Up like penguin, down like cowboy

They say a picture paints a thousand words but in this case no number of pictures or words will suffice.

The Perito Moreno glacier, 80 km from El Calafate, is one of the most spectacular things we’ve seen, and to trek on it was just the cherry on top of an already unforgettable experience.  It was by far worth blowing our budget for. We came home with 15 pesos praying that one of the ATMs in town still had some cash left or that we could find someone to exchange our remaining US dollars at the higher unofficial rate.

Driving around a corner to see the glacier for our first time was beyond magnificent. The sheer size of it (30 km long, 5km wide & over 60m high) is mind boggling. Even after hearing the science behind how it was formed, and how it remains a stable size, I still couldn’t quite get my head around that much ice.

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Following a short ferry ride we walked up to a wooden shack to get fitted with crampons (spiked metal additions for our shoes). A quick lesson on how to walk on the ice (up like a penguin, down like a cowboy) and we were off.

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For an hour and a half we trekked up and down across the glacier.  Occasionally, we came across pot holes and crevasses where you could see water running below. The water is amazingly clear and the trapped solar light, compacted over years gives the ice a stunningly intense blue colour.

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As you may have seen already, our guide treated us to a glass of whisky at the end of our minitrekking. Using some of the surrounding ice he joked this is the only place where the ice is older than the whisky (300 years+ in case you’re wondering).

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After devouring our brown bag lunch we spent another hour or so watching the glacier from afar. Now, it just occurred to me that watching a piece of ice for over an hour may sound really boring so let me explain. The front of the glacier creeps forward 2 metres a day and large chunks of ice crack off and fall into the water. The sound is incredible.  A piercing crack noise fills the air followed by a thunderous splash as the ice falls. Funnily, some of the small pieces make just as much noise as the larger ones.

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That afternoon we headed back to town shattered. There’s not much to do in the windy little town of El Calafate which is a pity because the sun doesn’t set til past 10 pm. So after grabbing some cash we had dinner at a lovely restaurant that just happens to brew its own beer (I swear we must have a sixth sense for these things). We were given complimentary beer samples, peanuts and bread with pickled veg & chicken- that was us sold. We also had our best empanadas yet and a salad which in typical Argentine fashion included meat and cheese. What I wouldn’t give for a piece of multigrain bread, Mundella yoghurt, brocolli, kale and snowpeas right about now…

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