The Glaciers of Lago Argentino

January 15, 2010 - 8:36 pm 3 Comments

The flight across Patagonia was mostly flat and boring. Cloud-covered mountains near Ushuaia were replaced by brown, pockmarked desert plains as we got closer to El Calafate (el kal-ah-FAW-tay). We landed with barren desert on the left and the brilliant blue Lago Argentino on the right.

Ri?o Santa Cruz

Douglas x 2

After dropping our stuff off at Sierra Nevada, our hotel, we went for a walk around town. El Calafate’s smaller than Ushuaia, and more of the people here seem to be tourists. Like everywhere else we’ve been on this trip, the tourists here seem to be mostly old people, with very few English speakers.

Sunset on Av. Libertador

We went to a place called Rick’s for dinner and decided to mix things up a bit by having an all-you-can-eat meat buffet. The quality was a little disappointing compared to what we’ve been eating, but sitting at the table next to us was a young and very cute Argentinean girl. With two of her boyfriends. After dinner, we grabbed a drink at a local bar called Borges y Alvarez and ran into them again there.

Cute Girl in Argentina

We’re a bit north of Ushuaia, and the brilliant Patagonia sunset comes a bit earlier up here. We went to bed relatively early last night to rest up for our tour of Los Glaciares National Park early this morning.

At 7:30am, we picked up the box lunches prepared by our hotel. A huge coach picked us up and took us through brown scrubland and snow-capped mountains in the distance. It’s in those mountains, the Andes, where all the glaciers live, and we had scheduled an all-day catamaran tour up and down rivers and lakes to see them.

The Andes

We got our VIP tickets and made our way onto the boat. Turns out that the VIP tickets entitled us to seats in the front section of the boat, free alcohol, and conversation with two teenage, Spanish-speaking hosts.

Most of the trip, though, we preferred to stand outside on the deck, with the cool wind in our hair and natural beauty all around us. The water of Lago Argentino and its tributaries is greenish-gray, colored by the minerals and dust from rocks grounded up by advancing glaciers. The little icebergs that floated by looked like they were made out of blue Styrofoam.

Mountains & Icebergs

Melting Icebergs

The icebergs and surrounding mountains got larger and larger, and eventually we found ourselves at Upsala Glacier. It’s surrounded by icebergs so large that getting close to the actual glacier was impossible. Some say the rapid break-up of the glacier is caused by global warming, but other glaciers in the area are not retreating at all, so who knows.

Upsala Glacier

Iceberg House

Iceberg Close-up

Iceberg House

From there, on to the more impressive Spegazzini Glacier. We were able to get quite close to this one, circling a couple of times so that people on every side of the boat could get their photos. It’s amazing how thick these things are, even more amazing when you consider how much of them are underwater.

Boats & Icebergs

Jeff Holding Glacier Ice

Boat at Spegazzini Glacier

Glacier Close-up

Glacier Close-up

Glacier Close-up

Doug in Patagonia

Blues of Patagonia

Finally, we visited the crown jewel of Los Glaciares National Park, Perito Moreno Glacier. The glacier is enormous and slightly bluish, with a deeper blue glow in the cracks that makes it look like it is illuminated from the inside, even in broad daylight.

Perito Moreno Glacier

Glacier Close-up

Glacier Close-up

It even put on a little show for us, shedding off a few chunks of ice right in front of our boat.

A Chunk Falls Off Perito Moreno Glacier

Tomorrow, we have a little glacier hike over and around Perito Moreno, so we hope to see more of that. Preferably not under our feet.

Leaving Perito Moreno Glacier

On the way back, our young hosts became chatty with us. The girl guessed Gog was 40-something, refusing to finish her estimate when Gog’s eyes started bugging out. She guessed I was 25. Nice. We conversed in broken Spanish for a bit, and she invited us out dancing tonight in El Calafate with her friends. She gave us the name of a club, and when we asked what time to meet, she said 1 or 2am. WTF? Gog asked her when Argentineans sleep, and she said that they don’t.

We’re back in the room now, collecting ourselves for what might be a late night on the town.

    3 Responses to “The Glaciers of Lago Argentino”

  1. Adam Says:

    Gorgeous pictures! Heading to El Calafate next month – do you happen to remember the name of the company you used for the boat tour?


  2. Jeff Says:

    Don’t remember the company name. Would have to dig through my paperwork…

  3. Dark knight Says:

    LOVE the yellow with the hot pink. Unusual but cool combo.

Leave a Reply