We arrived in El Calafate after a 5 hour but fairly uneventful journey that included the very straightforward Chile>Argentina border crossing. Apparently the other way is more complex and includes baggage scans and checks on boots etc because there is an issue with didymo.
This is the view across the lake from our hotel, the Esplendor Calafate:
Hotel seems to have a theme of antlers and crochet for no apparent reason…
…but despite that manages to be really rather nice:
‘The Thing’ to do here in El Calafate is to visit the Perito Moreno glacier, which although 30km by 5km is actually a tiny arm of the South Patagonia ice field.
We managed to combine the boat trip to view the glacier face with a guided hike on the glacier (with crampons!) and a visit to the ‘balconies’ – walkways opposite the glacier face.
On the boat – it’s a bit chilly!
Approaching the glacier face:
It’s almost impossible to get an idea of the scale of it, but the ice wall is about 60 metres high – if you look carefully at the next picture you can see some of the trekking groups making their way up:
Short stop at the top for a whisky and pure glacial water!
Scenic route through the forest from the terminal moraine back to the huts for lunch and the return boat ride:
Then we were driven to ‘The Balconies’ where you can watch bits ‘dropping off’ the ablation or rupture zone as the glacier tries to mow down the ‘Peninsula de Magellanes’ which is somewhat inconveniently for the glacier but conveniently for the tourism industry right in the path of the ice flow, thus giving the full panoramic view of the glacier face:
From here you can hear the cracking and popping of the ice under huge pressures as it makes it’s way down the valley – we saw some ice falls, although no major calving.
The following day was cloudy, the perfect opportunity to do some chores like visit the laundrette and, obviously, shop for fishing gear:
Oh, and try the local artesanal beer (again) in this rather charming book-themed cafe-bar:
Tomorrow, off to El Chalten for more hiking, but for now, the view from our hotel room: