OUR PATAGONIA ADVENTURE
We stayed at the HOTEL MIRADOR while enjoying our mini-vacation in El Calafate. Our first day was spent walking the main street, checking out the tourist shops and eating. We had cortado (espresso cut with milk) and medias lunas (croissants) first and then we headed to Ricks where we enjoyed barbecued lamb.
Our adventure tour of the day was to take the catamaran QUO VALDIS from Lake Argentino up through various canals to see three different glaciers. We started out going through a very narrow pass called the Devils Mouth and then we headed towards the Upsala Glacier. As we got closer to the glacier we started seeing icebergs floating along either side of the boat. The tour guide explained that the iceberg we see in the water is only 15% of the actual iceberg the other 85% is below the waterline. Unfortunately the Upsala Glacier was blocked by icebergs so we could not get up close to view the actual glacier so we turned around and headed towards our next destination the Spegazzini Glacier. The Spegazzini Glacier is the tallest ice wall of all the glaciers. While at this glacier we were treated to wine and sandwich de amigas (tea sandwiches that are three layers of bread). We floated around the bay for about an hour with everyone out on deck trying to snap the perfect photos. I was leaning over the rail trying to get a shot of the treeline when the captain waved me back. I thought I was in trouble for leaning over the rail but the captain was inviting me onto the bridge to get a better view. Not long after leaving the bridge we left the Spegazzini Glacier and headed towards our final destination ~ the Perito Moreno Glacier. This glacier is the only glacier that is still growing. It is huge!!!
THE FIRST ICEBERG WE SAW FROM THE UPSALA GLACIER
ANOTHER VIEW OF THE ICEBERG
ICEBERG FIELDS FROM THE UPSALA GLACIER
PACO AND I POSING IN FRONT OF THE SPEGAZZINI GLACIER.
THE SPEGAZZINI GLACIER
Our 2nd adventure tour was trekking on the Perito Moreno Glacier. We took a bus out to the glaciers south side followed up with a 15 minute ferry ride to get to the base of the glacier where we would begin our trek. We were greeted by our tour guide Eddie (who spoke English) and we were taken to a small cluster of cabins where we could leave our lunch in cubbies built into the walls. Eddie then led us through the forest on trails; these trails led down to a river rock covered beach that was beside the base of the glacier. We walked up a small hill to an area with wooden benches for us to sit on while the tour guides fit our boots with crimpons (metal platforms with ten spikes on each) and then we were off on our trekking adventure. Eddie explained that to go up hill we must point our toes out, lean into the hill and take very small steps (like a duck). To go down hill we must point our toes straight down, stomp our feet down into the ice with very bent knees and lean into the hill (like a monkey and almost sitting on the hill). To traverse (walking across the mountain sideways) you have your top foot pointed in the direction you are going and your bottom foot pointed down. All of these were easy to understand but difficult to perform when you are looking up or down at the steep angles. The hardest for me to accomplish without making a fool out of myself was going down hill. I felt like I would fall at any second but I didn't and I was very proud at the end of the day when I stepped off the glacier without one fall. The experience was CRAZY!!! Certain areas on the glacier looked like we were walking into pools of slushies, other areas had deep cracks and crevices where you could hear and/or see water running through and we were standing right on top. Not what a NORMAL/SANE person would do for fun. We trekked for 2 Kilometers and it took us 2 hours. Our group finished the trek with shots of whiskey served over glacier ice. Paco and I opted to have glacier water instead of whiskey and it tasted great! We went down one last hill where we ended up at the crimpon station. I was very glad to remove the crimpons, they were heavy. We then went to have lunch in the cabin area and then our tour finished up on the balconies where we could view the entire glacier. It was a sight to see. We had an absolutely fabulous day!
PACO AND I ON THE SOUTH SIDE OF THE PERITO MORENO GLACIER
THE SOUTH SIDE OF THE PERITO MORENO GLACIER
THE FRONT VIEW OF THE PERITO MORENO GLACIER
THE NORTH SIDE OF THE PERITO MORENO GLACIER
We decided a five hour horse riding adventure would be fun on our last day in El Calafate. It was fun we rode for two hours and then stopped for lunch with a siesta and then rode for the remaining time. We had a great day! I will update more on this adventure later.
PACO AND I ON OUR HORSES CHARLIE AND BUSCAVIDAS
I know this day is not as exciting as the first four but it had my heart racing.
(Yes, it is as small as it looks! This landing had me praying out loud with my eyes shut super tight. The locals say that it wasn't too long ago that only Air Force Pilots were allowed to land here because the turbulence combined with the short runway were too dangerous.)
THE AIRPORT LANDING STRIP IN USHUAIA