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Argentina Part IV- Trekking on Glaciers

Date: 26 December 2010

Day: Sunday

Location: El Calafate

What made the Argentine Ernesto Guevara, Che Guevara and made him change the Latin American history was his motorcycle trip with his friend starting in Argentina. I wonder if our trips will one day cease to be selfish and serve a good purpose.

When we left El Calafate this morning to go to Perito Moreno Glacier, we first passed through Patagonia’s empty and yellow steps. From time to time, we saw horses and bulls roaming around freely. We also saw some estancias.

This part of Patagonia mostly had immigrants from England, Wales, Finland and Norway, so they are the owners of these lands and animals. The only country outside of Wales where Welsh is spoken is Argentina. The mid parts of the country mostly had immigrants from Spain and Italy.

Following the turquoise coloured Argentina Lake, we noticed that eventually the plants started become taller and finally formed a forest. As we got closer to the glacier, the colour of the water turned into milky water.

We reached closer to the glacier through a catamaran.

After walking through the forest a little (it was unexpectedly warm), crampons were fitted to our shoes.

The crampons were quite heavy and it wasn’t easy to get used to walking in them.

There are condors (South American vultures), woodpeckers and pumas in the forest through which we walked. We had the opportunity to see a condor flying near the summit of the mountain. They can be as wide as 3 m. Most important of all, we had the opportunity to climb and trek for two and half hours on the Perito Moreno Glacier.

The surface of this glacier is 300 square km.

It is not a glacier on a mountain. It has been formed with the accumulation of heavy snow for years. It goes hundreds of meters deep under the lake and its height reaches 80 m. above the lake.

Its colour is neon blue in places due to the rays of light it captures from the sun and its density.

It is magnificent and breathtaking. It was a fantastic experience to climb and trek on the glacier. Especially going down was complicated.

Our guide Leonardo is the Argentina ski champion and he even climbed the Everest. Even though our climb was not to Everest, it was still fantastic. After trekking on the glacier for two and half hours, a surprise was waiting for us hiding among the icy formations: a table with drink and chocolate on top and a couple of boxes.

The guides break the ice here and offer the tourists natural water.

On the way back, when we took the crampons off, I felt as light as a bird, I could have flown. I noticed that my speed had accelerated during our walk in the forest on the way back even though I was very tired.

This forest is also very beautiful and nice smelling. The walk was actually relaxing.

The Argentine glaciers besides Perito Moreno recede every year 50 to 100 meters. It is a very serious situation. While we were trekking in the forest and on the catamaran, we witnessed a few times a big piece of ice breaking and falling in the water with splendour and noise.

As now it is summer, this is normal but this does not change the facts about climate change and that the water levels are rising.

The speed of wind in El Calafate can reach 140 km at times. Today, it was at least 90 km. per hour.

While we were trying to walk on the steppes to see the flamingos by the lake, it was impossible for us to keep both feet on the ground.

The wind was pushing us to run. I would not want to be on air, in a plane today. With the intention of seeing flamingos, we also got to see very closely the ducks around them, the low flying geese and most beautiful of all the grazing horses who were roaming around freely.

Right now, it is as if the wind is talking.


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