01.01.2012 - 02.01.2012 21 °C
Happy New Year everyone. After a bit of a sleep in this morning we headed off from Puerto Natales for El Calafate which is a small town in Patagonia, Argentina. We waved good-bye to Carmen and Lulu who were the two lovely ladies that looked after us as the Hotel Milodon. So once again we crossed the border into Argentina. As it was New Year’s Day and only mid-morning the border crossing was very quick. El Calafate is situated on the southern border of Lake Argentino, in the southwest part of the Santa Cruz Province, about 320 km Northwest of Río Gallegos. Its name is derived from a little bush with yellow flowers and dark blue berries that is very common in Patagonia: the Calafate. It is very nice in jam and ice-cream.
El Calafate is an important tourist destination to visit different parts of the Los Glaciares National Park, this includes the Perito Moreno Glacier which is why we are here and it is one of the most visited in the world. Our journey took about 6 hours and was pretty uneventful; however we did see lots of Rhea’s and their chicks along the way.
When the truck came close they would go running. We stopped mid afternoon in the middle of nowhere to have some lunch. Believe it or not, it was the last of our camping left overs. The night before we had made a beef and vegetable soup that was heated up during breaky and then put in a big thermos. It was just what we needed. The wind was blowing a gale over lunch by I noticed that due to the wind the clouds looked alot different than they do at home. They looked wind blown.
We arrived in to El Calafate later in the afternoon, stopping off just outside of town to look at the great view of Lake Argentino.
Once settled in to our room Shane and I took a walk in to town to have a look around. It is a lovely little town. There was not much open as it was New Year’s Day, we did however get a calafate ice-cream. We went to dinner to yet another Argentinian “meat” restaurant, although this one did have a salad bar. The lamb and other meats were being barbequed at the back of the restaurant. The lamb is not cooked on a spit, but opened up and splayed on a special contraption. Once cooked the chef had a big meat cleaver and would chop up the meat and it was presented in large portions on plates for us to make our selections.
The variety included lamb, chicken, sausages and blood sausage. I took one bite of the blood sausage and spat it out. Shane on the other hand ate two of them as he liked it so much. I think it will now be on his list of requests for Greta to make. Another fun day has passed.
Nicola understands now why the town is called El Calafate, because after the BBQ style dinner Shane sure did El Cala-fart eh.
We headed off at 8am this morning for our trip to the Perito Moreno Glacier which is in the Los Glaciares National Park which covers an area of some 600,000 hectares. It was created in 1937 and was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981. This glacier is a 250 square kilometre ice formation and is 30 km in length. This glacier is one of the only three Patagonian glaciers that are growing. In fact in October last year the glacier advanced creating a natural dam which separates the two halves of the lake. With no escape route, the water level on the Brazo Rico side of the lake can rise by up to 30 metres above the level of the main lake. The enormous pressure produced by the height of the dammed water will finally break the ice barrier in a spectacular rupture. This spectacular glacier is 5 km wide, with an average height of 74 metres above the surface; however it has a total ice depth of 170 metres. The glacier has three faces, south, north and east due to its shape.
The glacier was about a two hour drive. To get there we followed a different route than most trips so we were lucky enough to see wildlife along the way. This included a southern crested cara cara and guanaco.
We stopped at a rest stop and found a lazy sheep just lying around so Shane made a friend.
Upon arrival we took an hour boat trip that visited the southern face of the glacier. The boat went within 300 metres of the glacier and it towered over us. It was beautiful and we sat and waited patiently for the glacier to calve (chunks fall off).
Once back on shore we took a walk to various lookout points where we could see the east and northerly face of this glacier. We had a packed lunch which allowed us to sit and take in all the wonders in front of us. When you look at it, it just goes on for miles. It is certainly the most spectacular glacier we have visited and we have seen quite a few over our travels.