Anthony on the Gringo Trail 2005 travel blog

South face of Glacier Perito Moreno

Close up of South Face

North wall from trek

Part of North Face crumbling into the lake - note the wall...

Glacier detail

View from the lookouts

Close up of top of glacier wall

Splash from fall on North Face

Boat and North Face

So after five hours on a bus across the very windswept pampas, I have left Chile again and am now in El Calafate in Argentina. The entire town is full of outdoor clothing enthusiasts, and only really exists for one purpose, for us all to go experience the Perito Moreno Glacier, special amongst the world's glaciers both because it is growing, and because it is so comparitively easy to get up close too. Nice town though, feels like a less crowded Lake District town with lots of nice shops and restaurants, but cheaper...very classy. Argentina very big on meat, the restaurants here full of the biggest piles of barbecuing meat you have ever seen, and some phenomenal scoffing. When I was having my salad for lunch, the bloke next to me had an omelette, a pizza, a big burger, a plate of chips and several rolls. I wasn't the only amazed person there, but you should see these huge meat buffets people get stuck into.

I just missed Rikki and Steffan in Puerto Natales, though bumped into the two English girls here in El Calafate, as well as the Irish American I met in Torres Refugio...definitely a small world on this part of the gringo trail. Which in a way makes it all the stranger how hard it is to get where I want to go, as many people I talk to have the same problem. I had my final try at getting to Tierra Del Fuego and Ushuaia, this time by flying, but no joy. I have booked glacial experiences for the next two days no problem, but again the only way of getting to Bariloche begins with a bus that leaves here at three in the morning, retraces much of my route and involves two more bus changes before ending up in Bariloche nearly 40 hours later! Gruesome, but there is no other way, and the town is full of people whinging about this. Time for me to open an Argentinian bus company. Bloody nice dinner now I am back in the land of cheap and posh food. Pate, cream of pumpkin and salmon soup, and a gorgeous lamb thing with olive and wine gravy and grilled mediterranean vegetables, with a nice half bottle of Argie red. Yum.

17th Nov: So off to Los Glaciares National Park. And straight off I am even mmore impressed with Glacier Moreno than I was with Glacier Grey, mainly because I can get so much nearer, and it is about twice the size, some 200 feet at its front. And it is very dynamic. After some admiring from a distance, I walk for a while around the lake to get various views, it is the most incredible and unbelievable blue colour. As well as looking magnificent - I really could spend all day just staring at it - Moreno is great because it advances two metres a day, hence bits are always falling off, with great explosions and splashes, on average about every ten minutes, which is way cool. This isn't always icebergs being calved, often just a great load slips into the lake. Every several years, it really does it, the last time was in 2004, so it would be optimistic to expect that when I am here. What it really reminds me of though, the way it is all stacked up and looks extremely precarious and like it must all collapse any second - is those coin machines you used to get in games arcades, where they all look like one more will make the rest fall off the tray into your eager hands. And so we all wait and watch.

And after much more appreciation from a series of terraces designed for just this purpose - although not as near as I would like to be were it not for all the danger signs - I get a boat up and down the north face for even more nice views, though it only goes about 200 metres near. A slight problem was that by the time we came back to the landing stage, various large icebergs had moved in, so we spent half an hour or so tryng and eventually succeeding in shunting them out of the way. Lucky it was quite a big boat. And tomorrow I am going trekking for several hours on said glacier, which looked quite difficult from where I this space. I saw my Irish American mate after dinner, who had done the same trek today, and he really rated it. Dinner was fabby again, crab pate, carrot and pumpkin soup, lamb with leeks and onions, and another nice Argie red. On the down side there were several sweetbreads - balls to the uneducated - which I didn't feel the slightest inclination to eat, even to satisfy my sense of adventure.

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