Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Perito Merino

The Perito Moreno detour ended up being well worth every (windy, difficult and mostly ripio'd) 200km of the roundtrip. The park boundaries are around 60km from El Calafate and then it's a further 30km to the glacier. It used to be possible to camp in the park, until someone caused a fire destroying 1/5th of the woodland. We arrived at the boundary planning to wild camp somewhere just outside, but after discussing with the guardaparque we were invited to camp in the garden of their house; a beautiful spot overlooking Canal De Los Temp Anos. We were joined briefly by this skunk, but he made a swift exit, probably after discovering the stench he took to be potential mate was actually just two stinky cyclists.

An early start meant we were able to reach the glacier before the crowds of bus tourists arrived, and even Mr 'seen one glacier seen 'em all' was pretty impressed by it. The glacier itself is around 60m high and 5km long, and reputed to be moving by up to 2m per day.

This means that it constantly cracks and groans, sounding like rounds of applause in the distance, with pieces breaking off and shattering into the Lago as you watch. It was strangely captivating, and we spent at least a couple of hours just sitting and watching it, trying to guess where it would break next!

We had heard that Lago Roca around 60k the other side of the glacier was also worth a visit, so we returned to El Calafate via the very lovely campsite there, and spent a day chilling out enjoying the scenery and trying to supplement our dwindling food supplies with fresh fish from the lake. This plan was an entertaining and diverting enough way to spend the day (I haven't fished for about 17yrs, and had forgotten how strangely addictive it is!), until I went and caught one. This led to paroxysms of guilt, and the realisation that short of beating it to death with our Spork (*) I had absolutely no idea what to do with the (rather fine 1.5kg) trucha, who I'm told would have tasted delicious. So after letting him flap around on the shore for a bit and feeling terrible about it, I finally decided we could probably manage on powdered mashed potato for another night (an interesting alternative to pasta we have recently been experimenting with). Ja, who had previously calculated the cost/benefit analysis of purchasing the fishing rod required for us to catch at least enough fish for 2 meals, conceded that he too hadn't thought through the plan to it's grisly conclusion, and was remarkably sanguine about our fishless dinner.

(*for the uninitiated, a 'Spork' is a small spoon shaped implement, with little points at the end, and a serrated edge, supposedly covering all you cutlery needs in one handy object, whilst in reality performing none of its stated functions particularly efficiently but with a far greater potential for oral-facial lacerations than your average spoon).

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