4 days of walking literally brought us down to our knees. We came back to Puerto Natales with swollen knees, rolled ankles and blistered feet.
We had planned a spare day to rest and recover before heading to the Argentinean side of Patagonia to El Calafate.
The bus ride was fairly easy, 6 hours through the mountains of Patagonia with gorgeous views for backdrop.
El Calafate is so different to Puerto Natales. It’s a lot more built up and made us think of Banff in Canada. It’s also a lot more touristic, probably because of the proximity to the airport which makes it easier to reach. We visited the small town that afternoon and relaxed in the sun, as we were lucky to have a gorgeous sunny day.
The next day, we made our way to Perito Moreno, the main event in the area.
It’s an active glacier and probably the best place to get so close to a glacier of this magnitude, hence its popularity.
As we were on a big budget cut, we decided to make our own way to Perito Moreno by bus rather than a tour. The bus cost 1,000 pesos (about $25AUD per person) and the entrance to the park was 800 pesos ($20).
The park was a lot quieter than what we thought it would be. After visiting places like Niagara Falls in summer, we were a bit traumatized and worried this would be similar. Luckily this wasn’t, and we got to enjoy the sights of this incredible place in peace and quiet.
Though we didn’t book a tour, we did book the boat ride in order to get closer to the glacier, and it was awesome.
The boat gets close to the glacier face, and goes from one side to the other so you get a good look at it. We went from the north side, but you can also check out the west side of the glacier if you go with another company.
That day the weather was quite pleasant, but getting so close to the glacier for an hour, we did get very cold after a while.
We heard lots of small bits dropping off in to the water, creating an impressively thunderous crash that would echo around the area. When you heard the loud noise you’d look up, but you’d only catch the very end of the splash. Most of the chunks were ‘small’, but they only seemed small as there was nothing nearby to provide scale. They were actually probably around car size, as at the highest point the face of the glacier was up to 70m. We were lucky enough to see one huge chunk break off; probably two storey house size. What a splash.
After our boat ride we walked on the rim of the lake and enjoyed the breathtaking views. We got very close again on one of the balconies, and then headed back to enjoy a hot chocolate in the main lodge there before heading back to town.
The rim walk was super easy as it’s completely built-up, only a few steps here and there but nothing hard to report.
Another fabulous day in Patagonia!
- To save costs, we got the bus to Perito Moreno as some of the tours were extra expensive. You just need to go to the bus station in El Calafate and get the 9am or 1pm bus. Easy. We saw too late that our hotel organised tours for the same price but it basically just saved us the walk to the bus station so not the end of the world.
- As budget didn’t allow, we had to pass on the ice treking on the glacier. Some people we met did it and told us it was a cool experience. Probably worth doing if budget allows (we heard it was like £200 pp though).