El Calafate

I awoke New Year’s Day with no trace of a hangover and an eagerness to sort out travel arrangements for seeing the glacier, as I’d only planned on staying 2 nights in this town, with 1 day to see Perito Moreno, I was told that was enough. The only way to see the glacier was to go on a guided tour, as there was no space left on the normal bus. A minibus came to pick me up and a few stops later, we had a band of Brazilians, Argentinians and Italians on board. On the way we made a couple stops for photographs and saw a beautiful eagle right next to the road, guarding a dead deer.

I took a boat tour near the glacier and it was an awesome experience, even though the boat was a little crowded, thankfully the glacier is big enough for that not to be much of an issue. While we were patrolling alongside the glacier we saw a few huge blocks of ice tumble into the lake below, making a satisfying sound as they did so. Even at just 200m away, it was still very difficult to judge exactly how big the pieces of ice were that were falling in, as you have no reference to work with.

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After the boat trip we had about 2 hours to walk around the viewing platforms near the glacier and got a much better aerial view of it. It was an amazing experience and I could have stayed there the whole day, I found it mesmerising as it was always changing, rupturing at different points and making almighty sounds. It was as if there were controlled demolitions being set off every 10 minutes or so, with whole chunks of the face of the glacier sliding down and creating wakes. Trying to comprehend the scale of the glacier was really tricky, even though the platforms were relatively close. I thought I’d got it, but then I’d look at the tour boat and it seemed like a miniature toy in comparison and your perception would change completely. I really didn’t want to leave when the time was up and even as I made my way towards the minibus I heard yet another explosion and had to run back to catch a glimpse of the ice sliding off into the water one last time.

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I had hoped I’d be able to wash my clothes in El Calafate, but as it was New Year’s Day, nowhere was open, which meant just wearing stinking clothes for the next few days. I thought it would be good to get myself accustomed to it, as we were soon heading on to Torres del Paine, and there we wouldn’t be showering for 5 days.

My Dutch friend and I left around 10 the next morning with 2 Israelis that were tagging along on the journey to Punta Arenas, where we were planning on picking up his friend from the airport. Before leaving I got chatting to an American girl who said she’d been living in Lima for 6 years and that once I got there I could crash at her place, which was awfully nice of her. We stopped for lunch at what seemed to be an empty hostel, but kept hearing strange noises coming from the back of the place. I assumed it was just the wind, but after hearing a very distinct whine, I went to investigate and it turned out to be a dog, whimpering inside a shed. The whole place had a very eerie feel, probably just due to the wind, but I decided to give the dog some banana and tuna and we carried on our way.

We got through the border check without too many issues, although my Dutch friend did have a kilo of honey confiscated as it could have contaminated their food supply or something, I’m sure they had some great breakfast for the following week though.

 

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