We didn’t originally plan to go to El Calafate, but we are glad we did. Perito Moreno is one of the few glaciers in the world that is growing and it is big.
The wall of jagged blue ice stretches three miles across and 200 feet above the surface of Lago Argentino. The glacier itself extends as far as the eye can see up the mountain valley. The guidebooks say the glacier is so large the entire city of Buenos Aires could sit within its boundaries. While we were watching the glacier, an enormous chunk of ice split off from the wall and crashed into the lake. The glacier is very active and you can hear loud, groaning, cracking noises as it advances. The glacier is grinding the peninsula that juts into the lake where the viewpoint sits; you can see ground up rocks and dirt where it has advanced.
Starting in Junin, wherever we went, Argentinians would ask us if we had been to El Calafate. We did not plan to go because it was off our route and is known as a tourist town (if not a tourist trap). When it was time for us to leave Ushuaia, we went to buy our bus tickets and found out that Frommer’s was wrong; there are no buses from Ushuaia to Punta Arenas on Tuesday. Our reservations at the Estancia began on Wednesday, so we needed to get back north. We took a plane to El Calafate with the idea of taking a bus from there across the border to Puerto Natales where we could rent a car to get to the Estancia.
We landed in Calfate about five, knowing our bus would leave about eight the following morning. We had to check into our hotel, get cash, buy bus tickets and eat dinner. Dawn asked the cab driver if it was possible to see the Glacier in the evening. He jumped on that and explained it was the best time because the light was better and there was less wind. He offered to be our personal guide. He took us to our hotel where we had problems with our reservation. Then we went to another hotel, the bus station, the store to get drinks, and off we went. The cab driver drove us the 30 miles to the glacier. He relaxed in the cab while we went off to see the glacier. Then he drove us back to town to our hotel.
I thought Perito Moreno had something to do with a lost moraine. But the glacier is named after someone famous. Perito Moreno is the father of the national park system in Argentina. You could also say he is the father of trout fishing in Patagonia. Trout are not native to South America. Moreno commissioned a study in the late 1800s to introduce them to Patagonia.