Our first Patagonia adventure from El Calafate was a 3 hour round trip by boat to Upsala Glacier. The closer we got to the glacier the larger the ice bergs were in the water around the boat – a surreal feeling as I kept thinking about the Titanic.
The scenery was breathtaking and as we came within a few kilometres of the glacier, the feeling of being so small really came to mind, as the mountains shot up both sides of the lake and were only broken by a massive ice glacier coming into the water.
On the way back to El Calafate the boat stopped at Estancia Cristina a former homestead/farm located next to Upsala Glacier, what a place to live. We enjoyed a nice lunch and a short 4WD to a lookout over the glacier and surrounding mountains, what a wonderful experience (I must have one of the best jobs in the world).
Our last day in El Calafate was all about adventure, as we had booked onto a mini trek on Perito Moreno Glacier, one of the only glaciers in the world that is still growing in size. After a short bus and boat ride we found ourselves at the base of the 10 story glacier, we were issued ice walking shoes (steel trap like shoes with spikes) and were given a quick rundown on glacier walking, and then our icy adventure began.
It was a lot harder than it looks as the fear of sliding down the ice is in the back of your head, but it is an experience not to be missed. I was totally amazed that I was walking on a glacier – yes, me walking on a glacier! I felt like Bear Grylls from the TV show Man vs Wild. I wanted to be called Mr Adventure from then on, until I needed help from the guide to get off the glacier and it was back to reality.
After our mini trek on Perito Moreno Glacier we took a boat to the other side of the glacier to a new boardwalk area that had been built to take advantage of the awesome views of glacier. We could hear bits of ice breaking off the glacier and hitting the water; the glacier was alive and seemed a little angry that we had walked on her.
To get the full experience of Patagonia you really need to spend about a week in the area and visit both the Chilean and Argentinean side as they are both so different and so rewarding. Chile is wild, remote and scenically stunning, while Argentina is more touristy and hands on as you can touch and climb the glaciers.
You would not be doing Patagonia justice if you just visited one side. Viva Patagonia!