I arrived from Puerto Natales in Chile to el Calafate in Argentina to discover the Perito Moreno Glacier. The bus ride took about 5 hours. I happened to sit next to some really smelly people on the bus, who just got out of the Torres del Peine National Park after hiking there for five days. I was trying to hold my breath in the beginning, but then I gave up. In Argentina, the seats are always assigned on the buses, so I did not have the option to sit somewhere else.Visiting the Perito Moreno Glacier has been my long term dream and it has been the motivation for me to visit Patagonia. I was very thrilled to see this incredible glacier. If you want to read more about hiking a glacier in New Zealand by Passport Collective.
El Calafate is the closest large city to Perito Moreno. The city was established to host tourists who come here to see the glacier. The town is full of chocolate shops and souvenir shops and travel agencies. Most places were established to serve the needs of tourists and they were also priced for them. Everything was really expensive compared to the rest of Argentina. I walked around on the main road of el Calafate, flavoured some of the local chocolate and tasted the Calafate ice-cream, which was an ice-cream made out of the local berry. It tasted like a blueberry ice-cream.
I quickly figured out that there were two ways to visit the glaciers. One was by taking the local bus to the site and walk along the terraces and take photos from the distance. This was designed for less adventurous tourists. I certainly don’t belong to this group and I was determined to trek the glacier. I found the only travel agency that offered ice-trekking in town. They were obnoxiously expensive, but I did not have any other options, but to pay if I wanted to accomplish this dream. They charged ARS1500 ($150) for a mini-trekking that involved 1,5 hour long trekking on the ice and they charged ARS 2500 ($250) for the big ice, which meant 4 hours of trekking on the glacier. These prices did not include lunch or entrance tickets to the National Park. All the tourists thought it was totally overpriced, but we we were all paid, because we were intrigued to try this new experience.
Trekking the Perito Moreno Glacier
They collected us early at the hotels and took us to see the glacier on the terraces. We could walk around and take pictures of the glacier from the distance from every direction.
We could hear large chunks of ice falling off the glacier. Every time we heard this really loud noise of falling ice, I thought it was a thunderstorm. The glacier was huge and absolutely beautiful.
I thought it was all worth it to come here all the way to Southern-Argentina to see this beautiful scenery. We ate our packed lunches while watching the ice shedding into the river. The sun was very bright. It was a beautiful day. Around midday, they drove us to the port, where we hopped on a boat to cross the river. The boat sailed along the beautiful blue glacier. The view was spectacular. After we got off on the other side of the river, we walked for about 20 minutes to reach the other side of the glacier.
Before entering the track, the guides fixed crampons on our shoes and then we set out on our mini hike on the glacier.
The hike lasted for about 1,5 hour. We followed the tracks up and down on the ice mountain. The scenery was incredible from up there. There were ice puddles, where we could get potable water from.
The water was crystal clear. In the end of our track, the guide served us whiskey with ice from the glacier. They also had some local cakes called alfajores wrapped up. These things are filled with caramel and covered with chocolate. Argentinians love the caramel called dulce de leche and they put it into everything and anything. I enjoyed drinking whiskey on the glacier on this very beautiful and sunny afternoon. Hiking on the glacier was an incredible experience.
Isabel in el Calafate serves a typical Argentine dish called Disco. The dish is usually a mix of meet, potatoes and vegetables in a flavourful stew. The portions are huge and a dish will easily serve two. They serve their own homemade bread. It was a great experience for me to try this great place. I absolutely loved the food and also the restaurant has a nice elegant vibe and attentive staff.
La Cantera Boutique Hotel overlooking the town and the river of El Calafate. Perfect location and beautiful view, stylish rooms and lavish breakfast with a wide variety of options.
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