Tuesday, April 21, 2015

You Know You're Jaded When...

After experiencing the emotional and physical highs of Los Glaciares National Park, we continued to the most famous of Patagonia's attractions, Torres del Paine National Park. This park contains some of the most scenic and photogenic mountains, spires, and lakes anywhere in the world. People come from all over to experience it.

A good, hard hike rewards you with this most amazing viewpoint of the towers (torres)

We had an amazing time climbing to the popular Torres lookout as well as camping far away from the crowds at Laguna Azul (pics below). But, as the title of this post suggests, we were a bit turned off by Torres del Paine. There is extensive private property, fancy lodges, hoards of tour buses, horse rides on the hiking trails (= trail damage and poo), expensive boat rides, garbage barges, packed campgrounds, pay toilets on the trail, etc. All of these things are in stark contrast to the less exploited natural beauty offered by Los Glaciares National Park near El Chalten (just north of here).

Our first camping spot in the park at Laguna Azul teased us with lovely evening views of the towers

In the morning, from Laguna Azul, the towers revealed their brighter side

We might have also been a little grouchy because we didn't have the best weather (that pesky crazy, crazy wind) and we were both sick with some sort of a stomach virus. We've hesitated in writing this blog post because we didn't want to spew such negativity. I thought maybe I would just put something together saying, "..Torres del Paine.. awesome.. beautiful..here's some pictures" but that would be a bit of a lie. So, there you have it, we are jaded, spoiled travelers of Patagonia.

BUT, really, how can you not have mostly positive things to say about such a beautiful part of the world (pics below):

A rainbow and some dicey weather welcomed us to Torres del Paine National Park (camping at Laguna Azul)

The day we hiked to the torres, the clouds came and went so fast. Here, the clouds cast a darker mood on the towers.

At the viewpoint, the wind was light (!) and the clouds gently caressed the towers but never really socked them in

The mocha-topped mountains and milky, turquoise waters of Torres del Paine are so photogenic

Even when the clouds threatened to cover everything, the place was still pretty magical

As we drove away, the clouds moved for a parting shot of the entire mountains range

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina - The BIG One That You Can Drive To

At the south end of Los Glaciares National Park is the massive, stunning, and easily accessible glacier, Perito Moreno. We drove about 125 miles from the north section of this park (our fave place in South America - previous post), right to the 130-foot tall face of the glacier. The glacier is 18 miles long, 3 miles wide, and the best part is that it creeps forward nearly 6 feet per day. This guarantees you will see and hear the crash of giant, sky-scraper-sized slabs of ice tumble into the lake below. With a couple of snack breaks, we watched the Perito Moreno show for nearly 12 hours. It was hard to turn away, because you could always hear the echoing boom of something happening. You never wanted to miss out.

Our first view of the glacier with cold, misting clouds and just a peak of sun coming up over the ridge behind us

The illusive morning sun helped highlight the mesmerizing shapes on the face of the glacier.
It's too bad it will all eventually come crashing down.

In the late morning, the clouds dissipated and the reflection on the glacier was blindingly white - harsh.

The deep blue of some of the ice bergs is caused by years and years of crushing and compacting.

From this angle, you can start to appreciate how the glacier could possibly be 18 miles long.

Without any sort of a zoom lens, it was hard to capture some of the excitement.
This one was so big, and took so long to move, I was able to capture a sequence of it.

The sound of the ice slab falling into the lake was deep and booming - so awesome.

Third picture of the action series

As the day wore on, the lighting started to shade the face of the glacier.

The setting sun cast a long shadow of the glacier for our last picture.
We turned our backs for a second, and missed something - the waves in the water were the only evidence.