Trip Start May 10, 2009
48Trip End Nov 02, 2009
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These glaciers are part of the 13,000 sq km Patagonia ice field, the 3rd largest after Greenland and Antarctica. They have been around since the last ice age, which was a long time ago. Even before I was born! Thats long.
First stop is the poster child of the area - Perito Moreno. As the main attraction of the park it is 30kms long, 5km wide and 60m high, not counting the 130-180m of it that is below the water and unseen! To describe these beasts of nature is really hard. Maybe the photos do it justice...
We walked along the 2km of viewing platforms trying to get our little pips accustomed to the size of the ice-wall we were looking at and the endless field of ice behind it, when everything changed. The earth starts to tremble and shake (no, not because of some fat american eating a burger) and a thundering roar emanates from the glacier! Its alive! Huge chunks of ice break off, and by huge chunks we're talking 20m across, and smash into the water creating huge waves and enormous splashes!
The glacier actually moves! Its hard to believe, but due to the unique weather patterns in the area, the ice field receives snow everyday of the year without fail. This snow packs down and becomes ice which due to the weight, pushes down and forms these massive glaciers that extend through valleys until they eventually meet water or another mountain. The Perito Moreno glacier moves up to 2 meters a day, every day!
Its really alive and moving just the way it has for the last 10,000 years or so. Mind blowing. In fact, all the glaciers in the park are in balance - some are growing and some are receding just as they should So, its not global warming, its nature. Sorry Al Gore.
We couldn't get to the Upsala Glacier (largest one in the park) as the water was too blocked up with icebergs (imagine the train companies in the UK using THAT as an excuse!) but we saw Spegazzini which has cliffs 120m high! Luckily the weather cleared and we got some great views! All we needed to complete the picture was Scrat from Ice Age running along the top after his acorn!
There was also a great deal of people-watching on the boat (which unsurpisingly went hand in hand with a briliant round of people-mocking) with Kelly, our new Aussie mate, who we'll be travelling with for a few weeks. Definitely stories for when we are back...
One of the constant highlights of this trip has been and will be the people we meet. Theres something very special about meeting strangers on a bus or in a hostel, hardly knowing their names, sharing a couple of bottles of great wine and swapping stories and having a laugh then parting as great friends a few hours later. Names, ages, nationalities and religions are not important. People are people and they are great. Everyone has a story worth listening to. One of the greatest blessings of this trip will be having the opportunity and time to listen.
So we're all iced-over and glaciered-out now and its time for the mercifully short 4 hour bus to our next stop, Puerto Natales in Chile, where we get on board our 4-day Navimag cruise through the Chilean fjords...
Where I stayed