Monday, February 29, 2016

The Perito Moreno glacier, El Calafate

The Perito Moreno glacier is an easily accessible glacier in the Los Glaciares national park just outside of the Patagonian town of El Calafate.

The glacier is somewhat unique in the world as it is one of the few glaciers that is not receding due to climate change. This is because of the unique microclimate in the Los Glaciares park caused by cold winds being pushed up over the Andes from the Pacific ocean. This causes snow to fall on the Andes every day - even when the weather is warm.

The glacier itself is moving very quickly - up to 40cm a day, unlike the very slow moving glaciers in places like Iceland. This speed causes large chunks of ice to "calve" of the glacier face, making a spectacular thunderous sound when they break and fall.

A piece of ice "calving" from the glacier
Waves from the falling ice
Icebergs off the glacier

Around the face of the glacier there are a series of boardwalks which enable a good view of all of the glacier face and the lake around the glacier.

Perito Moreno from the boardwalk
Perito Moreno glacier and Lake Argentino from the coast walk
Lake Argentino from the coast trail

The south face of the glacier is stable and able to be walked on which enables a much closer view of the glacier.

Up close to Perito Moreno glacier
Perito Moreno glacier from the boat
Perito Moreno glacier from the beach

The boat lands at a small beach in front of the glacier and from here it's a short walk to the glacier itself.

Looking up the face of the glacier
From on the glacier
A crack in the glacier
The beach from the glacier

The walk on the glacier takes a loop up the face of the glacier, around the top of the ice and then back down to the beach (stopping for a scotch on glacial ice on the way).

The boat then leaves from the beach to connect with the bus to El Calafate - that is if it's not blocked by an iceberg...

Ah...maybe there's another way around..

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Lake Gutierrez, Barriloche

Lake Gutierrez

Lake Gutierrez is a short bus ride from Barriloche and is a popular place for locals to go to enjoy swimming or just relaxing on the beach. It is also close to several trail heads to Cerro Cathedral. Sadly, I didn't have time to trek all the way to Cerro Cathedral (a 20km round trip), so I had to be content with  the short 2 hour trek to Mirador Gutierrez.

Start of the trail

The trailhead is about 2km from lake Gutierrez beach and comes off the main road.

The first part of the trail is very flat and takes you to the pretty Duendes falls.

Duendes falls

The trail then becomes very steep as you climb up to the look out.

Cerro Cathedral from halfway up the trail
Lake Gutierrez from halfway

After a steep climb, the lookout offers panoramic views of Cerro Cathedral and lake Gutierrez.

Cerro Cathedral
The ski fields of Cerro Cathedral (sans snow)
Lake Gutierrez

Llao llao national park, Barriloche

Llao Llao national park is around an hour by bus outside of Barriloche. Within the park are several short, easy walks through the forest and around the lakes. Most people take a bus to Llao Llao and do one or two of the short walks, but I started at Colonia Suiza with the idea of walking to Llao Llao via the trails. This is easy enough to do in a day being around 15km.

Starting at Colonia Suiza the Circuito Chico heads towards Bahia Lopez. On the way there is a little historic cemetery - Cementerio de montañeses.

Cemetario de Montañeses

A little further on is Bahaía Lopez where the first of the trails begins.

Bahaía Lopez
Bahaía Lopez from the top of the hill

From Bahaía Lopez the first part of the trail leads past Playa Tuncos to Lake Empinado.

Truncos beach
Lake Empinado

The trail then leads on to the historic Puente Romano (Roman Bridge). Built in 1938, the bridge is a replica of a Roman bridge and has been declared a monument of historic significance, however the sign stating this didn't explain why.

The "Roman" bridge

The trail then leads on to the stunning mirador Tacul.

Mirador Tacul

From this point the trail joins the main road at Villa Tacul and from there you can access the trail to climb Cerro Llao Llao. From the top of Cerro Llao Llao there are beautiful views over the lakes and the park.

Views from the top of Cerro Llao Llao

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Cerro Lopez, Bariloche

Cerro Lopez is a 2076m mountain on the Circuito Chico near Barriloche. It's easily reached by collectivo which drops off near the turn off to Colonia Suiza.

The trail itself is a very steep 8km climb, first to Roca Negra and then on to refugio Lopez at the top.

About halfway to Roca Negra
Looking up the trail

The trail to Roca Negra is very steep but we'll marked and takes around 2 hours to complete. On the way there are waterfalls and stunning views of the lakes and mountains.

View from the trail

Once you reach Roca Negra, there are even more stunning views and a place to rest and have some lunch before tackling the next part of the trail to refugio Lopez.

View from Roca Negra
Roca Negra

The steep trail to Refugio Lopez takes around and hour of solid trekking up the mountain.

Refugio Lopez
View from the top
Another view from the top

You can descend via the road from refugio Lopez which, although longer, is a much easier climb down and conveniently ends at the bus stop at Colonia Suiza. In total this trail takes around 6 hours with stops, but ultimately us quite an easy and rewarding day trek.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Circuito Chico and Cerro Campanario, Bariloche

The Circuito Chico is a 26 km round trip.just outside of Bariloche that takes in a large part of Llao Llao national park. It is easily done on bikes that can be hired just outside the park.

But before heading out on the bikes there is a small mountain - Cerro Campania - nearby which offers spectacular views of the nearby lakes.

There is a chairlift to the top, but the climb up the mountain is relatively easy and gives good views on the way.

The bottom of the trail
Halfway up
The chairlift option

At the top of the mountain there is several lookouts and a café, all offering spectacular views.

Views from the top of Cerro Campanario

The Cicuito Chico then continues around the lakes area offering more viewpoints - and fairly brutal hill climbs on the bike.

From the top of the first hill
Panorama from the top of the hill
Hawks keep watch
Bahaia Lopez
Further along the trail

There are many walks off the Circuito Chico that are easily accessible by the bus or during the bike ride, however due to my late start I had to leave these for another day...