We are staying at the Alto Calafate in El Calafate, Patagonia in Southern Argentina. A beautiful wilderness that has only seriously been on the tourist track for about the last 10 years, the Parque Nacional Los Glaciares is the focus of tourism. Arriving 3 days ago we spent the first night in this comfortable, friendly hotel before embarking on an overnight cruise of the Lago Argentino. (Lake Argentina). The boat is small, taking only 14 passengers, and is the only boat that cruises overnight. A huge expanse of water, there is plenty to see – the very first being a large bright blue iceberg that was calmly floating near the wharf. There are over 200 glaciers in the park, the most famous being Perito Moreno because of the spectacular calving that has taken place in the last 20 years – and of its accessibility by road.
Our first day we visited the Spegazzini Glacier, a spectacular glacier that has a number of ‘tributaries’ – if that is what you call them – then berthed in a quiet bay so that we could walk up into the mountains and see the glacier from another vantage point. On the way the curious Andean condor circled overhead, obviously investigating the two legged creatures that were walking where usually only wild cows and horses trod, and the noisy Magellan woodpecker and his family entertained flitting from tree to tree and hammering away. The quiet was sublime and the scenery ruggedly beautiful.
In the evening we enjoyed an excellent meal with local wines on board and we were woken next morning by the clank of the anchors as we set off to the Perito Moreno glacier. The boat bounced across the icy waters in the breeze and through the Devil’s Mouth towards the glacier. The weather was cold enough for woolly hats and parkas and with the wind made it even colder. The captain motored close to the glacier and we all waited in anticipation for a calving. There were small falls, but no big crashes like the one in 2004 – see the Youtube video below. Nonetheless we enjoyed the view of the glacier as well as an excellent lunch accompanied once again by the local wines as we waited.
Our boat returned to dock in the middle of the afternoon and we were very satisfied with our experience… today we are planning to discover more about the glaciers from the land.