Day 5: Grey Glacier up close (George Sloan)
Today we visited another glacier, Perito Moreno, one of the world's few remaining advancing glaciers. The glacier is in Argentina's Los Glaciares National Park and is part of the Southern Patagonia Ice Field. Francisco Moreno, for whom the glacier was named, explored the area, arbitrated boundary disputes between Argentina and Chile, and advocated for the creation of Argentina's national parks. We stopped at a few view points along Lago Argentino before entering the park. Our visit to Perito Moreno glacier included another boat ride to the glacier's edge -- massive walls of ice, much larger than Glaciar Grey. The glacier seemed to be alive. Loud explosion-like noises signaled glacier movement either in its interior or pieces breaking off and falling into the water. It was very impressive. After the boat ride we drove to the north side of the glacier and walked along a series of walkways overlooking the glacier, giving us a better sense of its immense expanse. After our excursion to Perito Moreno we returned to El Calafate for a three hour bus ride to El Chalten, a small town that calls itself the trekking capital of the world. While other mountain areas may refute that distinction, the town is definitely a hiker's paradise. El Chalten is in the northern section of Los Glaciares National Park. A charming town, it has a population of 1,000, which increases to 2,000 during the summer climbing months, and drops to 500 during the winter months. It is surprisingly tourist-friendly for being in the middle of nowhere. It boasts a brew pub, a number of good restaurants, a wine bar with an impressive selection of Patagonian wines and beers, a chocolateria, and several great bakeries, one that specializes in alfajores, a traditional South American sandwich cookie treat. (see Day 7 photos)
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