Perito Moreno – Day 1

Sunday 6th December 2015

I woke up and walked around El Calafate with my bin bag full of dirty clothes to try to find a lavanderia which would be opened. It was Sunday and none of them were. So I continued my walk and got to the agency Hielo Sur.
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There I asked if they had spot lefts for the Big Walk on ice the next day where you can walk for 4 hours on the glacier. Unfortunately, they were fully booked. They take 40 people that they divide in 4 groups of 10. They had spot lefts for the Tuesday but I had already bought
my bus ticket and was keen to get going. That`s what happens when you only have 16 days left in your trip to get to Ushuaia!!! Arrrghhh!! So I signed up for the 1-hour mini trek instead. At least they still had spot for that for the next day.

Then I walked back to the hostel to drop back my bag of clothes that I hoped to give for laundry the next day. I went to the supermarket and bought some food to cook for lunch and evening and the next evening. I came back and chilled in the lounge area on WiFi with Meline, the geologist French girl of my dorm. She was explaining me a bit about her work as a geologist and showing me photos of the places they had been to around El Chalten to collect samples and telling me more about the geological structure of the rocks there. It was really interesting to look at this hiking place from a different perspective. We made a salad and had blue cheese and bread and fruits for desert.

At 12.30pm, I walked towards the bus station. I realised I needed more pesos as the bus and entrance to the National Park needed to be paid in cash so I stopped over at the ATM and then walked to the bus station where I bought a ticket for the 1pm bus going to Perito Moreno. Here was the bus I was about to board.
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It was half-full which was really great for me. I sat at the back and kept going from the left side to the right side to take photos. The landscape was really pretty all the way to Perito Moreno, located 78 kilometers from El Calafate. Here are some photos of that bus ride with some landscape ones but also the sign inside the bus with an illustration that I found funny ahahahah. When approaching the glacier, we could see the beautiful Lago Argentino in which the water of the Perito Moreno goes.

The most exciting was to approach the glacier and see it from far. Soooo impressive! If you ever do that bus ride from El Calafate to Perito Moreno, definitely try to sit on the left as it is the best side to see the lake and the glacier towards the end. A couple of people were actually changing seats when we got closer.
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Getting closer, so impressive and exciting.
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And closer.

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We arrived at the entrance. Before to get off the bus, I was watching how the people outside were dressed and they were really wrapped in layers and seemed to be freezing. I dressed up and put the rain pant over the merino legging I had just being wearing since that morning. I was glad I did that, it was really windy outside!
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Going down the stairs.
DSCF2833 (Medium).JPGAt the entrance of the park, there was a map showing the different paths.
DSCF2835 (Medium).JPGI went on the green one to the left.
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Beautiful nature around.
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Taking left again.
DSCF2841 (Medium).JPGIt was a system of bridges taking everyone to various spots to see the Perito Moreno from higher up or from closer. Here is a picture from higher up. Perito Moreno is 30 kilometers long, and 250 kilometers square. It is one of a few glaciers which keeps advancing rather than receding. It advances about 2 meters a day. And also, this is the world’s third largest reserve of fresh water! Impressive!
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Getting closer.
DSCF2844 (Medium).JPGLooking to the left.
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So many shapes.
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A few more shots.

This picture explains how the glacier advances, hits a wall and then ice falls. It is amazing to think that it is about 74 meters high and about 150 meters deep under water!
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While walking around, sometimes it was very very windy and I was glad to have 3 layers including my rain-windproof Gore-Tex jacket and sometimes it was not windy at all and was making you sweat and be warm, then I was taking out my Cusco hat and and La Paz buff out and opening the jacket. I kept putting on and off clothes all afternoon! I ran into Carolina from my dorm and we chatted and watched the glacier for a while. There was this massive piece of ice sticking out while we watched and we had the feeling it would fall but it was still not falling!
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Carolina had taken the 9.30am bus which was combined with a return bus at 4.30pm. She left and I walked on the blue path down the coast towards the beach.
DSCF2929 (Medium).JPGWhile walking down, I heard a huge noise and had just enough time to turn and see a huge splash in the water. The big ice had indeed fallen already! I missed it!
Getting closer to the beach, I could see lots of ice floating around.
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Took this path.
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Here is the logo of the national park.
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I got to this unusual beach where massive ice cubes were floating in the water or landing on the beach shore. So funny.
DSCF2964 (Medium).JPGThere were kids playing with ice blocks on the beach. How unique!!!
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The ice blocks were really big sometimes.
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I took a couple of long exposure shots with the wide angle although it was not always easy as the wind was sometimes really strong! Here is one of the shot.
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The Perito Moreno in the distance.
DSCF2982 (Medium).JPGStarting to walk back. Zoom on a big ice cube.
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I walked back on the blue walk to a mirador where I stopped for some snacks and contemplated the Perito Moreno for a while from there but nothing fell. I could see the big piece of ice had indeed fallen. I walked back to the spot where we had stopped with Carolina earlier and took another shot of the Perito Moreno to the right. Indeed, we could not see the big piece of ice anymore.
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I stayed there for the next hour or so left. It was great to imagine shapes in the ice and admire all its details while waiting for some ice to fall. My favourite Perito-self-made ice sculpture was the faces of two lovers.
DSCF3042 (Medium).JPGI sticked around hynotised by the stunning view of this glacier and all its thousands faces until it was time to go to the 7.30pm bus. The driver had asked us to be there at 7.15pm. I got there at 7.20pm, entered the bus and happened to be the last passenger. Everyone was already there and the bus left at 7.20pm as soon as I got in. The ride back had the same great landscapes and I sat at the back again, switching from a side to the other, although actually I spent most of that ride back sleeping like most of the people on the bus!

We arrived at the terminal and I walked back to the hostel where I saw Carolina and Julie. We cooked spaghettis with Carolina and invited Julie over. The three of us had dinner in the beautiful wooden area upstairs at the hostel.
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Carolina was working as a pharmacist in Buenos Aires and passing a few more exams at the moment to complete her degree. Julie had studied architecture but wasn`t sure what she wanted to specialise in exactly but loved the constructions using mud or “terra cota”. Her boyfriend back in Savoie region in France was from Argentina from Buenos Aires and she had just spent 4 months there with his family, enjoying the Argentinian life, studying and picking up strongly the Argentinian accent (Acha vamos a la placha instead of aqua vamos a la playa). It was a cool dinner chatting. Julie had tried to withdraw money in the afternoon but all ATMS were not working that afternoon. She had found a guy on couchsurfing who could host there that evening so she checked out and went there. With Carolina, we went to sleep. We had moved to other dorms as the one with ensuite bathroom we had been put in the first night was expensive and she was in another dorm. In my dorm were a girl from Denmark, a girl from Chile and a guy from Israel who arrived around midnight and was staying in that hostel because all his friends were there too.

I put my earplugs on and mask and went to bed quite late again, probably 1am. When I woke up in the night, there was a guy still playing guitar in the lounge we could hear from the room. He was playing a beautiful song I didn`t know, incredibly well. I almost felt like getting out of bed to go ask him the song`s name but was too tired for that. I slept again and decided to change hostel in the morning as this one was really too noisy, too crowded and the kitchen so small and so unequipped that everyone was bumping into each other constantly or having to wait to be able to use one of the three only pots available to cook!

Tomorrow, one more day at Perito Moreno! Let´s go walk on the glacier!