Saturday, June 1, 2013

Patagonia 2012 = Perito Moreno Glacier

We are back in El Calafate for our last full day of adventure in Argentina (well, besides the day+ of travel back to the states, that was an adventure in itself). We stayed at Esplendor Hotel Boutique again and woke up early to catch the ride out to Perito Moreno Glacier with Hielo y Aventura. We highly recommend their operation, the tour was, yet again, an experience of a lifetime!

A little fun at the edge of the glacier before our trek

The Perito Moreno Glacier is a glacier located in the Los Glaciares National Park in southwest Santa Cruz province, Argentina. 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.It is one of the most important tourist attractions in the Argentine Patagonia.

The 97 sq mi ice formation, and 19 mi in length, is one of 48 glaciers fed by the Southern Patagonian Ice Field located in the Andes system shared with Chile. This icefield is the world's third largest reserve of fresh water.

The terminus of the Perito Moreno Glacier (above) is 3 mi wide, with an average height of 240 ft above the surface of the water of Lake Argentino, in Argentina. It has a total ice depth of 558 ft.

The Perito Moreno Glacier is one of only three Patagonian glaciers that is growing.

After viewing the terminus we hopped on a boat and road across to the trailhead that would lead us up to our trek out onto the glacier. We hiked for about an hour or so, then strapped on crampons and harnesses and explored the amazing ice features.

The photos will speak for themselves.

The ride back on the boat included whisky over glacier ice and views/sounds of the glacier calving off of the South side into Lago Argentino.

Back in town, we enjoyed one last huge Argentinian dinner of lamb, steak and wine at the Don Pichon restaurant overlooking the town.

Our final dinner at Don Pichon

The next morning we had a few hours to explore the town a bit more and enjoyed an authentic mate form the yerba maté plant. The waiter at Borges y Alvarez Libro-Bar was kind enough to explain the social ritual drinking procedures and we ended up buying some mate and a traditional gourd cup to enjoy back at home.

Enjoying an authentic mate

Then it was off to the airport (Be sure to bring tax money to pay before you can enter security. They never mentioned this to us and we had a horrible time trying to get it paid since that day Visa was "not working" for them and there is no ATM at the airport!) to begin 18 hours of travel back to Colorado via Trelew, Buenos Aires (with a mad dash through baggage, security and customs to barley catch our plane), and Houston.

As you can see, it was most definitely a trip of a lifetime. We would be glad to give anyone that is traveling to the are more details, so reach out to us if your planning a visit to Argentina/Chile.


To view photos from
EcoCamp Perito Moreno Glacier,
click HERE

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Patagonia 2012 = French Valley

The third adventure on the EcoCamp list was an active 13 mile trek from the comfort of our EcoCamp dome to Valle Del Francés (French Valley). (The trek is named Navigation Pehoe Lake and hike French Valley)

We were very excited to visit the French Valley!

After breakfast, we started our day driving towards Pudeto dock, located on the shores of Pehoe Lake. We board the catamaran that takes us to the North-Western sector of the lake where we’ll begin the challenging trek to Valle Frances (French Valley) along a steep trail that goes into the very heart of the Paine Massif.

Our trek crosses in front of Cerro Paine Grande peak
(tallest in the park) and up the valley to the right

An active walk led us to the hanging bridge over the French River, located at the foot of the south-eastern face of the Massif, where there is a truly wonderful view.

View from the French River hanging bridge

Here we had lunch, took some fun photos and rested for a while. Then we continued up the trail to the upper section of the valley where we admired the valley's entire group of geological formations. The head of French Valley is a cirque formed by impressive cliffs. The colossal walls of Cerro Cota 2000 and Cerro Catedral punctuate the western region of the Valley. Cerro Cota 2000 is named for its elevation; its highest contour line is about 2,000 m (6,562 ft). Cerro Catedral is named so because its east face resembles a cathedral's facade. To the north stands the granite arête called Aleta de Tiburón (English: Shark's Fin). To the east, from north to south, lie the peaks Fortaleza (Fortress), La Espada (The Sword), La Hoja (The Blade), La Máscara (The Mummer), Cuerno Norte (North Horn), and Cuerno Principal (Main Horn). The weather was some of the best the guides had seen in quite a while. Blue skies and you could see for miles.

Some of the amazing peaks in the French Valley

After enjoying the view, we descended back through the rippling terrain of grassland and light forest until reaching the Refugio Paine Grande, located on the peaceful shores of Lake Pehoe. While waiting for the rest of the crew, we enjoyed a local brew and rested our sore legs.

A much deserved beer after an amazing day!

From there the catamaran took us back to Pudeto and we're driven back to EcoCamp.

We spent the last evening enjoying the amazing food, wine and company before heading to bed. It was an early rise for us to catch the group bus back into Argentina and up to El Calafate for our second stay in the adventure town.

We really did not want to leave EcoCamp Patagonia. It was by far the best part of our trip, we would highly recommend it to anyone, hope we can visitin again and want to thank our EcoCamp guides and staff for an adventure of a lifetime!

To view photos from EcoCamp French Valley,
click HERE