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Travels in South America

So cool, it's a glacier.

ARGENTINA | Sunday, 30 November 2008 | Views [868]

From Puerto Madryn we got a bus to Rio Gallegos (18 hours) where we had to wait a couple of hours to get another bus to El Calfate (5 hours).  We were pretty nackered by the time we got there but as we're limited on time we had to rush around sorting out a trip to the glacier for the next day.

The only reason why tourists go to El Calafate is because it is the closest town to the national park containing a good few glaciers.  Just an hours drive from El Calafate is the Perito Moreno glacier, the biggest in South America (30 KM long).

We quickly discovered that as with everywhere in Argentina, all bus companies and tour agencies charge exactly the same rate and more often than not it's a rip off.  We couldn't afford to do an ice trek as we'd hoped (but later agreed would have been pointless) and decided just to get the bus there the following morning.  (Stayed in a hostel called De Los Manos, the CRAPPEST breakfast in the whole of Argentina, stupid rules and an amazingly ill-equipped kitchen.)

So Friday 28th November we got back on a bus and drove the hour to the glacier.  While you're on the way there you start to see bits of ice in the lake and realise you must be getting close and then you go around a bend and it's just there.  Even from a big distance it looks so huge and impressive.  Like nothing else in the world.  It is so much more than a block of ice.  When you get to the park you can view the glacier from a few hundred metres and it is just immense.  It goes back so far it melts into the snowcapped mountains.  It is 60m hire and a few hundred metres wide.  As you walk along the path to view different areas you can hear bits of the ice cracking,it's so loud, like thunder.  Then every now and again there's a really big crack and a wedge of ice falls off the side and thuds into the water.  It is just so amazing.

We walked down to the jetty and paid for a boat ride to take you alongside the glacier in the lake.  You probably don't really get much closer (sometimes really big bits fall off so the boats can't get too close) but you can feel how cold it is and you get a better sense of how high it is.  For an hour the boat just drives backwards and forward along the wall of the glacier and you don't get bored at all because it looks so amazing. 

It is definitely one of the best things we've seen on the whole trip.  I felt a little sad when we had to get the bus back.  Dave thought it was cool too.  So cool it's a glacier, as he kept saying throughout the day.

Tags: el calafate, hostel de los manos, moreno glacier



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