We were picked up this morning at 8:00. Our guide, Daniella, was one of the best guides I have had on a trip. She knew plants, birds, geology, history, and spoke perfect English. She showed us photos of the animals we might see; gave us history lessons;
The town of el Calafaté has grown from a our 5000 people to 25,000 because of the tourism that has developed here. It is in the province of Santa Cruz. The province used to raise mostly sheep until the price of wool declined. Now they raise cows.
The Native people (Tuhuelche – also known as the Aoniken – from Argentina and the Machupes from Chile) were, like most native peoples, mostly wiped out. The Occidental people took over the land and are called Estancia (the ones who stay and own the land).
Among the many, many birds in the area are Flamingo, Black Headed Swans, Red Headed Woodpeckers, Condors, Black Chested Eagles, Ibes and many more.
In 1937 Los Glaciares National Park was established. Lake Argentino is the largest (100 km by 40 km with channels that reach out like an octopus) fresh water lake in Argentina. . We stopped along the way for photos.
We took a Catamaran up the Brazo Arizona (one of the channels of Lake Argentino) right up close to the south part of Perito Moreno Glacier. Danielle said that the wall of the glacier that we could see is 5 km wide and about 40 to 70 meters high from the water level. We spend a long time photographing and watching small calving which we could hear but were difficult to photograph.
I took this photo off of the web because it shows the splashing from the calving.
I wondered if the cave like opening in the glacier was caused by calving.
Here is a close-up of the hole.
After the catamaran ride we went into the part of the National Park where we could see the north end of the glacier. Danielle said this wall was 30 km long but we were only seeing about 14 km of it. This view is from above,
We had a group photo taken of the wonderful people that were on this portion of the trip, but we are missing John and Jerry. I wish they had been in this spot with us.
Andy found John.
What totally boggled my mind was when Daniella said that the total mass of the glacier is bigger than the city of Buenos Aires. So I did some research.
- The 250 km squared (97 sq mile) ice formation, and 30 km (19 mi) in length, is one of 48 glaciers fed by the Southern Patagonian Ice Field located in the Andes system shared with Chile.
- I read that it is known as the 8th wonder of the world.
- This ice field is the world’s third largest reserve of fresh water.
- It was named after the explorer Francisco Moreno, a pioneer who studied the region in the 19th century and played a major role in defending the territory of Argentina in the conflict surrounding the international border dispute with Chile.
- Pressures from the weight of the ice slowly pushes the glacier over the southern arm (“Brazo Rico”) of Lake Argentino, damming the section and separating it from the rest of the lake.
- With no outlet, the water level on the “Brazo Rico” side of the lake can rise by as much as 30 meters above the level of the main body of Lake Argentino.
- Intermittently, the pressure produced by the height of the dammed water breaks through the ice barrier causing a spectacular rupture, sending a massive outpouring of water from the Brazo Rico section to the main body of Lake Argentina.
- As the water exits Brazo Rico, the scored shoreline is exposed, showing evidence of the height of the water build-up.
- This dam–ice-bridge–rupture cycle recurs naturally between once a year to less than once a decade.
I wish I could wrap my mind around how all of this happens. I just know that I could see the blockage and how the levels of the water were different.
I took this video to show the small waterfall where the glacier is melting. Perhaps this will cause a calving.
This video shows the ripples of water that occurred right after a very small calving. We heard but I didn’t get to start taking this video after the ice fell.
A few more facts:
- The last rupture occurred on January 19, 2013 and previously on March 4, 2012,
- Usually it ruptures, on average, about every four to five years.
- Daniella told us that they were expecting another large calving of the glacier very soon.
- As of February 2012, before the rupture on March 2nd, the glacier dammed the Brazo Rico.
- The water level there had risen 5.6 meters.
- The Perito Moreno Glacier is one of only three Patagonian glaciers that is growing. The reason remains debated by glaciologists.
- The terminus of the Perito Moreno Glacier is 5 kilometres (3 mi) wide, with an average height of 74 m (240 ft) above the surface of the water of LakeArgentino, in Argentina.
- It has a total ice depth of 170 meters (558 ft).
The ice from the Perito Moreno glacier is so beautiful.
It would have be an incredibly overwhelming experience to be here when the rupture occurred.
The Upsula Glacier that Pat, Jane, Andy and I hiked to see yesterday actually flows into the Perito Moreno Glacier.
On the way back we stopped to so that we could put our feet into the water from the glacier. It was did not feel as cole as the water in Antarctica where I did my polar plunge.
I asked Daniella to suggest a restaurant for dinner. She suggested Isabel for authentic food. Ten of us took the shuttle to town and most of us ordered one of their most traditional dishes of Argentina. It was called plough disk cooking. The menu said they like to share part of their culinary traditions that had been kept secret for a long time among the gauchos homes and lifestyles. It was lamb, potatoes, & veggies cooked in a round cast iron pan and was absolutely delicious. I didn’t get a photo of the food but here are a few of us at the table.
Daniella also told us about a plant called “el Calafaté” which has a red berry on it. The berries can be eaten and have many uses, One way is to make Calafaté ice cream. After dinner we went to Tito’s and had a 2 scoop cone with Calafaté and chocolate ice cream What a wonderful treat to have on our last night in el Calafaté. I sure wish I had remembered to photograph both the dinner and the ice cream.