January 14, 2006
This was the day that I finally got to see the Perito Moreno glacier. This morning, John, from England, and I took a tour bus out to Los Glacieres National Park, where the glacier is located. On the bus, we also met Judy and Teri, a mother/daughter pair from New Zealand who are traveling in Chile and Argentina for a month or so. Judy's son has been studying in Punta Arenas, Chile for a year, and they wanted to visit him before he returned to New Zealand. That sounds like a fun excuse to explore South America to me.
When we got off the bus, we walked down to the lake that the glacier plunges into. Almost immediately, we heard a thunderous noise. A huge chunk of ice broke off the glacier and fell into the lake. We were still far away, but we could hear and see it clear as day. So much ice fell that the lake water became quite rough with waves for the next few minutes. I had only been in the park for five minutes, yet I had already seen one of the most incredible sights of my life.
For the next hour, our group walked closer and closer to the glacier. The cracking noises were almost continuous. Everyone's eyes were focused on the ice that they thought was about to fall. The glacier seemed to like to play games with the tourists, however, because while it rumbled all the time, it only gave us a show every half hour or so.
Next, we were led to the parking lot, where we had the chance to sign up for a boat tour on the lake near the glacier. I declined to go because the boats can't get too close for obvious reasons, so the view we had from the land was just as good, even though it was a higher perspective. Instead, all of us walked to the viewing platforms.
For the next three hours, Teri, John, Judi and I sat in awe as we watched the glacier work its magic. Perito Moreno is one of the few advancing glaciers that remains in this world of global warming. In an era where there's nothing left of most glaciers other than a few muddy puddles and maybe an ice cube, an average of two meters of ice still breaks off the 70-meter-high ice wall and falls into the water every day. Honestly, despite the hordes of tourists that surrounded us, I could've watched the glacier all day. It easily beats whatever they are showing on "Must See TV" nowadays.
After we got back to into town, John, Judy, Teri, and I went shopping for a feast. We had a big chunky chicken salad with all the fixin's. Tomorrow, John and I are going to head out early and go to Puerto Natales, Chile to prepare for a long trek through the nearby national park. I think I'll cross between Chile and Argentina several more times before I'm finished, so my passport is going to fill up with stamps quickly.
The photo album for this entry is here.