50.3380° S, 72.2648° W
After our previous day from hell had taken up so much time it meant we had to miss out on the glaciers of El Chalten. So we made our way to our next destination, El Calafate. It's actually just around the corner and also has a glacier, so it wasn't too bad. I do feel like Patagonia had really tested us though, kind of to see if we were worth seeing its natural treasures. Did we pass, hell fucking right we did.
As we drove through the town of El Calafate we stopped at a cafe to grab a sandwich before heading in the direction of the national park. We were all pretty tense from the previous day's antics, but these feelings were soon relieved as the Patagonian scenery started to take our breath away. As we drove closer to the mountains, blinding turquoise lakes began to appear which lead us all the way to the National Park entrance.
We pulled up to the entrance and were a little shocked to find that the entry price was 260 pesos. 260 pesos!, your having a bubble aren't you! However, cheeky little me pulled out the student card trick and thankfully the guy took mine and Jords cards and accepted them as Argentinian student cards. WINNING! This pissed Mandi right off, her and Reanne still had to pay the 260 fee, where as me and Jord only had to pay 30 pesos each. I guess it always pays to ask the student card question.
As we drove along the winding roads through the park, the entry price was soon forgotten about when we began to see glimpses of the majestic Perito Moreno Glacier. Even from a far she stood so tall and bold. We came to a picture point that was still a good 20 minutes drive away and even from here, the glacier looked incredible.
Arriving in the car park, we grabbed our bits and bobs and headed to the shuttle bus so we could explore the glacier up close and personal, we got a little side tracked though. We could see giant icebergs that had broken off and were floating on the lake shore, so quickly went down to the beach to check them out. They were so big and blue they kind of just sucked you in. As we got closer to the icebergs that hugged the shore, the lake bent around the corner to unveil Perito Moreno at full scale and in all her glory. It really took your breath away. Something so gigantic and completely natural, with spikes as sharp as a needle point and cracks that seemed like they disappeared in the middle of the earth. Totally mind boggling
After messing around taking a few photos we eventually got the free shuttle bus up to where you can view the glacier really close. Even though we spent the last hour or so taking pictures and looking at Perito Moreno, she just kept getting better. What was really cool was, as we we're walking around you could hear the glacier moving and the loud cracking noises that came from deep within the ice. We also managed to see a couple of shards of ice crack and fall of in to the lake, although they were pretty small in comparison to the icebergs we had seen by the lake edge.
With the day coming to a close it was time for a sad farewell to Perito Moreno. As the night began to roll in we managed to find a pretty good camping spot just outside of El Calafate, just before joining back on the Ruta 40. I guess it was a pretty common place for people to camp as there was already remains of fires there. We also took some big bits of drift wood that had washed up from the lake in the national park for burning, and damn did they go down a treat. Finally we were gaining the true beauties of Patagonia.