Today, Thursday, we had another early rise and got on the bus to head to Punta Bandera where we boarded a big catamaran for a two-hour cruise to the part of Glaciares National Park that has access to the Upsala Glacier. Our tour director kept telling us what perfect weather it was, and as we left Calafate, Lago Argentino was flat as a sheet of glass. However, once we got out on the lake, and got up to speed, the wind seemed incredible to us (spoiled as we were by days of nearly unheard-of calm weather) and the deck was rolling quite a bit.
However, as we entered the channel that feeds to Upsala Glacier, we slowed quite a bit, and the water calmed down, also. The boat took us close to one of the faces of the Upsala Glacier where we cruised around icebergs that had calved from the main glacier. We couldn’t get super-close to the glacier face from the water because there were so many icebergs in the bay. We got some great shots up close with the icebergs.
After the water view of the glacier we cruised around to the next bay and docked at an old sheep ranch called Estancia la Cristina, that had been turned over to the National Park. Glaciares NP is to Argentina what Torres del Paine was to Chile (and probably the way we think of Yellowstone or Yosemite in the States). We immediately boarded 4WD trucks and headed up a REALLY rough road for a 30 minute trek up to a spectacular overlook of Upsala Glacier. Again, we got some more fantastic pictures!
These glaciers are part of the South American Ice Sheet, which is the third largest land-based ice mass in the world (behind Antarctica and Greenland). The glaciers are hundreds of feet thick and miles wide. Some of these glaciers are receding but others are growing or stable. They are all magnificent.
Following our hike to the glaciers, we were amply rewarded with a fabulous meal at Estancia Cristina, and a demonstration of the custom of taking maté . Stacy was the brave one and volunteered to taste the maté (thanks to Faye for the photo!).
Tomorrow we will visit the Perito Moreno glacier which is supposed to be fantastic!