Friday, January 21, 2011

Thursday : Glacier Perito Moreno


The bus ticket for our excursion to the glacier stated that we would be picked up from the campsite at 8am. We thought it would be nearer half past, and so wandered across to the entrance with our breakfast in hand at 8am. After going back to the tent a couple of times and having polished off breakfast (yogurt with dolce de leche, mmmm!), the bus arrived around 8:30. It was only a 16 seater bus, not the full coach we were expecting. This was a good thing as it meant we got a couple of extra stops on the way to the glacier, and the guide could answer any additional questions we had. She also had a great folder with pictures of some of the local wildlife. We are slowly learning more of the names of the plants and animals.  We were lucky enough to see several condors at one point, and everyone rushed for their cameras when we stopped by a fox, although we've seen plenty of those already! We failed to get any more cash yesterday, and had forgotten we needed money to pay the entrance fee for the national park.  This meant we didn't have enough cash to go on a boat trip to get closer to the face of the glacier. We spent all our time on the viewing balconies instead. It really is an awe inspiring site. The top of the face of the glacier is around 40m above the lake, and has 80-120m below the water. The width of the face is around 5km. The glacier is unusual in that it is not retreating like many, but remains a stable size and advances around 2m a day. It takes around 300 years for the snow falling at the top of the mountain to reach the face. I've seen a number of glaciers, but the sheer scale of this was amazing, as is the way it interfaces with the water of the lake. We got to see a number of icefalls while we were there, and you could hear many more. It's not something you can easily take a picture of though, as after long periods of nothing they happen too quickly. There was a major collapse of ice a couple of weeks ago which actually damaged some of the viewing balconies closest to the face. You could still see some of the larger chunks of ice on the rocks.