tablita

Rosales 28, El Calafate 9405
www.la-tablita.com.ar


Viva La Pepa

Amado 833, El Calafate 9405

That evening back in town we dined at La Tablita. The restaurant serves authentic Patagonian cuisines. Along with all kinds of grills and steaks, it specializes in BBQ Patagonian lamb. In fact, at the entrance to the restaurant they had lambs roasted on sticks and stood up vertically. There was a nice ambiance in the place, plus the food and service was excellent.

Rodrigo, our tour leader, recommend we try an amazing crepe cafe for desert, Viva La Pepa. Sure enough the crepes and ice cream was delicious. What made it stand out was the cool sugar craftwork. I treated myself to crepe Nutella with banana, cinnamon, hazelnut and honey. And a single espresso. We all had a nice laugh and got to know more about each other. It was a perfect end to a memorable day.


Final thoughts

The Perito Moreno Glacier was high on my list of places to visit for a long time. And I was not disappointed. The natural beauty and sheer size of the glacier is even more impressive up close when you walk on it. It felt safe to walk on the glacier, with a guide at the front and another at the back.

With the crampons it was easy to grip the ice. Making the walk on the ice more memorable was our guide cracking jokes along the trail. I thoroughly recommend taking the glacial hike to fully experience this natural wonder.


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