02.20.2013 - 02.20.2013
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I decided to forego a complete down day to visit Perito Moreno Glacier because the weather looked good. It turned out to be a 10/10, best weather since the desert! The day started out in El Calafate and headed east along the shore of Lago Argentino toward the Andes.
I have seen a glacier before and even walked on one before but I must say that today I got to spend some real time to be near a dramatically situated glacier in good weather listening to it calf and drop into the lake. Perito Moreno glacier runs from the southern icefield (Campe de Hielo Sur) down to Lago Argentino. It measures 5k (3 miles across) and is considered one of the smaller glaciers here but actually is probably the largest I have seen. It is very active and advances 2m a day. it is one of the few glaciers in the world not retreating. It occasionally blocks off an arm of the lake causing the water on that arm to rise 100 ft (last ocurring in Mar 2012)! On the way in, no plant life was alive below that level.
First, we took a boat to within 1000 feet of the 200 foot high headwall.
Then, I had 3 hours to walk the many paths along the viewpoint, located on a peninsula only maybe 1500 feet from the closest part of the glacier.
After getting back to El Calafate, it was only 4 PM (5 more hours of daylight) so I decided to check out Laguna Nimez, a lagoon near Lago Argentino that often has flamingoes. There weren't any but there were many other types of birds. The walk was amazing anyway since the landscape is so different. The lake had many shades of blue and unique swans in it.
Walking in the town itself, I walked by an interesting happy bus. There seem to be more old cars in Argentina ... more like Peru.
For dinner, me and a friend I met at the hostel who is from the US and has lived 7 years in Buenos Aires went to a restaurant and I tried Locro, a tradition Argentinian lamb stew.
The conversation was interesting as I tried to get a sense of Argentina. So far, I have only seen a tourist town but Argentina is a very unique country with a past of prosperity and periods of hyperinflation and economic disaster. Argenitinians like the US dollar even though it is weak right now. That is what hyperinflation will do. My friend showed me some bills that were 20 to 30 years old that are worth nothing today, he bought them from an antique shop.