After the rain, the ice

You remember our adventures in Patagonia ? We came back tired, with wet clothes and backpacks, and also with holes in the tent and the bag. Well once we found a roof for the night we started to dry all our equipment, and re-check all the little damages done by the mice.

After a good and long night of sleep we went for a walk in the small seaside village of Puerto Natales, Chile with two mains goals : do some laundry, and repair Fred’s backpack. Finding a laundry was relatively easy in this used-to-dirty-tourists-city so we dropped our 7 kilos of clothes, and went on to find somebody with a sewing machine.

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Puerto Natales
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Puerto Natales

Without knowing it, we started a treasure hunt, entering several shop, showing the holes in the backpack and asking in Fred’s terrible mix of Spanish and Swedish, for somebody that could fix it. In every shop the same answer, try this shop there, go to that shop they’ll do it. After a couple of hours like that we ended up in the small house of a lady that all the village agreed she was the one for the job, to finally realise that her sewing machine was not big enough to handle the big backpack. Too bad. At a point, Fred started to dismantle his backpack to make it smaller so it could go under the machine, big mistake…turned out to be VERY hard to put back, and took several hours of hard work 😩Apparently, according to Osprey customer service, it was not meant to be dismantled (amateurs!). So we went for plan B. Plan B is a lot of duct tape, and on the critical outside part of the bag we bought some little tissue patches with the flags of Chile and Patagonia that we will sew over the duct tape to mask it a bit. And in the next countries, mice or not we will continue the collection of flags.

After two days of full rest, and planning the rest of the trip we headed out in early morning to take the bus to El Calafate, in Argentine Patagonia. So yes, another border crossing, another series of stamps in the passport !

El Calafate is a big hub for Patagonia, so it is a small town, where you can find a couple of banks, a lot of travel agencies that all specialise in one thing : Ice related stuff. 

Ice? Yes! Because 80 km away from town is a huge national park called the Glaciers NP. And as you would expect it it is full of glaciers, that all belong to the Southern Patagonian Ice Field.  Stuck in the mountains between Chile and Argentina, it is one of the biggest source of fresh water on Earth after Antartica and Artic. It stretches for about 350 km! The Grey glacier, that we saw in the Torres del Paine NP, in Chile one week ago was part of it too. Well El Calafate is the place to be if you want to explore this huge ice field, and close to town (80km, that is basically next door in Patagonian distances), is the Perito Moreno Glaciar. Not the biggest of the area by far, but definitely the most accessible.

You can do all kind of things to discover a glacier, just look at it (from a safe distance), fly over it in helicopter, take a boat to go closer to the icebergs, do some ice walking and ice climbing on the glacier itself. We decided to take a bus and have a look at it by ourselves. And what a moment !

We went in the early morning with one of the first buses and reached the glacier by 10:00 am when very few other people where present. We started to walk on the footbridges in the forest, and when we finally got to see it, we were both stunned.

Imagine a super nice blue lake, stuck between high peaks, and at one side of it a huge wall of ice. It is 5 km wide, and between 50 to 70m high ! Quite a wall ! And the closer you come to it, the more you realise how crazy all of that is.

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It is huge, it is beautiful, it makes you feel so small. And then you stop walking, take a sit and listen. Because a glacier is alive. It constantly makes some rambling noise, similar to the thunder. And if you pay attention you can see that every now and then, some bits of this big white icy wall falls into the lake, creating even bigger noise, and huge splashes of water and ice. And then, these bits of iceberg start slowly to float on the lake.

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Tiny people, and big glacier.

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We were walking on the different platforms for more than four hours, enjoying the different lookouts, listening to the cracking sounds, and waiting for the next chunks of ice to come down. It felt like we could have spent the entire day just doing that and nothing more. It was really a magical day and we enjoyed every single minute out there!

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We hope the pictures will show you a bit of that magic !

 

Next we continue to head north, further into Patagonia and we plan to do more hiking!

3 thoughts on “After the rain, the ice

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