Ice Ice Baby

We were able to sleep in slightly this morning, not needing to rile ourselves until 8 a.m., at which point we packed our day bags, ate some breakfast, and were once again off on an adventure. We made our way back into town on foot, intending to be at the bus station at 9 a.m. as directed by our chosen bus company. We were there with plenty of time to spare only to realize that we didn’t really NEED to be there at 9 a.m. because the bus didn’t start boarding until 9:25 a.m.

The bus took roughly an hour to reach the entrance to Glaciers National Park and then another 30 minutes to drive the windy forested roads to Perito Moreno Glacier. As we made our way into the park we were able to get our first glimpse of the massive glacier we’d be meeting up close. We knew it was going to be big but we didn’t realize that it would dwarf the nearby ships.

We arrived to the parking lot of the glacier and now had 5 hours to take it all in. We quickly perused the single map of the area and walking paths then were on our way. We followed the metal boardwalk along the lake until we had our first out-of-bus sighting and Perito Moreno was indeed HUGE.

Enjoy nature's sounds.
Enjoy nature’s sounds.
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The first sighting

We continued on our way further only to more taken aback by the loud cracking noise that this massive piece of ice was creating. The ice would shift and it would sound like a tree branch cracking and falling. A group of small (small = tire-sized) pieces would fall and create a flurry of lightning strikes followed by a large splash at they hit the water. And the already fallen iceburgs would every so often shift making the water surrounding it flush back within.

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More detail of the apex of the glacier.
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Panoramic of the north-facing side.

We spent the majority of the first half of our time attempting to get closer and closer to the ice, taking in the details of the blue nooks and crannies. We repeatedly said: “This is so cool!” “Oh, that piece is totally going to go.” (it never did) and “Holy crap, its cold” as the wind started to shift towards us. By 1 p.m. we were a bit hungry so we pulled up a railing and laid out our sliced salami and cheese to munch on while we waited for the glacier to calve once again.

Some people for perspective.
Some people for perspective.
There were a lot of chocolate swirls within the ice.
There were a lot of chocolate swirls within the ice.
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Some flowers enjoy the cold weather.
The area around the glacier was all forested and had some significant moss.
The area around the glacier was all forested and had some significant moss.

The second half we spent just admiring the ice and waiting in anticipation of more cracks. Every little sound we would turn our heads and cameras as quickly as possible to catch the action. Sometimes we missed it. Sometimes we caught it. And once we were treated with a string of really big calves where the entire height of the glacier broke away from the wall creating significant waves that traveled down the length of the entire glacier. It would then leave a circle of ice that would slowly move away from the glacier until the wind picked up and it was sucked back to where it had once come. So cool!

We're with the glacier!
We’re with the glacier!
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There it goes! (CRACK, BANG, SPLASH!)
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We saw one hawk be majestic.
Iceburgs being created by the minute.
Iceburgs seemed to be created every 10 minutes.

We spent a good while waiting for some more glacier action but after an hour of silence and us getting more and more cold we chose to retreat back to our bus for our departure. Thank you for the good time, Perito Moreno! When we hit the parking lot, we had the chance to see our hawk friend up and close once again while it wrestled with a worm.

Bye boats!
Bye boats! Don’t get crushed by falling ice!
This is MY worm!
This is MY worm!

The bus back to town nice, offering more picturesque views of Patagonia, and as we got closer to town we were able to see that the weather at the glacier was far different than that in El Calafate. When we got off the bus we were greeted with a pleasant 65 degrees which made us chose to walk back to the hostel to drop off some items before heading out to dinner.

We had agreed to eat out this evening, hoping to try the grilled lamb that is popular around these parts. So with the help of TripAdvisor and after some mistakes on location/price estimates, we settled on a parilla and set about ordering. 1 lamb for Lynn and 1 steak for Doug paired with a few sides and a bottle of wine. The lamb was delicious and more than plentiful while Doug thought the steak he had made the other night was better than this one. But now he knows that he should just like lamb more. We followed up the very filling meal with ice cream hoping that the rain that blew through during dinner would subside. It didn’t but it did slow down only to start down-pouring 30 minutes later after we arrived at our hostel. This was quite the blessing since Doug chose to enjoy the evening without a coat.

So much lamb. Thankfully  Doug ate some.
So much lamb. Thankfully Doug ate some.
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Doug’s steak with we don’t know what written next to it.
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Lamb like this is very, very common here.

Daily Walking Mileage: 10.4

Fun Facts:

  • Perito Moreno was named after the explorer Francisco Moreno a pioneer from the 19th century. He also helped defend the border conflict with Chile.
  • The glacier is 3 miles wide with an average height of 197 ft. We saw 5 full-height chunks break away at the far end of the glacier but most pieces, we figure, were roughly the size of a car. That is not insignificant, though it looked like it from our vantage point.
  • The glacier is one of only three Patagonian glaciers that is still growing and scientists are not in agreement as to why.

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