Today, we're going to Argentina for the glacier activities.
I arranged about one week in Argentina for Perito Morreno glacier and El Chalten.
My first experience of the glacier is the 4-hour hiking in Franz Josef, New Zealand.
Afterwards, I've ridden the skidoo in Iceland and walked on Greenland's icecap.
Even so, I still love the glacier, especially Perito Moreno is the third largest glacier in the world.
I booked the 7-hour Big Ice hiking as I planned the journey. It would be another amazing experience.
The bus from Puerto Natales to El Calafate takes about 6 to 7 hours.
As passing the small town where we went to Torres del Paine, the Chile border is near.
Leaving Chile is simple but you have to make sure you bring your Chilean Tourist Paper with you.
After the Chile border, the Argentina border is not far for drinving about 30 minutes.
Some backpackers who have entered Argentina via this border might tell you that the check of the Argentina Visa paper for Taiwan tourists would be long.
However, if you follow the newest information, the check is actually easy now because of the effort of many Taiwan tourists who chose this way for entering Argentina.
Therefore, the officer watch our Visa for a while and stamps on the paper without any question.
By the way, the Argentina border doesn't check the luggages.
Around six o'clock in the afternoon, the bus arrive at the bus terminal in El Calafate.
Different from Punta Arenas and Puerto Natales, the ticket offices of the bus companies are all in this terminal.
Going down the steps, the San Martin street is the most popular area of El Calafate with shops and restaurants and is also called "Main Street".
As you choose the accommodation, it's recommened the hostels closed to the main street. Besides, some hostels are on the hillside. Do not choose the acommodation just by the map.
Our hostel, Hostel del Glacier Libertador, is about 15-minute walking from the bus terminal.
The location is fine. It's not far from the main street and not on the hillside.
It seems to be nice in the first sight of its building.
The room is still fine and clean. However, the poor kitchen makes me disappointed a lot.
I'm not sure what has happened here or in El Calafate. Maybe it's the security problem that all the metal tools are not available including the knife, the shovel, the soup spon and other dining utensils.
The only things you can use are the stoves, cups and plates.
I just wonder how could I cook and eat my meal without these key facilities.
Though the knife could be borrowed at the reception for 20 Argentina pesos, it's still not enough.
Even the pen and the tape are locked by the chains.
Fortunately, we bring our own utensils, otherwises, we have to eat by hands.
For this reason, we're also afraid of our food if we store the food in the fridge.
It seems that Argentina is not a safe country.
Because we don't have any Argentina peso, I exchane the amount I need for the rate of 4.8 (U.S dollar) after we bought the food by the credit card.
If you prefer a better rate, you could also pay the dollars to the hostel, restaurant or shop that accept dollars, and they will give you the change in Argentina peso. The rate is about 5.5.
By the way, we meet the HK tourist who saw the sunrise at Mirador las Torres. The photo should be very awesome but I didn't see it.
Before returning to the hotel, Shan also search the information about the bus to Bariloche.
She is very interested in the Ruta 40, the longest paved road in Argentina.
It's said the Che Guevara has travelled on this route in his famous motorcycle jaunts.
Of course, the trip is quite long for about 40-hour driving to San Carlos del Bariloche.
The only bus office along the main street is Chalten Travel. However, the schedule is not so proper for Shan for she want to join the cave tour in the town "Perito Moreno" which is the same name as the glacier but different in the location.
If Shan only takes the bus of this company, the rest days in Bariloche would be few.
For this reason, Shan doesn't buy the ticket right now.
So, it's the dinner time. Even though the kitchen is poor, I still want to cook by myself.
I prepare two dishes. The first is the spagetti with beef mince, an onion and carrots.
The beef mince is about 300 gram that I bought at the supermarket with the body language and a few English. (I really don't know how to speak "I want beef mince for 300 gram" in Spanish).
The most difficult thing is not how to buy these ingredients. Preparing the dish with any tool is the most difficult.
Thanks to the kindly tourist for his Swiss knife, or it would be a big problem to cut carrots.
As for another dish, Argentina beef steak is strongly recommended.
Buying the beef is not difficult. You just show the staff the thickness you want with your two fingers, and then tell him the amount you want (Uno for one, Dos for two, Tres for three, or just show your fingers).
The cooking of the steak is also simple.
Heating the pan with a little oil. Remember, the fire could not be too big.
My seasoning is the black paper I brought from home.
You may see my photo of ths steak, the steak is very juicy and tastes good.
Shan also prepare the eggplants with eggs. This dish is a little scorched and looks strange, but still tastes fine. Lacking of the seasoning (soy-source is recommended), the eggplant is like cooked in only the boiled water.
The next morning, we're ready for challenging the long hiking on Perito Moreno glacier.
Just as I told before, the glacier and the town with the sane name are actually different places.
The glacier is in the west of El Calafate, the Los Glaciares National Park.
You will have a 10-minute break at a location for taking pictures of the glacier.
The scene is fine but I think that is not the best.
Afterwards, the bus will take you to another observatory that is quite closed to the glacier.
There are some paths for looking around the glacier.
By the way, I show briefly about the difference between the 4-hour MiniTrekking and the 7-hour Big Ice Hiking. The area for MiniTrekking is at the front part and the Big Ice Hiking is at the middle part.
Besides, the real time for staying on the glaicer is actually one hour for MiniTrekking, and 4 hours for Big Ice Hiking. Thus, the amount of the scenes you may see is quite different.
By the way, there are also boat tours around the glacier. The Lago Rico Sailing is a short trip at the south of the glacier, and another "All Glacier" boat tour will let you see three glaciers including Perito Moreno (the north wall).
We have one hour at the observatory.
The time may not be enough to finish all the paths but the guide will give you the suggestion.
Because we will take the ferry later, the left section could be skipped.
For me, I think the front side is the best part while taking photos.
The wide-angle lens is recommended for the whole glacier.
If you look carefully to the left, you could find the location and the remains of the collapsed ice bridge.
According to the infromation, the exsitence of the ice bridge is quite short. It would be broke by the steam in a very short time. Of course, the collapse is only a moment.
It's saied that the tourist who could see the collapse is very lucky.
Around ten o'clock, we're ready for the ferry that will take us to another shore nearby the glacier.
During the sailing, another ferry is also sailing around the glacier.
Compared with ice wall of more than 70-meter height, the ferry is tiny as a toy ship.
(The biggest and highest one is in Antarctica, and one of the gacier in Greenland is also over 100-meter height)
Besides, we also see the collapse of the ice chunk from the collapse.
You wll never know when and where it would happen, so make your camera ready all the time.
Though I've seen this while I joined the Eqi tour in Greenland, I'm still exciting to see and take pictures at the nice moments.
Since we could not see the ice bridge at this time, I show you the pictures shown in the hostel.
About 2 p.m on March 12th, 2004, the ice bridge was not formed yet but formed at 7 p.m on March 14th.
After 7:10 in the same day, the bridge was collaped just in only a short moment.
Arriving at the shore, we're devided into Enlish and Spanish groups.
There are two guides in one group and we have to walk along the mountainside for about 40 minutes.
Maybe I've hiked in Torres del Paine, I feel it's easy for me to walk this track.
When we reach the start point, the guides help us setting up the crampons.
Folllowing the guides walking on the huge glacier, the experience is different from the hiking I've joined in New Zealand.
Perito Moreno is much bigger and thus you could find some special scenes that you may not find on other glacier.
Of course, you have to join the long hiking for looking around this wide ice field.
The scene, such as the water hole, may moves to other location or disappears as the time passes.
Our guide tell us that the sand and rocks is the main factor of the melting of the glacier's surface because sand and rocks could not reflect the sunlight and would be warmer than the ice.
So, you could notice this special scene. There should be a bigger collection of the sand and rocks around or inside it.
The water hole is deep and dangerous. With the water, it looks quite beautiful.
Sometimes, if there is no wide path on the route, we may pass the narrow section excitingly.
It's still safe for the guides will help the member passing safely.
I think that is also what the MiniTrekking might not give you.
Except for the narrow section, some areas of the surface are actually dangerous just as the photo shown aboved, you may think there is no difference if you don't notice the empty underneath.
The ice canyon and river should be the most awesome scene I've seen.
No one know how deep the hole is, but the big stream is the factor for sure.
The sand forms the stream, and the stream collects the sand.
With the interaction of the sand and the river, they form this huge hole as a canyon.
We have our lunch in the half way, and I'm the only one who eat spagetti on the glacier.
By the way, remember to take some glacier water with your bottle, it's pretty nice.
After hiking for four hours, we return to the start point and walk the same route toward th dock.
In the half way, I suddently see the huge Condor Andinos (Andean Condor) flying closely over us.
I get ready my camera very quickly and take these precious photos of it.
The white feathers is special and beautiful. I've seen such a big bird in such a distance.
It's said that Perito Moreno is also the area for the wild Condors.
However, seeing Condor like this is only our fortune.
Before leaving, you may look at the people who join the miniTrekking.
From this scene, you will realize how huge the Perito Moreno is.
The people walking on the glacier are just as small as ants.
We drink the whiskey with the ice of the glacier.
Though I'm not good at drinking wines, I still finish it and sleep all the way back to El Calafate.
The tour company gives everone a souvenir as the memorial of this glacier hiking.
Because we're tiring after the full-day trip and the kitchen of the hostel is unfriendly, we decide to have a good meal at the restaurant.
I choose a nice restaurtant for the grilled lamb shown beside the entrance.
In fact, this restaurant is nice indeed, so the price is also not cheap.
I order the vegetable soup as my appetizer, and Shan orders the salad with king crab that look like a fine art.
As for the main dish, I ordered a grilled lamb and a beef steak originally.
Maybe the waiter misunderstand, or he knows that the portion is too big for two.
We share the tasty grilled lamb at last.
I have to say that this main dish is proper for two of us and two main dishes would be too much.
Maybe I will try the beef next time.
I know that some backpackers prefer to cook by themselves for saving money.
However, these tasty dishes is also an important part of the journey that I recommend you to try once at least.