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Perito Moreno Glacier and El Calafate

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Hey everyone! Lauren here to tell you about our trip to El Calafate to see the Perito Moreno Glacier!

Bus from El Chaltén to El Calafate

Our bus from El Chaltén to El Calafate didn’t leave until 1:00pm so we had plenty of time to relax before moving to our next destination. We checked out of our hotel around 10am after making some breakfast, and headed next door to the coffee shop to use the wifi and grab some coffees.

Around 12:30 pm, we headed to the bus station to catch our bus. The 3 hour bus ride went very quick, with good scenery helping to pass the time. Very soon, we were pulling into the bus station at El Calafate!

Booking a Trip to the Perito Moreno Glacier

After we got to town, we checked in to our accommodation, Hostel Guerrero. After we got settled a bit, we headed back to the bus station to get bus tickets for the glacier the following day.

There were several tour operators, and we ended up going with a company called Patagonia Dreams since it seemed like they had the only morning availability. The tickets cost 800 Argentine Pesos per person, and we were told the bus would pick us up from our hostel between 8:45 and 9:15 the following morning.

We saw a sign that said they also did airport trips, so we decided to book transportation to the airport since we were flying to Mendoza the day after we visited the glacier. The tickets to the airport cost 500 Argentine Pesos total, and they also picked us up from our hostel!

Visiting the Perito Moreno Glacier

The next morning, we woke up around 7:15am to get ready for our trip to the glacier. While we were getting ready, Gerrod mentioned that he got a confirmation email that the new Super Smash Bros. that just came out was delivered to his parents house (our official shipping address right now!) and he wished he could play it. Typical Gerrod.

Bus Ride to the Glacier

Patagonia Dreams arrived promptly at 8:45 am, and we were the first people on the bus. After we got in our seats, the bus drove around to other hotels and hostels to pick up other passengers.

After picking up several other people, they stopped at the side of the road and transferred us to a bigger bus with even more people on it. After everyone was in there seats, we were on our way!

Much of our bus ride we had a beautiful view of Lago Argentina. To our surprise, there was a guide on the bus giving commentary in both Spanish AND English. He gave us cool information about the Los Glaciares National Park and the Perito Moreno Glacier, as well as information on things we were passing including the flora, fauna, glaciers, and Lago Argentina.

After riding for a bit, we stopped at the park office to buy our entrance ticket to the glacier. There was a park employee that came on the bus to get our tickets, and he asked each of us what country we were from and took the 700 Argentine Peso park entrance fee from us. He soon came back with our tickets, and they had our nationality printed on the ticket. The entrance had to be paid in cash, and apparently if you enter the park a second time you only pay 50% if you present your first ticket.

Arriving at the Park

After getting our ticket, we continued our drive. It wasn’t too much further to the glacier, and everyone was in awe on our first view of it in the distance! Even from far away it was so blue and seemed to go on forever.

We officially arrived at the glacier around 11 to 11:30am. Many people had pre-arranged to take a boat up next to the glacier, but Gerrod and I chose not to do this. Our guide gave everyone who was not taking the boat a suggested walking route around the glacier, and after Gerrod and I grabbed a coffee from a small cafe in the park building, we began walking the suggested route.

Walking Around the Glacier

The Perito Moreno Glacier is truly incredible. It is 70 meters tall in the center portion, and 50 meters around the edges. It fills the entire valley between two mountains, and extends all the way up as far as you can see. There are several different boardwalk trails, and Gerrod and I took our time, stopping to take lots of photos and appreciate the blue color of the glacier.

Perito Moreno Glacier

Perito Moreno Glacier with a view of Lago Argentina

Chunks of ice were constantly falling off into the lake and were so loud! The sound of the ice echoed across the entire valley, and even seemingly “smaller chunks” made an incredibly loud noise. Everytime we would start to continue our walk, we would hear the glacier and quick stop to see how large of a piece it was!

After walking a majority of the trails, we sat on some of the benches near the northern portion of the glacier and ate a lunch that we packed. While we were eating, something strange happened! We ran into a couple we knew from Paraguay! To give some background, on our last night with Liz in Paraguay we had dinner with some other Peace Corps volunteers, and there was a couple that had just completed their service that was planning on traveling South America a bit before returning home. They had mentioned some of the places they were planning to go to, and some of them were places we were going. We thought we would likely not see each other since neither of us had solid dates planned yet, but here they were. After saying hi and chatting for a bit, we returned to the park building at the top to use the restrooms.

After using the restrooms, and watching the glacier one last time, we got back on our bus for our return trip to El Calafate.

Some Cool Facts

Here are some of the cool facts our guide told us on our bus ride!

  • Lago Argentina is the largest lake in Argentina.
  • There are three main habitat types in the area around El Calafate: patagonian steppe, bosque andino patagonico, and high mountain.
  • El Calafate was named after a blueberry-like bush called el calafate (berberis microphylla)
  • All of the water in Lago Argentina is melt from the Perito Moreno Glacier.
  • The glacier moves 2 meters a day!
  • The glacier is formed when humid air comes across the pacific and becomes snow in the Andes. The compact snow in the mountains compresses into the glacier, which slowly gets pushed down the mountain. Because of this, the glacier is not currently affected by climate change, and is in the same place as it was 70 years ago!

Time in El Calafate

Our first night in El Calafate, we decided to do some Christmas shopping since we were quickly approaching our trip back home for the holidays. We also walked around and checked out some of the artsy shops around El Calafate. After buying a fridge magnet and a few things for our family, we went to a place called Pietro's Cafe for dinner. I ordered filet mignon for dinner, because it was only 10 dollars. When it came out, there were two steaks and they were absolutely delicious!

So delicious that we ate there again on the second night, and BOTH of us ordered the filet mignon for dinner. The second night we also got ice cream at a place called Tito. We ordered El Calafate flavored since our guide said it was the local fruit to try. It was delicious, and tasted very much like blueberry!

Time To Say Goodbye

The next morning we packed our bags, ate breakfast, and checked out of our hostel. Our Patagonia Dreams transportation showed up around 11:20, and we soon were on our way to the airport. The airport was so tiny! After not too long, we boarded our flight and headed to Mendoza to meet up with Josh (Gerrod’s little brother) and drink some delicious wine!

Until next time!

Love,

Lauren (and Gerrod)

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