Finally! I have had the patience to sit down for more than ten minutes and will tell you all about my fabulous few days in Argentine Patagonia! We stayed in a little, somewhat touristy town/city called El Calafate, which lies right on the edge of Lago Argentino. While we didn’t make it all the way south to the famous Tierra del Fuego, there was still much to see and do, and all of the fun was had. I already can’t wait to go back…
Our first full day was spent entirely on a boat on Lago Argentino. We took a catamaran cruise that lasted seven hours (…”a three-hour tour”…), which got us up close and personal with a few of the most prominent glaciers in the area. We got as close as we could—without being in danger of falling chunks of ice or icebergs, of course. The air was horrendously freezing. The wind chill made standing on deck miserable. They ran out of free hot chocolate. But despite all my complaining, visiting the Parque Nacional Los Glaciares, getting to see glaciers and icebergs for the first time, and the beauty of the Andes made this trip the most incredible experience I could have ever asked for. The sun didn’t rise until around 9:30am, so we saw the majestic Andes mountains all lit up in the glow of the early daylight. The mountains themselves in any lighting are impressionable, I’ve never seen anything like them before. (Step aside, Rocky Mountains.)
The most popular glacier there was the Perito Moreno, which is the widest glacier in the park (5 km) and is also fast-moving in comparison with other glaciers (the front wall ice is only 400 years old). As we stood at the overlook on the second day, mouths gaping in awe at the divine panoramic views, we could hear the ice crackling, breaking, and falling into the hidden river of meltwater that ran through the middle of the glacier. It was kind of freaky. After oogling at the sights for most of morning numero dos, we spent the rest of the afternoon mini-trekking on the Perito Moreno glacier!
We were ferried over to the other side of the lake by a small boat, and then after a picnic lunch we hiked to the foot of the glacier where the guides fitted us with crampons (spiked shoe thingys). We spent an hour and a half hiking on a small section of the glacier, minding the crevasses and any meltwater on the glacier surface. At the end of the guided tour they treated us to whisky with glacier ice, glacier water, and alfajores!
I don’t have much to say about what we did when we got back in to town, mostly because there wasn’t much to do. Usually after dinner I would just watch movies in Spanish (…ahem…Toy Story…) with my roommate at the hotel. Nevertheless, just those two days were beyond amazing, awesome and spectacular; I’m not sure when I’ll ever get the chance to go anywhere quite so extraordinary again, and I’m extremely fortunate to have had this opportunity!