The last 3 days were surely some of the most impressive ones of my life. I have seen glaciers and mountain ranges that were so beautiful that I am still completely mesmerized by what I have experienced. I started off in El Calafate – a town that feels a bit like a half-deserted western town, with strong gusts blowing sand all over the place (and which made ME almost fly away!). The beautiful and huge Lago Argentino with its turquoise water gives a nice touch to this strange place. I stayed at a great hostel with lovely hosts who greet you with a big hug the minute you arrive and a warm “Hola, Briiiita” every time they see you. After exploring the town and trying some of the Argentina’s famed ice-cream and chocolate I was already looking forward to the next day – the BIG ICE Glacier day: at 7 in the morning a bus picked me up and together with my friends Ann and Johnny whom I got to know in Ushuaia I headed to Glaciar Perito Moreno – a huge glacier in the Parque National Los Glaciares. This Glacier is about 30 km (!!!) long, 6 km wide and 70 meters high and I had heard from a few friends who had already been to this glacier that it was an amazing site. So shortly before we arrived at the glacier the bus driver slowed down, interrupted his speech about the National Park and said that he had to put on some music (which we didn’t quite understand why he wanted to do that). A few seconds later we heard a beautiful aria which built up more and more tension until it reached its climax – smartly timed with the bus going around a corner and displaying- for the first time- the majestic Perito Moreno. Although we all cracked up because it was such a cheesy thing to do we nevertheless liked it because seeing this immense ice-field gave us all goose bumps.
We then had an hour to admire the massive glacier from a viewing platform (and missed a big piece of the ice crashing into the water twice!) and after that we boarded a ship which brought us to the South bay of the glacier. After a 1 hour hike along the side of the glacier we entered the icefield, put on our crampons and followed our 2 great guides onto the ice. 3.5 hours of walking on a beautiful, diversified landscape, displaying all shades of blue you could never imagine was sooooo amazing! We even entered an ice-cave which was about 15 meters long and the walking through a deep blue, shining tunnel which became narrower and narrower was simply WOW!! We even saw a glaci-perla insect in the cave – a little bug which looks like a crossover of a cricket and a scorpion – which lives its whole live ice caves and lives off of the micro-organisms of the water – this little guy hangs up side down on the ice WITHOUT crampons!:)
The weather was perfect that day – for Southern Patagonia pure luxury – and so we got the very best out of this cool hike on ice. We then headed back to El Calafate but it was hard to turn away from this big ice-beauty.
The next day we drove to El Chalten, a “hub” for hikers and mountaineers, because from El Chalten you can reach Mount Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre, 2 of the most impressive mountains in Argentina. When we arrived in this tiny town we fell in love with it right away: squeezed into a little valley, surrounded by canyon-like mountains, with its quirky, colorful, but very unstable looking houses and hardly anybody on the streets it reminded us on one of those movie-sets they have in Hollywood. Since the weather was once again perfect we headed right out to our first hike – to see the majestic Mount Fitz Roy. And all the photos in the books about Patagonia weren’t exaggerating: when we reached Laguna Capri after 1.5 hours we faced the beautiful mountain – the snowy peaks shining brightly, making our jaws drop and leaving us quite speechless. On the next day we headed off to see Mount Cerro Torre, the other “beauty” of Los Glaciares National Park. We reached the glacier and mountain after a 3 hour hike, but unfortunately the peak of Cerro Torre was covered in clouds which just didn’t want to move away. We still enjoyed this long day of walking and finished it off with a yummy dinner in a comfy, wooden chalet-like restaurant (where we met 2 Bavarian climbers who had just returned from the peak of Fitz Roy – needless to say that they celebrated this event accordingly with a lot of beer – which we were FORCED to share with themJ). The next day we returned to El Calafate and that evening I had my very first Asado, a typical Argentinean BBQ. The difference to our BBQs being that they threw 30 (!) kg of meat onto the grill – chicken, beef, pork, lamb – and we ate as if there was no tomorrow. The Patagonians praise themselves of having the world’s best and tender lamb – and I have to say if was really hard to beat!
Yesterday I took the bus across the Chilean border and arrived in Puerto Natales from where I will be starting my 5-day trek in South America’s most famed National Park, Torres des Paine, tomorrow.
Yesterday I went for dinner in a sweet little restaurant –the cool thing about not understanding all the words in Spanish is that you get to try out things “à la surprise” –I ordered Risotto de centolla and had no idea what centolla was. I ended up getting a delicious risotto with “Meeresspinne” – some kind of crab-like animal. Deeelicious!
P.S. I will dedicate some of my blog postings to certain people – either because there is some connection with what I have written about or just because I feel like they would love the things and places I have seen. So this post is dedicated to my dear friend Sandra: Süße, ich glaube dass dir diese ganz speziellen wunderschönen Plätze sehr gut gefallen hätten und ich schick dir gedanklich die Stimmung dieser Naturschönheiten nach Wien!:)