Icebergs and glaciers in Southern Patagonia
27.09.2007 - 01.10.2007 5 °C
On September the 27th, we just waited for our bus in Puerto Madryn. Jay and Milena headed back to Buenos Aires at 3pm, and we caught an all night bus to Rio Gallegos at 6.30 pm.
The 28th, we arrived in Rio Gallegos at 2pm, and then got straight on a bus to El Calafate. It took about 4 ½ hours, and then we went to the Hostel America del Sur and got checked in.
On Saturday the 29th, we went on a boat tour on Lago Argentino, in the Parque Nacional los Glaciares, to see glaciers. This national park, created in 1937, is the second largest in Argentina. Its name refers to the giant ice cap (the biggest outside Antarctica and Greenland) in the Andes range that feeds 47 large glaciers, of which only 13 flow towards the Atlantic Ocean. In other parts of the world, glaciers start at a height of at least 2,500 meters above sea level, but due to the size of the Ice Cap, these glaciers begin at only 1,500 m, sliding down to 200 m, eroding the surface of the mountains that support them.
We went first to a peninsula, from where we did a short walk through a forest, to a smaller lake, Lago Onelli, which is fed by several smaller glaciers.
The lake was completely packed with ice chunks and small icebergs.
After that, we sailed past the smaller, receding Seco glacier and on to the Spegazzini glacier, which is the tallest in the park. Its walls are between 80 an 130 meters tall.
From there, we sailed on to the Upsala glacier (named after the Swedish city), which is the largest in the park, It is around 4 km wide, and really was impressive. The Upsala Glacier is a large valley glacier, which flows out from the Southern Patagonian Ice Field. The terminus of the glacier is at Lago Argentino. The Upsala Glacier is well known for its rapid retreat, which many see as evidence for global warming.
Several huge chunks of ice broke off while we were watching, and crashed into the water. The water around the glacier was full of huge icebergs, and we had to manoeuvre between them to get back out. Amazing to see how blue the ice really is, and not white as you’d expect.
It was a grey, cold and rainy day, with grey skies, but it was cheered a bit by several rainbows.
September 30th, we chilled out, and went to watch the Ireland v. Argentina rugby game - which Ireland unfortunately lost.
On October 1st, we went to the airport to catch a flight to Buenos Aires on LADE air. They told us the flight was delayed, and so we waited till around 9pm, when they finally told us it was cancelled. The airline then put us up in a hotel, and said we would be able to get seats on Aerolineas Argentinas the next morning.