After the Navimag ferry dropped us off in Puerto Natales, Chile, we headed back across the border to El Calafate, Argentina. At this point we were crossing the Chile/Argentine border for the third time. None of them were as eventful as crossing into Peru or Bolivia, however, this time was a bit comical. When the Argentine border agent took ahold of my passport, he thoroughly checked it out. This guy was suspicious of something. He looked at me and back to my passport several times. Finally he questioned, “Setenta y seis?” referring to my birth year. “Si.”, I told him. This question and answer session repeated while he continually shook his head. Finally, he stamped me in and I was free to go. According to Dusty, when I left the room he exclaimed, “Setenta y seis!” This happens at home all the time but for some reason it’s funnier when an Argentine border officials says it.
El Calafate is a cute little town with cute shops. We were the luckiest people to find a hostel within our budget, which was proving to be close to impossible in Chile and Argentina. Right away we signed up for what seemed like the most crazy thing to do in El Calafate, trekking on Glacier Perito Moreno. Perhaps this is not crazy. Perhaps we’re just glacier newbs.
What was great about the tour we signed up for is that it allowed some time to see the glacier from the viewing decks. We took a billion pictures and ate our picnic lunch while watching pieces of the glacier fall into the lake. You have to keep your eyes peeled to see the pieces fall off, splash into the lake and make a thunderous commotion. Like our guide said, “If you can hear it, it’s too late. It’s already happened.” Unfortunately, our trigger fingers aren’t fast enough and we never caught it on video.
During our picnic, it got a bit cold out so we headed to the park’s cafe to get some coffee. Low and behold they had something better….Johnny Walker on glacier ice! Too bad, they had run out of the good stuff, the glacier ice.
Finally, we headed off via bus and boat to where we would begin our trek. At the base of the glacier, our guide told us a bit about the glacier and glaciers in general. It’s so interesting to see the things from your geography books in person. Interesting facts about this glacier are:
- it is part of the third largest ice field in the world behind Antarctica and Greenland
- it’s considered stable, as it is not receding like most glaciers in the world
- it advances 600 meters per year
After the glacier lesson, we prepared for our trek by being fitted for crampons, the spikes that go on the bottom of our shoe making glacier walking easier. There wasn’t much to glacier walking, you just walk, making sure you don’t clip one crampon with the other resulting in a face plant.
You’d think it would be frigid on the glacier but it wasn’t thanks to the sun shining brightly and the little bit of exercise. Neither one of us recall being particularly cold. Also, being on a glacier is like being on another world. You’re surrounded by holes, crevices and giant mountains of blue ice. The scenery is best described via photographs.
Near the end of our trek, our guide mentioned a surprise he had in store for us. What could it be on a glacier? How ’bout a little Jim Beam on glacier ice!? We watched as he hacked some chunks of the glacier for us and filled up our glasses. Luckily, there was glacier water nearby to act as a chaser.
Click here to see more photos.
Bus From Puerto Natales, Chile to El Calafate, Argentina
Cost: $11,000 CLP or $23.16 in USD
Duration: 5 hours
Hielo y Aventura
Mini Trekking Excursion
Cost: $500 ARS or $123 USD per person
Includes: transportation and all equipment needed
Review: Loved it