Alright so today was a big one, literally. Today we were off to see the Periton Merino Glacier! Kumu had already seen a glacier before, but I hadn’t, but we were both mega excited about today. A guy in our hostel room had told us the night before when we arrived back in El Calafate, that the glacier was doing something special. A dance? A song? Maybe even something to do with teaming up with Lucius from the incredibles. No, it’s ice bridge was going to collapse! So we understand, this is something that happens every 2 to 4 years, where the bridge of ice that connects between the glacier and the land starts to be erroded by the water, and then eventually gives way and it all falls into the water. It all sounded very exciting, and we were then even more pumped to go!
A few facts on this particular glacier before we dive into what we saw:
1. It is part of the 3rd biggest ice fields in the world behind Antarctica and Iceland.
2. This Glacier is bigger than the Argentinian city of Buenos Aires at 250 square kilometers.
3. The icefield it is part of is 12,400 square kilometers.
4. The glacier averages 60 to 70 metres above sea level.
5. It is 30 kilometers long and 5 kilometers wide.
6. It costs 500 Argentinian pesos per person to get in to the park. About 20 British pounds at the time of writing this.
We grabbed a bus from the town’s bus station up to the glacier. There are a few companies there that do the trip (this is mainly what you stop in Calafate for really) and it takes about 2 hours to get to there. As we got nearer to the glacier we could start seeing it from the mountain road we were on. Boom, it was a big one! It seemed like the entire town had turned out for this one as we drove up the glacier national park roads. They were parked all up the sides and the rangers were having to control the traffic. This unfortunately meant we were stuck here for about 40 minutes, which was eating into our glacier time. Anyway, we got passed all that and hopped off the bus. We could hear the cracks and bangs coming from the glacier as we started walking towards the walkways down to it. The park was set out really well, with decent metal walkways all the way round the glacier edge, which made it much easier to get about the place; our knees and my pride was still a bit sore from Torres del Paine….
After about a 10 mins walk down we reached the edge of the glacier! Along with half of Argentina too though…. It was a bit of a squeeze to find a spot along the edge to watch, but we managed to bag one, and with a pretty good view too! It was raining on the day, be it we had all our wet gear on so we were pretty sorted, but it was still cold though. Also, it meant we kept getting rain drops on our camera lenses which was a bit of a pain (we aren’t super photographers so this is an issue for us amateurs). The news team had also turned up ready for the bridge to fall, but by the looks of it, it wasn’t going to go that day, but we still had our fingers crossed that it would.
I was pretty rubbish at capturing the ice falls on camera, but kumu was a keen bean and managed to film a few of them. Depending on how the ice fell changed how it sounded when it hit the water. If it was the flat face of the piece that was falling that hit the water straight on it would make and enormous bang! The only bangs I know lounder (that I have personally heard) are at East Hoathly bonfire night. Each big one would get the crowd going with the oooos and the aahhhhs. It was like being at a theatre of some sort. Brilliant.
It was fairly low cloud this day too, which meant we couldn’t see the far end of the glacier in the mountains particularly well, but we did get some breaks in the clouds every now and then and you got a full on view of just how big this beast was! It was just enormous. I think it also said that at some points, the ice was 4km thick. 4km! That’s massive. Just think how much ice is there, and for how LONG it has been there.
We stayed at this lookout point for about an hour I think, until we headed off to see some of the other pathways that took you around the other side of the glacier and further down the hillside. The other side had less activity going on but did give you another angle of it. The park had shut one of the pathways that went really close to the glacier for safety, as when the ice bridge broke, it might have gone a bit crazy down there.
So with the lower pathways closed and our fingers turning a bit numb, we headed back up to the top for a hot chocolate and to wait for our bus to come get us. It was such a good day out to see my first glacier, and our first glacier together (this trip is ticking a lot of ‘first’ for us every day). The shear size and power that you can see and feel from it is Incredible.
I’ll leave you with another little gallery of pictures for this one. Hint, they contain ice….
Next, heading up north to start our move into Bolivia, with some graffiti and deserts along the way!
P.s. we are slowly catching up on the blogs now. You are only a few weeks behind us now :).