I’m not sure if I mentioned, but in this hostel Las Carretas, the breakfast is very basic. We rather just have coffee and then we use their kettle to boil water for our porridge. So we did today, porridge and then waited for a bus to pick us up at the hostel.
They (Hielo&Ventura) arrived almost on time. We continued to pickup more people on the way and soon the bus was full. The scenery on the way to the national park reminded us USA somewhere around Utah or Arizona. Perfectly suitable for shooting of westerns as well. Wide valleys, hills, no trees, no buildings, no roads. Apart of farm houses (estancias) which are lonely in between fields in a good distance from the main road. Often they have trees planted closely to the houses. We could also enjoy views of Lago Argentino lake and some other lake. Around 10:30am we reached a gate to the Los Glaciares National Park. Two guys from the park boarded the bus and asked about our nationality, we paid 500 pesos each (you can pay only in Argentinian pesos in cash) and they gave us tickets with our nationality printed on the tickets.
Very shortly after this, the bus quickly stopped for toilets, so people could use bathrooms next to the road and we continued (around 10:40am) to the main viewpoint at the end of this road. The surroundings now became more with trees and more green and time to time we could see the glacier in a distance. At 11:15 we got to the viewpoint and spent there just enough time to see the magnificence of the glacier. You appreciate this the most when you see one of the boats doing trips close to the glacier and you realise how huge the ice massive is (the right part of the front line is 70 meters high). There is complex structure of viewing platforms and routes from where you can watch the glacier. Very clean and nicely built. We had our lunch there and left at 13:30 for the mini trekking.
At 13:50 we arrived at the pier with tourist boats and waited for our boat to come back from the glacier so we can board it. The. Around 14:30 we landed next to the glacier. One of the guides - Andres - took our English speaking group and started describing what are the next few o happen. We could leave majority of our things here in the base camp and we had to have gloves with us (luckily we did, even we didn’t know that this is mandatory). Don’t worry if you don’t have gloves - they lend you some.
Andres guided us to the glacier. It’s about 15 minutes away and he described a lot of things about why the glacier is what it is. We got crampons on our shoes and then we were guided through a short track on the icy glacier. Probably around 1.5 hours long. We did see many interesting things like for example water suddenly going to a purely blue hole deep you could see to the bottom and many more. There was also a very pleasant surprise at the end of the track. Then we returned and around 6pm, we were again sitting on a bus back to El Calafate and got dropped off at our hostel around 7:40pm. It was amazing trip. Really good and enjoyable.
After arrival, we popped in a shop next door and bought some bread and other things for breakfast and lunch for tomorrow. And one litre of Imperial beer (with returnable bottle costing 15 pesos). Cooked something simple in our hostel and prepared food for tomorrow which we unfortunately put to the fridge...