Not content with having seen some amazing glaciers and icebergs in Antarctica, when back on terra firma in Argentina, we went to El Calafate and did a side day trip to the Perito Moreno Glacier in Los Glaciares National Park which was great: a “must see” without a doubt. The glacier is 250 square kilometres in size (30 km long) with 74m sticking out above the lake level and is hugely impressive.
One of the most amazing things about our visit there was the noise: every so often there were sporadic very loud cracking noises (at first, these were a little disconcerting if I’m honest) which were made by chunks of ice breaking off the glacier and falling down, sometimes into the lake creating a mini tsunami. It’s as though the whole thing is alive and we really felt as though the whole shape of the glacier was changing even during our relatively short (3 hour) visit there. The glacier is also quite unusual as it is still advancing (most glaciers are currently in retreat).
Walking in Los Glaciares National Park, El Chalten
Further north in the same national park, we stayed in El Chalten which is situated in the park itself. This allows you just to walk straight out of town either for day treks (or if you want to camp (which we didn’t) you can do longer overnight treks too). Here again the scenery was lovely although it’s fair to say that we weren’t exactly that lucky with the weather and got drenched on both our days of walking. In fact when we did the “big” Sendero Mount Fitzroy walk, as well as pretty high winds that actually knocked us off balance a little from time to time, we also had to contend with horizontal snow which then turned into torrential rain. I’m not sure at what point my walking shoes stopped pretending to be waterproof but I know that I was sloshing along in them for many kilometres but by that point in time, the paths had also turned into mini rivers so it really didn’t matter – we’d reached the point where we couldn’t get any wetter and just continued to splish splosh through the water.
Amusingly, when the sun did eventually deign to make an appearance (at about the 14th kilometre of an 18 kilometre walk), you could see other walkers stopping to take off their boots to pour the water out of them and also to wring out their gloves and hats etc: I don’t think anyone escaped a good drenching on that particular day and when we got back to our hostel, we realised that even our money had taken a hit as well and we had to lay that out to dry. What was a shame about the walk was that when we were at the top at Lake Torre we did not get the splendid and hoped for view of Mount Fitzroy which was a shame but never mind.
Fortunately as we started moving further northwards, the weather improved. In Bariloche in the Lake District area, it was much warmer (after all it is summer in Argentina at the moment) although there was still quite a chilly wind at times and especially when we went up Cerro Catedral which was about 2100m above sea level. It was at this point that I began to wonder why we had chosen to wear shorts especially when we were sitting on the open ski lifts and the sun had decided to disappear behind the clouds. But fortunately it wasn’t too bad and we soon warmed up again once we descended. This was another beautiful pocket of what is a truly beautiful country and a pleasure to visit.
Views of Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi (Bariloche) including the cable car at Cerro Catedral