It was difficult to leave Fitz Roy. We had been waiting so long to see it and leaving was just one step closer to the end of Patagonia. We knew we still had two of the “big sites” left, Perito Moreno glacier and Torres del Paine. After that, we were not sure what to expect besides the end of the road and turning north for the first time in almost two years, so we tried to savor and prolong our time at the Patagonia highlight sites and the sadness of leaving the beautiful Fitz Roy was replaced with excitement to see this:
Driving out of Fitz Roy we had another rare cloud free day making it almost impossible to drive away when we kept seeing this in our review mirror:
On the way out of town we ran into our Swiss friends Marcus and Karen and took a quick picture with them before we headed out.
The drive to our next destination was easy aside from the wind. In the truck the wind does not bother us much, we can feel it while we drive, but we are low enough profile that it does not impact our driving. However, when we get out of the “tank” we feel the power of the Patagonia wind in all its glory. I took this picture of Sam when we were pulled over for a quick bathroom break. Pretty much sums it up. =)
When we arrived in the second part of Argentina’s Los Glaciares National Parks we decided to spend a few days in the huge free camp site on Lago Roca instead of staying in the touristy town of El Calafate. This free campsite was beautiful having large sites with tables with views over the snow capped mountains. At night you could hear the loud bang and crack of glaciers calving. It was one of our favorite “official” free campsites in a national park.
Since the sun was still shinning we decided to hedge our bets and visit the famous Perito Moreno glacier. This is by far the most impressive glacier we saw the entire trip. Honestly, if you only have time to see one glacier, this is the biggest bang for your buck.
The Perito Moreno glacier is one of only three glaciers in Patagonia that is actually “growing”. Pressures from the ice field slowly pushes the ice forward causing it to break and calve into Lago Argentina causing spectacular ice falls from its front walls.
When we arrived at the glacier we were not really sure what to expect and the first view we had of the glacier took our breath away. It was HUGE and we were so close to it. All along the glacier there was miles of walkways that allowed us to view the glacier from all different angles and perspectives. There were a lot of people at the glacier, but there was so much room to wander around that it never felt too crowded. Also, we found out that most of the tour buses came in the morning and were gone in the late afternoon which was too bad (for the people on the bus, not us) because that was when the ice, warmed by the afternoon sun, really started to break off.
Here is a video of another impressive calving to give you the full experience:
We spent a full day at the glacier and luckily brought enough layers so we could stay warm all day (the wind off the glacier was obviously ice cold). Sam loved watching the glacier. His enthusiasm was infectious and I found it surprising that we literally watched ice melt for eight hours and were never bored. He loved it so much that he decided we should take the (very overpriced) boat cruise to the Upsala and Spegazzini glaciers the following day and then return to Perito Moreno again in the late afternoon after the cruise.
Just a side note to the cruise in the national park, even though we did it, I am not sure I would recommend it, but that is just my personal opinion. The boats operated by the parks system are very expensive (around $75 a person plus the park entrance fee of around $15 each) and were super crowded. Maybe if the boat was less crowded it would have been a bit more enjoyable, but we were packed in like sardines which was unpleasant. It got really annoying when we were trying to take pictures with people aggressively shoving each other aside. That being said, we saw some beautiful icebergs and the Upsala glacier was enormous. Just the scope of so much ice that went into the horizon forever was a pretty amazing site to see.
From here we were off to the final big Patagonia highlight, Torres del Paine in Chile.