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Patagonia: El Calafate

El Calafate and Perito Moreno Glacier


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Estancia Nibepo Aike

After leaving the Torres del Paine park we crossed the border into Argentina at Cerro Castillo and drove up to El Calafate. Most people go to El Calafate to visit the Perito Moreno glacier which is in the Las Glaciares National Park. Before going to see the glacier, we spent two nights at an estancia (ranch) Nibepo Aike which is physically located in the park but some 80 km from the Perito Moreno glacier. Nibepo Aike is a working sheep and cattle ranch but has also been remodeled to be a luxurious estancia for tourists, where all meals and activities are included. Some of our best meals were at the ranch. The ranch is located in a spectacular setting. In addition to hiking and horseback riding, the gauchos give demonstrations of sheep shearing, cow milking, and one can watch the sheep dogs taking the sheep out to pasture in the morning and bringing them back in the afternoon.

Nibepo Aike estancia and mountains

Nibepo Aike estancia and mountains

Nibepo Aike estancia

Nibepo Aike estancia

Nibepo Aike

Nibepo Aike

Nibepo Aike

Nibepo Aike

Sheep at sunset

Sheep at sunset

Sheep at sunset

Sheep at sunset

Sheep at sunset

Sheep at sunset

Grilled lamb

Grilled lamb

Barrel race

Barrel race

Horseback ride

Horseback ride

Horseback ride

Horseback ride

Perito Moreno glacier

The major reason people come to El Calafate is to see the Perito Moreno glacier, which is one of the only glaciers in the world that is advancing rather than retreating. The glacier is some 75 m thick at the point where you get the closest view from the mainland and over 700 m deep at it’s thickest. The excitement here is to witness (see and hear) the bits of the glacier as they fall into Argentino Lake. The pressure of the ice pushes, at glacial speed, the glacier into the lake and intermittently pieces of ice fall into the lake. The surprising thing is how loud of a crash the ice makes as it falls into the lake. Even tiny bits that look to be the size of a large snowball make a loud cracking sound as they hit the water and ice. Granted, they are probably actually the size of an automobile but simply look small compared to the size of the glacier. Of course, it is impossible to predict where or when these will happen, so one stands there prepared to look anywhere

Perito Moreno glacier

Perito Moreno glacier

Perito Moreno glacier pano

Perito Moreno glacier pano


Perito Moreno glacier

Perito Moreno glacier


We spent about 3 hours watching the glacier which seems like a long time to spend watching nothing happening but the time passed surprisingly fast. In the photo to the right you can see just to the right of center, a large crack and a piece of ice that appears to be about to calve off. Over the 2-3 hour span, I kept imagining that the crack was getting bigger so I was focused on watching it to catch the event on film. Well, or course, just as we decided enough was enough and turned to leave, we heard a tremendous crash, but I missed the main event (see video below)

Aftermath of calving iceberg

Aftermath of calving iceberg

Posted by neurotraveler 17:17

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