We glided over the paved narrow two lane following the contours of the fjord. The mountains rose even higher around us and the peaks were covered in a gleaming white snow. The brightly shining sun bounced from mountain top to the water’s surface and back creating a spectacular sparkle. Sunglasses were indeed necessary as we wended our way closer to the Perito Moreno glacier.
We stopped at a little toll booth at the entrance to the park and paid a small fee to see what would be yet another marvel on this trip. Just a few more miles down this winding and now forested road, lay an icy giant, silent and seemingly unmoving, yet amazingly powerful.
At road’s end, we found ourselves in a fairly large parking lot complete with a few tour busses and hundreds of cars. A couple of well maintained and new buildings sat to our left, providing places to eat and relax at what is one of Argentina’s natural treasures. There were several walking paths and we randomly chose one that split the two buildings.
Soon we were on an elevated and grated walking trail above the surface of the ground, heading along the water and then… There it was, the first close up sight of the Perito Moreno glacier. Just the far end was in bright sun and the remainder was in shadow, but the size and the power of the glacier could not be hidden.
Giant spires of ice rose from the face of the glacier like the pikes of an advancing ice army. As we got closer, the shadows could no longer hide the spires and they became clearer and larger. The immensity of this frozen monolith was as apparent as its ability to act as an irresistible force of nature. As the sun navigated its way in and out of the clouds, the ice sparkled, and the snow changed from dark grey to gleaming white, changed merely by the passing of clouds and will of the wind. Nature could indeed paint pictures using its own natural pallete.
We lazily walked our way closer towards this awesome sight on the elevated metal corrugated carpet, eyes riveted to the ice and snow. Just when we thought we’d seen it all, almost right in front of us, a grey fox rambled by us, not so much in a rush to hide from us, but more interested in finding a tasty morsel to dine upon. We were truly getting the whole show today.
As close as we could get to the glacier on our man made walkway, it was nothing compared to the up close and personal look we would get from the giant sized catamaran that would take us to within 100 feet of the glacier. As the time for departure approached, we eagerly boarded in anticipation of catching the aura of the glacier.
We were not disappointed as we slowly cruised out to the glacier. It was far better to slowly cruise out to it. The mountains framed the glacier perfectly and the passing clouds provided a cottony backdrop. Never had white taken on some many different shades. White ice, white snow and white clouds were all different shades of white and they were perfectly offset by the black of the rocky mountains and grey blue of the sea and the sky.
After about ten minutes of cruising, we reached the glacier. For a brief period of time, the giant catamaran turned off the engines and the glacier came alive. At times, we could hear the ice creak and groan as if it were restless and yearning to move faster. A cool and sometimes downright cold wind flowed from the top of the glacier and spilled over the edge like a waterfall of cooled air. Jackets were zipped and hats securely fastened in response to the glacier’s cold heartbeat of air.
So while we stood and stared in awe, we heard a gigantic crack like a single clap of thunder and a then a slight rumble. About 500 yards away, a large chunk of ice had wrested itself free of the glacier’s face and plummeted to the water below. We saw but did not hear the gigantic splash made by the ice and the waves generated by the bus sized chunk of ice now floating before us. It was an awesome sight. We were on a nature overdose and loving every moment of it.
But like all good things, our time at the glacier passed so very quickly. Soon it would be time to start our ride back to our little hotel in El Calefate for the night. As we walked back to the bikes, we marveled at how much we had seen in such a short period of time and how much we had enjoyed ourselves already. But still, we had a two hour ride back through gorgeous country to the hotel to look forward to. Not bad, not too bad at all.
After what seemed to be a very quick night’s sleep, we were back on the road early and covering some significant miles on mountainous yet smooth pavement. We swooped around corners and leapt over the tops of the mountains and dove down their backs. Four hours of pavement passed almost instantaneously.
But almost as suddenly as the road had been smooth and mountainous, we entered the plains again and were back on gravel. As much as we had enjoyed the pavement, it was good to be back on the gravel and heading into some remote areas again. As the mountains began to fade, the wind began to increase and once again we found ourselves crabbing into a steady wind with our 2 wheeled craft.
But we would not be too long without our friends the mountains, for we were headed to Torres del Paine and the most impressively beautiful mountain sunsets we have ever seen. We’ll take you there in Part 11.
By the way, if you don’t know, click on any one of the pictures in the gallery below and it will open that picture into a full size picture and then you can click your way through the remainder of the pictures in either direction in full size.
Ride 2 Adventure – Shrink the Planet One Ride At A Time