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All But Glaciered Out February 26, 2007

Posted by Cheryl in Argentina, culture, Patagonia, South America, Travel.
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Sign at Perito Moreno Glacier

In the last few weeks I´ve seen far more glaciers than I´ve eaten alfajores, and that´s saying something.  Patagonia is postively teeming with them.  But the draw of the world famous Perito Moreno Glacier was just too much to ignore, so we hired ourselves a car to go and take a look for ourselves. 

The Perito Moreno Glacier in the Los Glaciares (Lots of Glaciers) National Park is about 5km wide at its snout and towers about 60m above the surface of the lake (Lago Argentina into which it spills).  It advances on average 2m a day, but because it is constantly breaking off into the lake, it never actually grows.  You can view the glacier from wooden walkways on the shoreline opposite, a short distance away (in some places the glacier actually advances onto this shoreline) so you can get really close to it. 

Perito Moreno Glacier

Jase and I hired a car for about the same as it would have cost to get a tour bus to the glacier.  We were hoping to be able to see it before the busloads of tourists started arriving at 10am.  It took us about 2 days of speaking to various people and going on the internet to work out where we could camp – we had read that you could actually camp at the warden´s hut at the glacier itself, but couldn´t get any clarification on this, so we finally decided to camp at the closest official campsite which was at Lago Roca, in the National Park, but still some 60km away.

So, it was pre-dawn as we crawled out of the tent and drove across to the glacier.  It was a lousy day, very cold, raining and snowing intermittently.  The heater on our hire car didn´t work, which had us quite flummoxed as even in the most banged up cars I´ve driven in, the one thing that always works is the heater.

Sunrise over the Steppe 

Our ploy worked however, and we had the glacier to ourselves for a couple of hours before big busloads of tourists started arriving.  It was very impressive, and mesmerising to watch. The glacier groans and creaks under the pressure as it moves forward, until eventually, one of the huge spires at the front of the glacier fall off and drop into the lake and float away as an iceberg.  We were lucky enough to witness a few huge pieces of the glacier calving off in this way.

Despite the cold, we remained watching it for hours and eventually only took off when we got too frustrated with the constant chatting of the other tourists who drowned out the sounds of the glacier.  So it was back into our little hire car, which even without a heater,  now seemed nice and toasty after braving the cold outside for so long.

More photos here…

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