Friday, March 15, 2013

Glaciers, and travel to El Chaten

We had plans to leave the hotel early for photos and return for breakfast, but the girl at the hotel was not convinced we would make it back by 10:30 so we wolf down a quick breakfast at 7am, then head out to catch the early morning light at Perito Moreno glacier, which is a 1 hr. drive out of town.  The roads are quite empty and we try to beat the tour buses out there.  This is the southern part of Park Nacional Los Glaciars.  Most of the visitors go out on a day tour, or a tour package.  Driving out is actually a nicer option as you can spend as much time as you like.  The weather is perfect with blue skies and no wind; it is a photographer's paradise.

The area has huge catwalks that lead down to the face of the glacier.  I read that during the summer, the crowds can get so thick you have to look over people´s heads to see the glaciers.  Now, there is hardly anyone there and we watch as the glacier calves and pieces crash to the water with an impressive loud crashing boom.  It is an amazing spectacle and we could easily spend an entire day watching and waiting.  The pieces of icebergs float out on to Lake Argentine. The photography is amazing, the crevaces so bright blue.  The face of the glaciers rise up hundreds of feet.  In older photographs, you can see that there used to be an arch where tour boats would pass through.  The glacier used to come across to the catwalks but it has retreated back to reveal a span of water hundreds of feet wide.  We walk to the far end of the catwalk and get different perspectives.  This experience has been one of the highlights of this trip.  The top surface of the ice field looks like peaks of dirty meringue.  We reluctantly leave, knowing we still have a drive ahead of us in order to reach El Chalten by dark.

We return back to the hotel to pick up our luggage and head into town for gas, then on to El Chalten.  It is a trip that takes 2-3 hours. Much of the landscape is barren, but you can see Fitz Roy in the distance, and there are some interesting terrain along the way. We have the road to ourselves and arrive in El Chalten by dark.  Unfortunately, the hotel I booked, Hosteria El Pilar is 17km down an unpaved road and we don´t think this car can make it so far.  So we end up not staying there and finding an alternate place, the Poincenot, right in the center of this tiny town.  Dinner at the Microbrewary is cheap and satisfying.  I have the locha, a local stew, and Ray has homemade ravioli, yum!  As we wait for our food, we try to make sense of the hiking trails and which one we should take tomorrow.


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