Country Argentina | Dates May 15 – 19 | Accommodation America del Sur Hostel
I flew from Buenos Aires into El Calafate to start my Patagonia exploration. I arrived at night, taking the VES bus to the hostel. I was worried I’d wasted money and should have done the public bus, but upon arrival in the crisp, frigid air with impossibly clear skies dotted with white stars, I realized the VES was the only option and as thus glad I’d booked it.
Glacier Perito Moreno
My first day I went to see the Perito Moreno Glacier, on a tour called “mini trekking” organized by Hielo&Aventura. After a 1.5 hour ride through breathtaking scenery (well at the time I didn’t know it was breathtaking because it was dark), we arrived at Parque Nacional Los Glaciares. We approached the glacier via a small boat (capacity 67) moving across the icy water towards the massive glacier. As we got closer it became more unreal; a wall of ice, jagged and beautiful and startling blue.
We split by language and headed down a scenic path to get on our crampons, or spiked shoes used to trek on the ice. Then we headed onto the glacier for an amazing 1.5 hour trek across the uneven surface. It was slippery – I struggled a bit (secretly, of course, I walked up front and acted stable) to dig in as I don’t weigh a ton. We went up and over the glacier, pausing to see sinkholes to the bottom; the guide gripped the back of our jackets as we peered over. He used his pick to strike water, too, and later collected ice which we drank with whisky and frozen chocolates on the makeshift “bar.” At one point, an idiot couple held hands on the ice and got yelled at.
We ended within an incredible ice cave; the ice cracking into beautiful formations, dripping and appearing an impossible shade of blue. Later I learned it looks so blue because blue light it stronger than red and yellow, so it can penetrate deeper into ice and then appears more blue as it goes down. After this we had our bagged lunches in a cabin with a small fire.
Up next? Viewing balconies, with amazing panorama vistas of the glacier face from the south side. At some point I put away my camera to take it all in. So massive and ancient and incredible; looking at it made you feel so small and inconsequential. To the right was an arch and cave entrance in the formation, with loud, bellowing sounds coming periodically. Then, suddenly, in front of me a small piece of ice broke off and thundered into the water below, creating a massive wave and crackling loudly.
The day ended with a scenic ride back, past the snow-capped, striped peaks obscured by and sometimes peeking out of clouds, the aqua-blue water of the omnipresent Largo Argentina around us.