August 15th, 2004

emu

Perito Moreno

80km seperate El Calefate, my new base, from the glacier Perito Moreno. In a minibus, with nearly 20 people, from Spain, Italy, Cataluña, Argentina, USA and New Zealand we had a nice group to see the glacier. When entering the national park, soon we saw the first icerock floating in the side arm of the Lago Argentina we drove along. Soon a next one, all with about half a kilometer distance. After four or five of them I had the evil thought that the park directors make sure they are there to see from the road, to entertain the guests visiting the park. I could see the water coming towards the coast though, so I assume it was the wind.

First we went on a boat, that would bring us closer to the glacier. It is not allowed to come within 300m of the glacier, though from the top deck it seems much closer. From the water we saw a wall of ice at the end of the lake, towering 60-70m above the water, apparently as well 180m into the water, though we couldn`t see that off course. It was impressive. Everyone grabbed their camera to take pictures and even I couldn`t resist the temptation, even though I am a bad photographer with an even worse camera. The ice was some weird colour blue, impossible to describe, it even got darker blue deep in the cracks of the wall.



After the hour long boat trip, we drove to some view points, where you had a great view of the glacier. The cynic in me said it was not coincidental we did the boat trip first, as the views were much better from the tip of the peninsula directly opposite it, yet I did enjoy the boat, so why complain? The glacier was kilometers deep, with the wall of ice, its edge, still straight in front of us, apparently some 4-5 kilometers long. The weather had cleared up as well, so the views were much better than we had hoped for when we drove in the park a couple of hours earlier, with snow falling down.

We were all waiting for bits of ice to fall off, which is a great attraction when visiting this glacier, though one never knows if and when it happens. On the far left we could see some icedust, signaling that we had just missed a chunk falling off, but that was about it. Whichever steps we took to another great view, no movement. We did hear the glacier make noise though. Almost like fireworks from the distance, a clear signal that there was movement somewhere.

Then, back at the first point, we saw a big piece fall on the left. When I had my camera in my hands, a second, even bigger piece fell. Then on the right things started going as well. It was amazing. During a period of 20 minutes, at least ten times smaller of bigger pieces fell of the glacier into the water. When I write it down it seems so simple, yet had you been there, you would have been as enthusiastic as I, and everyone around me, was. It ended with a big huge 60 meter high break away that had the lake in waves, even though it was like a mirror only just before. It was incredible. We were told we were lucky, as this doesn`t happen very often, especially not in wintertime. We could see we were, as the boattrip that just started after all this nature violence, couldn`t come half as close as we had been in the morning.

We ended with a nice walk/trek through the area, with more great views of the glacier. Back in the bus home, everybody was grinning wide. We had seen one of the greatest natural beauties in the world and we all knew how lucky we are.

(I did take some pictures, but won`t have them developed until I`m back home, but just in case you would like to see some, I did a google search for you:

http://images.google.com.ar/images?q=perito+moreno&ie=UTF-8&hl=es )