Fri 14th Sep
Another day and another tour and again one im very much looking forward too. The only downside is the weather…it’s cold, wet and fairly miserable out!
We head to the same place as yesterday Punta Bandera to catch our boat. Not as posh as yesterday. This tour only runs once a week and isn’t as popular as some of the others. This is great though as it means there’s only about 20 of us in total. There’s also complimentary coffee and croissants which is a nice touch. Diana our guide is very informative and explains the day to us during the first 40 minutes as we sail to our first stop. At Bahia Toro we get off and are greeted by a beautiful black stoney cove.
From here we take a short walk through the Andino Forest. It represents one of the few relatively undisturbed temperate forests that has been little changed by man.
The climate here is influenced by humid air masses moving in from the Pacific Ocean which is only 20kms away and loses most of its moisture as it rise over the Andes. From here we take a short stroll until we reach a waterfall.
Back on board the boat, we have 20 minutes until the next stop at Cerro Negro. This time arriving at an even more beautiful coastline. The contrast of the black stones against the mountainous backdrop and the beautiful blue/grey waters is stunning.
The water is so blue due to glaciers grinding against the sides and bottom of the rock beneath it which creates fine grained, silt sized particles of rock known as rock or glacier flour. Due to the material being very small, it becomes suspended in meltwater, making the water appear cloudy, which is known as glacial milk. This gives the water it’s beautiful turquoise colours.
It’s a 1km walk through the forest until we reach the magnificent Cerro Negro, it’s waterfalls and hanging glaciers.
The ground we stand on, 400 years ago was once all glacier too. There was an avalanche that swept through here only 18 years ago.
It isn’t just the view in front of us that is magnificent but turn around and you have this….
The mighty Cerro Mayo. It’s looks like several mountains but is in fact just one. The small valley in the middle has caused a build up of ice and formed the hanging Mayo Glacier.
The only way you can get to these beautiful spots is by a tour through Southern Spirits.
Back in the boat for an hour and time for a spot of lunch before the piece de resistance….fighting against the wind and torrential rain, we pile outside for our first glimpse of the mighty Perito Moreno….the most famous sight and reason many a tourist venture to El Calafate.
We sail up the north face of this impressive natural wonder and it’s definitely a sight to behold. Not as high as Spegazzini of yesterday but in length and depth it’s enormous.
The sound of ice slippages and the boom sound it makes as it hits the water is phenomenal…I can’t however capture it on video.
The Perito Moreno Glacier was named after the explorer Francisco Moreno, a pioneer who studied the region in the 19th century and played a major role in defending the territory of Argentina in the conflict surrounding the international border dispute with Chile.
This glacier is an ice formation that measures 250kms2 and is 30kms long. It’s 5 km wide, with an average height of 74 m above the surface but has a total ice depth of 170m.
The glacier was formed back during the last ice age, so in a way it’s around 18,000 years old!
The glacier remains roughly the same mass all year round. It grows at a rate of 2 meters per day, however this is offset by the amount of ice that breaks off and falls into the surrounding Lake Argentino. This continual growth is actually very rare, and it’s one of only 3 glaciers in the world known to be advancing rather than retreating. The reason remains debated by glaciologists.
The Glacier is the third largest reserve of Fresh water in the world.
Pressures from the weight of the ice slowly pushes the glacier over the southern tip of Lake Argentino damming the section and separating it from the rest of the lake. With no outlet, the water-level on the dammed side of the lake can rise by as much as 30 meters above the level of the main body of the lake. This eventually causes rapture and the huge block of ice tumbles down on the lake. It is one of the most beautiful sights to see and comes in 4-5 years intervals…the last being in March 2016. This is a natural occurrence and not to do with global warming.
We pull up at the port and have an hour and a half to walk along the man made paths and balconies to get a better and closer view of this extraordinary glacier. There are several paths to follow but we don’t have time to do them all and the weather is getting worse. We start off on the 2 central paths and the views are beyond words.
Luckily the guy from my hostel is in the same tour and is a great tour guide…full of interesting facts and info.
I wanted to take the blue path back to the boat but I’m soaked through to my skin and the wind is biting. It’s been yet another amazing experience, something I will never forget but I’m too wet and cold to continue so get the shuttle back.
Back at the hotel, lucky we have under floor heating and is the only way I can dry my clothes….works a treat thou and useful as I’m moving on tomorrow.