1road out of el calafate

This view of the road from El Calafate going west into Parque Nacional de los Glaciares reminds me of the poster for  Thelma and Louise. What lies over the hill and round the bends? We chose to visit the Glaciar Perito Moreno about 80 kms from town. Glaciers – well, of course, I’d seen all the info on the web about the ice cap that spreads across Chile, the Andes and into Santa Cruz and, also have a vague memory of a ski guide pointing out a far off glacier in the Alps. Round each bend the sense of expectation grew . . . .

2 first sight

. . . until at last.

4 closer to

The guide books describe it as ‘a long white tongue’. Good description. You can get close by boat – just discernible in the image below  – but we chose to get straight onto the series of platforms and connecting walkways – steps + ramps –  that enable a decent, 3 km,  journey through the Nothofagus woodland covering the end of the Peninsula Magellanes.

3 closer to glacier

5 stairways

6 lengas + nires

Nothofagus pumilio (lenga) and N. antartica (ńires) but I couldn’t identify one from the other . . .

7 lenga + nires

. . . we learnt that this is the only glacier in the National Park that is not receding but is growing.  At the terminus, the width is 5 kms in width and 74m high above the surface of the water of Lago Argentino and the total ice depth here is 170 metres. Data that gives an idea of the scale. Further north at El Chalten, it’s possible to trek on the ice from October to April. The lack of figures in these pics indicates end of season – great for us!

8 canal de los Tempanos

9 canal

Views across the Canal de los Tempanos are accompanied with a sound track of cracking sounds, as the ice breaks away, and then, the deep crashing noise as ice hits water.

9.5

11 along the front

So blue . . . this occurs when snow falls on a glacier, is compressed, and becomes part of the glacier. During the journey down to the water body, the trapped air bubbles are squeezed out and so the size of the crystals increase making it clear. One of us thought it looked a bit dirty . . .  but then landscapes are . . .

10 close up

14 close up

15 close up

12 close up

13 close up

16 stand back

. .  we took off on the north path where the wind whistled through the narrow channels and, consequently, we lost most of our fellow visitors. It started raining and if the wind had been stronger, it would have been a difficult exercise.

17 off to walk

This was probably the most atmospheric and magical part of the experience for me. Taxing on the leg muscles and slightly desolate but the route provided a strong connection with the landscape.

18 looking back

Back to the main platform and a final inhalation of great pure air. ‘Take a long look. It might be the last’.

19 panorama

20 last

The silent friendliness of the moon

(misquoting Virgil) accompanies you

since that one night or evening lost

in time now, on which your restless

eyes first deciphered her forever

in a garden or patio turned to dust.

Forever? I know someone, someday

will be able to tell you truthfully:

‘You’ll never see the bright moon again,

You’ve now achieved the unalterable

sum of moments granted you by fate.

Useless to open every window

in the world. Too late. You’ll not find her.’

We live discovering and forgetting

that sweet familiarity of the night.

Take a long look. It might be the last.  Jorge Luis Borges  The Sum

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