Thursday, January 25, 2007

Glacier Perito Moreno

Leaving Fitz Roy behind

Today is Glacier Perito Moreno day. It is probably the most famous of all the glaciers in South America. I guess this is partially because it is quite accessible, from El Calafate (the town named after a bush bearing small berries a little like blackcurrents).

The view from above

However, the most interesting feature about the glacier is that it periodically blocks the lake that it straddles by pushing up to a ridge of land it faces. When this happens, the water level rises on one side until the pressure smashes through the "dam" of ice.

Note the arch letting water flow to the other side of the lake

This last happened several years ago, and experts don't think it will happen again for the foreseeable future. It is, however, most certainly on the move, apparently moving as much as 2 metres per day in the most active centre, and this results in frequent exciting ice breaks into the lake below, and all manner of cracks, creaks and booms as ice pushes against ice with incredible force.

Down comes another sheet of ice

Ice war debris

The format of the day was bus (1 hour) to boat, an hour on the boat, then a couple of hours at a viewing point above the glacier, before returning. A nice day. I won't waffle any more!

Spooky patterns

Deep deep blue

It's true. The biggest split we saw would have engulfed the boat if close

There are also the giant ice-crabs to worry about

And this is summer..

Once again Crawley is too slow on the draw..

One of a tree-full of woodpeckers going for it! Poor tree!

A beautiful sea of ice

Back to El Calafate, and my evening is spent with Sonny and a nice mixed-nationality bunch speaking French (okay I mainly listen!). In the end Sonny and I find a restaurant for a last beer or two.

In theory I leave Argentina tomorrow. Though, as is often a good ruse with tourism departments, apparently if you eat the berries of the Calafate bush, you will return to Patagonia. I have…

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