Dec 5, 2011

El Calafate and the impressive Glaciar Perito Moreno

Glacier Perito Moreno - Larger in area than Buenos Aires
One of my favorite things about travelling is that odd things happen all the time, but there is in most cases a solution right away. That makes me wonder if the more we sit to think about a problem, the bigger we make it, and the harder it becomes to resolve. For instance, on our way to El Calafate, we almost lost the tour van because we got up really late. Paula helped us hold the driver, we got on the van rushing our bags, and last minute we were the ones that reminded her, that we had not paid her for neither the night nor the bus. After slamming the door of the van, she turned around and then back for the room key. Funny stuff...

Later while crossing the border between Chile and Argentina, an American guy was left behind at the Chilean immigration office from a big tour bus and our van gave him a ride to the Argentinian side. The bus was already hauling ass back to fetch him, when we signaled that we carried the package. Odd but so easily resolved.

So here we are, crossing into Argentina, still being looked at funny by the other passengers and the driver for our delay boarding. No big deal, we are so into the road, and the beautiful and peaceful solitude of the road and the patagonian flat-land.


Behind us is Chile, and things already start looking different. Paula back in Puerto Natales, had not only setup a ride for us to El Calafate, but also a tour bus straight to Glaciar Perito Moreno, dropping us off on the way back in El Calafate. Awesome. She could not have done better. Thank you again !

Our tour guide, gets in the van in El Calafate, and starts doing the tour guide thing. Telling us all about the Patagonian fauna and flora, and the weather. Actually, doing a pretty good job. Then, he starts talking about who Perito Moreno was, his quest around Patagonia and how he died.  If I tell the full story, I will turn my blog into a Soap Opera and make you cry. All I can say is that at the right moment, and with the right set of words and background music, when the van makes a sharp turn on the road, he presents to us the magnificient Perito Moreno Glacier. What a production ! These Argentinians know how to do tourism.

The rest is pretty much in the books. I will let the pictures speak for themselves because I was speechless myself at the beauty of this place.

Nevertheless, this place is full of tourists, it gets really packed, but what can you do. One has to get over the fact that hordes of people always want to see the beautiful sights of the world, and if you do not, you will rarely have a good time and will only keep yourself from seeing them. So, on that line of thought, we board the 200 plus passengers catamaran that gets really close to the ice, to do the other part of the tour.

The glacier is alive. It roars when pieces of ice collapse...

And so we complete another part of the Patagonia trip.

I have to say though, that I have one big regret. When we had to head back to Puerto Natales instead of connecting straight to El Calafate from las Torres del Paine, we were no longer going to be able to do the glacier Mini-Trekking because we would have spent the time driving to El Calafate. That was the original reason to go straight there. As I see the people doing it, I am filled with envy. The good kind though. Those penguin looking people climbing to the glacier look like they are having fun. Highly recommended !

So we settle for a good dinner in El Calafate and a nice horseback ride next day. In reality, seeing my father riding on the argentinian patagonia, who had only ridden a horse once, more than 25 years ago, is probably better than any ice trek.

We depart from the Estancia 25 de Mayo via la Matera, in the company of a somewhat quiet but friendly Gaucho, whom took a while to start talking but then gives us his perspective about life, shares with us his gaucho pride, his roots, and shows us some of the things of his land.

Yours truly, the wool for your next suit, and your next rack of lamb.
En plena Trocha

An offering to Gaucho Gil who locals believe protects them

Riding along Lago Argentino

Gaucho Jimmy Juan

With just enough time for a "light" Choripan lunch at the La Matera estancia, we make it back to Hosteria Los Hielos to pick up our bags, and head to the airport to deal with Aerolineas Argentinas and try to make it to Ushuaia. We have been hearing of passengers being stuck for days trying to get out of El Calafate.