El Calafate and Perito Moreno
01.27.2013 - 01.29.2013 65 °F
El Calafate. Flying into El Calafate felt like arriving in a small Colorado airport. Once outside the views and the fresh air replenishes you. On the way to the small town of El Calafate (population 18,000) it looked like a photographer enhanced the colors of the lakes and mountains to look more appealing. Patagonia is an enormous region that attracts hikers and outdoor enthusiasts of all ages from all over the world.
The town of El Calafate consisted of small chocolatiers, craft beer bars, trendy restaurants, and of course an array of outdoor clothing stores like Columbia and Patagonia. Ryan and I enjoyed trying the local beer and gelato.
The next morning (thanks to the recommendations of some friends) we went on a huge outdoor adventure with the company Helio y Adventura. We took a bus to El Parque Nacional Los Glaciares and witnessed the enormous glacier Perito Moreno in action. The glacier is slowly melting into the lake and every time an enormous chunk of ice fell the crowd of people would ooh and ahh. It sounded like thunder when the ice would crash into the lake.
After stopping to sightsee, our tour guide took us on a hike to the glacier. After hiking for about an hour on the moraine we arrived glacier-side and were fitted for crampons and harnesses to walk around on the glacier. Our guides took us to an area that was melting at a much slower rate than that near the lake (and not going to break off), and we always felt safe trekking on the enormous glacier. When you have crampons on you have to essentially stomp around with your feet wide apart. A few times when we went up a hill on the glacier at an angle it hurt my ankles, but the alternative of not wearing crampons would have made it impossible to trek around on the glacier. During lunch we filled up our water bottle with water from a glacial sinkhole (a spot in the glacier where melted water pools and eventually forms a “hole” descending all the way to the bottom of the ice). We couldn’t remember better tasting water in our lives! The ice formations, caves, sinkholes, etc. on Perito Moreno were incredible! (NOTE: We’ve included a few choice favorites in this blog – but feel free to click on the “photography” link on the right of this page to see more pics from Perito Moreno – and from the rest of our travels.)
Over the course of our day, Ryan and I made a bunch of new friends. I love the camaraderie that travelers have. People kept offering us advice, telling us the best hotel/hostels to stay in and all sorts of travelling secrets. We went to dinner with a few of our new friends at La Tablita, a popular parilla in town after our excursion. Our party included: Hairul (Marine from Singapore), Thomas (Engineer from Munich working in China) and Gavin (Stockbroker from Lincoln Park in Chicago). It was a lively dinner swapping travelling stories over delicious Argentinian beef. Next stop: Chile!