Los Glaciares National Park

El Calafate Travel Blog

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A river of ice

As disappointing of a town as El Calafate is, the sight of massively sprawling Perito Moreno glacier nestled between snow capped peaks certainly makes up for it. There is, in fact, nothing to do in El Calafate, except shop in touristy overpriced stores or eat in touristy overpriced restaurants and maybe visit the absurdly garrish casino on the main street. It has a decent location on a nice lake but without the glacier some 80km away it probably wouldn´t exist. Apparently they are trying to be environmentally conscious so they have outlawed plastic bags at the grocery stores so you have to bring your own stuff to carry things in or else they give you a cardboad box. And at least there are public buses that go out to the glacier so that you aren´t forced to take a tour to get there.

The right front of the glacier
While the glacier itself is very nice, at the moment they are rebuilding the majority of the access trails, which are all elevated walkways, to the different viewpoints of the glacier so there really isn´t that much to actually do there, unless you take a one hour boat tour. The boat tours, while maybe giving you a different perspective, don´t really get any closer to the glacier than the walkways do, I suppose because many people have been killed by the falling ice, which does happen rather frequently. At the glacier there are constant cracking, splitting, and rupturing sounds and pieces of ice of varying sizes periodically chip off from the glacier into the water below.

Taking the bus gives you about four hours or so at the glacier and after walking the few paths I decided to walk down the road towards the lake to get a different view.

The left side of the glacier
After walking down the hill I managed to stumble across what must have been a trail that they had planned to construct but then reconsidered as there were concrete footings that had been poured but no walkway ever constructed and the trail of these led straight towards the right side of the glacier. Not seeing any signs saying that the area was prohibited, but suspecting as much since no one else was there, I continued until reaching a large smooth rock arcing out from the lake and an excellent view of the glacier from water level. I had to stop following the path as I needed to get back for the bus, but I suspect that it leads all the way to the very front middle section of the glacier, an area definitely off limits and rather dangerous to the falling ice.

After arriving back into town I obviously had nothing to do and after browsing around the shops and looking at postcards and not being able to tell if the pictures were from Torres del Paine or El Chalten, I decided to skip El Chalten in part because it looked very similar and also because of the difficult bus times, with buses only leaving at 7:30 or 8am from El Calafate and return buses only coming back at 6pm from El Chalten and arriving at 10:30pm, that and the additional 8-9 hours of bus travel on top of the 40 hours it would take to get to Buenos Aires from El Calafate were enough for me.

The vast right arm of the glacier
So off to Buenos Aires it was.

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A river of ice
A river of ice
The right front of the glacier
The right front of the glacier
The left side of the glacier
The left side of the glacier
The vast right arm of the glacier
The vast right arm of the glacier
The glacier through the trees
The glacier through the trees
Close up view of the ice striations
Close up view of the ice striations
Another shot from the right
Another shot from the right
A mini-glacier and a tour boat ret…
A mini-glacier and a tour boat re…
El Calafate
photo by: Vlindeke